Capitol Police arrested eighty-nine disability rights activists on Monday following the group’s occupation of the Cannon House Office Building rotunda.
The disability rights group ADAPT staged the event to protest Representative Paul Ryan’s Medicaid cuts, which would force people with disabilities to live in nursing homes rather than in their own houses.
Additionally, the House-passed budget resolution would turn Medicaid into block grants and reduce the program’s spending by more than $700 billion over ten years.
Combined with other Medicaid cuts at the state level, the protesters said, the block grant plan could restrict funding so much that people with disabilities would not have enough public support to be able to live independently.
The activists were charged with “unlawful conduct,” a misdemeanour offense. Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said most of the protesters will “probably be released unless they have other outstanding offenses on their records,” Politico reports.
Nursing home residents in Illinois also turned out to protest proposed Medicaid cuts. Governor Pat Quinn’s budget reduces Lee Manor’s funding by $500,000, a crushing blow that would cut staff and services at the nursing center.
“This is a family community,” said Julia Conkin, 39, a wheelchair-bound resident at the center who spoke to a crowd of more than 150 people at a rally Monday. If the cuts are passed “it’s going to feel like I’m at a cold, business place instead of my home.”
Quinn’s plans include cutting Medicaid by 6 percent, or $70 million in state funds, which would result in a federal match of an additional $70 million also being wiped out. Nearly 7,000 healthcare jobs would be lost, according to Pat Cornstock, executive director of Health Care Council of Illinois.
“It doesn’t make sense to us that the cuts are made on the backs of the elderly,” Comstock shouted to the crowd, which held colorful signs and frequently chanted “Stop the cuts” as they residents, staff, and family members sat outside the rear of the nursing home.
New Jersey firefighters took to the streets Monday to protest budget cuts and a recent reduction in official fire department staff size.
Two weeks ago, Township Administrator Yoshi Manale ordered Fire Chief Joseph McCarthy to halt the rotational closures of fire stations, a safety system that was implemented after Manale cut the Table of Organization staff levels to seventy-eight men.
Steven Motzer, President of the Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association #219, accuses Manale of reckless behavior following his decision to shutter Engine 1 (the busiest engine in town) in order to reopen No. 3.
“The chief was doing the rotational closure to lessen the impact,” he said. “It’s all mathematics, it’s all risk. If you have a busy company, you don’t want to shut it 100 percent of the time. You do what you can to shut it minimally.”
Thousands of people are expected to rally in downtown Raleigh today in order to protest the proposed cuts in the House budget proposal.
The “One Voice: Rally for Education” event is being organized by The North Carolina Association of Educators to defend education and all public services. Organizers expect between 5,000 and 10,000 people from across North Carolina to participate.
“Declining investment in public schools, educators on the unemployment line and fewer resources for our students threaten the prosperity and future of our state,” said Sheri Strickland, NCAE president, in a press release.
Republicans have proposed spending $900 million less in public education and health care than what Governor Beverly Perdue (D) offered in her spending proposal to the legislature in February. These cuts are piled atop 15,000 education job cuts that have already occurred over the past two years, according to NCAE.
North Carolina’s budget also sets aside $230 million for corporate income tax breaks and private sector job creation.
Thousands more are expected to descend upon Pennsylvania’s State Capitol today to protest Governor Tom Corbett’s budget proposal, which calls for over a billion dollars in cuts to education and axing 1,500 state jobs.
The Coalition for Laboring Engagement and Accountable Revenues (CLEAR) organized the rally that is expected to draw over 4,000 people.
CLEAR represents a variety of different union groups from across the state that would like to see the governor spread around the social responsibility to include fairly taxing corporations and adding a tax to natural gas extraction.
Union leaders accuse neighboring Delaware of losing their state hundreds of millions of dollars each year by luring corporations into doing tax-free business within its borders. It’s estimated that Pennsylvania loses nearly half a billion dollars every year through these loopholes in addition to another $200 million in losses annually by not taxing natural gas extraction.
Governor Corbett has long been criticized for his cozy relationship with the gas industry. In 2010, Corbett accepted more in campaign donations ($700,000) from the industry than all other Pennsylvania governor candidates combined.
“We need to close the Delaware loopholes. We need to establish combined reporting. We need to make sure that people pay their fair share. We don’t want corporations to pay anymore then anyone else. We just want them to pay their fair share,” said Rick Bloomingdale, President of the PA AFL-CIO.