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Schwarzenegger's budget cuts may hit California's social service programs

For Capitol insiders, it's easy to chalk it up as a bluff when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes terminating welfare-to-work and in-home care for the disabled if California doesn't get billions in federal money he's requested.

But it's no chess game for a welfare-to-work mother seriously trying to find a job, or a person in a wheelchair whose living stipend has already been slashed twice in one year.

Social services spending is a big chunk of the state budget and is often cited as a prime example of runaway spending.

Indeed, national comparisons show California is home to nearly a third of all welfare-to-work recipients. The typical $694 monthly welfare-to-work grant a mother and two children receive in California trails only Alaska and New York. The $845 monthly grant for low-income elderly or disabled individuals under the SSI/SSP program likewise is third-highest in the nation.

But numbers also show that California's safety net is getting less generous all the time.

Disabled people with little or no other income live on a combined grant: federal Supplemental Security Income, SSI, and the State Supplemental Payment, SSP.

The biggest monthly SSI/SSP grant that an individual can get now is $845, down from $907 a year ago.

That has hit many disabled people who count every penny, because they've also had Medi-Cal benefits cut.

Last July, the state eliminated coverage for dental, vision and hearing care, counseling, podiatry and four other services that federal law doesn't require states to provide.

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

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