Brown, Democrats Still Divided as State Budget Deadline Approaches
On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) indicated he and Democratic lawmakers remain divided on how to close the state's $15.7 billion budget deficit, and he criticized legislators for resisting health and human services cuts, the San Jose Mercury News reportsÂ (Harmon, San Jose Mercury News, 6/12).
On Monday, Assembly Democrats released a budget proposal for fiscal year 2012-2013 that includes about $700 million less in cuts to health and welfare programs than Brown's revised fiscal year 2012-2013 budget plan.
Details of Brown's Revised Budget Plan
Brown's $91.4 billion revised budget plan calls for cutting:
- $1.2 billion from Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- by merging services for beneficiariesÂ eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare and reducing payments to hospitals and nursing homes;
- $946.2 million from CalWORKs -- the state's welfare-to-work program -- by limiting the amount of time most adults could be in the program from four years to two years;
- $225 million from In-Home Supportive Services -- which provides services for the elderly and people who are blind or have disabilities -- by eliminating domestic assistance for beneficiaries in shared living environments and reducing worker payments by 7%; and
- $64 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program, by moving children out of the program.
Details of Assembly Democrats' Plan
The Assembly Democrats' proposal would:
- MaintainÂ Brown's proposal to reduce hours to IHSS beneficiaries byÂ 3.6% but reject an additional 3.4 percentage pointÂ cutÂ sought by the governor;
- Reject Brown's proposal to eliminate pay to IHSS providers for performing domestic services such as laundry and house cleaning; and
- Reject Brown's CalWORKs overhaul and instead seek $327 million in savings by providing fewer job training and child care services to parents of young children.
In addition, the plan calls for a $614 million state budget reserve, which is $434 million less than the $1.048 billion reserve included in Brown's revised budget plan (California Healthline, 6/12).
As Democratic legislators presented their budget proposals in the Assembly and Senate Tuesday, Brown released a statement, saying, "We're not there yet."
He said, "The Legislature has agreed to some tough cuts, but the budget before the committees today is not structurally balanced and puts us into a hole in succeeding years."
He added, "We need additional structural reforms to cut spending on an ongoing basis" (York, Los Angeles Times, 6/13).
Action in the Legislature
The Senate budget committee voted 9-3 to reject Brown's budget proposal and voted in favor of its own plan (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/12).
The Assembly budget committee held informational hearings on its proposal and did not vote on the budget plan.
Assembly member Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), chair of the Assembly budget committee, said that "as close as we are in lock step with the governor, we're still working with him to try and achieve consensus."
He added that Democratic legislators are pushing for "softer, more compassionate" alternatives to Brown's proposed cuts to IHSS, CalWORKs, health care and child care (San Jose Mercury News, 6/12).
Lawmakers face a June 15 state constitutional deadline to pass a balanced budget plan.
In 2010, voters passed a law that calls for legislators' pay to be docked every day after that deadline until a budget is approved (Los Angeles Times, 6/13).
Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), chair of the Senate budget committee, said, "We are really on track, and I can assure you that the Legislature will pass not only an on-time budget on Friday, but it will be balanced and it will be honest" (San Jose Mercury News, 6/12).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.