Poor, Young, Elderly to Feel the Brunt of Alameda County Budget Cuts

By Steven Tavares
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The disconnect between what Alameda County desires to protect from budget cuts necessitated by a $137 million funding shortfall and what it will slash is nowhere more evident than when you place its list of values next to a dollar breakdown of the proposed cuts likely to be approved Friday.

Listed as a top priority is a mandate protect “vulnerable populations like infants, children, young moms, the elderly, the disabled and those who require food and shelter.” Number two is public safety, but when it comes to county funding to those programs, both amount to the two of the largest cuts in the 2012 fiscal budget. Of the $137.9 million in cuts, public assistance accounts for $33.2 million along with $35.9 million for public protection.

In reality, a glance down to number seven on the list of values reveals the main objective of this year’s budget: to merely maintain acceptable levels of service. Keeping the status quo has been a bedeviling exercise for the county through these intense economic times and may continue for a few more years.

The total $2.5 billion county budget is actually $25 million larger than last year, while its deficit is actually falling for the first time in three years from a high of $177.6 million in 2009-10. Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi says the economic recovery theoretically beginning last summer is “accelerating its pace,” but she added only modestly.

Like most things in life, bad news travels downstream. If the federal government is struggling, states like California struggle while putting more stress on county and city services as evidenced by over $4.3 billion over the past two decades being taken by the state from local jurisdictions. Muranishi reasons this is one of the largest factors in why the county has struggled mightily during the same period to avoid varying degrees of burdens from budget shortfalls.

In some ways the county is already in the hole when it comes to delivering services even before starting a series of week long hearing this week. According to the 521-page budget, state cuts already in effect cut aid to over 20,000 county recipients of CalWorks by reducing the number of months in aid from 60 weeks to 40 while lowering the maximum payment by 8 percent. An estimated $3,600 has been reduced from those receiving checks for SSI/SSP. Over 18,000 recipients of in-home supportive services are now weathering reduced hours and between 80,000 and 100,000 county residents must now offer a copay for prescriptions and dental work along with caps on hearing aids and doctors visits.

The county’s proposed budget will again hit children hard with $34.1 million worth of cuts to health services. Child poverty in Alameda County has risen slightly to 14.1 percent. Ninety-eight thousand children are on Medi-Cal and 35,100 benefit from food stamps; an increase of 11 percent.

Despite the loss of revenue from CalWorks, reductions to county programs and increases in revenue, are estimated to add over $54 million, but those numbers are a bit shaky in the long run according to Muranishi. A bulk of those savings come from an area of the budget named the “Fiscal Management Reward Program” The FMR allows departments to carry over net savings from year-to-year, but an over reliance on such budget maneuvers “poses certain risks for the county,” said Muranishi. As the county forges ahead with a more bare-bones approach to staffing, it become more difficult to accrue savings for future fiscal budgets.

It’s a better than fair bet the economy is bound to pick up more sooner than later and we should feel fortunate since increasingly there is fewer areas of the budget to cuts without catastrophic consequences. “We’re feeling the stress of it,” said Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. “People are feeling it and the infrastructure is feeling the stress as well.”

22 thoughts on “Poor, Young, Elderly to Feel the Brunt of Alameda County Budget Cuts

  1. “You're an idiot because revenues increased every year after the tax cuts.” While spitting out another needless insult, your factual claim had no qualification about the dot-com bust. That stock bust began in March 2000 and much of its effects on the market economy were played out by the time Bush and Congress passed the first budget-busting tax cut, so it's just as well that you didn't.

    Your incorrect statement also was not qualified by the need to give “the Bush Tax Reform…time to start”. You said plainly “revenues increased every year after the tax cuts”. The first deficit-creating Bush cut was passed in 2001. You made a false statement.

    We might have a reasonable debate if you could let this go, but you appear completely unwilling to do so. Is it lack of character, or lack of comprehension? Both? Any way you slice it, Vanity, thy name is Tea Partier.

    You also misread the numbers offered as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. These are revenue percentages, not tax rates. So, your earlier claim that “we also saw (an) increase in tax revenues to the Treasury” was another version of the same wrongheadedness.

    It's also wrong to presume that lower taxes “means more money in people's pockets not the governments”. If that were true, there would be plenty of money in people's pockets right now, as our Federal tax revenues are our lowest as a percentage of GDP sine 1950. But the job market and job compensation levels are not good. Not good, after a full decade of low tax rates. Hmmm…

    Also, lowering tax rates further will take money out of the pockets of seniors, the disabled, the unemployed, parents who need child care when they work…When our Tea Partier wants to destroy governance, he wants to eliminate or gut programs which provide purchasing power for these people, and many others. How will businesses rally when more people have no money to spend?

