Assembly Rejects Republican Budget Plan Including Cuts to Health Services
The Assembly on Sunday voted 45-27 along party lines against a Republican budget proposal that would have cut all state funding for abortions and reduced funding for other health services, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Republican proposal, which aimed to close the state's $38 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, would have eliminated health clinics for American Indians to save an estimated $6.5 million; withheld $50 monthly payments to low-income, blind individuals to help feed their seeing-eye dogs; and eliminated medical evaluations of low-income children to save $51 million (Nicholas/Halper, Los Angeles Times, 7/7). Republican supporters of the plan said that it would have cut spending 4.2% from last year and would have "eliminated bureaucratic waste and streamlined government operations," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. However, Democrats called the plan "a heartless alternative for the state's poor, aged, blind and disabled." They also accused Republicans of "sliding their antiabortion agenda into the budget" and criticized other proposed cuts to family planning programs (Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/7). Assembly member Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) said that the proposal was "unreasonable" and would "cause disaster." Chu added that the plan would deny diabetic test strips and hearing aids to Medi-Cal beneficiaries, eliminate all funding for trauma care centers and force AIDS patients to pay more for treatments, the Sacramento Bee reports. Further, Assembly member Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) said that the plan would result in deficits of $6 billion in fiscal year 2004-2005 and $10 billion in FY 2005-2006. "This plan represents the most irresponsible plan we have considered so far," she said (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 7/7). Assembly members will reconvene today to consider a compromise (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/7). NPR's All Things Considered on Saturday featured an interview with Gov. Gray Davis (D), including comments on the state budget deficit (Inskeep, "Weekend All Things Considered," NPR, 7/5). The full segment is available in Real Player online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.