Budget freeze hurting disabled
Agencies can't serve those most in need
By DENNIS TAYLOR
Herald Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 09/07/2008 01:31:21 AM PDT



California's need to reduce its $15.2 billion deficit is real, urgent and undisputed. But a fund-freezing executive order issued by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on July 31 was inconsiderate of the needs of disabled people, say officials at a local nonprofit.
The assessment comes from administrators at the Central Coast Center for Independent Living, a government-funded organization that serves people with disabilities in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.

Numerous nonprofits and government offices across the state are being squeezed by the governor's 10 percent across-the-board spending cuts, and some have closed their doors. But many of the real-life effects have been overlooked, said Denika Dallimore, systems change coordinator for the center.

"We were informed on July 31, literally at 10 minutes to 5, that we no longer would receive funding for our Office of the Patient Advocate, which provides resources and information to our consumers about the medical resources that are available to them," Dallimore said. "What that meant, quite honestly, is that we were unable to prepare our employees, and subsequently the people we serve, for changes that were effective immediately."

Schwarzenegger and state legislators have been battling over a still-in-limbo state budget, unable to agree on reforms. The impasse is California's lengthiest in 30 years.


Harsh budget reality


Meanwhile, real people are suffering, said independent-living specialist


Alma Almanza, a 14-year employee of the center.
"I received a call on Monday from the sister of a quadriplegic man who is home after being in a hospital for a couple of months. He needs an in-home care provider to help him eat, bathe, change his position ... everything must be done for him because he has no use of his limbs," Almanza said.

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