Lawmakers To Address Proposed Budget Cuts, Pension Reform Plan
When they return from their spring recess on Monday, California lawmakers will face decisions on proposals that wouldÂ make cuts toÂ certain government programs and reform the public employee pension system, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Lawmakers likely will debate strategies for addressing the state's $9.2 billion budget deficit, including options proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D)Â in his fiscal year 2012-2013 budget proposal (Dreier, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/8).
Brown's $92.6 billion budget proposal calls for cutting:
- $946.2 million from CalWORKs by limiting the amount of time most adults could be on the program from four years to two years;
- $842.3 million from Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- by merging services for beneficiariesÂ eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare;
- $163.8 million from In-Home Supportive Services -- which provides services for the elderly and people who are blind or have disabilities -- by eliminating domestic assistance for beneficiaries in shared living environments; and
- $64 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program, by moving children out of the program.
Assembly Democrats have rejected various proposals in Brown's plan, including the reduction in time that adults can receive benefits under CalWORKs. According to the state Department of Finance, the Assembly has rejected $1.3 billion of nearly $4 billion in cuts proposed by the governor.
Brown had requested that officials implement the cuts in March to free up more funding for the state. However, Senate Democrats said they will wait until at least May before making any more decisions about the cuts.
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) hopes tax revenue in April will be higher than the governor predicted, which might curb the need to make significant cuts. However, the Legislative Analyst's Office recently determined that Brown's budget forecast assumes too much revenue.
Some experts say the delay could help Democrats who do not want to upset their base by enacting significant budget cuts before the June 5 primary election (California Healthline, 3/27).
Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) -- chair of the Senate Budget Committee -- said that the Legislature is likely to reject some of Brown's cuts, including those to subsidized child care. However, he said lawmakers then would have to develop alternative strategies to reduce spending (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/8).
In February, Brown released a detailed plan that would end traditional pensions for state and local government workers hired after June 2013. The plan includes statutory language on health benefits available to retired state workers.
The proposal would implement "hybrid" plans that combine typical payouts with a 401(k)-style component for workers hired July 1, 2013, or later (California Healthline, 2/23).
Democrats have said they are not willing to accept Brown's pension reform plan as it stands (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/8). However, Republicans support the plan and in February introduced a series of bills that closely match it (California Healthline, 2/27).
Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) said that pension reforms are necessary but that some parts of Brown's plan go too far, such as a proposal to raise the retirement age for most new public workers to 67. Negrete McLeod said, "We're going to reach a compromise probably somewhere in the middle" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/8).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.