To All Those Interested in Food and Justice...
A (usually) weekly update on food issues, promoting access to sufficient, affordable, healthy food—with a focus on campaigns you can become active in!
June 21, 2017: State and Federal Budgets, and Water
Earlier this week the California budget was submitted to the Governor, with mixed good and disappointing news for those struggling in poverty here. He has not officially signed it yet, but it could happen any time now. But the outcomes in Sacramento will be overshadowed by what’s going on in DC, if current trends hold out. This update includes info on how to begin the fight to preserve food assistance benefits for low income people in the hostile environment prevailing now in the federal government.
And as the rays of the sun’s longest day beam down on L.A. for the summer solstice, we can take solace in the fact that we are at least technically out of the drought, but have two issues on water that need your advocacy: extra safe water for human beings (see item number one) and for cheaper water rates for L.A.’s gardens (see item # 3.)
- California Budget Continues to Boost Prisons While Modestly Increasing Aid to Low Income Workers
- House Republicans in DC Working on Budget That May Include Cuts to Food Assistance
- Los Angeles Adopts Urban Ag Incentive Zone Policy/ Advocacy Day Planned for Water Rates Issues in LA Gardens
1. California Budget Continues to Boost Prisons While Modestly Increasing Aid to Low Income Workers
Still time to chime in on some budget items—Safe Drinking Water : We highlight here the CalFresh Safe Water Initiative, a one time budget investment of $5 million to provide temporary supplemental benefits to purchase water for those residents in California without safe drinking water. Call Governor Jerry Brown at 916 445-2841 and urge them to support this. Sample wording:
“I’m calling to support the Legislature’s $5 million CalFresh Safe Water one-time budget investment to provide temporary, supplemental nutrition assistance to residents without safe drinking water. CalFresh would deliver temporary benefits to alleviate the cost of buying water when the public water system is consistently unsafe. People shouldn’t have to choose between buying water or food. We need effective temporary solutions when residents wait years for permanent infrastructure improvements that bring safe water.”
From California Partnership: The California budget makes a few positive changes in the Health and Human Services sector, but still lacks definitive commitment to funding and investments in CA’s poor and marginalized communities.
California Earned Income Credit: Some good news is that the $125 billion budget expands California’s 1 year old Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor people. Adults with three children are eligible if they earn less than $14,161 a year. The deal will lift the threshold to about $22,000 and allow people to qualify even if their income is from self-employment, such as driving for ride-sharing companies.
Corrections budget grows even larger: While several social safety net programs have either taken a cut or remained stagnant in funding, the Corrections’ Budget only seems to get bigger. The state corrections budget is more than $11 billion, California will soon have the dubious distinction of spending more than $75,000 per inmate. That’s up from the $71,000 per inmate California spends now and roughly $26,000 more than the state spent per inmate in 2010-11, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
CalWORKs remains underfunded: In 2017 18, total funding for CalWORKs from all funding sources will have decreased by more than $400 million relative to 2014 15, largely due to declining caseloads. This program is already extremely underfunded and will only continue to keep poor and working class families in an abysmal cycle of poverty.
SSI/SSP: The proposed budget does not include any increased funding for its portion of the SSI/SSP grants for seniors and people with disabilities, who remain below 100% of the poverty level. However, the Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that total maximum monthly SSI/SSP grants will increase by $15.44. which would come from the pass-through of an anticipated increase in the federal portion of the grant. While this may be the case in the short term, the federal government controlled by the safety-net-slashing Republicans is pondering a budget that would likely include reductions in SSI funding. It’s important that if the state is not going to help this vulnerable population, our representatives need to advocate fervently at the federal level to keep even further rollbacks from happening.
(Based on a release by Mary Koharchick, Erick Lemus, Jared McCreary, Jeff Green, Karen Kandamby,
Maribel Nunez and Ipyani Lockert, with additional comment thrown in)
2. House Republicans in DC Working on Budget That May Include Cuts to Food Assistance
From our colleagues at California Food Policy Advocates and from the national Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
This week, House Republicans are meeting to finalize a House Budget Resolution that may include reconciliation cuts to entitlement programs such as SNAP/CalFresh, similar to the drastic cuts proposed in the President's budget. House Republicans are planning to hold a members-only conference on the budget this Friday, June 23, and this week will be a critical time to influence Republican members before they meet about the House budget with their leadership and other caucus members.
Some details on the President's proposed budget (which might be included in the Congress proposed budget):
• Shifting $116 billion in costs of the SNAP program to states, which could mean that California would have to put in $1.8 billion to maintain a commitment to fully funding CalFresh benefits for all eligible individuals. This would force California to choose between cutting benefits, cutting other programs and/or raising taxes to cover CalFresh expenses to balance the state budget.
• The president’s proposal also includes an addition $75 billion in benefit cuts, affecting the unemployed, seniors and working families with children. Included in these cuts is the elimination of the $16 monthly minimum benefit, which would disproportionately harm households with seniors and people with disabilities.
• Combined with cuts proposed to Medicaid/Medi-Cal in the budget plan-$1.3 trillion in total, which assumes cuts to Medicaid and subsidies for private health coverage in the House-passed AHCA bill plus an additional $600 billion over ten years-the President's budget would result in millions of Americans struggling make impossible choices between basic needs like food, housing, and healthcare
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TODAY!
Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or click here to find your Congress member and to express your opposition to any budget proposal that cuts SNAP/CalFresh or changes its funding structure.
