Democratic Legislators Prepare To Vote for State Budget Plan, Including Restoration of Funds to Health Programs
Democratic legislators are preparing to vote on their own proposal for the state fiscal year 2004-2005 budget, which would reverse some funding cuts for health programs, higher education and welfare services proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Gledhill/Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16). Schwarzenegger's May budget revision eliminated a plan to reduce Medi-Cal reimbursements to providers by 10%, as well as proposed enrollment caps for Healthy Families. The revision also eliminated plans to limit enrollment for programs that provide prenatal care for undocumented immigrants; made recommendations to limit enrollment in the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program; and reinstated funding for the Improving Access, Counseling and Treatment for Californians with Prostate Cancer, which provides treatment for low-income, uninsured men with prostate cancer. Democratic leaders and Schwarzenegger have not settled whether a proposal to reduce in-home workers' wages to the state minimum wage rate will be reversed. Democrats say that they want to restore the $130 million, revised from $98 million, to protect the wages of in-home workers (California Healthline, 6/25). Earlier this month, Schwarzenegger agreed to eliminate from the budget his proposal to reduce wages for people who provide in-home care to seniors and people with developmental disabilities (California Healthline, 7/2). Schwarzenegger on Friday will hold a rally in Southern California for his budget plan (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16).
Schwarzenegger said that he would "fight like a warrior" for the budget and that "there is no one that can stop me, and anyone that pushes me around, I will push back, including Democrats and special interests" (Bluth, Sacramento Bee, 7/16). Rob Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's communications director, said the governor "is still hopeful that this can work itself out over the next few days, but the more partisan it becomes, the more he becomes convinced the Legislature is an institution that needs reform" (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16). However, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) said that Schwarzenegger had already agreed to support the Democratic budget proposal and was encouraging Republican lawmakers to back the plan. "We believe, firmly, that each and every issue that deals with the budget has been resolved with the governor," Nunez said, adding that he did not know whether Schwarzenegger has received the "full buy-in from Republican legislators on [the budget]."
Although "stubborn language" from both the Legislature and the governor is often "unleashed a few days before a [budget] deal is announced," Democratic legislative leaders have "vowed to defy the governor," the Los Angeles Times reports. Senate Democrats will hold votes this week and next on their budget plan as a "provocation against the governor," the Times reports. Schwarzenegger said that the Democrats would not be considering his budget, adding that they were attempting to "put the wool over my eyes. It's the oldest trick: Divide and conquer. I'm into unite and conquer" (Salladay/Halper, Los Angeles Times, 7/16).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.