Tomorrow, the HHS Network, including Health Access California, is having a rally at 12 noon on the North Steps of the Capitol to spotlight the steep cuts in health and human services in the proposed California budget.
Later that evening, at 5:30 on the West Steps of the Capitol, there will be another rally, protesting a budget bill in Wisconsin, in solidarity with the thousands who have been voicing their opposition in Madison and around that state.
In particular, they have been outraged at an attempt to use a budget crisis as a way to circumvent the collective bargaining rights of the unions of teachers, nurses, and other public workers. The unions have already said they are willing to concede the increased payments for pensions and other monetary issues. The pushback is on the attempt to use the budget situation to leverage ideological demands and political power. That rings true here in California as well, where we have seen elected leaders use the budget process as a vehicle for leveraging changes in all sorts of public policy and political gain.
For those who want to follow the action in Wisconsin, including moving commentary and videos, I recommend the website http://www.wearewisconsin.org/, as well as the related Facebook page of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, our HCAN and USAction sister organization that does wonderful work on health care, worker’s rights, and more.
[UPDATED:] And this fight isn’t just about worker’s rights. Wisconsin Governor Walker is a leading opponent of the federal health law, and his budget bill would also give the Governor unchecked authority to restructure and slash, without legislative authority, BadgerCare, the state’s Medicaid/SCHIP expansion. It’s sad because the program has been innovative and has bipartisan roots, ironically pioneered by the state’s former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, who on to be U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services. Jonathan Cohn has more at The New Republic.
So in the spirit of solidarity, we’ll be at both rallies today.