California Voters Head to Polls; Lawmakers Gear Up for Budget
Californians head to the polls today to cast their votes on six ballot measures, including measures that would shift funds from special accounts for mental health care and early childhood health care and education services, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/19).
Proposition 1D would shift funds from First 5, which was created in 1998 when voters approved Proposition 10 to increase the state tobacco tax to fund early childhood health care and education programs.
In fiscal year 2009-2010, the measure would shift as much as $608 million in Proposition 10 revenue to the state general fund for other state health and human services programs for children who are not older than age five.Â The measure would shift as much as $268 million to the state general fund in each of the next four fiscal years.
The measure also would eliminate funds for statewide media campaigns and permit First 5 to allocate funding only for direct health and human services.
Proposition 1E would shift $226.7 million from mental health care programs that Proposition 63 funds to the existing Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment Program for low-income children for two years.Â
In 2004, voters approved Proposition 63, which increased the state income tax on high-income Californians to fund mental health services.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the Legislature placed the six measures on today's ballot as part of a February budget agreement (California Healthline, 5/18).
In San Jose yesterday, the governor told voters, "Failure to pass propositions 1A through 1F tomorrow will result in a larger deficit and devastating cuts in education, health and human services and public safety" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/19).
The state Finance Department estimates that California will face a $15.4 billion budget deficit if voters approve propositions 1C, 1D and 1E. Proposition 1C would let the state borrow $5 billion against future lottery revenue.
The other measures on the ballot would not affect the budget in fiscal year 2009-2010.
If the measures are rejected, the state budget deficit would jump to $21.3 billion, according to the finance department (California Healthline, 5/12).
Both estimates of the budget deficit -- $15.4 billion and $21.3 billion -- include $2 billion to be held in reserve (California Healthline, 5/18).
What Comes Next
Legislative leaders are ready to announce that a joint budget committee will start meeting Thursday to hash out a budget agreement, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Assembly Budget Committee Chair Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) said the committee expected to meet six or seven days weekly for about three weeks (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 5/19).
Last week, the governor released two budget proposals -- one to deal with the projected deficit if propositions 1C, 1D and 1E pass and one in case the measures fail.
Under the governor's budget proposals, health and welfare programs would lose at least $2 billion in state funding if the measures pass and as much as $2.6 billion in state funding if the measures fail (California Healthline, 5/18).
Schwarzenegger also proposed laying off 5,000 state workers and more borrowing but no tax increases.
The Bee reports that neither Republican nor Democratic legislative leaders were ready to sign on to the governor's proposals Monday (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 5/19).
In related news, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (R) and former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) debated their stances on the budget and ballot measures yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle's "Politics Blog" reports.
Both are seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman also is seeking the nomination but declined to participate.
When asked how he would balance the state budget, Campbell outlined a series of proposals, including deep cuts to Medi-Cal.Poizner declined to provide specifics but said he would form "three SWAT teams," including one to deal with health care costs (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/18). 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.