Deadlines Looming for Action on California’s Current Budget Deficit
State lawmakers have about three weeks to take action on the $8.9 billion state budget shortfall remaining in the current fiscal year, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) called an emergency legislative session to address the budget gap. The session is scheduled to end on Feb. 22.
If lawmakers fail to reach a budget agreement by the end of the session, they will be barred from taking action on any other bills until the budget situation is resolved.
State financial officers say the deficit could begin growing wider if lawmakers do not reach a budget agreement by March 1.
In addition, Schwarzenegger's office has warned that slow budget action could lead to additional state costs because cuts to social services and other programs often require months of preparation (Theriault, San Jose Mercury News, 2/1).
State Aid Recipients Brace for Proposed Cuts
Meanwhile, state budget cuts are shrinking public assistance allocations for low-income and disabled California residents.
Last summer, state lawmakers eliminated Medi-Cal coverage for dental, hearing and vision care, as well as other optional benefits. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In addition, the state recently reduced its contribution to SSI/SSP grants for low-income and disabled Californians.
Schwarzenegger's latest budget proposal would further reduce the state's share of SSI/SSP grants from $171 per month to $156 per month for each recipient. The reduction would bring the joint federal-state maximum monthly grant to $830, down from $907 last year.
The governor's budget also would reduce funding for the state's CalWORKS welfare program (Ferriss, Sacramento Bee, 2/1).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.