Budget Agreement on Horizon as Lawmakers Resume Negotiations
On Sunday, California's leading lawmakers continued to debate various proposals to reform or reduce spending on state health and social programs as a way to address an estimated $26 billion budget deficit, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.
Although legislators said deep program cutsÂ are unavoidable, they also seemed hopeful that the state would recover from financial gridlock.
Lawmakers did not expect to achieve a budget deal Sunday, but said they hoped to reach an agreement sometime this week.
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said, "We're on a good path here" (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/12).
Back on Speaking Terms
Last Friday, state budget negotiations resumed after a temporary stalemate.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and top lawmakers from both parties said they had reached consensus on the size of the deficit and other issues during a Friday meeting.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) added that she is "hopeful we'll be there within the next few days" (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 7/10).
Legislators Consider Governor's Proposals
On Saturday, lawmakers continued to negotiate proposed budget cuts, which are expected to total $14 billion to $15 billion.
Legislators also debated Schwarzenegger's proposed changes to In-Home Supportive Services and other health and welfare programs. The governor and Republican leaders say the changes would curb fraud and reduce costs by $1.7 billion this fiscal year.
However, Democrats counter that the governor's proposals are tangential to current discussions and would have little immediate impact on the current deficit. They also say the governor is overestimating potential savings.
After Saturday's budget session, Assembly Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) said lawmakers are "getting very close to a general framework, but there are still outlying questions" (Lin, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/11).
Candidates for Governor Offer Budget Proposals
On Saturday, the Mercury News analyzed suggestions from various gubernatorial candidates on how to fix California's budget situation.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) said the state should look to San Francisco's fiscal management as a model.
Meanwhile, former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) said he would halt deficit spending, impose a hiring freeze and veto expenditures line by line until the state reached a balanced budget (McLaughlin, San Jose Mercury News, 7/11).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.