Budget Signed; Line-Item Vetoes Target Some Health Programs
On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed an $87.5 billion spending plan and used line-item vetoes to cut nearly $1 billion from health programs and other services, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The action came on the 100th day of California's fiscal year (Dolan/Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 10/9). Earlier on Friday, the Senate voted 27-9 to approve the main bill (SB 870) of the budget package after the Assembly voted 54-1 to approve the main bill on Thursday (Hindery/Thompson, San Jose Mercury News, 10/8).
The budget aims to close California's $19 billion deficit partially by leveraging accounting strategies that would delay some payments until the next fiscal year.
The plan also assumes that the state will receive about $5.3 billion in federal funds that have yet to be promised. The assumed federal funds include $1.3 billion in higher payments for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
The budget plan also cuts $937 million from health and human services programs. The spending reductions include:
- $300 million from the In-Home Supportive Services program by imposing a 3.6% reduction in caregiver hours, leveraging federal funds and assuming lower caseloads;
- $187 million by enrolling elderly and disabled residents into managed care programs; and
- $84 million by freezing hospital Medi-Cal rates.
The proposal also reduces prison health care spending by $820 million (California Healthline, 10/8).
The governor's vetoes cut spending from 23 line items (Los Angeles Times, 10/9). The move aimed to increase state reserves from $364 million to more than $1.3 billion by eliminating:
- $133 million from mental health services for special education students by shifting responsibility for such services from counties to school districts (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 10/9); and
- Nearly $60 million from HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs (Los Angeles Times, 10/9).
The governor's line-item vetoes also targeted funding for:
- Community health clinics;
- Community-based services for seniors;
- Prostate cancer treatment programs; and
- Substance-misuse services (Sacramento Bee, 10/9).
The newly signed budget does not include several of the severe cuts proposed in Schwarzenegger's May budget revision, such as:
- The elimination of CalWORKS, California's welfare-to-work program;
- Major cuts to the state's In-Home Supportive Services program; and
- Reductions in Medi-Cal reimbursements for adult day health care services.
For additional coverage of Schwarzenegger's line-item vetoes, please see today's Capitol Desk post.
Health Leaders React
James Park, program director of the Pomona Adult Day Health Center, said his agency was concerned that the budget package would follow through on Schwarzenegger's previous proposals to eliminate funding for adult day health care services. He said that "we are very relieved our funding is intact right now" (Koren, Contra Costa Times, 10/8).
Anthony Wright, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access California, said the governor's line-item vetoes went too far. Wright said, "This recession is a time when people in communities need the help the most, and yet the governor is unilaterally making these cuts" (Los Angeles Times, 10/9).
Other Budget Coverage
Headlines and links to additional coverage of California's budget package are provided below.
- "California Legislature Passes State Budget" (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/9).
- "Gov. Cuts Nearly $1 Billion From State Budget" (Murphy/Krupnick, San Jose Mercury News, 10/9).
- "California Finally Passes Budget" (Vara, Wall Street Journal, 10/9).
- "California Budget Wins Approval" (New York Times, 10/8).
Headlines and links to editorials on California's budget package are provided below.
- "Editorial: Budget Not Worth Waiting 100 Days For" (Orange County Register, 10/8).
- "Good, Bad and Ugly: State Budget Has it All" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/10).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of California's budget package are provided below.
- "California Lawmakers Pass Budget Plan" (Lieszkovszky, "KXJZ News," Capitol Public Radio, 10/8).
- "Finally, a Budget" (Myers, "California Report," KQED, 10/8).
- "Schwarzenegger To Cut More California State Spending To Boost Cash" (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 10/8).