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Aid to poor cut

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Some programs survived the chopping block, but the governor’s revised budget would still cut vital services to roughly 6,000 low-income county residents. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his revised 2010-11 state budget May 14, completely cutting various services for the poor, children, and the elderly in the face of the upcoming year’s $19 billion budget shortfall.

The cuts would completely eliminate CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program, drastically reduce child care for low-income families, and hobble mental health care and services for the elderly. San Luis Obispo County Director of Social Services Lee Collins told New Times the cuts would affect more than 6,000 county residents, including 4,000 children.

“What makes me crazy is the fundamental cynicism,” Collins said. “It’s a game where [the governor] is establishing political cover by enacting deep cuts to these services and then saying, ‘Well, at least we saved them.’ And it’s played at the expense of 2,000 families who are now wondering how they will survive.”

The governor predicts a savings of $1.6 billion from the elimination of CalWORKs. The budget would also reduce the family income limit for all subsidized child-care programs from 75 to 60 percent of the state median income.

“I think it’s [the budget] just fundamentally unfair. They’re willing to yank away the walkers and canes of the old, but not the golf clubs of the wealthy. Where’s the shared sacrifice?” Collins asked.

Other programs survived. The governor’s proposed funding for the Transitional Housing Placement Program (THPP), for example, which provides support to aged-out foster youth, remains the same at $13.8 million, according to the County Welfare Directors Association. The revised budget does not make additional cuts to education, but does leave in place those already made in January. School districts across the county expect more than 170 layoffs.

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