OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Finding the governor's plan to cut millions from social services as part of the 2011-12 California budget "raises serious questions of violations of the federal due process clause," a federal judge refused to let the state implement $100 million worth of cuts to the In-Home Supportive Services program.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken issued a temporary restraining order preventing the California Departments of Health Care Services and Social Services from enacting the cuts until a Dec. 15 hearing.
The cuts are part of $700 billion in "trigger cuts" Gov. Jerry Brown warned would take place if revenue forecasts fell short. In November, the Legislative Analyst's Office reported that state tax revenue fell $3.7 billion below the projected amount needed to stop the triggers from going into effect.
"The planned IHSS reductions, unless enjoined, will cause immediate and irreparable harm by placing members of the plaintiff class at imminent and serious risk of harm to their health and safety, as well as of unnecessary and unwanted out-of-home placement including institutionalization," Wilken found, abbreviating In-Home Supportive Services. "Thus, serious questions going to the merits are raised and the balance of hardships tips sharply in plaintiffs' favor. The balance of equities strongly favors plaintiffs because defendants' only interest is fiscal, whereas the plaintiff class faces life or death consequences."
The Service Employees International Union - United Long Term Care Workers applauded Wilken's ruling. It "brings a sense of relief to California seniors and people with disabilities," union president Laphonza Butler said in a statement. "This ruling means that our parents, grandparents and children with disabilities who rely on the IHSS program to live safely at home will be able to get through the holidays without fear of losing their in-home care and being forced into institutions. It also means that there is a possibility of preventing these dangerous cuts to home care altogether."
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