Diverse OC Group Delivers Message to Sen. Harman: ‘Stop Extreme Budget Cuts’

Only in California. That’s what I was thinking this week as I stood in front of Sen. Tom Harman’s office in Costa Mesa with fellow surfers, clergy leaders, parents, kids and others concerned that budget cuts are going to decimate everything we love about our state. To be sure, we’re not your typical coalition. We’re not usually political. But every one of us feels threatened by extreme budget cuts.

I’ve been surfing in Orange County most of my life. These beaches and parks are my second home. They’re public treasures that must be protected and managed to ensure they are open to all our children and grandchildren, not turned over to the highest bidder. We’ve got to stop the extreme cuts, which is why we came together to ask Sen. Harman to be the leader who will stand up for our kids.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen firsthand the impact of budget cuts on our daily lives.   There’s been $18 billion in cuts already made to K-12 education over the last three years. This year, schools have an average $1000 less to educate each student than they did in 2008. 19,000 teachers have already received pink slips and may not return to classrooms this fall.

One-quarter of California’s state parks are already scheduled for shut down, with the remaining parks, including Orange County’s beaches, at risk in an all-cuts budget scenario.

At some point, elected officials have to say enough is enough. More cuts are going to deplete this great state of all that makes it great. The diverse group that gathered at Harman’s office yesterday called on the Senator to support maintaining existing revenues in order to stop the cuts.  If he chooses instead to go along with the all-cuts budget advocated by extremists, Orange County schools would lose another $368 million next year.  More state parks could face closure across the state. That’s not a California I want to see.

Debbie Schroeder is a local elementary school principal. She knows all too well what more cuts would mean to our kids’ futures.

Our children didn’t create California’s budget mess, and they shouldn’t have to pay for it with their future. Class sizes are growing and support for our kids outside the classroom is diminished.  We’ve got to stop the extreme cuts, and we’re here to ask Sen. Tom Harman to be the leader who will stand up for our kids.

The budget isn’t a political issue. It’s a moral one. Now’s the time we all have to come together to stand up for California.

Christian Parra, pastor of Harbor Christian Fellowship in Costa Mesa:

We are here to pray for Sen. Tom Harman to be the moral leader California needs to protect our children’s future. A moral leader remembers that it is our calling to protect the earth we were given for our children, and to protect and educate our children – but these imperatives will be made impossible if Senator Harman stands by while another $10 billion in cuts are made to schools, children’s healthcare, and protection of our natural resources.

These members of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice — Orange County, are some of the many Californians, including educators, parents, law enforcement officials, farmers and surfers who have put aside their differences to support maintaining existing revenues in order to protect schools, seniors, environmental resources and public safety from more cuts. For more information, go to www.standupforca.org