Friday, May 18, 2012

Lost in a bad budget

“‘All we’ve been told is that it’s really bad,’ said Vanessa Cajina, a lobbyist at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which advocates for the poor. ‘Essentially anything in the safety net is up for grabs now.’”

Is this why, after over five months, I still haven’t gotten my new wheelchair? Is this why, after my wheelchair broke down on January 6 while I was out, I am still using a less-than-ideal loaned chair (but thank God I have it!) and still not able to use my Vmax speech device (which I don’t have the mount for attaching to this chair).

Almost every day, it seems, I read newspaper articles about the horrendous shape the California state budget is, and I can’t help but think about how much I rely on it, not only for my wheelchair and health insurance but also, arguably even more importantly, for paying my attendants, allowing me to live independently. The quote above is from an article that appeared in Friday’s Los Angeles Times in anticipation of Governor Jerry Brown unveiling his revised proposed budget. When the critical “May revise” came on Monday, with Brown revealing the tax revenue from April and his proposal for what to do with it, it was every bit as bad as, if not worse than, what was feared. Instead of a $9.2 billion - with a b - deficit, as was estimated in January, the deficit is now nearly double that, at about $16 billion.

There are many explanations and arguments. People aren’t earning and then buying as much, so tax revenue is down. More people than thought are using state services and resources. Democratic legislators want to raise taxes, but Republican legislators are determined to block such attempts. The governor is desperately hoping that voters will approve temporary tax hikes that he has put on the November ballot.

All this doesn’t make the news any easier for me - not to mention I can barely imagine the sums involved. It is no fun always wondering if the cuts that have to be made, even if taxes can be raised, will mean that I can’t get the equipment and services I need to live my life to its fullest and be productive.

It’s also no fun when, as happened last weekend, I saw a friend who uses a power wheelchair using a pick-up truck to get around. I asked another friend how this is done and was told that my friend is taken out of his chair and put into the truck cab and then a board is used to get the chair into the truck bed.

“Why doesn’t he have a van? He should have a van,” I said. Yes, I was mad but not at my friend. I was, and am, angry at our rich society that makes it so hard to get the help that they so clearly need.

Meanwhile, I got a notice in the mail yesterday saying that my Medi-Cal is being terminated, because I didn’t return a form which I didn’t get in the mail. The notice was mailed the day after I mailed back the form I got after discovering the initial mailing got lost.

No, it’s definitely no fun.

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