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When you make the benefits so generous, that the parasites come to Cali to get the benefits and the productive and companies are going to Nevada and other states to escape the crushing burden of regulations that are foisted on them by the anti-business climate, you will have a deficit when the freeloaders outnumber the productive.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Advocates of welfare reform in California often cite one, eye-popping statistic as they have pressed for cuts and changes to the program in recent years: The state has one-eighth of the nation's population but one-third of all welfare recipients.
Yet steps taken in recent years to cut costs and get more recipients back in the workforce have run head-on into the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. Recipients have been left with fewer training programs, shrinking welfare checks and a shorter period during which they are eligible to receive assistance at a time when employment prospects for even highly qualified job-seekers are dim.
That has led to fear and uncertainty among welfare recipients, many of whom have spent a year or more in job-preparation programs without success.
"I've been trying to look for work, but everyone has been losing their jobs and work was hard to find," said David Balaba of Sacramento, who has been on welfare since being laid off in 2009 as a merchandiser for a beverage-packaging company.
His wife lost her job working at a cafe in the Sacramento Zoo a month before his layoff, and their daughter was born shortly after.
"From there, it started to go downhill," said Balaba, 27. "We couldn't find work, we lost everything. It was like a snowball effect."
To help cut their childcare costs and living expenses, his family moved in with his parents in south Sacramento, a few miles from the state Capitol. For almost two years, Balaba has been drawing welfare checks while participating in state-funded programs designed to help him find work.
None of those programs has paid off, and with state spending cuts to welfare programs, he is receiving $300 a month from the state, less than half his previous check of $661.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Balaba is one of 4.6 million Americans on welfare amid a lasting recession that has forced lawmakers to slash budgets across the country, including for many safety-net programs.
California will spend $6 billion this fiscal year on its welfare programs, or roughly 7 percent of a general fund budget that has shrunk by $17.5 billion over the past three years.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Republican lawmakers pushed successfully for welfare reforms in 2004 and have won other cutbacks and concessions since then.
Funding for CalWorks, the welfare-to-work program that is the state's main welfare service, was cut by $1 billion this year. The legislation that reduced the spending also shortened the amount of time a recipient can stay on welfare, from 60 months to 48, while also reducing monthly checks by at least 8 percent.
Lawmakers also suspended a program called Cal-Learn, which offers incentives and services for teenage parents who had dropped out of high school.
Many Republican lawmakers say the cuts need to continue because California can no longer afford all the program's costs. They say the relatively generous benefits have made California a magnet for those seeking welfare assistance.
The Legislature's budget cuts and reform measures in recent years are steps in the right direction but don't go far enough, said state Assemblyman Brian Jones, a Republican from La Mesa, near San Diego.
He said he would support cutting the amount of time adults can remain on welfare even further.
"By the time someone is on welfare for 48 months, I think they're trained to be on that system," he said. "I think we need to make it more attractive in California to get folks off of welfare instead of onto it."
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