BARC to cut 2 programs, 100 jobs amid budget woes

BARC announced this week it anticipates losing its packaging center, which provides about 80 jobs to disabled clients, to budget cuts. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

A large nonprofit organization that provides jobs and services for people with developmental disabilities is closing two of its programs that provide jobs for about 100 people.

The Bakersfield Association of Retarded Citizens has long relied on state funding as well as revenue from its recycling business to support programs for its clients with developmental disabilities.

This year, both revenue sources are too low.

BARC President Jim Baldwin said his organization - and people with disabilities all over the state - has been the third item on a two item agenda in Sacramento for decades.

"The governor is screwing with people's lives," he said.

Baldwin, who lost week rallied with other advocates at the state capitol following the governor's state of the state address, says spending on state ARC chapters has been frozen for years at 1992 levels despite California's present budget surplus.

The people most impacted by the funding woes are clients who have found paying jobs with BARC - things like cardboard sorting, labeling and box making - who otherwise would struggle to find their place in the job market.

ARC officials say that Assemblywoman Shannon Grove is the loudest voice in the state for their cause. In fact, all of Bakersfield's representatives in Sacramento have voiced strong support for additional funding of programs for disabled Californians. Where they disagree is who's to blame for the inaction.

The three Republicans - Senators Jean Fuller and Andy Vidak and Grove - say Democrats last year agreed to half of what Republican lawmakers wanted but that the funding was ultimately removed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas, a Democrat, said he's confident his party can find common ground with Republicans and approve spending increases.

Eyewitness News reached out to the governor for comment and received a phone call Monday afternoon from spokesman H.D. Palmer, who said the governor is concerned about the funding for ARC chapters around the state and last year convened a special session of the legislature to discuss long term reforms to health care financing he says would give ARC more resources.

But the legislature isn't on board with his proposal.

The cuts to BARC programs begin at the end of the month.

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