Lawsuit Filed Against Californian Governor To Stop Harm Caused By Illegal Line-Item Veto
Posted: August, 2009
Press release from St. John's Well Child and Family Centers. A coalition of low-income individuals, healthcare clinics, and disability support centers filed a lawsuit in the State Court of Appeal in San Francisco. They formally announced the lawsuit against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at 10 am on Thursday, August 13, 2009 at St. John's Well Child and Family Centers, 5701 S. Hoover Street (at 58th Street), Los Angeles 90037. The coalition will be suing the Governor to restore millions of dollars he slashed in line item vetoes that reduce state funding to sick and individuals with a disability and women and children mistreated by domestic violence.
Tens of millions of dollars in healthcare cuts will force thousands of people throughout California to forego regular medical treatment for diseases such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure; prenatal and post delivery care for mothers and newborns; screening for cancer, lead poisoning and retinopathy; and various dental and mental health services. Without these services, individuals will be denied medical treatment which could result in emergencies such as a diabetic coma, sudden vision loss or acute kidney failure.
The Governor has completely eliminated funding for domestic violence shelters. These shelters provide refuge to women and children from abuse and often violent relationships, providing counseling, job training and medical care so they may live independently and raiser their children in a safe environment.
People with disabilities will also be dramatically impacted by the cuts. Those with significant disabilities may not receive the assistance they need with daily living activities such as bathing because of the overwhelming reductions in In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) funding. Children showing early signs of developmental disabilities likewise may be at serious risk of not receiving vital intervention when it would be most effective because of cuts to the Early Start Program. Cuts to Medi-Cal put people with all kinds of disabilities at risk.
Kasey Corbit, an attorney with Disability Rights Advocates, co-counsel for plaintiffs explains, "The Governor has dismantled the safety net that was constructed over three decades to protect our most vulnerable populations. The case we filed today is literally a matter of life and death."
"These cuts will devastate thousands of low-income Californians and will cost the state more in the long run," said Barbara Siegel, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, who represents some of the plaintiffs. "Emergency room costs, law enforcement and other emergency services will increase far more than the short-term savings these cuts appear to bring."
Plaintiff Rosa Navarro receives treatment and preventive care from St. John's Well Child and Family Centers in Los Angeles for her diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and plaintiff Lionso Guzman goes to St. John's to treat his diabetes and gastrointestinal conditions.
"Without St. John's services, these people cannot get treatment unless they have a life-threatening emergency," said Jim Mangia, President & CEO for St. John's. "The cost to treat a heart attack that could have been prevented or amputate a limb that could have been saved is far more than the regular primary care or preventive treatment that is being eliminated by these cuts."
The Governor's cuts will cause St. John's to reduce services at each of its five community health centers and school based clinics in medically underserved areas of Los Angeles. Another consequence of the cuts is that many children will not receive the immunizations or primary care they should. "Lack of immunization can lead to an increase in preventable diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella," said Mangia. "And primary medical care is important in preventing the spread of infectious diseases and swine flu. These cuts by the Governor are putting everyone at risk!"
"The Governor's cuts will leave many women and their children in violent, dangerous situations," said Sue Aebischer, who runs the House of Ruth, a domestic violence center located in Pomona. "Many women in our shelter have been beaten by their abusers and told they or their children would be killed." Budget cuts will force the House of Ruth to reduce its transitional shelter capacity substantially, close its drop-in center two days a month and cut other family services such as counseling, job training, and help finding stable housing. Aebischer, who has more than 30 years experience in the field of domestic violence services, concluded that "In my professional opinion, the combination of all these cuts will put more women, men and children at increased risk of domestic violence and death."
The suit asserts that the Governor's line item vetoes are invalid because they go beyond the limited veto powers granted to the Governor by California's Constitution. Because his vetoes have no legal effect, the suit seeks an injunction restoring to the budget all funds he attempted to cut.
"These cuts are short-sighted, " said Richard Rothschild of Western Center on Law and Poverty, also representing plaintiffs. "The state is just shifting its burden to local emergency service providers and costing everyone more in the long run."