Arnold’s cuts hurt the homeless and efforts to curb infectious disease outbreaks

The L.A. Times reported a few details today about the cuts that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made to the recently approved state budget. Two in particular jumped out at me. First, he “eliminated a $55-million program Friday that advocates say has helped thousands of mentally ill homeless people break the costly cycle of hospitalization, jails and street life.”

Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said local governments should step in instead. “We believe if these programs are a priority to counties, they have resources available to them to provide funding,” he said.

Counties across the state, however, are facing the slow erosion of their traditional mental health budgets; state Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who created the just-eliminated program in 1999, called the cut “unconscionable.” He noted that despite the allegedly strapped conditions of the state, legislators managed to preserve a tax break for some purchasers of yachts, planes and recreational vehicles — a measure that could cost the state as much as $45 million.

“A $45-million tax break for yacht owners stays in the budget,” Steinberg said. “And a nationally recognized, incredibly effective program to end homelessness for those living with mental illness gets thrown under the bus.”

Wow. Not good. This will surely cause a lot of problems in Santa Ana, given that we host so many unfortunate homeless people. I hope the O.C. Board of Supervisors will step in and help out, but I truly doubt that.

The second cut which caught my eye was “$1.3 million to track hospital efforts to eliminate infections, which kill more than 7,000 Californians a year.” Again, not good.

Did you know that there has been an outbreak of the killer Dengue fever in Texas? That’s right – Texas. The worst form of Dengue, hemorrhagic fever, KILLS.

Here in California, we are dealing with the West Nile Virus and severe outbreaks of MRSA and the Norovirus. Last year San Quentin Prison was closed due to a Norovirus outbreak. And so were two homes for the elderly in the Bay area, where there were multiple fatalities due to the Norovirus.

MRSA by the way is a resistant strain of staph which has been afflicting thousands of people throughout the country, sometimes fatally.

And then there is the ongoing avian flu pandemic that is raging in most of the world. If it turns into a human flu pandemic – watch out!

I know that Governor Schwarzenegger had to cut some fat from the budget, but I wish he had been wiser about what he cut.

One of the cuts Schwarzenegger did not make was “$6 million in the State Budget to support labor education and research at the University of California, also known as the “Union Think Tank.” According to my friends at the ABC, “this latest allocation brings the total that California taxpayers have spent on biased, pro-union activities and politicking to $34.8 million since the year 2000.” Now THAT is a giant waste of money!

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.