Today, thousands of Californians across the state are taking action to save the renters' rebate, an important program recently defunded by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Organizers seek to send a loud and clear message that Californians do not accept elimination of this crucial program for low-income senior, blind and disabled Californians.
The statewide day of action comes in response to Governor Schwarzenegger's unprecedented use of the line-item veto power to eliminate $191 million in tax rebates for low-income elderly and disabled Californians. This was the governor's single biggest line-item veto in the budget. The governor defunded the entire Senior Citizens Property Tax Assistance program, also known as the "renters' rebate", a program that has been in effect for decades. With no forewarning whatsoever, the Governor struck all funds from the program, despite the fact that the Legislature had included the funds in the budget approved by the state Assembly and Senate. Many eligible Californians had already filed their claims and were counting on these funds.
Major events are planned today in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego:
Press Conference, 1:00 p.m., State Building, 300 South Spring Street
Contact: Frank Tamborello, Hunger Action Los Angeles, (213) 361-2075
Rally, 12:00 Noon, State Building, 501 Van Ness Avenue
Contact: Christina Olague, Senior Action Network, (415) 546-1333
Press Conference, 12:00 Noon, State Building, 1350 Front Street
Contact: Connie Soucy, Access to Independence (a2i), (619) 293-3500
Press conferences and rallies will feature elected officials, advocates and individuals who have been affected by losing their rebates. Spokespeople will also be available in other communities around the state to speak with local media about how these cuts have affected them.
At the same time, allied organizations are urging thousands of members throughout the state to call the governor and legislators on November 19 as part of the statewide Day of Action.
Tenants Together is also collecting signatures on its online petition condemning the Governor's veto of these funds. In just a few days, over 1000 people from all over California have signed the petition and more are signing each day. The petition can be viewed at www.tenantstogether.org.
The coalition opposing the Governor's veto is remarkably broad. Over 30 organizations have signed onto a letter to the governor urging the governor to fully fund the tax assistance program. Signatories included Access to Independence of San Diego, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Church IMPACT, California Disability Community Action Network, Center for Independent Living - Fresno, Coalition for Economic Survival, the San Francisco Tenants Union and others.
According to Nan Brasmer, President of California Alliance for Retired Americans, "The Governor's veto of rebates for renters is a slap in the face to the neediest seniors. To add insult to injury, the Governor also cut the tax rebate for homeowners, which also targets lower income homeowners, many of whom are seniors. We call on legislators to override the Governor's veto and restore these rebates as soon as possible."
"We're outraged that the governor would take aim at low-income senior, blind and disabled renters during these difficult times," said Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters' rights. "The state's neediest residents were counting on this money. The Governor's veto is totally unacceptable."