Court Order Could Stem From Legislature Not Acting on Prison Health
The Legislature did not vote on measures that would have provided funds for new prison health care facilities as part of state budget negotiations, increasing the odds that prison medical receiver J. Clark Kelso will ask a federal judge to order the state to release the funds, the Ventura County Star reports (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 9/17).
Last month, Kelso filed for a court order to compel the state to provide the funds, starting with $3.1 billion in the current fiscal year (California Healthline, 9/16). Overall, Kelso is seeking $8 billion.
On Monday and Tuesday, lawmakers did not act on two prison-related measures because Democrats would not agree to Republican requests for changes to a bond measure approved last year to fund prison construction.
A hearing on Kelso's order is scheduled for Oct. 6 in San Francisco.
However, on Monday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) asked a federal judge to reject Kelso's $8 billion request, arguing that the order would violate California's sovereign rights.
Brown also criticized Kelso's plan for new prison medical facilities for not being released publicly.
John Hagar, chief of staff for the receiver, said that only the court has the authority to publicly release the plan, which currently is in draft form (Rothfeld, Los Angeles Times, 9/17).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said he would veto the budget plan that lawmakers approved early yesterday morning, but lawmakers plan to vote to override the veto. Prison health care could re-emerge as an issue if the override fails and lawmakers re-open negotiations.
In addition, the Star reports that some observers believe that Schwarzenegger will call a special session of the Legislature to address prison issues (Ventura County Star, 9/17).