Local News

Jul 30, 2010 2:26 AM by Ariel Wesler

Locals rally against proposed cuts to health services

Dozens rallied in San Luis Obispo today protesting billions of dollars in cuts to services they depend on.

Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing $6 billion in cuts to California's Health and Human Services. Seniors and the disabled are among those who will be impacted.

They marched from Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo to the Farmers Market-- sending powerful messages to state lawmakers.

"Make the budget cuts that are appropriate," said Thomas Athanasion, who's visually impaired and suffers from chronic back pain.

He relies on in home care and says part of the governor's budget plan would unfairly ration medication.

"If I don't take them, I could end up six feet under," Athanasion said.

Eliminating the CalWorks welfare program would affect more than two thousand families right here in San Luis Obispo County.

"They will be left without money to pay their rent, buy food, and provide services for their children," said Jessica Rothhaar with Health Access California," a healthcare group that helped coordinate the rally.

Organizers stress the proposed cuts would ultimately impact more than just seniors and the disabled.

"It will result in higher costs for the county because when somebody gets sick and ends up in the emergency, we have to pay for it, unless we're willing to let people die in the streets," Rothhaar said.

Instead of cuts, they want lawmakers to tax oil production and rollback corporate tax breaks.

"All those issues are being discussed. I'm going to fight for reform of our tax system, restructuring of our tax system, and realignment of responsibilites to make the government more accountable to the people," said Rep. Sam Blakeslee.

Committed to the cause, they urge those in Sacramento to put together a budget with a little dose of compassion.

"Someday, we all will be old and many of us will in fact live to the point where we have a disability and we need help," Rothhaar said.

There are some who say these cuts are necessary to balance the $24 billion deficit, but the Department of Health and Human services has been hit with $20 billion dollars of cuts in the last four years and would like to see a more balanced approach.

State lawmakers were supposed to have a budget by June 15th.

Think you could do a better job at balancing the budget in Sacramento? We have found a way to put your confidence to the test. The Los Angeles Times has come up with a budget balancer, which lets you plug in which services you'd keep, what you'd cut, and what taxes you would implement. To see if you can solve our state's problem, click here.

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