Specific asks to members and staff:
• Don't cut benefits! Protect and strengthen SNAP/CalFresh! CalFresh helps struggling families and workers in our state put healthy food on their tables, improves academic and economic opportunity, and boosts our national, state, and local economies.
• Oppose any budget resolution that requires cuts or “reconciliation instructions” that would ultimately result in cuts.
• Oppose any legislation that would allow states to change or eliminate the federal guaranteed benefit for basic needs, such as food, shelter or medical care, for eligible participants.
• Remind your Representative that before we made a national commitment to end hunger, some areas of the country had serious problems with hunger, including children suffering from malnutrition. We don't want to go back to that.
It is particularly important for the following House Republicans to hear from their constituents. If you live in any of the following districts, take a few minutes today to call the DC or district office.
- DC office (202) 225-5861
- Apple Valley district office (760) 247-1815
- Yucaipa district office (909) 797-4900
- DC office (202) 225-4540
- Modesto district office (209) 579-5458
- DC office (202) 225-4695
- Hanford district office (559) 582-5526
- Bakersfield district office (661) 864-7736
- DC office (202) 225-1956
- Antelope Valley district office (661) 441-0320
- Santa Clarita Valley district office (661) 255-5630
- Simi Valley district office (805) 581-7130
- DC office (202) 225-2415
- Huntington Beach district office (714) 960-6483
- DC office (202) 225-561
- Irvine district office (949) 263-8703
- DC office (202) 225-3076
- Auburn district office (530) 878-5035
- Oroville district office (530) 534-7100
- Redding district office (530) 223-5898
- DC office (202) 225-5672
- El Cajon district office (619) 448-5201
- Temecula district office (951) 695-5108
- DC office (202) 225-2915
- Bakersfield district office (661) 327-3611
- DC office (202) 225-2523
- Clovis district office (559) 323-5235
- Visalia district office (559) 733-3861
- DC office (202) 225-2511
- Roseville district office (916) 786-5560
- DC office (202) 225-1986
- Corona district office (951) 277-0042
- DC Office (202) 225-4111
- Brea District Office (714) 255-0101
- Los Angeles County District Office (626) 964-5123
- DC office (202) 225-3906
- Vista district office (760) 599.5000
Dana Point district office (949) 281-2449
3. Los Angeles Adopts Urban Ag Incentive Zone Policy/ Advocacy Day Planned for Water Rates Issues in LA Gardens
Years after the state legislature passed a law allowing municipal areas to create “Urban Ag Incentive Zones”, where landowners would receive tax breaks for leasing land for gardening to nonprofit groups for five year terms, the City of LA has finally passed its policy allowing the actual implementation of the law here. The County, meanwhile, had already passed a policy. Below is some information with many thanks to Breanna Morrison of the LA Food Policy Council on the passage of the policy and how you can connect landowners or growers to the proper fonts of information to make Urban Ag Incentive Zones a reality in your little area:
Urban Ag Incentive Zones Passed in LA City Council on June 13th. The policy also passed during a second reading on June 20th. The City needs to finalize some procedural logistics before accepting applications, but anticipate that landowners can apply as early as August of this year. If you are interested in connecting with a landowner or grower to benefit from this new policy, please contact our Policy Fellow, Taylor Henry, at [email protected].
Model Contract Language for Growers and Property Owners- Working Group member Anastasia Butler of the Sustainable Law Group has finalized some model contract language for contracts between growers and property owners. She provided these resources pro-bono and we are so grateful for her time, dedication and contributions to this important work. For questions about the contracts or to get copies you can email Anastasia directly at: [email protected].
Unincorporated LA County Applications Available NOW- If you are interested in applying for UAIZ in an unincorporated area of LA County, you can apply TODAY! Below are some resources to determine whether your parcel is in unincorporated LA County and a link to the County UAIZ application.
- Unincorporated LA County Map
- Alphabetical Listing of Unincorporated LA County Areas
- LA County UAIZ Application
Thanks to the LA Food Policy Council Urban Ag working group for spearheading these exciting new developments! And for this one….
Water Rates and the Impact on Community Gardens in Los Angeles
(Thanks to LA Food Policy Council Urban Ag Working Group)
Julie Beals, Executive Director of the LA Community Garden Council (LACGC) and Francesca de la Rosa, Policy Director of WORKS , have been working on the issue of the impact of the DWP water rate hikes on the community gardens in the City. An ADVOCACY DAY on FRIDAY, JULY 28th from 9am - 1pm regarding these water rates has been initiated.
- Water is their greatest expense at LACGC gardens (charges $5 per plot per month)- dues will increase to $15
- If rates increase for membership, there will be massive turn over- and gardeners from wealthier communities will come in
- The Mayor’s Sustainability pLAn has goals of doubling urban agriculture in the City by 2035. These rate hikes will not support an increase in urban ag, but a decrease throughout the City.
- Some possible solutions for addressing the rate hikes include: investing in innovative water infrastructure that uses less water for farming and can also support the usage of grey water (like the Glendale City Purple Pipes program) and financial support from City elected officials to mitigate increased costs for gardens in their districts.
- If you want to know how many impacted community gardens are in your council district, contact Andrew who can send you a link to his mapping resource at [email protected]
- We are planning a Water & Urban Ag ADVOCACY DAY on Friday, July 28th from 9am - 1pm at LA City Hall.At the ADVOCACY DAY we will be meeting with LA City Council members and staff to discuss the challenges of the DWP rate hikes on urban gardens and farms in their districts and request for support to address these issues. To RSVP for Advocacy Day, please contact Julie Beals at: [email protected].