As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Lack Of Investment, Protecting The Rich And Connected

It's hard to choose the most cruel or the most thoughtless among Arnold Schwarzenegger's line-item cuts added to the budget revision. But you could make a case for the slashing of all state funding for domestic violence centers, for a savings of about $16 million dollars. LAist profiles one center, in the Santa Clarita Valley, that will probably now have to close:

The Domestic Violence Center in the Santa Clarita Valley is the only agency that provides domestic violence services in the 200-square mile valley. As a result of Schwarzenegger's cut, which is immediate, they've lost 45%, or $207,222.00, of their annual funding, which they say will force them to close their doors later this year unless the community supports them with donations. In 2008, they served over 1,000 victims of domestic violence.

“As the Center’s Executive Director, I think about every client who has come through our doors and their horrific stories of abuse - I cannot help but cry when I think about what the loss of our services will mean to victims," said Executive Director Nicole Shellcroft in a statement. "Those who walk through our doors have suffered through broken bones, beatings, strangulation, food deprivation, arson, torture, genital mutilation and unspeakable sexual violence. They have been thrown down flights of stairs, have been victim to violent physical attacks during pregnancy and have even faced the prospect of murder. Victims seek our services to escape incredible violence aimed at them and their children."

Here's another profile, from Oroville in Butte County.

This is what we are talking about when we say that people will die from the decisions made by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature. The $16 million in cuts represent a pittance of the budget and far less than the $2 billion dollar annual tax cut for the largest corporations in America instituted back in February. But, we are told, those businesses would flee the state if they were forced to contribute a fair share of taxes for the commons that they use, so instead, women and their children will have practically nowhere to turn to save themselves from spousal abuse.

It turns out that some businesses are dismayed enough to consider leaving California - not because of the lack of tax breaks, because of all of the budget cuts and the impact on the workforce.

Wilbur D.Curtis invented the globular glass coffeepot, that staple of coffee counters everywhere, in 1940. Since then his son and grandsons have turned Wilbur Curtis Co. into a manufacturing concern that earns revenue approaching $100 million by turning out commercial coffee brewing equipment from a sprawling factory in Montebello.

But their long history in California doesn't exempt the Curtis family from the costs and hassles that give this state its reputation as one of the hardest places in the country to do business [...]

Yet it's plain that the state government has failed in precisely those areas where it can make a difference. Laws' main concern isn't strictly how much money the state spends -- it's that the bucks don't go where they count.

His two biggest issues are education and infrastructure. "We pay a fortune here to educate people on basic things like writing and math skills that they should have learned in high school," he says. The company, whose workforce is mostly Latino, also provides training in English as a second language -- including for some employees who came through the public schools [...]

Then there's that lifeblood of any firm whose products can't be shipped through cyberspace -- transport.

Traffic congestion in the L.A. basin has become a round-the-clock hassle. Laws says one of his biggest customers, a coffee company with a national reach, opened a local facility here to be near its own big customers, only to find that navigating the overstressed road system drove its costs to twice its expectations.

And these complaints about infrastructure and education exist before budget revisions that would decimate the future of higher education for a generation of students, and only harm the ability to create the infrastructure necessary for densely populated areas in the 21st century.

We're picking away at safety net programs and increasing the danger and suffering for a whole class of citizens, while protecting the largest corporations and the wealthiest campaign contributors. And the actual lifeblood of job creation, the small business community, would rather see investment than the current hijacking of state government by those who want to dismantle it.

Related: Marc Cooper's cover story on California at The Nation.

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