Union Helped Write California Budget Changes for In-Home Care

As they reduced the budget deficit last month, Democrats repeatedly emphasized the ideological sacrifices they made in cutting California’s safety net. But in the fastest-growing social program over the past decade – in-home care – Democrats shelved cuts pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown in favor of alternatives backed by allies in organized labor. Brown proposed saving $365 million by reducing In-Home Supportive Services across the board and eliminating paid domestic services provided by live-in caregivers, often relatives.  The Legislature instead opted to rely on new federal funds, use a pilot project involving automatic medication dispensers and assume fewer people will use the program than the governor predicted. Those ideas were floated in a memo titled, “IHSS: Alternatives To Proposed Cuts,” that the largest care workers’ union, Service Employees International Union, circulated during the budget process. “What we were able to do was really have a conversation with the Legislature,” said Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU-United Long Term Care Workers.

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