Rally held over state budget cuts

January 12, 2009 12:23:06 PM PST
In Sacramento, Governor Schwarzenegger is meeting with lawmakers from both parties on Monday, trying to agree on how to close a projected $42 billion gap. Cuts are expected to be drastic. That's prompted a demonstration in San Francisco for advocates, for children, the poor, elderly and disabled.

The people who attended the rally were from all sorts of state agencies - some workers and some clients who say the governor's proposed cuts are immoral.

They're healthcare workers, teachers, and immigrant activists - with what they say is a collective response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest budget proposal.

"Governor Schwarzenegger must pass the moral test of the sick and needy," said Dr. Tom Lewis, Northern Valley Indian Health.

"These cuts would put the disability and senior movement back at least 50 years," said Sergio Alunan, In-Home Support Services.

The protestors delivered dozens of white carnations to the governor's San Francisco office. Each one donning the name of a person they say will suffer if the latest budget plan is enacted.

"It's going to mean a lot of children waiting on the waiting list. It's going to mean a lot of people not being able to go out to look for work. Its going to mean a lot of children not getting much-needed early learning opportunities," said Gina Jackson, Parent Voices.

But a projected $42 billion deficit doesn't leave a lot of options. On Friday, the governor sent the legislature a budget that calls for deep cuts in education, health care, and programs for the poor while raising money through taxes and borrowing.

A spokesperson for the governor said: "It's the only proposal that's going to get the job done. It represents a balanced approach of new revenues and spending reductions to get the state through this crisis."

"You have to make hard decisions. I'm encouraging him and the legislators to make difficult decisions - put healthcare at the top," said Lewis.

The governor's spokesperson said his heart goes out for those who were at the rally, and that these have been a series of very difficult decisions and that his responsibility right now is to lead.