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Republican Budget Proposal Is Demeaning To Women

Friday July 11, 2003

So. The media reports that the GOP offers the State of California a budget. The Democrats turn it down. Let’s see where some of the holes in that GOP proposal might be. Here are just a few. 

$3.4 million cut by eliminating teen-pregnancy prevention programs. This is nuts. For years we’ve known that for every dollar spent on pregnancy prevention, $3 was saved in future health care costs by the state. The amount of those savings in current dollars is $4.48. We know that teen pregnancy rates are lower than they have been in forty years! An investment of this amount equals future savings of $15.23 million! That means that something is working. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  

The elimination of the Battered Women’s Shelter Program saves $21.8 million. It ends 24-hour crisis hotlines, emergency food, clothing and shelter for victims of domestic violence, counseling, emergency room services and legal assistance with temporary restraining orders. Cold-hearted Republicans apparently disregard the safety of endangered women and children. Do you remember reading lately about women and children in our area that were beaten or killed? It’s a horrible fact of life that fathers and partners brutalize women and children. This cut means they are also to be brutalized by the state.  

Eliminating the California Commission of the Status of Women eliminates a resource where women’s issues are researched, where educational outreach occurs and where remedies to problems facing women’s search for equality are procured. Are the Republicans saying they think women’s issues are unimportant? They are already getting far more value than what they pay for ($443,000) because volunteers throughout the state do so many of these duties.  

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is another one of those things women have fought to establish and continue to use. Maybe drafters of the GOP budget consider fairness and equity passé. Women continue to need a place to turn to when discrimination in the workplace occurs or when housing is illegally denied them. Funds for enforcement of anti-discrimination laws are critical to women. 

The clearest thing I can tell from this GOP proposal is that Republicans are continuing their campaign of women-hating legislation. They don’t care about teen pregnancy, battered women, fairness in employment and housing, reproductive health care or even a commission to track women’s issues. They’d like to see women return to the kitchen of the 50’s, barefoot and pregnant and without recourse. Women have worked too hard for too long to be so demeaned by such mean-spiritedness. Proponents of this budget should hang their heads in shame. 

Oakland/East Bay NOW is striving to register new voters and to educate all voters on the pitfalls found in GOP priorities. On the national level, those GOP priorities include money for unending wars, tax cuts for the wealthy and elimination of environmental protection laws (among others) with simultaneous decreases in funding for health care, education and local budgets. Clearly that same disregard for women permeates the Republicans in the California Legislature. We give our thanks to those legislators who turned away this disastrous GOP proposal and offer our pledge to replace those who would not protect women and children.  

See you at the polls.  

Barbara Ellis is Past President of the Oakland/East Bay Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She lives with her husband in El Cerrito.