Campbell Notes Proposed Increased Funding for Medi-Cal in Appearance Before Legislature
Finance Director Tom Campbell on Wednesday in his first appearances before the Legislature said the fiscal year 2005-2006 state budget "cannot satisfy every need" but noted that funding for Medi-Cal and education programs would increase under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) budget proposal, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Some Assembly members questioned the plan, saying it would affect programs for senior citizens "again and again and again." The legislators also questioned the budget's dependence on borrowing billions of dollars.
Campbell said the proposed budget would address the deficit by reducing the rate of program growth and borrowing, without raising taxes. In response to questions, Campbell said that the state cannot afford everything it wants and that lawmakers should begin to address the discrepancy between state spending and revenue.
Nonpartisan legal analyst Elizabeth Hill said she had concerns about Schwarzenegger's proposal to make across-the-board cuts to state programs mandatory if later budget shortfalls ensue. She said the plan could weaken legislative authority in determining spending priorities and worsen "autopilot" spending.
Democratic legislators at the hearings implied they would prefer to see a budget that increases program spending. However, the Mercury News reports that there "was virtually no discussion of tax increases" (Folmar, San Jose Mercury News, 1/28).