Children’s Health Care a Priority for New California Legislature
After the new class of state legislators was sworn in on Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) pledged to take action to expand health insurance coverage for all California children within 120 days, the Sacramento Bee reports (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 12/2).
Lawmakers will convene immediately to address the state budget deficit after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) declared a fiscal emergency on Monday and called a special legislative session (Wildermuth/Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2).
The Legislature generally does not begin its session until Jan. 1 (Sacramento Bee, 12/2).
Schwarzenegger said the state will not have sufficient funds to cover its expenses by late February if the Legislature does not act. Â The state faces an $11.2 billion deficit in the current fiscal year (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2).
Under the governor's fiscal emergency order, the legislature has 45 days to approve legislation addressing the deficit. The legislature is barred from acting on other bills until a spending plan is approved (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 12/1).
Budget Propositions, Negotiations
The governor is pushing the budget package he announced last month, including spending cuts, economic stimulus efforts and tax increases (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2).
The governor's proposal would cut the state Health and Human Services Agency's budget by about $950 million in the current budget year and set the stage for a $3 billion cut for fiscal year 2009-2010.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) had spoken out against cuts to health and human services programs (California Healthline, 11/26).
Republican lawmakers have voiced criticism of proposals to increase taxes (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2).
Steinberg and Bass have called on Republican legislators to provide a detailed list of spending cuts and new revenue sources that they would support to address the budget deficit (Gardner/Sweeney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/2).Last week, Republican lawmakers blocked a budget plan that would have cut spending on health care, education and other programs in part because it would have increased the state fee for licensing vehicles (Rau/McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 12/2). 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.