Legislators Cool to Governor’s Campaign for Federal Funding Hike
California lawmakers appear to be distancing themselves from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as he embarks on a quest to lobby for increased federal funding, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Next week, the governor and state legislative leaders are scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., to petition the federal government for $6.9 billion to help the state patch its $20 billion deficit.
However, some Democratic lawmakers have expressed reservations about accompanying Schwarzenegger, partly because of his recent criticism of national health care reform (Rothfeld/Simon, Los Angeles Times, 1/12).
Although Schwarzenegger was an early supporter of health reform, he changed course last week when he declared that the legislation's proposed Medicaid expansion would saddle California with unfair costs.
Schwarzenegger urged California's congressional delegation to vote against the bill or secure a deal like the one obtained by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) to cover the costs of the proposed Medicaid expansion in Nebraska (California Healthline, 1/11).
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said the governor's recent rhetoric has made her question whether she will join him in Washington as he jockeys for federal aid. Bass said, "I'm very concerned with the tone that's being set. When you go and ask somebody for help, it's not very constructive to attack them."
California's Congressional Delegation Pushes Back
Schwarzenegger's appeals also have faced a chilly reception among California's congressional leaders.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called the governor's comments "not constructive" when he blamed state budget problems on unfunded federal mandates.
In addition, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) challenged Schwarzenegger's assertion that California receives 78 cents for every dollar it sends to the federal government in taxes. Boxer said that figure was outdated and did not account for funds from the 2009 federal economic stimulus package.
Schwarzenegger Sees Payoffs
However, the governor maintains that his push for more federal funding is yielding results, pointing to a conversation he had with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the weekend.
In addition, on Monday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration is open to considering Schwarzenegger's suggestions that the federal government cover the cost of proposed Medicaid expansions for states other than Nebraska (Los Angeles Times, 1/12).
IsÂ California a Harbinger of Things To Come?
Today, WAMU's "The Diane Rehm Show" included a discussion of the California budget crisis and concerns that California's situation might be indicative of what lies ahead for other states (Rehm, "The Diane Rehm Show," WAMU, 1/12).
Editorial: Schwarzenegger Should Stump for Individual Mandate
Schwarzenegger's complaints about Nebraska's Medicaid provision are resulting in his "rapidly losing credibility" on health care reform, but he could assume "a more constructive role in the final negotiations" by speaking out in favor of provisions of legislation that would require most individuals to buy health insurance coverage, a Sacramento Bee editorial states.
The Bee notes that the governor's 2007 proposal to overhaul health care in California included such a mandate (Sacramento Bee, 1/12).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.