Groups Rally on Eve of Governor's State of the State Address

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A few hundred people gathered at the State Capitol to give what they they called the “State of the People” speeches. They say they’re concerned about California’s future in light of the Governor’s budget proposals which include billions in spending cuts and billions in new taxes… Evan LaVang is the Director of the Independent Living Resource Center of Northern California. His organization helps people with disabilities.  He says the Governor’s plan will damage lives. 

 “We’re here to report to you what you won’t hear in the Governor’s address. What you won’t hear from him is that budget cuts over the last three years have deeply wounded our families…” 

Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed cuts to the Medi-Cal program that provides health care for the poor.  He also wants reduce benefits that help the elderly and disabled live at home. It’s part of the effort to close a 40-billion plus budget gap. Steve Weaver has a ten-year-old daughter with disabilities.  He says the Governor must realize those services are crucial for families like his. 

“We are reliant upon the state services to survive and if those go away to the level and extent that I think they can, I may be one of those people filing bankruptcy and having to live in a shack.  I am that scared.” 

A spokesman for the Governor’s Department of Finance says many of the decisions have been difficult to put on the table-- but are part of a broad approach involving all areas of government to close a record budget gap.  He says Schwarzenegger has tried to spread the reductions across government…. The Governor and all four legislative leaders have been meeting frequently throughout this week to discuss the budget. If they don’t reach agreement soon the state could run out of cash—in a matter of weeks.