Disabled community fights against cuts

June 22, 2009 7:10:55 PM PDT
Members of the disabled community rallied on Monday, desperate to get the attention of the governor. They say the cuts they're facing because of the budget crisis could be life threatening.

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Members of the disabled community were on a mission: to talk to Governor Schwarzenegger about the severe cuts to their state-subsidized care and services. For many, receiving less funding may be the difference between living independently or in a nursing home.

"It's appointments only," said a security officer.

But, it's just not that easy to see the Governor.

"We're waiting for Governor Schwarzenegger," said a member of the crowd.

"He's not here," said the governor's representative.

"I have a letter to deliver to him about these cuts, just to educate him and let him know he is essentially signing people's death warrant with these cuts-only budget," said disabled protestor Russell Rawlings.

"With that 27 percent drop in revenue, we simply can't afford to pay of all the things we used to be able to pay for. It's difficult but these cuts are necessary," said governor's press secretary Aaron McLear.

A cuts-only budget solution, though, may be the only package that gets enough votes to win approval on the Assembly and Senate floors later this week. But Democrats are going to try anyway to include an oil extraction and tobacco tax to lessen the severity of cuts to social programs. It appears the Republican votes are not there.

"At last count, I counted 19 different bills, one of those bills have taxes. I understand that might be a challenge. I certainly hope they will step up," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) of Los Angeles.

The governor says he already has his veto pen ready if lawmakers send him a revised budget that includes new taxes. That would bring budget talks back to square one and the fate of California's disabled in a worse spot that cuts with no money at all. The controller would have to freeze payments to all programs, if a budget fix isn't in place soon.

"It's important that the governor and legislature don't force the state to make even more dramatic and harmful steps that impact people's lives," says State Controller John Chiang (D).

The disabled community favors the oil extraction tax which could bring in $800 million a year. California is the only oil-producing state that doesn't impose one.

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