On Wednesday, June 1st leadership of the State Senate and State Assembly released their joint state budget agreement. This agreement reflects support for many NASW-CA proposals, including proposals to increase the social work workforce. In the next few weeks, the leaders of both houses will meet with the Governor to negotiate a final budget. The Legislature must officially pass a budget by June 15th and send it to the Governor for his signature and line-item vetoes by the start of the fiscal year on July 1st.
As reflected in previous newsletters, NASW-CA has been advocating in partnership with the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the California Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work (CADD) on a proposal to allocate $60 million over two years to expand MSW slots at public schools of social work. This is a crucial investment to ensure we have enough social workers to provide services in child welfare, adult protective services, county mental health and other workplaces that employ our profession. We are very excited the Legislature prioritized this funding, and we will be advocating for the administration to include this proposal in the enacted budget.
We are still sorting out the details of the Legislative leadership agreement, but overall, they allocated $200 million to behavioral health programs which may include components of other proposals we have been actively promoting, including a proposal with the other master’s level therapy associations. In addition, legislative leadership agreed to include the Governor’s January budget proposal of $210 million to provide stipends and scholarships to create a new pipeline for diverse social workers.
Other proposals we have been working on that are in the legislative leadership agreement include:
- A $9 million one-time allocation for Foster Family Agency Social Workers to increase their pay.
- Increased support for SSI/SSP recipients. The current agreement provides an additional month of the grant and expedites a prior agreement to apply a Cost-of-Living Increase (COLA).
- Expands full scope Medi-Cal to all undocumented immigrants regardless of age. The last group that has remained uncovered are immigrants between 26 and 49.
- Increases for many other programs we support such as childcare, nutrition programs, senior programs, housing and homeless services and money to provide reproductive health care access.
NASW-CA will continue to work on our budget priorities until the final budget is signed!