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California budget agreement hits welfare, college students

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The budget accord reached by Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers Thursday would make substantial changes to some government programs.

One of the biggest barriers to a deal was disagreement between Brown and legislative Democrats over how to change the state’s welfare system. The agreement creates a 24-month time limit for unemployed recipients of CalWorks grants to find work. Those grant recipients currently have 48 months before they are at risk of losing cash assistance.

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Under the deal, state budget spending for subsidized child care would be cut by 8.7%, resulting in a reduction of the number of slots available. Cost-of-living adjustments for child-care costs would be suspended until mid-2015.

The agreement also eliminates the state’s Healthy Families Program for low-income children, merging it into Medi-Cal.

Under other aspects of the agreement, grants for college and university students would be cut through reductions in the Cal Grants program, to take effect beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.

Financing of the state’s court system would also be restructured.

Charter schools, however, might see some growth in funding. The budget bill includes an increase in the charter school categorical block grant.

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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
twitter.com/chrismegerian

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