State budget cuts include school bus service and services for the disabled

7:14 PM, Dec 13, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Trigger cuts will impact programs to help disabled

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SACRAMENTO, CA - On Tuesday, Sacramento found out how much the state will automatically cut from public schools, higher education and a range of state services.

School districts throughout California are breathing a sigh of relief. Enough tax revenue came in to avoid much of the $1.5 billion cut to education that could have meant 7 fewer days of school.

But the mid-year trigger cuts will happen at a smaller scale. They automatically take effect next month as part of the state budget Gov. Jerry Brown authorized in June. 

Among the cuts, school bus service is eliminated, saving the state $248 million dollars. The Cal State and UC systems are losing a total of $200 million dollars. Services for the disabled are being slashed $100 million.

Tuition for community college students will go up $10 a unit this summer. This is on top of a similar hike this fall to absorb $30 million in cuts.

"California has very sound finances. We're on the road to recovery, and the trigger cuts which are pulled today are a part of that process of fiscal discipline," Brown said. 

Republican budget leaders say the trigger cuts were necessary and show the temporary tax hikes did not need to be extended.

But critics say the price of cuts over more taxes is too high and that the elimination of bus service unfairly hits poor urban and rural kids. 

"In many of those communities, they have no other choice; the parents cannot afford another car to take the kids to school," said Steve Henderson of the California School Employees Association.

Trigger cuts also mean another 7,500 fewer slots in subsidized childcare. Clarissa Doutherd warns a similar cut hurt her last summer.

"Because my son is unable to attend pre-school and there are no other options for us, I was unable to work. I was forced to resign," said Oakland mom Clarissa Doutherd. "More families are going to be in my position."

Brown used this opportunity to tout his plan to tax the rich and increase the sales tax by half-percent to avoid deeper cuts. Voters will get a say next November.

PEOPLE IMPACTED BY CUTS

"Strategies to Empower People" or STEP is one of the programs that will feel the impact from the trigger cuts.

Training and advocacy manager Stacy Sisson said STEP is the largest supportive living agency in the state.

"We support developmentally disabled people by teaching them skills to live independently," Sisson said.

It provides people with disabilities with in-home support and job training.

Donna Wymer is learning valuable transferable skills while working at the All Shook Up Cafe. Wymer is deaf and receives services from STEP.

Through an interpreter, Wymer signed, "I love to work. I like to make my own money."

Wymer has received help from the program for the past 12 years. She doesn't not want to see anymore cuts to the services.

"I don't want the program cut. I don't want stuff to change. I want to work," Wymer signed.

Alex Nigero also receives services. He works in shipping and receiving at Pride Industries. Prior to living on his own, Nigero lived in a group home where he said he was isolated because no one knew sign language.

"Cuts are bad. I don't want to go back to a group home," Nigero signed.

The average cost of a developmental center is $340,000 a year per client. Sisson said it's more cost effective to teach people with disabilities to live independently with the services STEP provides.

Since 2009, the state has cut more than a billion dollars from the Department of Developmental Services budget.

News10/KXTV and ABC7/KGO

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