Governor Threatens To Hold Out on Signing State Budget Package
On Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said that California might have to wait until his successor takes office in January 2011 before a budget plan passes, unless lawmakers agree to his spending proposals, the Los Angeles Times reports.
California faces a $19.1 billion deficit for the fiscal year that began on July 1 (Goldmacher/York, Los Angeles Times, 7/27).
In his May budget revision, Schwarzenegger proposed cutting:
- $750 million from the state's In-Home Supportive Services program;
- $532 million from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program; and
- $15 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program.
Schwarzenegger's plan also calls for the elimination of CalWorks, California's welfare program.
Senate and Assembly Democrats have proposed plans that aim to maintain current funding levels for Medi-Cal, IHSS and CalWorks, partially by imposing a new tax on oil production and delaying certain corporate tax changes (California Healthline, 7/1).
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) also said he would consider holding out on a spending plan if the governor does not agree to certain elements of the Democrats' plan.
In a statement responding to Schwarzenegger's remarks, Steinberg said, "If the governor continues to insist on granting billions in corporate tax cuts financed by drastic cuts to public education and programs for working mothers and their children, I am prepared to grant his wish by waiting for the next governor" (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/26).
Governor Opposes Majority-Vote Budget Initiative
In his remarks on Monday, Schwarzenegger also said that he opposes a November ballot initiative that would allow the state budget to pass with a simple majority vote rather than the two-thirds threshold currently required.
The governor said that allowing a simple majority vote for the budget's passage would provide excessive power to the Legislature's dominant political party (Wilson, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/26).
Judge Delays Action on Minimum Wage Dispute
In related news, a Sacramento Superior Court hearing on Monday pushed back the date for attorneys to continue debating whether Schwarzenegger can force Controller John Chiang (D) to reduce pay for hourly state workers to the federal minimum wage until lawmakers pass a budget.
A spokesperson for two unions that support Chiang's position said the delay means that workers will continue receiving regular wages through at least September (Ortiz, "The State Worker," Sacramento Bee, 7/26).
Chiang Warns of IOUs
Meanwhile, Chiang recently said that he could be forced to issue IOUs instead of paychecks to state employees and vendors unless a state budget is passed in the next few weeks (Central Valley Business Times, 7/26).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.