Taxpayer Funded Bonuses?

California News The majority of the Central Valley Regional Center's staff are social workers and case managers, who coordinate services for about 15,000 of the valley's developmentally disabled citizens. And like many state funded agencies, the center faced significant cuts in the last year. Its funding comes from the state's Department of Developmental Services, which is dealing with nearly a half billion dollars in existing and pending cuts. Still, the CVRC managed to end the year with a surplus. "Back in July, we were able to manage so closely we were able to have a reserve at the close of this fiscal year," said executive director Robert Riddick.

Riddick is now facing criticism for a decision to give the agency's employees $500,000 in what he calls one time salary adjustments. He says they were not intended to be bonuses and clients were not impacted. "If we would have an impact on clients directly, our board would not have done it, our board wouldn't have done this. It's that simple," said Riddick.

Riddick says the money came from salary savings and the staff's success at getting more federal dollars. But some are questioning the payments amid the state's budget crisis. Chuck Genseal, the vice president of Families for Effective Autism Treatment, or FEAT, says the bonuses come as the disabled community braces for more drastic cuts. "$500,000 dollars to the state means absolutely nothing. $500,000 thousand dollars to the developmental disability community could mean their survival. It could mean their in home supportive services," said Genseal.

The CVRC itself doesn't provide services and instead refers its clients to other organizations. Many of those organizations declined to talk on camera Tuesday because they feared retaliation, but a group made up of several of the organizations, says the CVRC's action has left them shocked and disappointed. "While we have sincere respect for the work performed by Central Valley Regional Center employees, their board's decision to award bonuses is an indefensible act," it said.

State Senator Dean Florez is also questioning the bonuses. Late Tuesday afternoon, his office released a letter addressed to Mr. Riddick, asking for more information about where the surplus came from and how the board came to their decision.

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