Dover Bitch

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Golden State

(Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

Have you heard the one about the liberal plot to use the issue of Global Warming to seize power?

Isn't it amazing? As soon as the Democrats go from the minority to the majority, the Republicans stop calling them the "party of no ideas" to the "party of the craziest, most sinister ideas, ever." Who could have predicted that?

Well, I'll show you an example of how the issue of Global Warming is being brazenly used for political purposes at the expense of the least fortunate. What a shock to learn it's the GOP putting their own interests ahead of the truly needy.

California's state budget is over a month late because the GOP refuses to pass it. Why? They don't like what Jerry Brown is doing to clean up California's environmental policies.

The two-thirds majority required to pass a state spending plan gives the Republican minority leverage during budget negotiations that it lacks the rest of the year.

It is using that leverage to try win concessions on several other issues. In addition to eliminating the deficit, Republicans are seeking changes on other issues that are not directly related to the budget process.

For example, they want assurances that billions of dollars in transportation bond money approved last year by voters will be spent as intended in the ballot measure. They also are trying to rein in efforts by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has been pressuring local governments to address the negative effects on global warming of their various development projects.

Republicans fear Brown's actions hold the potential to delay or stop housing and road projects.

Schwarzenegger said he was willing to address that issue later but told reporters, "It shouldn't be part of the budget."

Without a signed budget, the state controller's office said it could not pay $326.6 million to community colleges; $170 million to school districts for programs such as special education and summer school; $140 million to companies that sell products to the state; and $300 million to preschool and day care programs.

Controller John Chiang said he will be unable to pay $2.1 billion due in August unless there is a budget agreement by the end of the month.

On Wednesday, one of the GOP senators, Abel Maldonado, voted with the Democrats to try to pass the budget, but it still came up one vote short. To fully appreciate how hard the GOP is playing here, understand that Gov. Schwarzenegger has line-item veto power and offered to remove parts of the budget that the GOP senators found objectionable. They turned him down.

This isn't about fiscal responsibility, but then, it never is. The Republicans love spending taxpayer money, just not on services for the less fortunate. They are playing with people's lives, fragile lives, and they don't seem to care at all. How else can you describe this kind of avarice?

At nursing homes, the cash crunch threatens not only their ability to pay staff but to buy essential supplies, such as food for elderly residents.

Eduardo Gonzalez, who with his wife owns the Fillmore Convalescent Center in Fillmore, said their food supplier may soon stop delivery. Of the home's 88 patients, 64 are on state-funded Medi-Cal.


Small homes for developmentally disabled adults are another immediate casualty of the state budget fight. They rely completely on state funding.

Bob Horrigan runs 19 homes, each with six beds, in La Verne and throughout San Bernardino County. He said he had suspended all repairs on vans, houses and wheelchairs, and soon would be unable to pay his employees. He and his wife, who together own the homes, are exploring ways to borrow money. But Horrigan said that his bank is balking and that other potential sources of money carry steep interest rates.

"Times like this you get money wherever you can," he said. "You alienate your family. You go behind on your mortgages."


The inability of the state to cover its bills is equally hard on the thousands of in-home child-care providers whose clients pay them with state subsidies. The caregivers, many already living on the margins themselves, rely on the state checks to pay their own rent and utility bills. This week the checks stopped coming.

"They will eventually get the money, but they need it right now to pay the rent," said Cliff Marcussen, the executive director of Options, a West Covina nonprofit that facilitates state payments to 1,000 child-care providers.

The state has suspended the subsidies for more than 250,000 children.

"Without payment from the state very soon, our programs — full of children of low-income parents — will have to close, leaving them with no child care," Kathy Lafferty, North President for the Child Development Administrators Assn., said in a written statement. "How does this serve the people of California or its businesses?"

Even if some of the larger institutions that provide state services are able to weather the budget impasse, many of the small businesses that are a backbone of their operations may not.

"I'm already living on borrowed time, as far as my bills, insurance and payroll," said Daniel Rojas, general manager of Midway Care Medical Transportation, an Artesia company that shuttles about 300 dialysis patients from their homes or nursing facilities to treatment centers. Rojas, who employs 25 people, said 95% of his funding comes from the state. He is frantically trying to secure a bridge loan, but his prospects are uncertain.

"If this doesn't get settled by the 10th, I would have to shut the doors down," Rojas said. "It's going to put us out of business."

There you have it: The Grover Norquist Republican Party. Dialysis patients and low-income children, used as pawns because the GOP doesn't approve of Jerry Brown and his environmental agenda.

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