California is facing tough times. The ruling political party, as usual is turning a jaundiced eye toward - the Hispanic community, the working class, and the poor. A case in point is Senate Bill 60 (SB60), the undocumented person’s driver’s license law signed by former Governor Gray Davis during his last months in office. And the proposed budget by Schwarzenegger, which will impact the minorities and the non-rich Californians with the deepest cuts. The last time we saw this type of scapegoating was during the Pete Wilson governorship.
The driver’s license issue is purely a symbolic issue. Overturning this bill just reaffirms the right wing’s control over the Assembly and the State. It has little to do with the terrorist threat and everything to do with the perceived threat from the growing Hispanic community. Immigrants having drivers licenses is nothing new. Prior to 1994 immigrants were able to apply and receive their drivers license. But as the Hispanic community continued to grow it was seen as a threat, and the ability to obtain a divers license was changed in ’94. This was seen as a way to control this growing population.
Obtaining a drivers license is a common sense bill. But, Republicans see this as one step closer to obtaining citizenship, ostensibly a growing Democratic Party, and even more fearfully, a majority Hispanic state.
When the governor talks about us tightening the belt during these tough budget times, he is actually referring to the minorities and those who can least afford it, working class Californians who must do the tightening! The hardest hit by the Governor’s budget proposal will be the poor who depend on health services provided by the state and the education community. The Governor thinks we are spending too much on education, and some of the first programs to go will be programs that aid and benefit the Hispanic community such as the Puente program, MESA and community based projects such as La Clase Mágica, College Advocates, and Medical Interns. The proposed budget would eliminate local broad-based initiatives such as CREATE and Press School; Multi-campus efforts such as ACCORD and UC Links, which sponsor and conduct research on equity and diversity issues.
What we don’t hear in the budget talks is how are we going to get the Indian Casinos to pay their fair share, remember that right along with eliminating the drivers license bill, Schwarzenegger also promised to get the casinos to pay more into the state budget, but apparently that promise has fallen to the wayside. Also we have heard nothing about cutting back on the Prison budget, which has ballooned to new heights during the Davis regime, nor about recouping all the money spent on gas and electricity while the energy companies ripped off the state. Or how about taxing the corporations and the rich in the state. But no! The Governor has decided instead to go after the poor and minority communities.
The voters of California, including a good number of Democrats and members of the minority population thought they were voting for change. Unfortunately, that’s what they are going to get: Small change, The Fat Cats will chuckle all the way to the movies as they go to see the Guv in his latest fairy tale. “The more things change, the more they stay the same!”