California Lawmakers Briefed on Budget Gap, Implications of Inaction
At a joint legislative session on the budget yesterday, California fiscal leaders warned lawmakers that the state budget deficit would grow even larger if the Legislature does not approve a spending plan soon, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 12/8).
Republican legislators have opposed proposals by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic lawmakers that would address the budget deficit by a combination of tax increases and spending cuts (Wiegand, Sacramento Bee, 12/9).
During the question-and-answer period of the session, Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill (R-Fresno) voiced opposition to tax increases, arguing that he believes there is "waste, fraud and abuse" that could be eliminated from state programs, especially health care and social services (San Jose Mercury News, 12/8).Â
State Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor warned that closing the budget gap through only spending cuts or tax hikes would be problematic.
According to Taylor, using only spending cuts to address the budget deficit would require the equivalent of cutting all state funding for:
- Mental health;
- Developmental health services;
- The University of California and the California and state universities;
- Welfare grants; and
- In-home supportive services (Rau/McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 12/9).
In addition, Treasurer Bill Lockyer (D) warned that state infrastructure projects would have to be shut down within two weeks without a budget, and Controller John Chiang (D) said that the state could run out of cash by March if lawmakers do not address the deficit quickly (Sacramento Bee, 12/9).
What Comes NextLegislators plan to begin committee hearings this week in hopes of crafting a budget plan (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/9). 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.