Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, D-San Bernardino, is sponsoring a bill, AB 1593, to change that.
"These immigrants are going to continue to live here. Many have U.S.-born children. And most importantly they are working and they’re filing their taxes here," Reyes said.
Reyes notes that the Latino Caucus in the Legislature is making AB 1593 a priority for this legislative session. In fact, the caucuses representing Latino, African American, API, LGBT and Jewish lawmakers sent a letter to the governor in support of the change.
Alissa Anderson with the California Budget and Policy Center said expanding the Cal EITC to all eligible families – including ITIN filers – would help up to 460,000 households in California at a cost of about $65 million, according to an Assembly fiscal analysis.
"It's really just a fraction of what the state spends on tax breaks overall, which overwhelmingly go to people with money," said Anderson. "So ending the exclusion of immigrants from the Cal EITC is just a drop in the bucket compared to what the state spends on tax expenditures overall."
Expanding the Cal EITC now, as the state faces a $54 billion budget deficit, might be a heavy lift. And yet, the scaled-back version adopted by the Legislature in its budget framework supports a limited expansion to help only ITIN-filing families with children younger than six.
We’ll find out this week during final budget negotiations whether Gov. Newsom accepts that as well as an expansion of Medi-Cal to undocumented seniors.
Newsom is not opposed to the idea of expanding the state’s low-income health insurance program. He actually proposed more than $80 million for it in his January budget plan. But since then, the coronavirus has decimated the state’s economy. And when Newsom announced his revised budget plan in May, the Medi-Cal expansion wasn’t in it.
“That's just one of the many things that we wanted to do, that I announced, at least my support and intention, in January that unfortunately we're not in a position at this time to advance," Newsom said.
The Legislature doesn’t agree. Lawmakers included the expansion in their budget proposal, though they pushed back the implementation to 2022 and gave the governor the ability to delay it further.
Rachel Linn Gish from Health Access California said the delay is disappointing, but she’s happy the Legislature is still considering the needs of undocumented seniors.
“They've always needed this care. They need it now more than ever," she said. "We're in the middle of a pandemic that is especially preying on our senior population. And undocumented seniors are even more at risk because they are excluded from these programs.”
Shana Charles, assistant professor of public health at California State University Fullerton, said past Medi-Cal expansions have shown covering more people is a good investment for the state.
“We get savings in terms of reduced health care costs," Charles said. "When people have insurance, then they are much more likely to get care earlier. And that's much cheaper care.”
The Legislature must pass a balanced budget by next Monday.