SACRAMENTO, Calif. - There were signs: "So they take from the sick and the poor!" "Seniors count - seniors care!" "Ageing and raging!"
There were songs: "Let's put the home care in and take the tax cuts out!" "We need health care, we need housing, for us all, that's our call!"
At least 1,000 people gathered inside the state Capitol here Sept. 15 to demand passage of the state budget proposed by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
The current delay in passing the budget - now nearly three months late - has become the longest in the state's history, with devastating consequences for California families. Critical programs are closing their doors, child care services are laying off employees, and as the delay drags on it's our seniors, our children and people with disabilities who suffer the most.
As our Rally for a Family Recovery Budget increased in size and our singing grew louder, and as our big "Ageing and raging" signs were held high, the police came and told us we couldn't demonstrate inside the Capitol. So, protesting as we left the building, we continued the rally outside.
Taking part were 35 organizations, including the California Alliance of Retired Americans, Communications Workers of America retirees, Gray Panthers, In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers and more. Speakers supported the modest budget proposed by the Democrats, saying cuts proposed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be much worse.
Throughout this budget battle, the Democrats have refused to destroy services that millions of Californians rely on. And all through this budget battle, the Republican governor and Republica legislators have shown a lack of concern for the welfare of the people that is truly frightening. Over and over in this election year, the words "No new taxes, No new taxes" reverberate throughout the media, in complete denial of the fact that taxes make up about 96 percent of the state's general revenues.
When the taxes don't come in to the state's general fund, there is no revenue to pay for the general fund's expenditures. That means, for example, health and human services such as CalWORKS, which the governor has said he wants to end completely. CalWORKS supports 580,000 families as they try to move from welfare to work.
Without In Home Supportive Services, which the governor has said he would end, 450,000 recipients of IHSS care, the elderly and the disabled, will have to go to expensive nursing homes. Caring for those who receive IHSS creates 380,000 jobs.
Without the Healthy Families program, more than a million children will go without medical care.
These were the issues dealt with as our rally continued with signs and chants: "No more cuts, no more cuts." "Don't throw away our children." And, "Home care keeps seniors healthy and happy."
There was something else, new and encouraging. The evil word "taxes" was used with a different meaning, again and again. Even raising taxes on the rich was proposed, positively. Refreshing!
Photo: Scene from a similar protest in June. PW/Marilyn Bechtel