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Michael Eyerly
Michael Eyerly
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Budget Cuts Will Hurt Those Who Need The Most Help

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Proposed budget cuts in California will adversely affect the elderly, children, environment and workers.

California has a $14.5 billion budget gap. That’s a fair amount of money. To close that gap the state could raise taxes or cut its spending. Because the Governor does not want to raise taxes, he has proposed across the board spending cuts. To cut that much from the state’s budget, sacrifices will need to be made. The Governor is looking for ten percent cuts from all state agencies. Indeed, the pain will be felt far and wide. These cuts will work an adverse impact on those groups within our society that need the most protection – the elderly, children, low wage employees and consumers.

A number of advocates who have reviewed the Governor’s proposal for across the board budget cuts unequivocally warn there will be “a significant effect on the state’s ability to enforce its laws and protect its citizens.” A number of state agencies have indicated where the cuts will come. The Community Care Licensing Division plans to reduce the number and frequency of inspections into elderly residential facilities and child-care centers. Unfortunately, less oversight usually means worse care and treatment for elderly care residents and children. And, the state wasn’t doing such a great job of inspecting child-care facilities before budget cuts. There will also be less money to monitor environmental pollution, housing and employment discrimination, work-place safety and unfair labor practices.

If not the government, then who will protect our children and the elderly from abuse? Who will protect our environment and stand up for the workers, the poor and the disenfranchised? Who will prevent employment and housing discrimination? The same people who always do – trial lawyers. Consumer attorneys work tirelessly to protect the very people who will be put at risk by the proposed budget cuts. Please remember this the next time there is a ballot initiative or proposed legislation aimed at curbing “frivolous lawsuits.” “Frivolous lawsuits” is a tag large corporations, polluters and the powerful all too easily toss about. To them any suit is frivolous if its filed against them. They used that tag to get passage of Proposition 64 just a few years back. A great many non-profit and environmental protection groups, for example, used California’s unfair business practices laws to stop industry from polluting or to clean up the environment they were responsible for fouling. The proponents of Proposition 64 told voters that limiting private attorneys from bringing unfair business practices suits was a good idea; the government attorneys would be there to protect consumers and the environment they said. Not if there is no money in the budget for it.

The law firm of Kiesel Boucher Larson, LLP has always been there to protect the elderly and children from abuse. We have represented workers and consumers against large corporations. We are here to help.