• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

California sued by groups over funding cuts

September 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The state of California faces a pair of lawsuits filed by school districts and disabled groups unhappy with major funding cuts. The groups believe the governor and legislature broke the law when they approved those budget cuts.

A lot more pain has been felt throughout California since Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget three months ago that enacts another round of devastating cuts to close a $26-billion deficit.

Fifth-grade teacher Melissa Reynoso started the school year without basics.

"We're scrimping and saving. A lot of parents have to come in and start fundraising for things like paper," said Reynoso.

Developmentally disabled Californians saw their services slashed even deeper.

David Engberg no longer has 24-hour care.

"It's really awful for me because now I only have day staff," said Engberg.

Now representatives from both education and disabled groups are suing the state in separate lawsuits over that they call illegal cuts.

Under voter-approved Proposition 98, which guarantees minimum funding using a complicated formula, schools believe they've been shortchanged by $2 billion.

The legal challenge is led by several school districts, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"We're not going to sit here and take this anymore. It's time to take legal action because if we don't stand up for the children of California, obviously who else will?" said Carlos Garcia, superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District.

The disabled community is just as frustrated. California's Lanterman Act guarantees access to services that allows them to live independently.

"We know what they've done is illegal. What we're saying now is: 'We can't, we're not going to stand for that anymore,'" said Tony Anderson, executive director of The Arc of California.

The Brown administration says all actions the legislature took are legal.

It hadn't seen the disabilities lawsuit, but says schools should keep in mind they were spared during the recent budget crisis.

"Education was maintained at a stable level on a year-over-year basis at a time when there were deep cuts in virtually every other aspect of state government," said H.D. Palmer, deputy director for external affairs, Calif. Department of Finance.

A provision in the state budget says if voters don't approve new taxes next year, that $2 billion will paid back over five years. And California remains the only state in the country with entitlement to services for persons with disabilities.

Load Comments