Democrats’ Budget Plan Unlikely To Pass During Vote in Legislature
A budget proposal crafted by Democratic lawmakers is expected to fail today during a vote in the California Legislature as a result of opposition from Republican lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the Sacramento Bee reports (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 6/24).
The Democrats' $23.2 billion proposal includes a combination of spending reductions, accounting maneuvers, increased cigarette taxes and other fees. Although the plan does not meet the governor's $24.3 billion target, the remaining gap could be addressed by reducing funds Schwarzenegger has proposed holding in reserve.
To pass the tax increases, Democrats would need to obtain a two-thirds majority in both houses, which would require them to recruit a number of Republican Assembly members and senators to their cause (Lin, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/23).
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he does not expect the tax provisions to pass, but remains hopeful that Republicans will approve the rest of the budget plan (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 6/23).
The Democrats' proposal includes $11 billion in spending cuts, compared with the $15 billion included in Schwarzenegger's budget plan (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/23).
Democrats rejected Schwarzenegger's plan to eliminate Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program.
They also scaled back his proposed cuts to In-Home Supportive Service programs and HIV/AIDS services. In addition, Democrats turned down the governor's plan to borrow $2 billion from local governments.
Steinberg said Democrats would not accept Schwarzenegger's program cuts because the "price is too high." He added, "We're not eliminating the safety net for the most vulnerable Californians."
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger criticized the Democrats for not developing a plan to deal with the full budget shortfall.Â He said, "The Legislature must immediately address our entire $24 billion deficit -- anything less is irresponsible" (Sacramento Bee, 6/24).
On Tuesday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the tension between Democratic and Republican lawmakers regarding the two budget proposals. The segment includes comments from:
- Steinberg; and
- Assembly Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) (Russ, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 6/23).
Lawmakers Turn to Accounting Maneuvers
Both the Democrats' budget plan and Schwarzenegger's proposal include several accounting maneuvers and one-time fixes that would push funding obligations back to a later fiscal year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Democrats' budget plan includes $7.2 billion in such accounting maneuvers, compared with $4 billion worth of similar proposals included in Schwarzenegger's budget plan.
For example, Democrats have proposed issuing June 2010 state worker paychecks on July 1, 2010, which would count for the following fiscal year.
In addition, Schwarzenegger has called for cutting $1 billion from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. Such a move would require a federal waiver, but it is not guaranteed that the federal government will issue one.Although such accounting measures might ease California's immediate budget strain, they also could contribute to the state's mounting long-term deficit (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 6/24). 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.