Assembly OKs Funds for San Quentin Medical Center
The Assembly on Thursday approved a bill to provide a $146 million bond to fund construction of a new medical center at San Quentin State Prison, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The legislation will be sent to the Senate for approval (Davies/Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13).
Under SB 99, funding for the facility would come from a $7.9 billion prison overhaul plan that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed into law this spring.
The legislation was written this week by Assembly member Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) after Assembly Republicans withdrew support of legislation that would have provided new funds to pay for the facility.
Sen. Mike Machado (D-Linden) said it was "disappointing" that the Assembly voted for SB 99 over his bill (SB 943) that called for a separate funding source. He added that supporters of SB 99 "missed the difference between what [the state reform plan] was providing, which was non-acute medical beds versus primary medical facilities" that were intended for San Quentin.
Machado said the passage of SB 99 would reduce funding for 53,000 new hospital beds under the state reform plan.
Robert Sillen, California's prison medical receiver, earlier this week said he "can't accept" funding for the San Quentin facility coming out of funds from the state's plan.
Assembly member Todd Spitzer (R-Orange), who opposed Machado's bill to provide separate funds for the facility, said, "If we let [Sillen] run our (prison) health care system without any checks and balances by the Legislature, we are in for another crisis" (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 7/13).
California paid more than $500 million in overtime compensation to state prison workers in 2006, with doctors and nurses being among the prison employees receiving the most overtime pay, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The amount is 35% more than overtime compensation for 2005.
Prison officials attributed the higher overtime costs to vacant staff positions.
Moreover, court-appointed receivers for California's prison health care and mental health care systems have ordered new services and functions that must be put in place with existing staff resources (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/15).