Statewide Day of Action to Save Renters Rebate

by Paul Hogarth on November 18, 2008

When California voters in June soundly rejected Proposition 98, it launched a statewide tenant movement – bringing allies together who had never worked on common causes. The product of such a coalition, however, remains to be seen. But now that Governor Schwarzenegger has repealed the senior renters tax credit, many of those same activists are back. Tomorrow is a statewide “Day of Action” to demand re-instatement of the $347-a-year tax credit, with protests planned in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The group “Tenants Together” has organized online, giving people the tools to organize their own communities. Arnold has never been a friend for tenants, but his assault on seniors is a new low even for him—and the tenant movement isn’t taking it lying down.

Right when the economy couldn’t be more dire for the poor, Arnold Schwarzenegger backed off on his long-standing opposition to tax increases. Trouble is, he eliminated the one tax credit that low-income seniors have relied upon for years. Housing activists held a rally on October 22nd in San Francisco to protest the Governor, but the November election was a main distraction for most people. Now, as the legislature holds a special session in the State Capitol and the election is behind us, seniors are ready to make their voices heard.

In Los Angeles, activists will meet at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow (November 19th) in front of the State Building (at 300 South Spring Street.) The San Diego protest will be at 12 Noon in front of the State Building (at 1350 Front Street.) And in San Francisco, advocates will rally at 12 Noon at 501 Van Ness Street. Tenants Together is also working to get other (smaller) rallies in different corners of the state – and is urging seniors to call the Governor, demanding that he re-instate the tax credit.

With the state’s current budget crisis, Sacramento is a mess. Right-wing Republicans in the legislature still won’t agree to a tax increase (while the Governor proposes some very regressive revenue measures), and Democrats fight to stop even more devastating cuts in education and health care spending. There’s a very legitimate concern that the renters tax credit could be lost in the fray. But the price tag for the renters tax credit – $150 million – is relatively minor, and it’s criminal that the Governor can kill a long-term program with a stroke of a pen that has helped the most vulnerable Californians.

The state is in dire need of substantial budget reform, but restoring the tax credit could be a relatively simple repair.

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