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Community leaders say ‘hear our voice’

Gary Moskowitz

There were many questions asked, but a shortage of answers available

Saturday at a town hall meeting about the state budget crisis.

About 300 people crammed into the Buena Vista Branch Library in

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Burbank for the meeting, co-hosted by state Sen. Jack Scott

(D-Glendale) and Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Burbank).

The legislators explained to the crowd that the governor’s

proposed cuts of as much as $35 billion to the state budget are

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supposed to be passed by a two-thirds vote of the legislature by June

30.

It is not likely a budget conclusion will be reached by then,

Scott told the crowd.

“This is the greatest fiscal crisis we’ve had in California since

the Great Depression,” he said.

Frommer described the budget crisis as an unprecedented problem

and a dire situation for California. He explained that cuts to health

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care alone could be as much as $2 billion in combined state and

federal funds, based on the governor’s proposal. California currently

has the third-worst record among the 50 states in providing health

insurance to its residents, Frommer said.

Local officials and residents were allowed to make statements to

the two legislators and ask questions. School, city and health-care

officials, students, parents and several physically and mentally

disabled individuals were in the crowd.

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Local officials explained that proposed cuts are leading to the

closure of health-care facilities, potential layoffs and the cutting

of classes, programs and services to public schools and colleges, and

major reductions in public and social services.

Among the officials who spoke were Arnold Schaffer from Providence

St. Joseph Medical Center, John Davitt from Glendale Community

College, Chief Ernie Mitchell from the Pasadena Fire Department, Mary

Alvord of the city of Burbank and Roberto Barragan from the San

Fernando Valley Economic Development Center.

Burbank resident and Burbank Unified School District school nurse

Lenora Aguilera wanted to know why schools are being cut while pay

increases are being proposed for corrections facilities officers.

“We are barely getting by right now,” said Aguilera, who splits

her time as a nurse between two schools. “Any more cuts would be

completely unacceptable.”

Jay Nolan, who runs a community-services program for disabled

individuals in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles, said proposed

cuts would strip about $1 million from his annual budget.

“Much of what we do is in jeopardy,” said Nolan, 39. “I hope they

hear our voice and save the livelihood of the people we serve.”


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