Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, January 23, 2009

Community Post: Governor, Republicans, Are Making the Budget Crisis Worse by Targeting Home Care

By Doug Moore, Executive Director of United Domestic Workers of America

Except for the anti-tax zealots who have tied our Legislature in knots, everyone recognizes by now the gravity of our state’s budget situation. Every rational person in Sacramento now understands that we have a serious revenue problem that cannot be solved just by cutting government programs. Things like closed state offices and IOUs instead of tax refunds have a tendency to refocus the mind.

This is not to say that cuts in spending are not needed. However, in many cases, the cuts proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislative Republicans will only make the state budget crisis worse.

For example, the governor has targeted the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, one of the most humane, cost-effective programs in state government.

IHSS keeps nearly a half million seniors and people with disabilities in their own homes and out of costly institutions. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), it costs less than $10,000 a year to provide home care to an individual under IHSS. If that person can no longer obtain home care because of cuts in IHSS, he or she will be forced to go to a nursing home or other institution. That will cost taxpayers $55,000 a year or more, according to the LAO.

And if you think the thousands of dedicated, unsung heroes who provide home care are making exorbitant incomes, think again. Here in Santa Barbara, home care workers make just $10.50 an hour.

So why on earth would you cut a cost-effective program that helps a half million of our state’s most vulnerable citizens remain independent in their own homes and communities when the alternative will cost taxpayers at least six times more?

That’s not being fiscally responsible; it’s being penny wise and pound foolish. And it’s exactly the kind of ideological, knee-jerk thinking that helped put our state in this financial mess in the first place.

Fortunately, the Democratic leaders of the State Senate and Assembly have steadfastly supported IHSS. Indeed, Senate President Darrell Steinberg recently told the Sacramento Bee: “In my view, the people who do IHSS work; they’re doing God’s work.”

To that, the members of UDW say: “Amen!”

Doug Moore is Executive Director of the 60,000-member United Domestic Workers of America, California’s only union made up entirely of home care providers. He is also an International Vice President of AFSCME, which represents some 1.4 million members.

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Anonymous Remember Your Name! said...

Mr. Moore is correct. The institutions run by the State which house people with developmental disabilities -- called "developmental centers" -- currently cost, on average, $330,000 per year per person. Programs like IHSS allow people with disabilities to enjoy a higher quality of life, while at the same time costing tax payers significantly less than the alternatives. If the Governor and our Legislators want to streamline expenditures, they might start by looking at the hundreds of millions allocated to State-run institutions, which could be re-allocated to programs supporting people with developmental disabilities in the community, including IHSS, HUD housing programs and the regional center system.

1/24/2009 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

The whole budget problem is caused by our silly system that allows the minority to veto budget decisions made by the majority. If a simple majority were able to pass a budget, it would be done by now and we would not be in this mess. Would we all be paying higher taxes? Yes, we would. If the majority of people do not like higher taxes they can then vote out the tax increasers and vote in the service reducers. Then, if they do not like the reduction in services, they can always vote back in the tax increasers. It's called democracy. What we have now is a dictatorship of the minority. It is not working.

1/24/2009 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Red Pencil said...

More union power grabs. They are killing us. You can't keep expanding the demands of the public work force and you can NEVER take their arguments for face value. You get little value added from a $10 worker that substitutes for their claim of hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. Prove it!

1/25/2009 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Well Red Pencil, I suppose, like most other people, that you would like the sewage produced by your household to be effectively removed and disposed of in a manner that keeps it out of your drinking water. Speaking of water, I suspect that you would prefer that it flow from your faucets when you turn them on and that it not be poisonous. Then there is the road on which you drive, which, without fairly regular maintenance, would simply crumble into sand and gravel and become impassable. Do you have children that go to public schools?This is not to mention the service provided by police officers, fire fighters, public health nurses, prison guards, and on and on and on. All of these things we want cost money to provide. Most public sector workers make very modest salaries. We could choose to want less from the public sector, but we cannot choose to want what we get for free. I guess that we could throw the most needy among us under the bus in an attempt to save money. But don't you think that public policy would be a tad unkind?

1/25/2009 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Red pencil said...

More lies - public sector employees make good money, have better benefits than any other worker of similar skills and education, have total job security and the chance to double dip their very generous penions plans.

Cut the nonsense about them being paid "modestly". No one believes that lie anymore. Stop shilling it. If public employees want to make more money they can stop demanding gold-plated health plans and stop paying their bloated union dues.

They need to be reminded they produce nothing and they have reached taxpayer resistence for their insatiable demands and poor work ethics.

Taxpayers are no longer buying public employee whines and demands because they are the ones who keep paying through the nose and someone needs to make sure these public employees get this new message - the free ride on the public piggy trough is over and even Obama can't save them.

