Governor’s Line-Item Veto Hits Medi-Cal Reserve, Mental Health
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday will use his line-item veto authority to cut almost $310 million from California's Medi-Cal reserves as part of a pledge to Senate Republicans that the budget for fiscal year 2007-2008 will be balanced, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The governor is signing the overdue budget three days after Senate Republicans provided the necessary votes to pass a spending plan after several demands were met, including a pledge by the governor to veto $700 million.
Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer said the administration had no comment on specific budget vetoes.
The Medi-Cal cuts are being made as the monthly caseload for the program is expected to be 6.7 million residents this fiscal year, a 1.4% increase from last year, according to the administration.
The veto will not jeopardize services, however, because Medi-Cal is an entitlement program. If its reserve depletes, the Legislature would have to pass a supplemental appropriations bill to cover the costs.
In addition to the Medi-Cal cuts, the governor also will eliminate $55 million for the Integrated Services for Homeless Adults with Serious Mental Illness, a program that provides housing and treatment to homeless people with mental illnesses.
Mental health advocates lobbied to save the program, which they said saves money and keeps mentally ill patients off the street.
Schwarzenegger contends that funding for the program can be covered by Proposition 63, a ballot initiative that raised the state income tax for high-income residents to fund mental health services (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 8/24).