Policy Priorities: Closing the Gap Between Families and Elders’ Income and Expenses

The Insight Center’s Building Economic Security for All (BESA) mission is to help all people achieve a basic level of economic security in the U.S., so they have enough money to cover the expenses of everyday life like rent, food, child care, health care, transportation, and taxes, but also enough to begin to develop and/or draw on savings and assets. The Self-Sufficiency Standard and Elder Economic Security Standard Index demonstrate that many working families and retired elders are struggling to make ends meet, but are not captured by the current official federal poverty measure. What is being done to close the gap?

Our 2011 state and national policy priorities include continuing to inform and improve the calculation of the Supplemental Poverty Measure and co-sponsoring California Assembly Bill 138 (Elder Economic Planning Act of 2011).

Supplemental Poverty Measure

The Census Bureau announced that it will develop a Supplemental Poverty Measure that will use an improved methodology to obtain a better understanding of the economic well-being of American families.  The new measure will only be used for statistical purposes in determining poverty rates and will have no impact on eligibility for public programs or funding distributions to state and local governments. While we are grateful that the Obama Administration is bold enough to recognize the need for an update to the outdated Federal Poverty Thresholds, this new measure is still a measure of deprivation; it does not reflect what it actually takes to get by in today’s economy.  We continue to advocate for improvements to the Supplemental Poverty Measure to reflect the cost of meeting all basic needs, like our Self-Sufficiency Standard and Elder Index.

California Senate Bill 1084

SB 1084 (Liu, Jones): California Economic Security Task Force. SB 1084 would establish a 2-year bipartisan public/private Task Force to create an inventory of state programs aimed at reducing poverty and increasing economic security, analyze program effectiveness, and provide a comprehensive set of politically viable and fiscally responsible policy recommendations to improve economic security among Californians as defined by the Insight Center’s Self-Sufficiency Standard and Elder Index for California.

California Assembly Bill 138

Elder Economic Planning Act of 2011 (CA Assembly Bill 138), introduced in 2011, would require that the California Department of Aging and the local aging agencies use the Elder Index when developing their federally-mandated state and local plans to address elder needs; by doing so, it would eliminate the need for costly independent research and result in better allocation of staff and senior services resources.

In the coming years, we will be working to develop and sponsor public policies that:

  1. Target investments in education, skills development, and support services, including higher education and subsidized child care, that are part of career pathways to help younger workers access Self-Sufficiency wage jobs in growing sectors of the state and regional economies
  2. Promote savings and asset accumulation for younger workers
  3. Allow older Californians who receive Supplemental Security Income and live alone to receive the maximum allowable food stamps benefit
  4. Expand older adult retraining and employment opportunities (e.g. by partnering with the private sector to create more flexible work environments and to retain older adults, and by expanding job training opportunities through the Workforce Investment Act


Previous Legislation

To view previous legislation, please click here and scroll to the section titled "In Legislation or Administrative Action".