"The bottom line for Assembly Democrats is that we are committed to ensuring that the state's fiscal emergency isn't allowed to be misused to eliminate the safety net in California or to eviscerate our public education system. We are working closely with the Senate and the governor to resolve the budget deficit by the end of the month to avoid a potential cash crisis," Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said in a statement last week.
The state's controller has said California will be out of money to pay its bills by the end of next month, and the governor says this is the time for hard choices because the state must get its fiscal house in order.
"I've heard accusations that I tried to shut down state government. I don't have to shut down state government because when they don't produce a budget on time we will run out of cash and therefore our government will shut down by itself," Schwarzenegger said Friday.
AIDS activists, unions and providers of senior services all have hit the streets in recent weeks to mount protests against the governor's proposed funding cutbacks.
For example, on the chopping block is $6 million for Alzheimer's research and more than $4 million in funding for adult care centers for those with the disease as well as nearly $500 million from programs for senior citizens.
"I see the children whose teachers will be laid off. I see the Alzheimer's patients losing some of their in-home support services. I see the firefighters and police officers who will lose their jobs. People come up to me all the time pleading governor please don't cut my program. They tell me how about the cuts affect them and their loved ones. I see the pain in their eyes and hear the fear in their voices and hear the demonstrations outside our Capitol. It is an awful feeling, but we have no choice. Our wallet is empty, our bank closed and our credit dried up," Schwarzenegger told state legislators earlier this month in an address.
But advocates for Alzheimer's patients and caregivers say the cost will be too much, causing a tidal wave of problems.
"People have paid taxes, people have input into the government, and they should be able to have something coming out of it," Toby Wolfberg, whose husband Howard has Alzheimer's, told CNN. Howard Wolfberg goes to Wise and Healthy Aging Center, an adult day care center which provides memory and music classes to those suffering from the disease. It stands to lose $300,000 if Alzheimer's programs are eliminated as well as additional funds if other senior services are scrapped.
"We understand there needs to be cuts because there is a financial crisis in the state. But don't totally eliminate funding in the state," Grace Cheng Braun, the center's president, told CNN, saying society is basically abandoning those who have contributed so much already.