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Kansas Could Lose Millions for Limiting Welfare Recipients to $25 at ATMs

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A woman shops for groceries. (AP Photo)

A woman shops for groceries. (AP Photo)

 

 (McClatchy) — A first-of-its-kind provision that prevents welfare recipients in Kansas from withdrawing more than $25 a day from an ATM might violate federal law, and could jeopardize the state’s federal funding if not amended.

The Social Security Act requires states to ensure that recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, “have adequate access to their cash assistance” and can withdraw money “with minimal fees or charges.”

At stake is about $102 million in TANF block grant funds that Kansas receives every year from the federal government.

The state’s controversial ATM limit was added as an amendment to a welfare overhaul bill signed in April by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican. The new law also bars welfare recipients from spending their benefit money at certain places, including movie theaters, massage parlors, cruise ships and swimming pools. It also sets stricter eligibility requirements and shortened the amount of time people can receive assistance.

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Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project. With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

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As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help neighborhoods prepare for crises — hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics or unrest — and to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

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California Black Media

Golden State Could have $25 Billion Deficit in 2023-24 Fiscal Year

California taxes wealthy people more than other states, so most of the revenue decline is because the rich aren’t making as much money as they used to. The report details that California could see deficits between $8 billion to $17 billion in the following years.

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The surplus is gone once a budget is passed, according to the LAO, so the fiscal outlook provided to legislators assumes that current state laws and policies will remain in place.
The surplus is gone once a budget is passed, according to the LAO, so the fiscal outlook provided to legislators assumes that current state laws and policies will remain in place.

By McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

California’s government may have a faceoff with a $25 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year as tax revenues decline, according to a report issued by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

During a Nov.16 video press briefing, Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek said that if the predicted downturn happens, it will be the Golden State’s weakest revenue performance since the 2008 to 2009 Great Recession.

“It is not insignificant, but it is also manageable,” Petek said. “We don’t think of this as a budget crisis. We just think of it as a notable budget problem that the Legislature will have to confront when it begins that process in January.”

The LAO, the state Legislature’s fiscal and policy advisor, details the budget shortfall and suggests ways to avoid it in the 20-page “The 2023-24 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook.”

The document is released yearly around this time to help guide California lawmakers as they begin to put together budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year.

Petek said the threat of a national recession and actions by the Federal Reserve played a hand in the report’s outlook, but the predicted numbers are not based on a recession occurring.

“Economic conditions are really weighing on the revenue estimates that are a major influencer of our fiscal output,” Petek said. “With elevated inflation that causes the Fed to have to take action to cool down the economy in its effort to bring down inflation. The longer and the higher inflation remains, the more aggressive the Fed has to be. And the more aggressive the Fed has to be, it really increases the risk that the economy will fall into a recession. So, that being said, our revenue estimates do not assume a recession.”

California taxes wealthy people more than other states, so most of the revenue decline is because the rich aren’t making as much money as they used to. The report details that California could see deficits between $8 billion to $17 billion in the following years.

Less spending on large, one-time allocations is one way the state can offset the revenue losses it is expected to experience.

In response to the LAO budget prediction, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said the state has budget resiliency — $37.2 billion in reserves.

“We can and will protect the progress of the recent year’s budgets,” Rendon said. “In particular, the Assembly will protect California’s historic school funding gains, as districts must continue to invest in retaining and recruiting staff to help kids advance and recover from the pandemic.”

State Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said that in the past, the dreary budget forecast would have meant program cuts and middle-class tax increases.

“That does not have to be the case this year,” Atkins said. “Thanks to our responsible approach, we are confident that we can protect our progress and craft a state budget without ongoing cuts to schools and other core programs or taxing middle class families. The bottom line is simple: we are prepared to hold onto the gains we’ve made and continue where we left off once our economy and revenues rebound.”

Petek recommended that legislators not look to the reserves to solve the budget paucity when they begin formulating the state spending plan in early 2023.

“It would be prudent to try and identify other solutions in the early part of the budget period, and then if and when we have a lot more information about the economic situation — if revenues have deteriorated for example or if there were a recession, we are certainly not saying don’t use the reserves,” he said. “We are saying, keep them on hold and you have them to turn to in that situation if the picture has gone south in May. You have the reserves that we can tap into to really help supplement the other solutions identified earlier in the process.”

Republican Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) said the report is a wakeup call.

“California’s economy is weakening, and now with persistent inflation, the revenue that is coming into the State of California is coming in way below projection,” Fong said. “As someone who has been on the budget committee for a number of years, we have been warning about this. The ruling party in Sacramento continues to spend and grow government programs without any accountability and the budget is completely unsustainable. We have to refocus on fiscal responsibility.”

LAO’s budget forecast comes on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic-controlled Legislature estimated $97 billion surplus that led to the expansion of Medi-Cal eligibility to all immigrants in 2024, a boost in the earned income tax credit, and free preschool for 4-year-olds.

