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IOUs provoke new concerns, anger among Californians

July 2, 2009 |  2:50 pm

With the announcement that the state was preparing to issue 28,742 IOUs worth $53.3 million this afternoon, some Californians said the gesture was a little too late.

“It's candy for a hungry man,” said Richard Blitz. “Banks will accept it for a week or two, but what will happen after that?”

The 73-year-old Westside resident said he believes the state’s financial crisis could have been avoided if there was better leadership, and he thinks things will only get worse.

“In ‘92 they had people that compromised,” said Blitz, recalling the last time the state issued IOUs to residents. “Not now, [legislators] don’t care. Maybe they want the state to go bankrupt.”

Blitz, the owner of a downtown variety store said raising taxes won’t help either. “If you have to raise taxes, raise taxes but do it right,” said Blitz, owner of Farmacia Million Dollar on Broadway. “Don’t go to the bottom line, people who are living hand to mouth.”

Paula Joliette, said she relies on her Social Security payments to live, but she thinks people taking advantage of the state is beginning to catch up financially.

“To tell you the truth, California is overrun by people in certain areas. This state pays more money [for disability],” said the West Adams resident in her late 60s. “Everyone is on the California bandwagon to get their money. You have some people saying they are mentally ill when they aren’t. They can live good off of that money.”

Joliette said she is concerned for her son who teaches in Fresno because he’s gotten IOUs for an entire month’s salary on multiple occasions.

While Joliette said the funds she receives from the state have been only minimally reduced, the issuance of IOUs is a relief to some, such as Tannis Carr, who said her reserves have become smaller and smaller. For her the damage is done.

“My SSI has been cut to hell and back,” said the 65-year-old retired postal worker. “This month it was $20 less, the same the month before that. It makes me feel like I don’t have anything.” Carr, like Blitz and Joliette, said she doesn’t think the IOUs will mean anything to people because they might have written the state off the same way she has.

She said she worries for her children because they rely on welfare and those benefits could be cut by the state. “It makes me very disappointed. [Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger] seems like he went after anything that poor people needed. This is not going to get any better. I just don’t believe it. I’m thinking one day I may have to leave here.”

--Gerrick Kennedy

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