Democrats, Republicans React to Budget Plan Approved by Legislature
On Friday, the California Senate and Assembly approved a fiscal year 2015-2016 budget plan after reaching a deal with Gov. Jerry Brown (D), but both Democrats and Republicans had mixed feelings about the plan, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports (Orr, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 6/19).
Details of Budget Plan
Last week, California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced a $115.4 billion budget deal with several health care implications.
Overall, the budget allots nearly $32 billion for health care programs, including about $18 billion for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.
Under the budget deal, the state in May 2016 would begin extending Medi-Cal coverage to about 170,000 undocumented immigrant children under age 19. The expansion is projected to cost $40 million in the next fiscal year and about $132 million annually following implementation.
The budget deal also includes $226 million to restore for one year a 7% pay cut In-Home Supportive Services providers.
Brown rejected a provision in lawmakers' budget plan that would have increased Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates by 5%, citing concerns about costs.
Meanwhile, Brown announced two special legislative sessions to address additional funding concerns related to the budget, one of which will be used to consider ways to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements (California Healthline, 6/17).
For more information on the special sessions, see today's "Capital Desk" post.
The budget proposal now goes to the governor, who is expected to sign it.
Democratic leaders expressed support for the overall budget deal reached with Brown.
Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Chair Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said, "There is much to be proud of," but he acknowledged "there is much to be disappointed about as well" (Megerian/McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 6/19). Leno said that "the nature of compromise is that no one gets everything that he or she wants."
Some Democratic lawmakers criticized the budget, saying it doesn't do enough for low-income Californians and residents with disabilities. For instance, it does not include funding for certain services -- such as transportation and housing -- for individuals with autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, according to AP/KPCC's "KPCC News."
State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) said, "It appears to me that poor people in California and their children continue to be on the losing end of that equation" (Lin, "KPCC News," AP/KPCC, 6/19).
The budget plan gained one Republican vote in the Assembly and several in the state Senate.
Assembly member Melissa Melendez (R-Murrieta) thanked Brown "for standing with Republicans and rejecting the majority party's spending wish list" ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 6/19)
State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), vice chair of the Senate budget committee, added, "I think we've made a step here toward a responsible budget. Some of us will have problems with some of the other provisions, but this is a good effort" ("KPCC News," AP/KPCC, 6/19).
However, many Republicans still took issue with a last-minute trailer bill added to the plan that would allow state regulators to issue forced water consolidation orders to local water agencies. Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) noted that the bill was printed less than 36 hours before the vote on it, adding, "A budget trailer bill dealing with the drought should actually effectively address California's extreme water crisis related to drought. This bill doesn't do that" ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 6/19).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.