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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 July 2009

California's Budget crisis: Huge cuts spark workers' anger

CALIFORNIA'S STATE budget has an enormous $26 billion shortfall. To close it, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a lesson from his silver screen days to "terminate" the state's welfare programmes.

Genevieve Morse, Classified Staff Union, Massachusetts Teachers Association (personal capacity)

He is cutting billions from education and ending a healthcare programme for children from poor families, among a number of other cuts. These cuts are estimated to amount to about $16 billion.

The collapse of the US housing market had a huge impact on the current budget crisis in California. Houses in the state were some of the highest-priced in the country. Working people were spending the majority of their paycheques on having a roof over their heads and on huge sales taxes. When the crisis hit, there was a dramatic decline in state revenue.

The cuts in healthcare could result in more than 1.9 million Californians losing access to health coverage. The current budget proposal would reduce state funding for the Medi-Cal programme by a billion dollars. Medi-Cal provides hundreds of thousands of children, working parents, the elderly, and people with disabilities access to no-cost healthcare.

Funding for schools will be slashed and almost 18,000 teachers in California are looking at possible layoffs. Some inner-city middle and high schools could lose up to 40% of their teachers.

Fightback

The budget cuts would also drastically reduce funding for higher education by $335 million. These cuts would effectively phase out the Cal-Grant college aid programme, which provides thousands of students with money for tuition.

There has been resistance to the budget cuts. In May, teachers in Los Angeles called in sick and hundreds of high school students walked out of classrooms to protest the budget cutbacks.

According to the LA Times, about 700 more teachers than usual called in sick in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which happened days after a judge ordered the teachers' union to call off a planned one-day strike. About 50 teachers and union leaders also staged a sit-in in the middle of the street and refused to move to protest the layoffs.

Students from various high schools in Los Angeles, including 500 students at Garfield High School in East LA, walked out of classes and held sit-ins in support of teachers. At Jordan High School in South LA, about 200 students gathered in solidarity with teachers.

Protests by LA teachers and students are a first step to ending the attacks on public services. Other unions like the California Nurses Association have been demonstrating against cuts and campaigning for a single payer universal health care system.

The unions, whose members provide crucial public services, need to provide a lead for mass demonstrations across the state to stop layoffs and cuts in healthcare and education.

The government has spent trillions of dollars on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for the bailout of Wall Street and big business. We need to build a mass movement that challenges corporate rule and breaks away from the Democrats and Republicans, to establish an independent political party that represents the interests of workers.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 29 July 2009:

Nationalise to save jobs and the environment

Vestas - build mass action for victory


Unison witch-hunt:

Unison witch-hunt: Defend the Unison Four!

What you can do to help the campaign


War and occupation

Afghanistan - Withdraw the troops


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Swine flu: Profit system puts people at risk

Hospital worker reinstated


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Building support for world socialism


Youth fight for jobs

No to the Future Jobs Fraud

Public shows support for Youth Fight for Jobs campaign


Socialist Party workplace news

Kilmarnock: Anger over Diageo's jobs massacre

Greedy bosses exploiting seasonal workers

Cardiff cuts protest

Street cleaners lobby council

National meeting for: Socialist Party trade union members


Socialist Party review

Futurism


Marxist analysis: history

When workers shut down Minneapolis


Socialist Party news and analysis

Success for Stop the Strip campaign

California's Budget crisis: Huge cuts spark workers' anger

Milburn goes to top of class

Protest against BNP's 'festival of hate'


 

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