    Everyone reading this, if your refrigerator is empty, leave it that way until Friday. If your roommate, your spouse, your children complain, tell tham that you and Anonymous are showing the dagnabbit government something by going hungry. Of course, it's likely that some of your grocery prices will rise by more than 1% between now and Friday, so it's possible that you won't save a thin penny. And you've gone hungry.

    But, you really went and showed those damn politicians somethin'…didn't you?


  2. John Evans lost the argument because his numbers prove he's just a windbag. When you have to resort to meaningless “statistics” that have NO bearing on reality you've lost the argument. Just saying.


  3. John Evans wins again! When you can't argue rationally like the tea bagger above, and you have to resort to calling people names and swearing at them, you have already lost the argument. Just saying.


  4. Hey Dumbass Evans, ever hear of the dot-com bust? You take the numbers from 2000-2003 when the Bush Tax Reform didn't even have time to start. Go screw yourself you asshole. And taxes should continue to be fall as a percentage of GDP you fool, that means more money in people's pockets not the governments. Again; go screw yourself you asshole.

    Oh and the sales tax drops one percent on Friday so everyone hold out on purchases until then and keep your own money instead of giving it to douche bags like “John Evans”.


  5. You repeat the claim “revenues increased every year after the Bush tax cuts”, but that doesn't make your claim true. I should have known better than to give you the benefit of the doubt at all. You're wrong, plain wrong. Why do you press forward with such a bad-faith argument?

    Congressional Budget Office numbers- Federal Revenues in Billions of Dollars:

    2000: $2,025.5
    2001: $1,991.4
    2002: $1,853.4
    2003: $1,782.5

    Federal Revenues as a percentage of GDP (the more important number):

    1998: 20.0
    1999: 20.0
    2000: 20.9
    2001: 19.8
    2002: 17.9
    2003: 16.5
    2004: 16.3
    2005: 17.6
    2006: 18.5
    2007: 18.8



  6. OH really “John Evans” we have a revenue problem? You're an idiot because revenues increased every year after the tax cuts. But you're too stupid to see the obvious. You morons think that if the Dems ask for $4million but only get $3.8 million that's a “Cut”. Bullshit someone else you dirtbag.


  7. Correction: twelve Senate Democrats voted for the Bush tax cuts in 2001. No House Democrats voted for the cuts in either '01 or '03. So, 14 out of aproximately 600 Democratic votes were in opposition. The partisanship of these irresponsible cuts remains.


  8. Facts: just not on your side. Sorry that you missed that anger management class. Again.

    Overall, Americans are currently paying the lowest amount of Federal taxes as a percentage of GDP sincce 1950. We DO have a revenue problem.

    If the Bush tax cuts were good fiscal policy, why did the Bush budgets go from large surpluses in the last three years of the Clinton Presidency to even larger deficits under Bush? If you try to claim it was from overspending, what worthless programs did the Republicans spend money on over the Bush years which you label as the reason the deficits ballooned immediately after the Clinton budget surpluses?

    Why did the economy for the middle- and poorer-classes go down and down over the Bush years, finally nosediving when the nearly unregulated financial industry caused a massive crash which flushed millions and millions of jobs down the drain?

    I document that in 2001 and 2003, all but three of approximately 600 Republicans voted FOR the Bush tax cuts, the biggest creator of the Bush budget deficits, and all but two of approximately 600 Democrats voted AGAINST those same tax cuts. You call that “bipartisan”, filling the air with spittle and epithets along the way.

    I don't think “bipartisan” means what you think it means.


  9. No “John Evans” you are the liar you Leftist Jackass. Why did we go into deficits you moron???? It wasn't because of a lack of money coming into the Treasury it was too much money going out. Money we didn't have. You're the fool who doesn't know squat about what he's talking about. All you can do is cry poor mouth and want more welfare. That is your only solution to everything; tax more, spend more on welfare and everything will be better.

    And you moron, you just posted that a couple Democrats voted for the tax cuts therefore that's “Bipartisan”. Fool. Once again you've proven you're a bigger moron than you let on. The post didn't say “Bush Tax Cuts” @$$hole it said “Bush Budgets” so STFU if you can't read you reactionary low-life.


  10. If the Bush tax cuts were good fiscal policy, why did the Federal budget go from large surpluses in the last three years of the Clinton Presidency to even larger deficits under Bush?

    You are reporting the facts exactly wrong on the vote for the Bush tax cuts in 2001, and their altered extension in 2003. They were approved by all Senate and House Republicans in 2003, every single one. Only two of hundreds of Congressional Democrats joined the Republicans. They were jammed through the Senate under reconciliation rules, and Vice President Cheney broke a 50-50 tie with his vote to approve the tax cuts. Was he a RINO?

    In 2001, Senators Chaffee, McCain and Snowe were the only Republicans in the House or Senate who voted against these tax cuts. Notably, they were the Republicans most often labeled as RINO's by the Republican Party base at the time, chiefly because of votes like these.

