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Letter to the Editor: Nonprofits Struggling Amid State’s Economic Crisis

Area service providers for people with disabilities are scrambling to figure out how they will make up more state funding cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who called California’s legislation into special session specifically to evaluate the 2008-09 budget.

With only days remaining before the newly elected Legislature takes office Dec. 1, Schwarzenegger nonetheless made a proposal for tax hikes including a temporary 1.5-cent increase in the state sales tax to help close an $11.2 billion deficit in the state budget, as well as new taxes on liquor and oil production.

As part of the special session, he also proposed a 3 percent “payment reduction” to programs and services funded through local regional centers effective from Dec. 1 through June 30, 2010. This news has nonprofit organizations statewide gearing up for a fight and looking for alternative sources of funding.

“Obviously, those proposed payment reductions on top of a 10 percent rate reduction that we are already trying to absorb is a big concern for us,” said Cindy Burton, president/CEO of PathPoint, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the state, providing comprehensive training and services to more than 2,300 individuals with disabilities or disadvantages across Central and Southern California.

Burton was referring to cuts made to Supported Employment service providers earlier this year in January, which reduced the hourly reimbursement rate to $30.82 from $34.27. That rate covers the wages of a job coach as well as mileage, administration, insurance, job development and other associated costs.

Until the new cuts are made official, nonprofit service providers such as PathPoint will continue to advocate on behalf the 200,000 Californians with developmental disabilities.

“We must tell our legislators to say ‘no’ to this cut. ... Our rates have been frozen for years,” Burton said. “Unfortunately, the people with disabilities who need these support services will be the ones who will be most hurt by these cuts.”

You can help by writing a letter to the Legislature urging it not to cut funding for support services that assist people with disabilities. You can also make a difference by sending a donation to PathPoint at 315 W. Haley St., Suite 102, Santa Barbara 93101.

Nadia Anissia Osborn, PathPoint
Santa Barbara

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