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PHI Statement on 2011 California State Budget Proposal

January 10, 2011

In response to the governor's release of a California state budget proposal that would make significant cuts to health care and safety net programs, the Public Health Institute (PHI) has committed to working with the Brown Administration and the state Legislature to find ways to mitigate cuts that would undermine the public's health.

"We recognize that difficult choices have to be made, particularly when the anticipated budget situation is so grave," said Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, PHI president and CEO. "However, it is during times like this that we must emphasize the importance of a Health in All Policies approach, which looks at all public- and private-sector policy making through a health lens, with the objective of promoting and protecting the health of the population. The budget and tax proposals announced today will have a critical role in helping to establish or undermine safe and healthy communities that strengthen California's economy, promote a healthy, stable workforce, and address health concerns."

Gov. Brown, who took office just a week ago, presented a budget plan that calls for significant reductions in spending in virtually every state program except for K-12 public education to fill the predicted budget shortfall of $25.4 billion. Targets for the cutbacks include the welfare-to work program, health care for the poor, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, home health support for the disabled and elderly, the University of California and state university system, prisons, courts, parks and state employee pay.

Kate Karpilow, PhD, director of the California Center for Research on Women and Families, a PHI project, urged that the budget axe not be used as a blunt instrument to wipe out support for people who need it most. "We have to be careful not to make cuts that dismantle structures and systems that we rely on and would be expensive to rebuild at a later date," Karpilow said. "Everyone knows that some cuts are necessary, but we have to be strategic, deliberative and not undo the safety net that protects the most unfortunate among us."

On Wednesday, Karpilow's center will host the California Working Families Policy Summit 2011 at the Sacramento Convention Center. The state budget will be a key topic of the summit, which will provide a timely opportunity for advocates to consider the governor's proposal. The annual summit is attended by leaders from the state Legislature, state and local government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations and local communities. Speakers will also address health care, welfare, nutrition programs and housing. The summit's keynote speaker will be State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who will speak from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

More information on the summit is available at the California Center for Research on Women and Families Web site, www.ccrwf.org.