Senate Approves $105 Billion Fiscal Year 2004-2005 State Budget Proposal
The Senate on Thursday voted 28-11 to approve a $105.3 billion fiscal year 2004-2005 state budget proposal, although "most Republicans abandoned" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and voted against the plan, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 7/30). Only four of 14 Republican senators voted in favor of the budget proposal, which the Assembly passed on Wednesday by a 69-11 vote, and several bills required to implement the plan stalled on the Senate floor for much of the day because they lacked adequate support for passage (Chorneau, AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/30). Some Republicans said that they opposed the budget proposal because Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders did not make "far deeper cuts" required to address the state budget deficit, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 7/30).
The budget proposal includes $2 billion more in spending than Schwarzenegger had proposed in January. Schwarzenegger in his May budget revision eliminated previously proposed reductions in services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries and residents with disabilities to obtain support from Democrats (Marimow, San Jose Mercury News, 7/30). In addition, under the budget proposal, the state would have to borrow $7 billion to cover the cost of health care and other programs that Democrats would not agree to eliminate (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/30)
However, the proposed budget is "not without consequences" -- disabled and low-income residents would have to wait three months to receive cost-of-living increases in their benefits (San Jose Mercury News, 7/30). The state also would save $143 million through delayed payments to some health care providers. After a meeting with city mayors on Thursday, Schwarzenegger called the budget proposal "a really good compromise" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/30).
According to the Times, Schwarzenegger, who plans to sign the budget proposal on Saturday, has the authority to veto individual items but has said that he will approve "the overall framework" (Los Angeles Times, 7/30).
Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) said, "We are told this is a step in the right direction; it's actually a step in precisely the wrong direction," adding, "The widening gap between revenues and expenditures continues to be papered over with borrowed money" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/30). According to Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo), "This is a budget of delays and deferrals, gimmicks and big fat IOUs."
However, Sen. Wes Chesbro (D-Santa Rosa) said, "It's a relief that it's done ... The state can pay its bills, there's no new taxes and we're funding basic services" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/30). Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco) said, "You had a governor that was a little bit more to the middle than Republican legislators, and he was more willing to try to find some programs that are very important to the most vulnerable in society." He added, "Republicans didn't feel they got much" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/30).
The Christian Science Monitor on Friday examined the budget proposal, which "largely papers over a financial crisis" and marks the "latest and most extreme example of an increasingly common trend, as states turn to gimmicks and quick fixes to survive downturns without raising taxes or cutting services." According to the Monitor, the budget proposal would not address the "larger issue" that "California annually spends far more money than it takes in" (Sappenfield, Christian Science Monitor, 7/30).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.