A relief package, priced at $17 billion, to help families, seniors and low-income Californians and small businesses was also approved in June by lawmakers.

The surplus is gone once a budget is passed, according to the LAO, so the fiscal outlook provided to legislators assumes that current state laws and policies will remain in place.

“We make adjustments for caseloads and things that influence the budget expenditures, but if you keep the same policies what would your budget picture look like?” Petek said. “That is what we are trying to tee up for them as they await the governor’s proposal.”

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Black History

Rep. Karen Bass Makes History as L.A.’s First Black Woman Mayor

“The challenges we face affect us all, and all of us must be a part of our solutions,” said Mayor-Elect Karen Bass in a prepared statement. “Los Angeles is the greatest city on Earth. I know, if we come together, hold each other accountable, and focus on the best of who we are and what we can achieve, we can create better neighborhoods today and a better future for our children.”

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Mayor-Elect Karen Bass addressing supporters on election night, Nov. 8, 2022. Maxim Elramsisy, California Black Media
Mayor-Elect Karen Bass addressing supporters on election night, Nov. 8, 2022. Maxim Elramsisy, California Black Media

By Maxim Elramsisy | California Black Media

“This is my home, and with my whole heart, I’m ready to serve, and my pledge to you is that we will hit the ground running on Day One,” Los Angeles Mayor-elect, Rep. Karen Bass announced Nov. 16 after the Associated Press (AP) declared her the projected winner in a tight race for the top job in California’s largest city.

Bass, who has represented the 37th Congressional District of California for 11 years, will be the first woman to lead Los Angeles when she is sworn in on Dec. 12, 2022. She will also be the second Black Angelino to hold the office in a city where 8.8% of residents are Black, according to the U.S. Census.

Before Bass was elected to Congress in 2010, she previously served as a member of the California State Assembly representing the 47th district from 2004 to 2010. From 2008 to 2010 she was the first Black woman to be State Assembly speaker.

In the U.S Congress, Bass represented West Los Angeles and from 2019 to 2021 served as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Her opponent, businessman Rick Caruso, conceded that Bass had won the election Wednesday evening, just over a week after the polls closed in the deadlocked race that election watchers said until this week had no apparent winner until now.

A former Republican turned Democrat, Caruso told his supporters in a letter “the campaign has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am so proud of my campaign. We held true to the core values of our family – integrity, honesty, and respect for all.”

A billionaire real estate developer, Caruso owns residential and retail properties around Southern California, including The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, Americana at Brand in Glendale and the Commons at Calabasas.

The vote was virtually tied on Election Day, but each subsequent update to the tally extended the lead for Bass. The counting will continue until every ballot is accounted for, but according to the AP, she has accrued an insurmountable lead.

Almost 75% of voters in L.A. County voted by mail in this election, contributing to some of the delay in announcing a winner.

According to California state law, each mail-in ballot must have its signature verified before it can be counted, and ballots are received for seven days after the election, so long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

A record amount of money was spent on the race, with Caruso’s campaign vastly outspending Bass. The Caruso campaign reported a total expenditure of $104,848,887.43.

Caruso himself contributed almost $98 million to his own campaign, which he spent primarily on advertising.

“Despite being outspent 12 to 1, Congresswoman Karen Bass proved L.A. voters can’t be bought,” said Kerman Maddox, the finance committee chair of Bass 4 Mayor.

Vastly outspent from the start of her candidacy, Bass also won the June 7 primary election.

Bass benefited from endorsements from Democrats at all levels of government, including former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, California Senator Alex Padilla and the Los Angeles Democratic Party. One notable holdout was Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Kellie Todd Griffin, Convening Founder of the California Black Women’s Collective — a collective of hundreds of Black women from various professional backgrounds across the state — referenced Bass’ background as a strong and respected voice for Los Angeles’ African American community.

“This is a victory that we are all vested in because it represents the power of what we can do through community organizing and collaboration,” Griffin said. “Mayor-Elect Bass is the change we need right now to ensure today’s most pressing issues will be addressed in a way that doesn’t leave us behind. We are proud because this a victory for Black women and our community.”

Bass is well known across Los Angeles for building cross-cultural, multi-racial coalitions of people and being able to rally them around causes.

During the crack epidemic of the 1980s, she was a physician’s assistant and a clinical instructor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC Physician Assistant Program who became a leading voice for victims affected by the highly addictive substance derived from cocaine.

Bass promised that her administration will be inclusive and “will bring everyone to the table.”

“The challenges we face affect us all, and all of us must be a part of our solutions,” she said in a prepared statement. “Los Angeles is the greatest city on Earth. I know, if we come together, hold each other accountable, and focus on the best of who we are and what we can achieve, we can create better neighborhoods today and a better future for our children.”

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