Legislature Approves $3.6 Billion Package of Budget Cuts
As expected, the Legislature yesterday approved a fiscal year 2003-2004 budget package that would reduce state expenditures by $3.6 billion by borrowing against state pension funds and cutting spending for some state programs, including Medi-Cal, the Los Angeles Times reports (Morain/Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 5/2). Democrat and Republican state lawmakers on Wednesday reached a compromise on the budget package. In exchange for votes for a Democrat-backed plan to borrow against state pension funds, Republicans negotiated approximately $1.8 billion in spending reductions. The package includes nearly $300 million in cuts to Medi-Cal, the majority of which come from altering eligibility reporting requirements and encouraging counties to reduce administrative expenses (California Healthline, 5/1). The budget package now goes to Gov. Gray Davis (D), who is expected to sign it (Chorneau, AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/2). State legislators still need to find ways reduce state spending to cover the remainder of an estimated $35 billion budget gap. Lawmakers in the coming weeks will consider "deeper cuts" to human services and a possible tax increase, according to the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times, 5/2). Assembly Budget Committee Chair Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) said, "We know this doesn't go far enough. We still have much work to do to balance our budget with additional cuts and additional revenues" (Bluth, Sacramento Bee, 5/2).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.