June 17, 2015 | PressTelegram.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The announcement of a California budget deal has not stopped pleas for the state to spend more on social services, as advocates for people with disabilities came to the state Capitol Wednesday, angry after additional funding for services was left out of the $115.4 billion deal.
The 2015-16 budget proposal from Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats allocates $3.5 billion from the state’s general fund for developmental disabilities services, a $387 million increase over last year.
But Dwight Hansen, a lobbyist for developmental disabilities group The Lanterman Coalition, said the increase is only to accommodate a growing number of people in the system, while funding for institutions and programs remains the same.
It was a deep snub to people with disabilities and those who care for them after the Assembly and Senate had included nearly $63 million in their approved budgets to pay for programs such as assisted care that helps people with disabilities stay in their homes.
“People are just desperate,” Hansen said. “I’ve never seen this level of desperation before.”
Democrats in both houses of the Legislature sought to spend more on social welfare programs in the fiscal year that begins July 1, but Brown held firm against expanding many programs and relied on a lower projection for how much tax revenue the state will bring in.
Among the other legislative proposals that did not make the cut were $103 million to eliminate a cap on state welfare payments for low-income women who have more children and $82 million in higher payments for providers in Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, addressed the discrepancy in a joint statement Wednesday, saying funding may still be available and will be considered in a special session on the budget.
Legislative Republicans have also supported funding increases.
Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, met with activists outside the Capitol Wednesday, saying they would fight for additional money when budget talks resume.
“These people were left out in the cold,” Grove said.