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State Budget Could Include Programs Assisting Undocumented Workers

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The coronavirus pandemic and recent protests over the use of excessive force by police have laid bare what many knew before: income and wealth inequality and all its consequences are rampant throughout the California, especially in communities of color.

This week, as legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom hammer out a final state budget agreement that’s due Monday, we’ll learn the fate of two programs aimed at helping one segment of that population: undocumented seniors and a tax credit for low-income working families.

Gov. Newsom, who has supported and initiated several programs benefiting low-income Californians, did not include expansion of California’s Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, to undocumented workers in his January budget, before the pandemic-induced recession hit. His January budget plan included more than $80 million to expand the state’s low-income health insurance program, Medi-Cal, to undocumented seniors. But since then, the coronavirus has decimated the state’s economy, and his May revisions did not include the  Medi-Cal expansion.

Shana Charles, assistant professor of public health at California State University Fullerton, said past Medi-Cal expansions have shown covering more people is a good investment for the state.

“We get savings in terms of reduced health care costs,” Charles said. “When people have insurance, then they are much more likely to get care earlier. And that’s much cheaper care.”

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