June 8, 2009
Pursuant to Elections Code Section 9005, we have
reviewed the proposed initiative entitled the "California Taxpayer
Protection Act of 2010 (version 2)" (A.G. File No. 09‑0010). The measure
would (1) make changes to the application process for federal,
state, and local public benefits, (2) provide for the identification on
birth certificates of foreign parents of children born in California,
and (3) eliminate cash benefits for low-income children not living with
a cash-aided adult.
Federal, State, and Local Benefits.
Under federal law, public benefits are generally defined to include
grants, contracts, loans, professional licenses, or commercial licenses.
The definition also includes any retirement, welfare, health,
disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food
assistance, unemployment benefits, or any other similar benefits
provided to an individual, household, or family with public funds.
Immigration Status and Program Eligibility.
United States citizens, also known as U.S. nationals, are typically
eligible for all public benefits. Legal noncitizens, sometimes referred
to as qualified aliens, are barred from receiving certain federal
benefits and may be barred from receiving state and local benefits.
Undocumented persons, also known as illegal aliens, are generally
ineligible for public benefits with certain exceptions, such as
emergency medical services.
Systematic Alien Verification for
Entitlements (SAVE) Program. The SAVE Program operated by U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services is an automated system
designed to aid federal, state, and local agencies to verify the
immigration status of applicants for governmental benefits.
Birth Certificates. Birth
certificates are issued by local registrars in each county generally
based on birth registration information submitted by hospitals and
birthing centers or by parents after a home birth. Under current law,
the parents of a child are not required to provide proof of their
citizenship status in order to register a birth and birth certificates
do not provide for the identification of foreign parents.
California Work Opportunity and
Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs). The CalWORKs program provides
cash assistance and welfare-to-work services to low-income families with
children. A parent may be found to be ineligible for CalWORKs for
various reasons. That could be because it was determined that the parent
is undocumented, has failed to comply with certain program requirements,
or had reached the five-year time limit allowed for benefits. In such
cases, cash aid is nonetheless provided to their children. These are
commonly known as child-only cases.
Some of the major provisions of this initiative
could be subject to challenge in the courts and found unconstitutional
and thus may not go into effect. The description below assumes that
these provisions would be upheld in the courts if there was such a court
in Application Process for Public Benefits. This measure
makes changes to the application process for public benefits.
Specifically, persons applying for public benefits would be required to
execute an affidavit under penalty of perjury declaring themselves a
U.S. citizen or qualified alien who was lawfully present in the country.
Filing a fraudulent affidavit would be a felony punishable by a term of
five years in state prison or a fine of $25,000. An officer or employee
of a state or local agency who provided public benefits in violation of
the measure would be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Whenever an applicant stated that he or she was a
qualified alien, state or local agencies would be required under this
measure to verify this claim through SAVE or any equivalent program.
Until such verification was made, an applicant would be presumed
eligible for public benefits. However, under certain circumstances if an
application for public benefits were approved for a person who did not
satisfy the application requirements, a copy
of the application would have to be provided to the U.S. Department of
affidavit requirement applies to a wide variety of public benefits for
which citizenship status effects eligibility. There are, however,
specified exceptions, such as emergency medical care and soup kitchens,
for which affidavits would not be required.
Changes in Birth Certificates. This
measure changes the procedures for obtaining birth certificates in
California, including a change in the format of birth certificates to
provide for the identification of foreign parents of children born in
1, 2010, parents registering the birth of their child would generally be
required to (1) state their Social Security number and (2) sign an
affidavit stating that they were a citizen or a national
of the United States or were an alien lawfully admitted for permanent
residence who maintains his or her residence in the United States. The
local registrar for birth certificates would be required to verify the
affidavits of any alien claiming legal permanent U.S. residence with
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Under this measure, a birth certificate would be
required to provide a space for the words "Foreign Parent" whenever
neither parent provided the required affidavit.
Prior to issuance of such a birth
certificate, the birth mother would be required to appear in person and
provide the local registrar with the following information: (1) either a
document with a photograph issued by the United States proving lawful
status in the United States or an identification document with a
photograph issued by a foreign government, (2) documentation proving
their current United States address, (3) documentation of all hospital
birth delivery costs paid with public funds, (4) a fingerprint, and (5)
an additional fee of $50 dollars. The birth certificate application and
the above information would in turn have to be provided by the local
registrar to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and to any state
or federal agency upon request.
Eligibility Changes for Children in CalWORKs. This measure would eliminate cash benefits for all children residing in
households in which the parents are not eligible to receive CalWORKs
benefits, commonly known as child-only cases. If child-only benefits
were eliminated, some of these children would be eligible for aid
through state- and county-supported Foster Care or county general
assistance programs. Federal law does not require states to aid children
whose parents are not receiving assistance under CalWORKs. The measure
specifically states that, if this elimination of child-only benefits is
not upheld in court, child-only benefits shall be limited to five years.
We have identified several potential major fiscal
effects of this measure, which we describe below.
State and Local Government Administrative
Costs. If upheld in the courts, the provisions of this measure
making changes to the application process for federal, state, and local
public benefits could result in unknown significant ongoing costs
to state and local governments. These costs would be incurred to (1)
collect, process, and store affidavits; (2) verify the eligibility of
persons applying for certain benefits using the SAVE Program; (3) and
transmit certain approved applications for benefits to the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security. The measure would also result in
unknown significant one-time costs for modifications to existing
benefit application processing systems in order to comply with the new
requirement that applicants submit affidavits.
This measure would result in unknown local
government costs, potentially in the tens of millions of dollars
annually, to administer the changes in the way birth certificates are
issued. These increased costs would include (1) additional personnel and
facility space, (2) additional workload to verify birth certificate
data, and (3) data storage services. These costs would be offset to an
unknown extent by the additional revenues from fees paid by persons
obtaining a birth certificate who do not meet certain documentation
Law Enforcement Costs. This measure
could result in unknown, but probably minor, state and local law
enforcement costs to the extent that persons were charged with any of
the new crimes created by this measure, such as executing a false
affidavit to obtain a public benefit.
Reduction in Public Benefit Costs.
The prohibition in this measure on child-only cash assistance would
likely result in state savings of over $1 billion annually in the
CalWORKs program if it was upheld in the courts. These savings would be
partially offset by increased state and county costs for children who
shifted into state- and county-supported Foster Care or into
county-run general assistance programs.
The provisions changing the processes for
applying for public benefits could also reduce state and local costs.
Some persons who might otherwise apply for public benefits would likely
decide not to do so because of the requirement that they execute an
affidavit regarding their citizenship status. Also, some persons who
would otherwise receive public benefits under the current application
processes might not be approved under the new procedures required by
this measure. The amount of savings from these provisions is unknown but
is likely to be significant.
Summary of Fiscal Effects. This
measure would have the following fiscal effects on state and local
If upheld in the courts, unknown significant
one-time and ongoing costs to state and local governments due to
changes in the application process for public benefits as well as
unknown but likely significant savings from decreased use of public
Unknown potential one-time and ongoing costs
due to changes in the way birth certificates are issued. These costs
would be offset to an unknown extent by additional new fees for
certain birth certificates.
Unknown, but probably minor, state and local
law enforcement costs due to provisions in the measure creating new
crimes, such as for the filing of false affidavits to obtain public
If upheld in the courts, state savings of over
$1 billion annually from prohibiting child-only CalWORKs cases,
partially offset by state and county costs for children who shifted
to Foster Care or county general assistance programs. Further
unknown savings from the provisions changing the application
processes for public benefits.
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