Governor proposes cuts to social service programs

FRESNO, California

Joe Hemphil also protested, in his apartment by writing a letter.

Part of it read, "There has been talk of cutting funds for wheelchairs and other necessary equipment."

Joe has Cerebral Palsy and can't speak clearly, but his computer can say the words he's managed to type.

"Where is the compassion in California's legislature?"

Joe relies on, In Home Supportive Services for assistance. But the program's funding will be cut in half if the legislature goes along with the governors cuts. The program pays caregivers like Michelle Kappitz to help Joe, and other disabled people. She thinks the cuts don't make any sense.

"I think it's stupid. What will they do with all these people?"

Most caregivers make little more than minimum wage. Their services are less expensive than nursing home care. In his budget message the governor blamed the system, and expressed compassion for those who will be affected by the cuts.

"I see very clearly the faces behind those numbers ... I know how people are suffering and how painful this is going to be." The governor said.

But Pam Brookshire who has an apartment in the same independent living center as Joe Hemphil doesn't think the governor really gets it.

"He says I see the faces of those programs ... he needs to live like us for a day."

Pam, who is wheelchair bound because of a degenerative bone disease says the budget cuts should start at the top with the governor and the legislators. "Are they losing health care benefits? Optical? Dental? Podiatrists for their feet? Are they losing the same things?"

On his keyboard, Joe Hemphill is hoping somebody listens to his message. "California, if the legislature continues as it is, will be another concentration camp for people with disabilities."

Democratic Party leaders in the state legislature have vowed to oppose the cuts. They say the governor should be cutting some of the $50 billion in tax credits and exemptions given to California corporations. The legislature will now consider the governor's recommendations, but a final budget is weeks away.

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