California Welfare Benefit Model

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Governor’s proposed 2013-14 budget acknowledges that, compared to other states, California continues to provide broader health care coverage to a greater percentage of the population, including in-home care, guarantees access to services for persons with developmental disabilities, makes available higher cash assistance to families and continues that assistance to children after their parents lose eligibility, and provides very generous financial aid to those seeking higher education.

As the chart below shows, a family of three with $0 in annual earnings receives the equivalent of $36,000 annually in government-provided assistance and services from the state (additional county services not reflected on chart). A family earning $1,000 a month can receive nearly $4,000 a month in cash assistance and services from programs such as Medi-Cal, CalWORKs, Cal Fresh, child care and other programs. With such generous programs, the state may dis-incentivize work by punishing recipients for working and rewarding them for maintaining their dependence upon the state. The problem is that it can be more lucrative, in the form of actual disposable income, to collect various government entitlements rather than to work.

Charts (pdf)