Democrats in the state legislature have consistently opposed deep cuts in programs that serve California's neediest citizens. Wednesday, a crowd of those citizens turned out in downtown Santa Rosa to raise their voices in their own defense.
(Photographs courtesy of Becoming independent)
Demonstrators outside the state office building in Downtown Santa Rosa July 16 (above) were uniformly concerned, and some such, as a woman named Bridget, were angry and upset.
Cammy Weaver, Executive Director of Becoming Independent in Santa Rosa, is alarmed at the way proposed budget cuts in the California legislature are eroding the protections of the state’s Lanterman Act. Moreover, she fears, once those cuts are enacted, they will remain in place for years..mp3&autostart=false" />
Although the state budget "trailer bill" - the actual legislation to implement the spending cuts that are being debated in more general terms-is still tentative, it includes 36 specific items that the staff at Becoming Independent has been carefully watching. Chief among their concerns are these four:
Cuts to Early Intervention - 6,000 babies between 0-3 years of age will lose their services. Another 11,000 are at risk to lose of see major reductions in services. The result will be life-long disabilities for these babies who, with early intervention, may not even need ongoing services in their adult years.
Use of Least Costly Program - For the first time as a matter of law, regional centers will have the authority to assign or transfer a consumer from where they want to be to a program entirely of the regional center's choosing to save money. That choice will not be subject to appeal. The IPP is destroyed for those who will be subjected to a life of someone else's choosing.
Cuts to Transportation - Relying on public transportation to move people with severe disabilities from where they are to where they need to be is a failed concept. It will work for some, but not for most. Unless the bus stops directly in front of their home and goes directly to where they need to be, it is simply impractical. It will trap people with disabilities in their homes. They won't be able to reach your program!
Cuts to Respite - The goal was to save $5 million by capping respite hours at no more than 90 hours per quarter. Instead, this cap imposes at least a 20% cut, "saving" more like $35 million. The reason saving is in quotes is that failure to get vital relief from 24-7 care-giving or people with severe disabilities will collapse many families and lead to much more expensive out-of-home placement.