A Mandate for Investment

Over the last 10 years, California dismantled and starved the network of community-based programs that make up much of its safety net for seniors and people with disabilities. This pattern of disinvestment has left the state unprepared to address the needs of its aging population.  Worse, it is now harming the state-wide infrastructure of programs and services that represent an ideal foundation on which to build capacity and innovation.

Will Governor Newsom and state legislators have the foresight to invest in the services that help seniors maintain health and economic stability? The state’s budget policies over the next two years will be crucial in deciding the future for our aging state.

Over 7.6 million Californians are age 60 or older. By 2030 the number is projected to increase to 10.8 million.



June 4, 2020 – This year’s state budget will have huge impacts on the lives of older Californians. But the schedule that California’s elected officials are using to develop and pass a budget by June 15 has been significantly shortened and altered by the pandemic. This has limited public comment, thoughtful discussion and transparency.

As the Senate and Assembly struggle to mitigate the cuts proposed by the Governor’s May Revise, they, and the Governor, need to hear from the community. The cuts and program eliminations that the Governor continues to insist on would disproportionately harm older adults of color (click here for JIA’s summary). Without a Conference Committee, decisions are being made over the course of the next week.

Today, 21% of Californians age 65+ live in poverty (per the federal supplemental poverty measure). But economic insecurity is much deeper: 40% of older Californians live below the EESSI – a measure of basic living costs.


May 21, 2020 – The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the essential role aging services have in keeping seniors safe and healthy. Shelter-in-place directives have vastly increased the need for services, not only meal and food delivery, but caregiver support, case management and crisis support.

Yet the state plans to cut a host of programs that advance health equity and keep people safe at home. Governor Newsom’s May Revise Budget proposes to eliminate Adult Day Health Care/CBAS and Multi-Purpose Senior Services Program (MSSP). It proposes to reduce In-Home Supportive Services hours by 7%, and to deeply cut Caregiver Resource Centers. It makes smaller cuts to the recent increased investments in Senior Nutrition, Long Term Care Ombudsman and Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Click here for Justice In Aging’s Analysis of the May Revise Budget.

66% of impoverished older Californians are women.


February 25, 2020 – The California Budget and Policy Center has released a report that details why SSI/SSP is such an important resource for Californians with low incomes, particularly older women and people of color. Click here for the report.

As California’s population ages, it has become even more important for state leaders to promote policies reflecting the needs of an older and more racially diverse state. Among those needs is being able to afford to live and age with dignity. For over 1 million older adults with low incomes and people with disabilities in California, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payments (SSI/SSP grants) help provide that basic support.

But for more than a decade, SSI/SSP grant levels have remained the same. Meanwhile, millions of older Californians and people with disabilities have struggled to afford the rising cost of living – with older women and people of color especially hit hard by labor inequalities. State policymakers must reinvest in the program that helps people be able to pay for their basic needs. A Budget Request from the Western Center on Law and Poverty would do just that, and Assemblymember Ash Kalra has stepped up to carry it.

By 2050, over 25 percent of all Californians will be age 60 or older.


January 28, 2020 – Governor Newsom’s proposed budget for California’s 2020/21 fiscal year reflects the innovative thinking and commitment to address economic inequality that are becoming this governor’s hallmarks, along with a bit of fiscal prudence from his predecessor. His plan projects higher than expected revenues, makes significant investments to prevent and address homelessness and improve access to health care, and at the same time, anticipates an economic slowdown and makes investments to pay down debt and increase reserves.

A highlight of the Governor’s plan is his proposed extension of Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants who are age 65 and older, a significant and much needed investment. He also makes positive adjustments to some of the new investments made in 2019, extending into 2023 the new funding for ADRCs, Senior Nutrition, and the rate increase for Medi-Cal’s CBAS/Adult Day Health Care services.

With the 2019/20 budget and the current work to develop a Master Plan for Aging, Governor Newsom has initiated investments in aging services that seek to give aging Californians the support they need to live safe and healthy lives in their communities. But to really live up to that task, the Governor’s 20/21 plan must build capacity of Supportive Services programs and increase the state’s SSI/SSP and CAPI cash assistance levels.

Click here for SSC’s summary of the Governor’s proposed budget and potential impacts for seniors and senior services in Alameda County. For a deeper analysis of the entire budget plan, check out www.CalBudgetCenter.org.