Public Schools Could Get Funds in California Health Reform Plan
California legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) are considering a sales tax increase to help fund health care reform efforts, a move that could yield a substantial funding increase for public schools, Capital Weekly reports.
One proposal calls for a one-cent sales tax increase. However, under Proposition 98, 40% of that sales tax revenue -- about $2.2 billion -- would go directly to schools. According to estimates from the Legislative Analyst's Office, about $3.1 billion of the $5.5 billion generated by the sales tax increase would be available for health care reform.
According to Capital Weekly, people working on the health care reform deal "must simultaneously be looking toward the political realities of a November 2008 ballot initiative," given the possibility of opponents qualifying a competing measure as part of an effort to confuse voters (York, Capital Weekly, 9/13).
Summaries of two recent columns addressing health care reform appear below.
- George Skelton, Los Angeles Times: A ballot initiative to approve funding for a health care overhaul "would confirm many people's views that the Legislature is indecisive and irrelevant," Skelton writes in his "Capitol Journal" column in the Times. Also, "Schwarzenegger would further alienate Republican legislators," Skelton writes. "He would be shunting them aside again, signaling that they're not needed," according to Skelton. However, Skelton writes, "Any new program as complex and costly as health care expansion is likely to require bipartisan support to win public acceptance" (Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 9/13).
- Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee: "Health care policy has many moving parts, and any overhaul will be endlessly complicated," Weintraub writes in his Bee column. "But you really do get the feeling that" Gov. Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders "could hammer out an outline for an agreement in a few days, if not a few minutes," Weintraub concludes (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 9/13).
KQED's "The California Report" on Wednesday included a discussion with Tamara Keith, KQED's Sacramento bureau correspondent, about health care reform and other issues that lawmakers plan to address in the special session. The segment also includes comments from Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) (Myrow, "The California Report," KQED, 9/12).
Audio of the complete program is available online.