Call to Action From Hunger Action-LA During COVID-19: No Cuts to SSI
June 21, 2020
COVID-19, Health, Policy
The coronavirus pandemic has created a huge state budget deficit in California. In Governor Newsom’s May budget revise, he proposed cutting the State Supplemental Payment to SSI, which supports 1.3 million blind, senior and disabled Californians, as part of a set of “trigger cuts” that would be enacted if the state doesn’t get more pandemic related support from the federal government.
The proposed cuts will exacerbate the profound impact that COVID-19 has on low-income older and immunocompromised Californians, women and people of color.
The state Senate earlier this week released their own list of trigger cuts, which did not include SSP. They recognized that cutting this benefit would only make the problem of homelessness worse and increase misery & hardship for the population that includes the most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
I am writing to oppose the SSI/SSP cut in your May Revise budget proposal and instead urging you to adopt the Senate’s budget proposal that would prevent cuts to the SSP COLA.
The proposed cuts will exacerbate the profound impact that COVID-19 has on low-income older and immunocompromised Californians, women and people of color. People on SSI are one of the most impacted populations in the health care crisis because they’re high risk to get sick from Covid-19, worsening already present inequities. A CalBudget Center brief published in February 2020 reports that SSI is a critical support for older women and people of color because they have faced structural inequality in the labor market. We cannot let the value of this program and the economic disparity between women and people of color fall behind even more, at the time when they need help the most.
SSI recipients have been advocating to restore the Great Recession cuts for over a decade and have only received one COLA, while other programs have been restored and new programs have been created and funded. It’s not much money by most people’s standards, but every dollar means a lot to people living on the edge. If this cut is implemented, how many years will it take after the COVID-19 crisis for it to be restored, let alone to bring the 1.2 million seniors and people with disabilities on SSI out of poverty? We appreciate that the Administration only proposes the cut as a trigger, but still a $5 per month cut would make a large difference for a person currently living at 89% of the federal poverty level.
According to the IMPLAN economic analysis, SSP investments have a significant economic multiplier: Every $10 million in increased State Supplemental Payments would support $15 million in economic output (multiplier of 1.50), 93 jobs, and $0.9 million in state and local tax revenue. This is the kind of boost to the economy that we need.
I hope to see that SSI/SSP will not be cut in the budget and that we can work toward seniors and people with disabilities living with dignity.