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FAULT LINES
Voices on California's spending cut
Fault Lines visits a state in fiscal crisis and speaks to those affected.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2009 14:33 GMT

Opponents of the governor's plan say it will cause thousands of deaths [GALLO/GETTY]

California is in fiscal crisis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state's governor, has a radical plan to offset the $24bn shortfall by slashing government spending.

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The spending cuts, however, would largely affect programmes for the poor, leaving millions of Californians without welfare and health care benefits.

Thousands of teachers and state workers would also be fired, and state prisoners would be dumped into county jails.

Fault Lines travels to South Central Los Angeles and speaks to those affected.

JOSE LARA, TEACHER

 

Jose Lara is a social justice educator at Santee High School.

He has led dozens of teachers in a hunger strike to protest against cuts to California's education budget and the subsequent teacher lay-offs.

"What we need to change here in California is a revolution of our values," he says.

JOHN KOBYLT AND KEN CHIAMPOU, TALK RADIO HOSTS

 

John and Ken broadcast California's number one radio talk show on KFI AM 640.

They have been hosting rallies they call a tax-revolt to oppose any politician who votes for tax increases as a solution to the state's budget crisis.

"Somebody give me the benefit of importing poor people and forcing taxpayers to pay for it. How does that help? So that our grass is mowed?" John asks.

CHRISTIAN LOPEZ, STUDENT

 

A student in his last year at Santee High School, 18-year-old Christian Lopez has organised protests against the teacher lay-offs mandated by cuts to California's education budget.

"Why can't the government ... invest in us? It's not throwing away money. Throwing away money is going to war," he says.

BRENDA BARRAGAN, LAID-OFF TEACHER

 

At the end of her second year teaching history at Santee High School, 24-year-old Brenda Barragan has been laid-off – a casualty of California's cuts to its education budget.

In protest, she went on hunger strike.

"It's just immoral to do this to students who need the most help," she says.

CHUCK DEVORE, REPUBLICAN POLITICIAN

 

An outspoken opponent of tax-hikes, Chuck Devore represents the people of Orange County in the California state assembly.

He is running for the US senate in 2010.

"Our policies are really subsidising poverty and penalising productivity," he says.

JIM MANGIA, DIRECTOR, ST JOHN'S CENTRE

 

An advocate for health and human rights in LA's poorest neighbourhoods, Jim Mangia runs a network of 12 community clinics that serve primarily uninsured and undocumented people.

The clinic staff expect to be overwhelmed as a result of Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to state health insurance programmes.

"We're talking about basically unraveling the safety net. So what's going to happen? You're going to see what happened in the depression, where people were literally dying on the streets," he says.

RON GOCHEZ, TEACHER

 

Ron Gochez teaches world history at Santee.

A community organiser in South Central LA, he is a mentor to many of the high school students organising against the teacher lay-offs.

"If we don't stop this now, we're going to open up the floodgates, they're going to completely destroy public education, they're going to privatise any sort of education," he says.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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