State lawmakers announced Thursday they’ve reached final agreement on the budget. Although the Legislature passed a budget last Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders remained divided on a few key issues. That’s all worked out now.
The main impasse has been over cuts Gov. Brown wanted to make to CalWorks, California’s Welfare to Work program. In the end, the governor got his wish to shorten the time parents can collect assistance from four years to two — if they fail to meet work requirements.
Democrats had resisted the cuts because they penalize people who try, but can’t find jobs during a time of high unemployment. But now Democratic leaders say they’ve found a “middle ground” that they can live with.
The shortened benefit time would be phased in — and it would only apply to people who apply for the benefits in the future, not current recipients. Counties would be able to extend benefits past the two years if the parent is close to completing education or training or close to finding a job. Or if unemployment in the county is high.
There are also cuts to Cal Grants for students at for-profit universities and colleges. Starting in 2013, if those institutions fail to produce healthy graduation rates, new students would not be eligible for the education scholarships. Continuing students would lose their Cal Grants within a year.
This story has been updated.