Healthy Kids Funds Removed From Budget
Legislators on Monday announced that they have reached a tentative budget agreement after they negotiated the removal of a proposal that would have funded county children's health insurance programs that cover undocumented immigrant children, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 6/27).
Lawmakers said they were optimistic that the $131 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2006-2007 could be approved Tuesday night and sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). The budget deadline is Saturday (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 6/27).
Democrats and Schwarzenegger -- who proposed the funding -- agreed to remove from the budget $23 million for Healthy Kids programs in 18 counties (Sacramento Bee, 6/27). The one-time funding was intended to provide coverage by mid-2007 to 24,000 children who likely would be on waiting lists for Healthy Kids programs. The programs cover children who are ineligible for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, including for citizenship reasons (California Healthline, 6/15). Republican legislators had refused to support a budget that would allow undocumented immigrant children to receive public health insurance benefits (Sacramento Bee, 6/27).
Earlier, Democrats dropped a separate proposal that would have expanded eligibility for Healthy Families at a cost of about $300 million in 2008. Most of the spending would have gone toward the cost of expanding coverage for undocumented immigrant children, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/27).
Democrats said they will introduce legislation this summer to expand children's health insurance coverage (Sacramento Bee, 6/27). Democrats also "received a commitment" from Schwarzenegger to work with them on a health insurance expansion for children, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 6/27).
About $3 billion will be used to pay outstanding debt and $2 billion will be held in reserve for fiscal emergencies (Sacramento Bee, 6/27).
The budget will reinstate cost-of-living increases that were frozen last year for low-income elderly, blind and disabled residents. Funding also will be allocated to reduce criminal recidivism among youth with mental illnesses and for drug treatment programs (Los Angeles Times, 6/27).
The following newspapers also published articles addressing state budget negotiations.
- "Bargaining Sets Stage for On-Time Budget" (Chorneau/Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/27).
- "Legislative Leaders Agree on $131 Billion State Budget" (Garcia, San Jose Mercury News, 6/27).
- "Budget Poised To Meet Deadline" (Schultz, Fresno Bee, 6/27).
- "Budget Proposal Good for Kids, Cops" (Shaw, Stockton Record, 6/27).