California Counties Set To Fight State Over Withheld Payments
California counties are threatening to take action in response to State Controller John Chiang's (D) plan to delay state payments to counties for health care, social services and other programs, the Sacramento Bee reports (Kalb, Sacramento Bee, 2/5).
Chiang ordered a delay of at least one month in state payments in an attempt to save cash.Â The state faces a budget deficit projected at $40 billion (California Healthline, 2/4).
Several California counties have raised the possibility of suing the state, and others are considering withholding payments to the state.
Jim Wiltshire, deputy director of the California State Association of Counties, estimates that counties could withhold $675 million in one year if they do not forward court receipts to the state (Sacramento Bee, 2/5).
Riverside County Example
On Tuesday, Riverside County voted to sue the state and authorized lawsuits seeking to eliminate the county's obligation to provide mental health and other state-mandated services if the state does not pay for the services (California Healthline, 2/4).
Supervisors also voted against using financial reserves for state-mandated health care, social services and other programs while the state is withholding funds from the county.
County officials have voiced concerns about implications for the county mental health department and public health services (Hines, Riverside Press Enterprise, 2/4).
Riverside County spokesperson Lys Mendez said that a coalition of six Southern California counties will go to Sacramento on Feb. 12 to highlight the counties' budget challenges.Â
The coalition will include officials from:
- Los Angeles;
- San Bernardino; and
- San Diego counties (Sacramento Bee, 2/5).
In response to Chiang's plan to withhold payments, "California's counties are getting rebellious and no one can blame them," a Bee editorial states.However, the editorial notes that it "is a lose-lose proposition" for counties to withhold property taxes, fines, penalties and other fees they collect for the state because the state can withhold still more funds from the counties (Sacramento Bee, 2/5). 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.