More than 100 families surrounded Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Santa Monica restaurant Schatzi on Main to protest his plans to cut childcare and fund of CalWORKS (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) for California’s working families.

The candlelight vigil of parents and children Wednesday, June 9th, urged Schwarzenegger to stop “catering to the rich by stealing from the poor.”

Protestors who spoke said the governor’s budget protects wealthy Californians by cutting services to low-income families who need the services the most.

“The governor talks about creating jobs in California, yet how can I work and take care of my child at the same time?” asked Lori Zaitz, a member of Parents Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), a nonprofit organization that focuses on taking direct action to make positive changes within low-income communities of west Los Angeles.

Zaitz says her daughter receives subsidized childcare from Westside Children’s Center, which is one of the programs that get state funding from CalWORKS.

The governor’s revised budget, released May 14th, includes cuts that would significantly increase the amount low-income families have to pay for childcare, protestors assert.

The budget also includes new time limits that would deny childcare to thousands of parents who have been able to transition from welfare to work because of access to childcare subsidies, they say.

State Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees are reportedly opposed to these cuts proposed by the governor.

“Hundreds of thousands of families in our state are about to lose their childcare, which will force them back into poverty and put more children at risk,” said Nancy Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness.

The Santa Monica protest was organized by The California Partnership, a coalition of more than 70 community-based groups opposed to the governor’s proposed 2004 budget cuts.