In a blow to Gov. Pete Wilson’s effort to cut welfare costs, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that California cannot give lower payments to new residents than are offered to longtime California residents.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a one-page order affirming a lower court ruling that the proposal violated federal constitutional guarantees of the right to migrate from state to state.
Acting on a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union, the court said that if welfare benefits could be limited for new residents, their access to education, police and fire protection, and medical care also could be reduced.
Wilson contends that California’s benefits, which are higher than those in many other states, are a magnet for poor people. The Legislature agreed to cut benefits for new arrivals in 1992.
As a result of the ACLU suit, however, U.S. District Judge David Levi issued an injunction blocking the cuts. Other states that were considering similar restrictions for new residents had been watching the California case.