As Republican State Sen. Sam Blakeslee—considered by many to be a moderate conservative—explained to the community how budget negotiations with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown had disintegrated in the weeks prior, a mixture of clergy leaders and human services advocates called on the legislator to support the governor’s “modest” budget package.
On April 8, Blakeslee discussed the budget breakdown at a San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the SLO County Library, where he was met by a group of roughly 50 peaceful—but vocal—demonstrators.
“This wasn’t about responsible budgeting, it was about irresponsible bullying,” said Rev. Peter Laarman, executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, referring to the Republicans’ insistence of a laundry list of concessions in return for a favorable vote on Brown’s budget. “It’s an abomination. And I’m a clergy person—I can say that.”
Demonstrators told personal stories about how friends and family members will be affected by additional cuts to the already $12.4 billion slated in cuts for health and human services in the 2011-12 budget—cuts to such programs as Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, and Adult Day Health Care.
The rally followed an announcement by Brown in late March that negotiations had fallen apart with Republican lawmakers, after he rejected a list of more than 50 concessions they wanted in exchange for their vote.
“We accepted your invitation to bring you our ideas on important structural reforms and willingly took to heart your admonition ‘to get out of our comfort zone.’ Although it is clear that you engaged in our conversations seriously, it appears we have reached an impasse in our discussions about how to move the state forward,” reads a March 7 letter to Brown signed by five state senators, including Blakeslee.