Tell your public employee friends to start kissing a tax payer and letting them know how valuable they are because we are not getting that message at all. Not at all.

Public employees forget the customer is the boss and the taxpayer is their customer. Start delivering and realize their job is a two way street, not just a one way whining power and money grab.

1/25/2009 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Eat The Rich said...

Red pencil - you are very misinformed. Not every public employee is in a union, and not every public employee has benefits or a high salary. Public employees are not immune to the state budget crisis - and, while there are areas that should probably be reduced (prisons, for example), your broad generalization makes little sense.

Every public employee is also a tax payer, so your false dichotomy of "we the tax payers" versus "them the state employees" is also really silly.

Public employees produce a great deal - and to claim otherwise is not just false, but yet another attempt to advocate for further privatization of government services. If you were honest about that from the get-go, that would be one thing, but using misinformation to spin your ideology is very disingenuous.

There are definitely areas that can and should be restructured, but my gut says you're not all that interested in that conversation.

1/25/2009 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

If Red Pencil is not interested in facts and rational argument, then why even bother with the rant? The fact is that when compared to similar jobs, the public sector jobs generally pay less than the private sector ones, that is a fact. It is true that the retirement plans are better in the public sector, but only for those employees who are fortunate enough to get over 20 years of service credit. No person could retire on only 20% of his or her salary. Most of what the public sector produces goes unnoticed because we take it for granted that our poop disappears, and clean water flows from our faucets, and our children go to school each day, and the trash gets picked up at the local beach or park, and someone responds when we dial 911. We can have a discussion about whether or not what we get from the public sector is worth the price we pay for it. However, to begin the discussion with the assumption that we get nothing from the public sector is simply falacious and sloppy logic.

1/26/2009 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Red pencil said...

Eat the rich, are you interested in "eating the rich"? If you are, indeed we cannot have a substantive conversation.

The vast majority of public employees are union members. They are rapacious in their demands that now even include an entitlement to "affordable housing".

You cannot have balanced local government budgets giving more and more of the present tax dollar to retired public employees. All public employees need to provide for their own retirement and health care benefits just like private sector employees do.

The only substantial employment growth in the past 5 years has been in the public sector. And all we have is more crime, lousy schools and public service malaise that is turning everyone into a cynic.

Public employees need to feel the wrath of taxpayers and start putting their customers first instead of their own job security demands. Prove to us you actually do something of immediate value to justify raping our paychecks every week.

Sure, there are necessary municipal services for public safety and infrastructure. But you can pare out a huge number of make-work jobs and public grants that serve only to secure one's continued public paycheck. And you know it.

If you are not happy with the limitations of your public jog, try getting one in the private sector where you have to actually earn your keep and produce something of value for your boss. Otherwise, go eat the rich someplace else because you are a poisonous diet with your attitude.

1/26/2009 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Eat The Rich said...

If you are not happy with the limitations of your public jog, try getting one in the private sector where you have to actually earn your keep and produce something of value for your boss.

You mean private sector operations like the American automotive industry, Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, the huge list of bankrupt subprime mortgage lenders, Bernard Madoff and on and on and on?

You sit there a defend the "value private sector" while the country, if not the world, is in the middle of the largest private sector meltdown in history and still expect people to take you seriously? While companies like Home Depot, Caterpillar, Texas Instrument are laying off over 50,000 people, you defend the private sector?

Give me a break. Do some - SOME - research. Hell - I'd settle for a Wikipedia entry or a Google search. You really have have no clue.

On a side note - national crime rates are DECREASING. But, again, you don't seem to be interested in reality.

1/26/2009 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

By far the largest single expense in the California State budget is education. Even with that expense, California ranks near the bottom on the amount of money spent per pupil. We can argue about how good or bad our public education is here in California. My own opinion is that it does a very good job preparing the gifted to matriculate on to the next level and achieve the skills and knowledge necessary for sucess at the university level, and it does a poor job of serving those who are not so naturally gifted. But this does not mean we should reduce spending on our schools. The other huge taxpayer funded expense is public safety (police and fire protection). These workers also enjoy the richest benefit packages, and deserve them because their productive careers are shorter (like military careers). If we take out education and public safety, the rest of services are relatively inexpensive and do not consume very much of the total statewide public budget. While for some people paying taxes is an emotional issue, it is important to look at these issues in a clear, unemotional, and logical fashion if we are to address the need to balance the level of public services we want with the price we want to pay for them.

1/27/2009 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Red pencil said...

Massive corporate jobs, often unionized, are a dead end example for useful work and profit production today, just like public sector jobs.

