The Governor says demand for the state’s welfare to work program – or CAL-Works – is up – and many recipients aren’t complying with work requirements. He wants to stiffen sanctions in order to cut costs. Democrats say they’ll address his ideas after the state’s 26 billion dollar budget gap is closed. Schwarzenegger says that’s what lawmakers have been telling him since he first proposed similar changes several years ago:
"Now, 5 years later, I say the time has come and they say, let’s do it some other day and I say the day is now. I think that this is the year where we finally have to reform the programs. This is the year where we have to stop promising people things that we can’t deliver.”
The Governor says his proposed changes would save the state more than 700 million dollars over the next year. But Frank Mecca with the County Welfare Directors Association disagrees. He says cutting services such as child care and job training that help people move from welfare to work is counter-productive…and would lead to higher unemployment.
“When you cut the programs so deeply, people can’t pay their rent. They don’t go to the grocery store. You pull that much money out of the economy, you make the economy worse.”
Meantime, California continues to send out millions of dollars in IOU’s…and state employees are looking at three furlough days this month. And there’s one thing lawmakers and the Governor can agree on: The longer they wait to solve the budget problem, the harder it will be.