    Are you a liar and expect not to be called on it, or do you simply have no idea what you're talking about?


  11. Those Bush budgets were “bipartisan” and approved by Democrats and Rino Republicans. Both had their hands in the till. But, we also saw in increase in tax revenues to the Treasury. So go talk in the mirror “John Evans” as he is the only person to believe you, you misinformed parrot of the Left.


  12. Anon 9:54- Here's a “really wild thought” for you: There's not enough jobs. Many people with degrees can't find first jobs, much less second ones. The unemployment rate has gone up 3 to 4 percent- do you think that's because there's been a 3 to 4 percent rise in lazy people? You're a riot.

    Anon 9:58- You claim all those who benefit from government programs are “leeches of society”. Love your cliche' racist characterizations for those recieving Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, in-home supportive services, adult day care….What will happen to those whose parents will be impoverished because you've decided these “leeches” need to be cut off? Will you help their adult children out and take those elderly, many of them ill, into your home?

    Anon 4:15- Today, we are still burdened by the Bush tax cuts. After three straight years of budget surpluses after Clinton raised tax rates, the Bush tax cuts in 2001 created a permanent Federal budget deficit, AND our country has had poor job growth and stagnated wages, including the years of full Republican control of the branches of government. Thank the last disastrous decade of low-tax, low-regulation, permanent war policies for our current circumstances. So, whose policies have “been shown to fail almost every time”?


  13. What people don't understand is that John Evans wishes that all should be equal in every sense. financially, medical benefits, food…. I could go on and on.

    His ideology is not democrat and it's sure as he'll not republican. It's called comunisim. this form of society has been shown to fail almost every time it's tried and the people always eventually resist the government when they realize how oppressive their lives have become.

    Take your commi bullshit somewhere else John Evans because were not being fooled


  14. Here we go again with “John Evans” sociopath rants. So the leeches of society will have to pay a “copay” for medicine??? Big deal, it's probably the price of a couple backs of cigarette and a 40 oz malt liquor. These worms that are always crying for more welfare ought to just leave the County if the “can't make it”. That's right move somewhere else, but quit crying. No “John Evans”, it's not “there but for the grace of God goes us” it's “there but for a bottle of cheap wine and a rock of crack go us”.


  15. instead of jumping on section 8 because your job sucks, here's a better less blood sucking idea.. Get ready it's s really wild thought….. GET A SECOND JOB!!! Millions of non lazy Americans practice this idea and consequently are not on section 8.

    Or you could be like the native primates in Oakland and collect from the white man. REPERATIONS!!!!


  16. Still up to our necks in racists, I see.

    When you decide you don't want to fund government services (it's MY money!!), you won't be able to pick and choose who gets hurt. People you care about (“upstanding” white people, in your case) will lose access to programs they need, all because you've taken the big hook into your mouth and swallowed the B.S. about those receiveing government assistance are all criminals living in ease and luxury. In the real world (many of us live here- what cloud are you on?), they're often wonderful people forced into malnutrition and homeless. Billionaires and the charlatans they support put that bait on your hook and reeled you in. How does it feel to be gasping for air on the deck of that boat, bigot?

    Section 8 is a Federal program. No County funds are involved in its payments. Only 7,000 families in the County are able to access it currently. There are many more who need the program, due to poorly-paying jobs (many Section 8 recipients work) and high unemployment (there are not enough jobs for the unemployed), but enrollment is often closed to new applicants.

    I'd love to see you at Board of Supervisors meetings when they're discussing deep cuts to General Assistance and other County-funded programs. Recipients of GA and other programs, and the people and organizations who advocate for these growing populations, come to our Supervisors in fear and desperation. Hundreds have shown up at recent meetings, many with similar pleads: “I'd like to do something for myself about my income, but it's not possible. If this assistance gets cut off, I won't make it.”

    There but for the grace of God goes us. I know that. What happened to you? Who put a piece of coal where your heart belongs, and a sociopath's brain in your head?


  17. Uh-oh; our friends on Section 8 and da welfare might have to get up and work instead of smoke weed and play video games all day before going on a crime and assault spree. And illegal immigrants might have to stop coming here fo' freebies. Screwing over our old people sucks, tho'.


  18. Nice article, but the title should be more like “the state balances budget on the backs of…..”. I guess the only problem is the state hasn't balances the budget. If I recall correctly there were very few cuts by health care and social services that were county imposed. Meaning almost all of the cuts were funds the state took away.

    Public safety is a bit different because that's mostly general fund dollars from the 13 cents of every dollar the county recieves from property taxes.

    Long story short local government is generally at the mercy of the state and Feds so it seems to me the county cuts were a direct result of state reductions, not the choice of the county.

    Title is a little misleading, but there is some explanation in the article.


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