This week Governor Schwarzenegger used his veto power to eliminate $150 million in tax rebates to low-income elderly and disabled renters. This was the governor's single biggest line-item veto in the budget.
"We're outraged that the governor would take aim at senior and disabled renters during these difficult times," said Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together.
Tenants Together is California's statewide organization for renters' rights. The organization advocates for the rights of California's estimated 14 million renters.
The governor used his line-item veto power to eliminate the entire $150 million available for renters under the Senior Citizens Renters Tax Assistance program. The program, in effect for four decades, makes senior and disabled renters who earn less than $44,096 eligible for up to $347.50 as a tax rebate.
Low-income seniors rely on these funds, and many have already filed applications for the tax rebate this year. With the governor's veto, the Franchise Tax Board now will not pay these claims.
Assemblyman John Laird (D -- Santa Cruz), chair of the assembly budget committee, characterized the cuts to the tax assistance program as "unconscionable," a view echoed by Tenants Together.
Preston commented: "These cuts are absolutely unacceptable, particularly in the current economy where senior and disabled renters are struggling. Kicking senior and disabled renters when they are down is about as low as it gets."
Tenants Together vowed to work with allies to send a message to the governor and to restore these critical funds to low-income senior and disabled renters.
For a pdf of the press release, click here.