Brown, Democrats Work To Bridge $2B Divide Over State Budget Cuts
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Democratic lawmakers have been meeting privately to negotiate disagreements over about $2 billion in cuts proposed in Brown's revised fiscal year 2012-2013 budget plan, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
Lawmakers face a June 15 constitutional deadline to pass a balanced budget. The state currently faces a $15.7 billion budget deficit (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/7).
Background on Budget
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 (California Healthline, 5/22).
Where Brown, Democratic Legislators Disagree
Democratic legislators mostly agree with Brown's budget plan, but they argue that about $2 billion in proposed cuts would hurt California's most vulnerable residents.
The lawmakers said they oppose Brown's proposed cuts to:
- Cal Grants, which provides financial aid to college students;
- IHSS; and
- Child care assistance for low-income families.
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he and Assembly Speaker John PÃ©rez (D-Los Angeles) want toÂ reach "middle ground" with Brown. The lawmakers have not indicated where they would findÂ fundingÂ to avoid the proposed cuts, AP/U-T San Diego reports.
GOP Criticizes Democrats Over Meetings
Republican lawmakers have criticized Democrats for not holding traditional committee hearings so that both parties can weigh in on the budget before it is presented to the full Legislature.
Since voters in 2010 passed a proposition allowing lawmakers to pass the budget using a simple majority vote, Republicans have been left out of budget talks (Lin, AP/U-T San Diego, 6/7).
Field Poll Finds Low Voter Confidence in Lawmakers
In related news, a Field Poll released Friday found that 65% of registered California voters say they have little confidence in the Legislature's abilityÂ to resolve the state's budget deficit, while 43% say they have little confidence in Brown's ability to address the budget.Â
In addition, the poll found that by a 41% to 26% margin, voters would side with Brown over the Legislature if there was a dispute about the budget.
The poll also found that:
- 9% of voters said they had a great deal of confidence in Brown's abilityÂ to resolve the budget deficit; and
- 3% of voters said they had a great deal of confidence in the Legislature's abilityÂ to resolve the budget deficit (Siders, Sacramento Bee, 6/8).