Revised Schwarzenegger Budget Proposal Retains Some Health Care Cuts
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday proposed a revised fiscal year 2005-2006 budget of $115.7 billion, which includes some budget reductions in health-related programs, the Sacramento Bee reports (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 5/14).
The budget proposal increased spending by $4 billion since it was introduced in January and reflected increased state income tax payments, corporation taxes and the governor's tax amnesty program. Part of the increased revenue will be used to address about half of the state's estimated $8.6 billion budget deficit. Schwarzenegger's proposal would address the remaining deficit through funding reductions and lower-than-expected health program caseloads, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Schwarzenegger's revised state budget proposal would:
- Require about 550,000 Medi-Cal beneficiaries to pay monthly premiums of as much as $27 (Folmar/LaMar, Contra Costa Times, 5/14);
- Increase the payment rate for some health care providers who treat low-income state residents;
- Provide additional funds to establish a prescription drug discount plan for uninsured and low-income state residents;
- Provide $12 million to control mosquitoes in the state and prevent West Nile virus;
- Eliminate a plan to reduce state monitoring of care facilities, including foster homes and adult day-care centers (Sacramento Bee, 5/14);
- Provide $17.3 million for inmate dental care in prisons to avoid a class-action lawsuit;
- Reduce the hourly pay rate of about 300,000 in-home care workers from $10.10 to the state's minimum wage of $6.75 (Halper/Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 5/14);
- Provide funds to enroll an additional 100,000 children in Healthy Families (Office of the Governor release, 5/13).
Health care lobbyist Beth Capell said, "We're disappointed and dismayed that the governor has not taken back any of the health care cuts" (Contra Costa Times, 5/14).
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) called the proposal a "sham," saying, "It reflects the governor's values, and unfortunately the governor's values remain out of sync with the values of the working-class and middle-class Californians."
Schwarzenegger said, "We still have a broken budget system that almost guarantees the deficit as far as the eye can see and risks every state program" (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/14). He added, "We would love to spend much more money. But as governor you have to be kind of like a parent who sits there and says 'no, no, no, you can't do this, you can't do that.' ... You have to look at the whole picture. ... It's a responsible budget that pays down our debt and contains no new borrowing. It doesn't make long-term commitments the state can't keep" (Los Angeles Times, 5/14).