Californians with disabilities and groups supporting them gathered at the Capitol today for a daylong push to make their voices heard and to lobby for restoration of past budget cuts affecting them.
To kick off the event, speakers exhorted hundreds of participants gathered near the Capitol's west steps to chant, "We're here, we're loud, we're disabled and we're proud."
"They certainly hear us, but that doesn't always mean they make the decisions we want them to make," Teresa Favuzzi, director of the California Foundation For Independent Living Centers, said of lawmakers who are weighing a revised state budget proposal unveiled by Gov. Jerry Brown this month.
The 10th annual "Disability Capitol Action Day" hoped to attract 3,000 people. Lobbying inside the Capitol was planned after the speeches and sign-waving ended. Sponsors included more than a dozen labor union, disability rights and retail groups.
A flier at the event listed some key issues affecting Californians with disabilities, including:
- Funding for In-Home Supportive Services, Medi-Cal, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.
- Senate Bill 320: Would require health plans and health insurers to provide coverage for certain treatments involving acquired brain injuries.
- Senate Bill 330: Would require mental health to be included in the next revision of California's health education framework.
- Senate Bill 468: Would require creation of a "self-determination program" that would allow consumers of regional centers to use an individual budget for purchasing services and supports.
- Senate Bill 391: Would impose a $75 fee on the recording of various real estate documents to generate revenue for affordable housing.
- Senate Bill 651: Would require investigators of state developmental centers and state hospitals to authorize a sexual assault forensic examination for any resident suspected of being abused.
- Senate Bill 705: Would bolster funding for the Disabled Students Program at community colleges.
- Senate Bill 22: Would require health plans and health insurers to submit annual reports certifying compliance with mental health parity requirements.
- Senate Bill 550: Would require adoption of future building standards to boost the number of residential public housing units containing mobility and communications features for people with disabilities.
- Assembly Bill 420: Would restrict the authority of a school superintendent or principal to suspend or expel a student for "willful defiance."
PHOTO CREDIT -- A crowd, including Ms. Wheelchair California 2013 Cindy De Jesus, center, waves banners advocating for disabled people during the Disability Capitol Action Day at the Capitol.
Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee