This Tuesday, December 13, the United Domestic Workers of America will hold a town hall meeting in response to the possibility of budget cuts to many state programs. Of the programs on the metaphorical chopping block, the one raising the most concern is In-Home Support Services (IHSS).
“Trigger” cuts — which will slash the IHSS budget by 20 percent — come on the heels of a mandatory 3.6 percent reduction in hours implemented in February 2011 for the care providers who are paid an average of $10.10 an hour statewide (and $10 in Santa Barbara). These two factors essentially equate to roughly a 24 percent reduction in income for the IHSS care providers in spite of a negotiation earlier between the County of Santa Barbara and UDW this June that prevented their wages being reduced by $1/hr.
In Santa Barbara County, there are 2,700 elderly and disabled individuals who receive care from 1,961 IHSS caretakers. Those 2,700 individuals have elected to receive care from IHSS as an alternative to being moved into institutions and assisted living facilities, a decision that they have the right to make as a result of legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead Decision.
According to the UDW, these cuts will diminish the amount of time IHSS workers can spend with care recipients by almost 24 percent, which they say may be enough to force them to surrender the independence that IHSS has granted them up until this point.
The town hall meeting/panel discussion on the 13th takes place two days before the assessment of whether “triggers” will be implemented, a decision that is dictated by whether or not tax revenues are deemed adequate according to predetermined figures by the California Department of Finance. And, according to the Department of Finance’s latest figures, California is nearly $1.5 billion below forecasts for the first four months of the fiscal year.
The UDW’s town hall meeting and panel discussion will be held at Louise Lowry Davis Center in the Lu Gilbert Room on Tuesday, December 13, from 4-6 p.m.