Counties and Cities Seek Ballot Measure to Prevent State ‘Budget Raids’
With a possible $14 billion shortfall in the state budget, California counties and cities are working to place a measure on the November 2002 ballot that would require the state to repay local governments if it used funds originally allocated to them, the Los Angeles Times reports. The initiative is sponsored by the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. The issue of possible state diversions of local money concerns Los Angeles County officials, who worry that the state could withhold $600 million in vehicle license fees that the county uses in part to fund health care and public safety measures, which have taken on increased importance since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and subsequent incidents of anthrax exposure. Local officials are also concerned that they may not see $300 million "extra in state funds" over five years that Gov. Gray Davis (D) "agreed to give the county health system last year." The Times reports that the county's health department "has been struggling for months to come up with a way to cut costs to survive" the nearly $1 billion deficit it could face in 2005. "Spooked by the new budget picture," county supervisors on Tuesday delayed until December finishing their budget for the current year and postponed $27.5 million in "urgent capital projects" and a 75-cent-per-hour raise for home health care workers (Tamaki/Riccardi, Los Angeles Times, 10/26).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.