Monday, January 26, 2009

On The Backs Of The Poor And The Vulnerable

California still doesn't have a budget and will run out of cash within just a few weeks. The Democratic led state legislature, working with the governor, is now signalling that a potential deal is getting closer. Again. This time, however, the deal is one designed to be more palatable to the Republicans because it imposes draconian cuts on social services. That's right: the budget is going to be balanced on the backs of the poor, the vulnerable, and (of course) school children. Here are some of the highlights of the proposal:

One of the provisions both parties have supported in the state Capitol would reduce the maximum monthly grant for low-income blind and disabled Californians. Individual grants would drop from $907 to $870, while couples would see their monthly checks drop from $1,579 to $1,524, according to the state Department of Finance. Those grants were supposed to increase this year and again next year to account for inflation. ...

Both political parties have endorsed a plan to save $107 million through 3% reductions in payments to programs that help Californians live with cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy and mental retardation. These programs, delivered through 21 regional centers, assisted 230,000 people last year, said Bob Baldo, executive director of the Assn. of Regional Center Agencies.

They provide diagnosis and early intervention for infants and toddlers with signs of development disabilities. These centers also provide rides for adults with developmental disabilities to day programs, provide them places to live and line up employment for them. ...

A steep dip in school spending has been jointly endorsed. Some of the $3.9 billion in cuts to kindergarten-through-12th-grade education would be offset by declining enrollment in some districts, but there will also be many direct effects in the classroom.

The area of school spending that will be hit hardest is funding for textbooks, which would be cut by $417 million. The loss of that money would make some schools unable to update their textbooks, and some districts unable to supply books to every student.

More than $277 million would be cut from a program to fund long overdue maintenance in school buildings, including some scheduled "emergency repairs." Plans by many districts to fix leaky roofs, cracked sidewalks and broken heating systems would have to be put off another year. ...

Both parties have also endorsed cancellation of a 2.94% cost-of-living increase for the state's welfare program. That would mean a family of three receiving the maximum monthly grant of $723 would not receive an extra $21 a month this year.

Noticeably absent from this list is any mention of cuts in such areas as the commissions which tout and allegedly regulate the state's agricultural interests (the avocado growers will be happy about that). Also absent are any cuts in the salaries of appointees to special projects (and Schwarzenegger has just announced several such appointments, all high paying). Nor are there any cuts in legislators salaries, the salaries of their staffs, or any cuts in the salaries of our constitutional officers and their staffs.

The article was silent about any tax hikes, temporary or permanent, or any hikes in user fees. Are they part of the deal that "both parties" are striking? I doubt it, not when the mantra of "both parties" was reiterated throughout the article and state Republican legislators have taken a pledge of no tax increases.

This must be the new bipartisanship the GOP has been touting here in California and in Washington, DC.

So, we'll finally have a budget, and very happy rich people.

The poor and vulnerable? Eh, not so much, but that doesn't seem to matter to either party.

State government, meet bathtub.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

That's been the plan since Reagan, no? To create a government financial situation so dire that the dreaded "welfare state" could be trimmed and ultimately abolished?

Then what?

California used to have one of the world's top-five economies. Now it's third-world. What next?

4:56 AM  
Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

Gawd bless us, every one, Mr. Scroogenegger!

6:57 AM  

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