Californians Decisively Reject Budget-Related Ballot Measures
California voters rejected five of the six measures on the ballot in yesterday's statewide election, including three propositions that would have let the state tap into special accounts for mental health services and early childhood education, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Yi/Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/20).
With all precincts reporting, 65.8% of voters rejected Proposition 1D and 66.4% voted "no" on Proposition 1E (California Secretary of State Web site, accessed 5/20).
Proposition 1D would have shifted 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 have shifted 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 have shifted as much as $268 million to the state general fund in each of the next four fiscal years.
The measure also would have eliminated funds for statewide media campaigns and permitted First 5 to allocate funding only for direct health and human services.
Proposition 1E would have shifted $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 yesterday's ballot as part of a February budget agreement (California Healthline, 5/19).
Because voters rejected propositions 1C, 1D and 1E, the state's budget deficit for FY 2009-2010 will increase from $15.4 billion to $21.3 billion (Ellis/Schultz, Fresno Bee, 5/20).
Proposition 1C would have let the state borrow $5 billion against future lottery revenue (Wiegand, Sacramento Bee, 5/19).
The projected $21.3 billion budget deficit amounts to almost a quarter of Schwarzenegger's proposed general fund spending for the upcoming fiscal year (AP/Stockton Record, 5/20).
In a statement, the governor said, "Tonight we have heard the voters, and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system" (Steinhauer, New York Times, 5/20).
He said, "We must also continue to fight for real, comprehensive budget reform that brings stability to California's budget process and forces the state to save in the good times so that we do not face these kinds of deficits, devastating cuts and tax increases when the economy takes a downturn."
The governor spent Election Day in Washington, D.C., for an appearance with President Obama to announce new fuel efficiency and vehicle emission standards (Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/20).
While in Washington, D.C., Schwarzenegger met with the state's congressional delegation in hopes of winning their support for a proposal to cut state spending on Medi-Cal by $750 million. The move would require federal approval.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The governor is scheduled to discuss the issue with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today before flying back to Sacramento (York, Capitol Weekly, 5/19).
Schwarzenegger unveiled the proposed Medi-Cal cuts last week as part of his plan for dealing with the state budget deficit (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 5/20). Other health care-related provisions of the governor's proposal are projectedÂ to saveÂ the state:
- $132 million by contracting for lower-cost health insurance coverage for state workers; and
- $24.6 million by cutting HIV prevention and education services (San Jose Mercury News graphic, 5/20).
Governor, Legislators Move Forward
Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are scheduled to begin closed door budget negotiations today, and a small group of senators and Assembly members will kick off a series of public sessions on the budget tomorrow (Bailey, Los Angeles Times, 5/20).
Democrats have scheduled a press conference this morning to announce their timeline for passing a budget, and Republicans also are set to release their plans for advancing a budget agreement.The Chronicle reports that California will not have sufficient cash on hand to make some payments by late summer if a budget agreement is not reached quickly (Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/20). 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.