California Watch
A Project of the Center for Investigative Reporting
Health and Welfare

March 29, 2010 | Christina Jewett

State budget cuts under consideration in Sacramento could lead to losses of well over 400,000 jobs, many held by workers most likely to spend their earnings in state, an analysis by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

The group’s report notes that if the governor and Legislature eliminate the In-Home Supportive Services program, more than 360,000 jobs would disappear. Those workers care for the disabled who need help with basic tasks. And they’re low-wage workers, the report says, meaning they’re likely to pour their incomes right back out into their local economies.

The labor group examines how many jobs would be lost per billion dollars in budget cuts to various health and human services programs. It also applies a “multiplier” to potential cuts, accounting for the fact that some programs, like IHSS, lead to significant local spending.

All told, the governor and lawmakers are in the process of attempting to whittle $20 billion out of the state budget. The elimination of IHSS is currently considered a “trigger” budget cut, meaning the state won’t act unless it fails to maneuver about $6.9 billion from federal coffers by July 15.

Meanwhile, a favorite fundraising option from the left – instituting a tax on oil drawn in state – does not seem to impact many jobs at all, the labor studies group found. Its estimated hit on the job market is 300 positions.

Under the most clear-and-present budget-cutting scenario, though, the state faces a loss of 42,000 jobs due to cuts from the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families program, according to a look at the UC Berkeley report by Health Access, an advocacy group. Both provide health services to low-income state residents.

“Given that California’s unemployment rate is stuck at a high 12.5 percent, our state leaders need to focus on decisions that protect and promote jobs,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, in a statement.

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