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November 2016

With Election Day just a week away, we near the end of a busy few months at the Budget Center. We've looked in depth at several of the key propositions on the statewide ballot — you can find these reports on our website's Ballot Propositions page. Earlier this fall, we published a series of analyses on the latest Census figures on poverty and health coverage in California, shedding light on the challenges facing many Californians long after the end of the Great Recession. Looking ahead, we’ll soon be getting ready for our annual budget preview event in December (look for details soon!) and gearing up for another year of helping advance policies that promote economic opportunity for all.

Steven Bliss
Director, Strategic Communications 

On the Statewide Ballot

Of the various propositions before California voters this year, several have especially significant implications for the state budget and how we invest in people and communities. Click the links below to read our full ballot measure analyses:
  • Proposition 57: Should Voters Provide State Officials With New Flexibility to Reduce the Prison Population? This measure would establish a new parole consideration process for people convicted of a nonviolent felony and sentenced to state prison and also would provide state corrections officials with broad new authority to award sentencing credits that reduce prison terms. In addition, Prop. 57 would require that youth accused of certain crimes have a hearing in juvenile court before their cases could be transferred to adult court. 
A Close Look at the New Census Figures on Poverty and Health Coverage

In mid-September, the US Census Bureau released national and state-level poverty figures for 2015. These included data for the official poverty measure as well as for the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a more accurate indicator of economic hardship. The SPM figures show that California has the highest level of poverty of any state, with 1 in 5 Californians (20.6 percent) living in poverty. Our analyses of the new poverty figures looked at child poverty amid the current economic recovery and also discussed how high housing costs contribute to economic hardship in our state.

The new Census figures underscore the continued need for a multifaceted policy approach to reducing hardship and promoting economic opportunity and security. Check out our reports on the latest poverty figures along with a look at what the new Census figures say about California's progress on expanding health coverage:
Helping to Shape the Debate

The Budget Center's analyses of the latest Census poverty figures generated widespread media coverage across the state. This includes appearances on KTVU Channel 2 News in San Francisco, KPBS Radio in San Diego, and KQED Radio's The California Report and Forum programs. Print coverage included the following: 

San Francisco Chronicle: “Certainly, we’re trending in the right direction,” Alissa Anderson, of the California Budget & Policy Center, said. “But our key take-away is far too many people are struggling to get by.”

San Jose Mercury News: “We are just too rich a state for there to be so many people struggling to get by or to put food on their table,” said Anderson.

Fresno Bee: Fresno’s poverty rate is much higher among children, though that rate also dropped last year. Still, if Latino children had the same poverty rate as white children, 46,000 fewer children would have lived in poverty last year, said Anderson. 
Total State and County Spending on Incarceration and Responding to Crime Remains High

The Budget Center last week released a Fact Sheet showing that even with the important criminal justice reforms of recent years, California state and county governments spend a combined $20.7 billion annually on incarceration and responding to crime. This analysis underscores the importance of making further reforms, such as increasing the use of alternatives to incarceration at the county level, as we've discussed previously, and giving state officials new policy options for reducing incarceration.

Save the Date for Our 2017 Policy Conference

We hope you'll plan to join us for the Budget Center's annual conference on March 2. Policy Insights brings together hundreds of policymakers, advocates, researchers, and other leaders to discuss how California can broaden economic opportunity and help low- and middle-income families to advance. Early-bird registration is available as are sponsorship opportunities.

Where We've Been

Policy Analyst Kristin Schumacher recently presented at a training session for the Child Care Team of the Women’s Policy Institute, a program of the Women’s Foundation of California. Kristin's presentation discussed child care and development programs in California and the importance of boosting access to high-quality child care and preschool.

"Even if Prop. 55 is approved, the top 1 percent would still pay less than 9 percent of their family income in state and local taxes, a portion smaller than that for the lowest earners. "
— Chris Hoene, Executive Director

From Asking the Right Questions About Prop. 55: Are the Revenues Needed? Would the Measure Raise Them Fairly?
Your support allows us to continue to prepare for and respond to critical issues and key policy questions facing California. Thank you for considering a donation to the Budget Center.
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