Governor, Núñez Push Health Reform Toward Ballot
With their eyes on the November 2008 election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) have taken the first step toward qualifying a ballot initiative that would provide funding for their health care overhaul plan.
The governor and Núñez submitted the proposed measure to the attorney general, who has seven weeks to review the language before proponents can begin gathering signatures.
But it's still possible for the measure to change because the Senate has yet to consider the plan and could make major amendments. The proposed initiative then would have to reconcile the measure with whatever legislation makes it to Schwarzenegger's desk.
Any amendments are expected to be influenced by a financial analysis of the plan by the Legislative Analyst's Office. Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) is reluctant to sign on to the measure unless the state's looming budget deficit has no effect on the plan. He's put off hearings on the plan until LAO completes the report.
While Senate lawmakers wait to consider the plan, lines are already being drawn in the campaign to qualify the measure for the ballot. A coalition of unions and businesses is expected to help finance a campaign, which likely will be met with opposition and heavy spending from tobacco companies, pharmaceutical firms and other groups.
Here's a sampling of reaction to the measure passed by the Assembly.