After years of watching the California state budget balanced at the expense of women and families, we decided it was time to put a human face on the impact of budget cuts. As a foundation serving communities directly affected by the budget cuts, we saw firsthand the impact on California’s women and families. Consequences include a severe rise in homelessness, increased numbers of families living two to three in an apartment, women who report that they do not eat so their families have food, and many women who defer dental and medical care because they can’t afford it.
Therefore, to influence the budget debate, we decided to partner with the California Budget Project (a well respected budget analysis organization) and fund research for policy makers and advocates to make the economic and human case for preserving the small safety net that still remains in California. Over the past few years, as California’s budget crisis has deepened, the budget has been disproportionately balanced by cutting resources for low-income families. No amount of philanthropic support can replace the services lost by these public-sector cuts.
The Women’s Foundation of California holds a vision of California as healthy, safe and economically secure. This cannot happen without public policies that are based in these values, and a state budget that provides sufficient safety net services. For the past 10 years, we’ve had an approach of supporting systemic/policy solutions implemented by those who are closest to the problems. In addition, as a public charity that does grantmaking, we have greater latitude in our ability to be involved in the public policy process, i.e. funding and participating in lobbying. Because we can lobby, we do.
Last week, we released the three reports to legislators, advocates and journalists. Articles have appeared online and in print. The research was particularly welcomed by the Legislative Women’s Caucus, the bi-partisan caucus of women in the State’s Assembly and Senate.
Here are a few examples of news and blog coverage of the research:
For copies of the reports, please go to the California Budget Project: http://www.cbp.org/
Judy Patrick is the CEO and President of the Women’s Foundation of California.