Medi-Cal Provision Cut From Budget May Pass as New Bill
Democratic lawmakers this week are trying to pass a bill containing Medi-Cal provisions that were removed from the state budget by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to meet Republican demands, the Orange County Register reports (Joseph, Orange County Register, 9/11).
Schwarzenegger last month signed a $145 billion state budget for fiscal year 2007-2008 after using his line-item veto authority to cut funds from Medi-Cal and mental health services to help reduce state spending by $700 million (California Healthline, 9/4).
Senate Republicans ended a budget stalemate and passed a spending plan after several demands were met, including a pledge by the governor to reduce the operating deficit to zero and delete several provisions from budget trailer bills, including a clause that allows trial lawyers to seek damages in excess of Medi-Cal costs.
However, Democratic lawmakers last week gutted a bill (SB 93) and inserted the Medi-Cal provisions.
While budget trailer bills require a two-thirds majority vote for approval, SB 93 can pass on a simple-majority vote.
Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine) said, "Nobody can control all of [the Democrats], but that certainly violates the overall negotiations that we had" during the budget hearings.
Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata's (D-Oakland) staff said the provision might have been removed from the budget, but there was no agreement to eliminate the policy.
Sen. Ellen Corbet (D-San Leandro), author of SB 93, said the provision is "a very good policy" because it "allows victims to be covered for their injuries."
The amended bill heads to the Senate for consideration after passing in the Assembly on a party-line vote.
Ackerman said Senate Republicans have spoken with Schwarzenegger and said the governor will veto any proposals that affect the budget accord.
Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's spokesperson, declined to confirm Ackerman's assertion but said the "governor believes strongly in the budget that was passed" (Orange County Register, 9/11).