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Budget Deal Seen as Serious Blow to Black Communities

Los Angeles WAVE, News Report , Olu Alemoru Posted: Jul 28, 2009

With a vote expected soon on a proposed state budget deal, two prominent Black lawmakers have declared that inner-city communities like South Los Angeles will be the biggest losers in the process of closing Californias $24 billion deficit.

That bleak assessment was made by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and State Sen. Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles). They spoke to The Wave separately this week from Sacramento, where state officials are putting the finishing touches on a budget that has been the subject of a fierce politcal showdown in the State Capitol.

With full details yet to emerge, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators are proposing massive cuts to education, health and welfare programs affecting the elderly and poor. They also plan to take funds from already-struggling local governments and school systems.

For instance, the Los Angeles Unified School District, which faced a budget shortfall of $530 million, has already laid off about 2,000 teachers. In higher education, the state will cut funding to both the University of California and California State University systems by 20 percent, and campuses throughout the state are cutting enrollment, raising student fees and instituting furlough plans for faculty and staff.
In terms of social programs, Healthy Families, a low-cost medical insurance program for the working poor, could lose 40 percent of its $1 billion spending, according to published reports. Like Healthy Families, the welfare-to-work program CalWORKs had faced elimination altogether but will now experience significant cutbacks.

Meanwhile, local government officials are already considering legal action from a proposal to tap roughly $2 billion in their revenues. Los Angeles County officials said they were facing a budget gap that would be created by state leaders appropriating $301.9 million that had been guaranteed to the county under Proposition 1A, the 2004 constitutional amendment that was designed to protect local revenues from encroachment.

Insiders say multiple lawsuits over the budget are all but certain.

This is a difficult budget and there are no good choices, said Bass. The Republicans have held us hostage. We are not the federal government we either raise taxes or cut spending.
She added: CalWORKs, child care benefits, health and in-home services in every single way these cuts will devastate our communities. There wont be a safety net and there is no silver lining because we dont know when the recession will end.

Wright echoed his colleague, saying it would be a painful and austere [next] two years.

Its bogus to say that we should be living within our means when we passed a $123 billion budget three years ago and were looking at a $70 billion budget today, said Wright. The population is roughly the same, but demands for services in unemployment, CalWORKs and Medicare are up. Hopefully, we can get this passed and the economy will rebound.

Related Articles:

Cities Denounce Budget Deal

Businesses, Poor Take Hit as California Issues IOUs

Puncturing Old Myths About Californias Budget Woes

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