Schwarzenegger Rallies Support for Pledged Veto of Budget Deal
On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) held a rally at Fresno City Hall to build public support for his pledge to veto a budget agreement that legislators approved early Tuesday morning, the Fresno Bee reports (Branan/Schultz, Fresno Bee, 9/17).
The proposal approved by legislators calls for $7.1 billion in spending cuts and seeks to boost revenue by $9.3 billion by moving up deadlines for some tax payments, ending some tax loopholes and increasing state income tax withholdings for some Californians.
The plan was widely criticized for using accounting maneuvers to address the state's budget deficit, and health care and education advocates argued that it set the stage for deeper cuts to health care and education next year (California Healthline, 9/17).
About 200 people attended the rally, including some nurses who at times interrupted the governor's speech to voice concerns about health care facilities that have not received Medi-Cal payments because of the budget impasse. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Nurses pressed for lawmakers to approve emergency funding while they continue negotiations on a final budget agreement.
Health care and education groups support Schwarzenegger's planned veto of the budget but oppose his call for stronger restrictions on a reserve fund. The advocates are concerned that tightened rules on the reserve fund could limit state spending in the future.
According to the Bee, lawmakers and Schwarzenegger feel pressure to wrap up the budget soon because Medi-Cal providers and some state vendors have not received payments in weeks (Fresno Bee, 9/17).
Chris Patterson -- a spokesperson for the California Primary Care Association, which represents about 650 clinics -- said, "We are on the brink," adding, "Some of these [clinics] are days away from deciding whether to stay open."
CPCA has helped set up an emergency loan program with $23.8 million to help clinics maintain services without Medi-Cal funds (McKinley, New York Times , 9/18).
In addition, Grossmont Healthcare District in San Diego County yesterday approved $470,000 in emergency grants to operators of local community clinics (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/18) (News low in story).
The governor met with legislative leaders on Wednesday morning in Sacramento, and he is scheduled to meet with them again today to discuss options for avoiding a veto and lawmakers' pledged override of the veto (New York Times, 9/18).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.