State budget cuts will impact students, elderly

June 15, 2011 8:58:05 PM PDT
Wednesday's budget deal includes big cuts to many state services, from higher education to Medi-Cal and adult daycare for seniors.

Higher education in this state is already facing massive cuts and with this latest budget deal, UC Berkeley, others in the UC system and the CSU system have to brace for even more.

Word that the California Legislature is piling $150 million in additional cuts, on top of the half billion already on the table for the UC system, doesn't sit well with students attending summer classes in Berkley.

"I think at the end of the day, it's really unfortunate. I feel like as a student we definitely feel a lot of the weight of the budget cuts," said UC Berkeley Graduate Student Kenneth Ronquillo.

Students have already seen their class selections cut and their fees go up by 40 percent in the past two years. UC employees are worried too, especially about the potential for layoffs.

"We're all tired of this, but the university has to be held accountable also, but the legislators have to do their job too. Like don't cut education than you already did," said UC Berkeley custodian Maricruz Manzanarez.

At Oakland's High Street Pharmacy the majority of the patients get their prescriptions through Medi-Cal. The current budget plan would reimburse pharmacies even less for medicines, a move that could force many stores to close their doors.

"We're facing a situation where we're going to have to stop taking Medi-Cal patients if these cuts go forward because the state doesn't even cover the cost of these medications," said Chris Patterson from the High Street Pharmacy.

Also left hanging amid the budget uncertainties, those who participate in the adult day health care program. Gov. Brown slashed state funding for the service to seniors in his budget proposal, but a bill passed by the state senate would restore that funding. But senior advocates worry the governor won't sign it.

"We're going to have to rely on the governor to do the right thing and pass this budget that funds half the funding that we get now to provide a federal waiver program that's going to be very similar to the adult day health care, but half the funding," said Debbie Toth, form the Mt. Diablo Center.

Late word came on Wednesday that the Assembly also passed the funding bill for adult day health care. That was expected, now it's up to the governor will have 12 days to veto or sign this bill and all the others that are coming out of the capitol in this last minute flurry.


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