You keep thinking a job is something someone gives you instead of something you earn and produce. No wonder you defend cradle to grave government employment so vigorously. I would rather give you welfare than have you continue to clog up what you think is a useful job.

Repeat after me: I am paid by the taxpayers. The have a right to useful, courteous, effective and accountable service in return.

Everyday I thank and appreciate the taxpayers who employ me. I reject union locked job security in favor of objectively and continually finding my merit and usefulness warrants their continued support and payment.

1/27/2009 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Eat The RIch said...

Red Pencil - I'll remember your rhetoric when we give your treasured private sector another several hundred billion dollar bail out. Or when I walk down State Street and see all of the "For Rent" signs. Or when I take advantage of another Circuit City and Linens-n-Things "Going Out of Business" sale. Or when I take a look at the forclosure listings.

After all, it was people who think like you who got us where we are today. So Thank You! for my discounted HDTV!

1/28/2009 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Red pencil said...

Not sure what point you are trying to make, Eat it.

I will not regret seeing all the excess consumption end and going back to a single-paycheck family and playing cards together at night or sharing a box of Pick Up Stix for a few hours of simple fun, unplugged. Sound like you are the one addicted to corporate consumption.

Please explain your point. And I'll explain Tiddly Winks. Thnx.

1/28/2009 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Red pencil said...

Dan Walters has an excellent article in the Newspress this Saturday morning (1/31/09) showing this issue is way more complex than this blatent pro-union in-fighting apologist UDA writer wants you to believe.

He is just shilling for one more union power grab and dressing it up as some humane proposal when in fact it is the furthest thing from it. Over 50% of the state money paid to these home health care workers goes to the relatives, and much for unnecessary services.

This is one more huge union wealth transfer and a demand for more money and more power.

Follow the money on all these emotional appeals that come from anyone associated with any union. Underneath they are nothing more than demands for more workers who can pay more union dues to further corrupt our budget and our society.

Shame on Blogabarbara letting itself be used to shill for this person personal power grab. Ain't free speech grand, on the other hand.

Read the Dan Walter's column. Get the facts. He is a straight-shooter.

1/31/2009 8:01 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Forget the NewsPress. You can get The Dan Walters column for free here;

Walters states; 'IHSS workers, more than half of whom are relatives of those receiving aid, are actually paid from $8 to $14.68 per hour, depending on which county employs them.'

How much fraud and abuse is there? It doesn't seem unreasonable to evaluate or tighten up any obvious loopholes or abuses that develop over time. But, I have not read that there is widespread abuse here so what is the point? Relatives shouldn't be paid? Taking care of a senior or disabled relative may require quitting work or ending a career. The relative might need something to live on while keeping the relative out of more costly state care.

One commenter to Waters column calculates a $6,000 a month windfall scenario from a couple entitlement sources. So I'm sure there would be outrage if this scenario was presented to the average Californian while taking time away from the Indian Casino, even if only a single case like this was discovered.

But the importance of this "gods work" cannot be underestimated because of the humanity provided.
In tough economic times it seems that social services are the most scrutinized. Can't we find something that the able-bodied are wasteful on to pick apart?

2/01/2009 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Red pencil said...

If most of these workers are relatives, why do they need to be unionized????? Are the working conditions so terrible in the family.

This is just one more massive public payroll power grab for union bosses to confiscate union membership dollars.

Why should the state pay a relative to take care of a family member? Has it come to that. Guess it has. Sign up for the free Obama goodies in his alltime 24/7 NannyState.

And who will be left to produce and pay for all these services? Oppps, bad question.

Why will anyone send in their estimated 2008 taxes to Calif when we have been told all we might get is an IOU in return if we get a refund. Time to stop thinking the public piggy trough has a magic open spigot. Can your brain even see the connection between income and outgo.

I think we have a critical mass now only concerned with what they can get for "free". I do think this is called greed, that nasty word the takers like to apply to the givers for daring to actually make the money they are hell bent on taking away from them.

It doesn't work that way. Take away the incentive to make money, give what ever money is made to those who don't work and you have nothing. Nothing.

Wake up folks, it simply does not work this way. You have to keep an environment where the producers still want to produce. And you are killing this. Who in fact is the really greedy one then?

Think about this --- but it really may be such an alien concept it defies the massive taking class from even contemplating how this all works. Obama has been successful in changing us into a country riddled with class envy.

And if he does not shut up about what he claims is an economic disaster, day after day after day, thugging people to accept lock step his pork packages, then we soon will be able to lay this whole mess totally at his feet.

Shut up Obama, and start acting presidential and steer this ship of state instead of lining your friends up at the piggy trough.

2/02/2009 5:19 PM  

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