February 2009 E-Newsletter
HELPING OUR SENIORS
Seniors are confronted with a unique set of economic pressures. Many are on fixed incomes but yet they are forced to devote a large share of their money on health care and prescriptions. At the same time, their incomes may be higher than the outmoded federal
poverty guideline, preventing them from qualifying for crucial public benefits.
The problem with the federal poverty guideline -- $10,400 annually for a single adult -- is that it drastically underestimates the true cost of living in California for seniors. It is not adjusted for our state's higher cost of living. Yet, this inadequate guideline is used as the yardstick to distribute state and federal resources to cities and counties.
To address this inequity, I am drafting a bill to ensure that the state starts to adopt a more realistic and complete standard - the Elder Economic Security Standard Index - a new methodology that takes into account several factors, such as life circumstances and geographical area, to assess how much money a senior requires for his or her most basic needs.
The bill requires the index to be used by area agencies for aging for local needs assessments. In addition, various programs would use the index to identify seniors eligible for resources. In short, deserving seniors who have been denied help will now get
An informational meeting to discuss this legislation is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., in Room 447 in the State Capitol. The public is welcome to attend.
Food on the table - how many of us take that for granted?
That can't be said for some 2.5 million Californians who are unable to consistently buy enough food for their families. In Santa Clara County, an estimated 327,000 people are affected by hunger or are unable to obtain nutritious and balanced meals.
As appalling as these statistics are, the numbers are climbing.
This vicious recession has resulted in more and more Californians unemployed, 9 percent or 1.7 million people as of January. How many of them are cutting back or scrimping on food just to make ends meet? How many of their kids are sitting in class unable to devote their full attention to their lessons because they're hungry? How many seniors, who have seen their retirement investments go up in smoke, are now trying to stretch their fixed incomes by eating less?
Last year, we addressed some of the problems related to hunger. I worked with food banks across the state to free $1 million that was tied up in a state fund so we could obtain food for California's hungry families.
I also introduced Assembly Bill 433 -- legislation later signed into law by the Governor - enabling families eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grants to become automatically eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or "SNAP" (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), a move that cuts red tape and lowers the anxiety level for families who are already dealing with enough stress.
This session, I plan to continue building on last year's work. My office is preparing legislation aimed at streamlining the process for obtaining SNAP benefits by eliminating the onerous quarterly reporting system for recipients and replacing it with a semi-annual
requirement instead. The legislation would also do away with fingerprinting for SNAP applicants by using the Department of Motor Vehicles database to check for duplicate aid.
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 24 OPEN HOUSE
Assemblymember Beall will hold his annual District Office Open House on Thursday, Feb. 19, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at 100 Paseo De San Antonio, Suite 300 of the Alfred E. Alquist Building in downtown San Jose.
Assemblymember Beall will be available to discuss community and state issues. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, please call (408) 282-8920 or visit www.assembly.ca.gov./a24.