Davis To Call Special Legislative Session, Propose $5 Billion in Reductions To Cover Budget Deficit
Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday said that he will call a special legislative session on Dec. 9 to consider $5 billion in spending reductions and other measures to "staunch the bleeding" in the state's finances, the Los Angeles Times reports (Jones/Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 11/22). Many politicians and experts have said that Medi-Cal, the largest state expenditure after education, could absorb the deepest reductions in a budget-trimming plan (California Healthline, 11/4). Earlier this month, the nonpartisan legislative analyst's office projected the 2003-2004 budget deficit at $21.1 billion, but Davis said the shortfall will go well beyond that estimate. He said he is imposing a freeze on many of the state's expenditures. Davis said he would release the specifics of his budget plan after the Legislature convened, but he did say he would not seek a tax increase (Los Angeles Times, 11/22). However, Senate President John Burton (D-San Francisco) said that because of the size of the shortfall, it "is fairly impossible" to cover the deficit with spending reductions but not tax increases. He added that any reductions to "vulnerable" residents would be "unacceptable" to Democrats, the Fresno Bee reports. "We're not going to balance this all on the backs of the poor, aged, blind and disabled," Burton said (Maxwell, Fresno Bee, 11/22).
Republicans, however, said they would vote only to reduce spending and would not support tax increases proposed by Davis. "I'm going to be resistant to punishing taxpayers because he overspent," Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga) said (Howard/Kim Quach, Orange County Register, 11/22). The state constitution requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature to pass a budget, meaning Republican votes are needed to pass a plan (Howard/Kim Quach, Orange County Register, 11/22). "We may have to be prepared to freeze spending for a year or two -- I mean really freeze state spending," Brulte said (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 11/22). He added that he has proposed changing Medi-Cal eligibility recertification to a quarterly rather than an annual basis to decrease enrollment, which would save $150 million (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/22).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.