Senate Defeats Democrats’ Budget Proposal; Governor Predicts Agreement by End of Week
As expected, the Senate on Wednesday rejected a $78.8 billion fiscal year 2004-2005 state budget proposal (AB 1749) by Democratic legislators that included no new taxes and would have maintained "key" health and human service programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Democratic legislators' proposal was "[b]ased in large part" on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) May revision of his budget proposal. The budget bill, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass, failed by a vote of 24-11. One Democrat joined all Republican senators to vote against it (Gledhill/Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/22). Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco) said the budget "by and large reflects agreements with this governor." However, Director of Finance Donna Arduin said in a statement that "there has been no comprehensive agreement between the governor and the leaders." Arduin added, "Absent such an agreement, the governor made it clear last week that the budget plan he supports is the May revision that he sent to the Legislature 10 weeks ago" (Halper/Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 7/22).
Schwarzenegger's May budget revision eliminated a plan to reduce Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates by 10% and proposed an enrollment cap for Healthy Families. The revision also eliminated plans to limit enrollment for a program that provides prenatal care for undocumented immigrants; made recommendations to limit enrollment in the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program; and reinstated funding for the Improving Access, Counseling and Treatment for Californians with Prostate Cancer program, which provides treatment for low-income, uninsured men with prostate cancer. Democratic leaders and Schwarzenegger have not settled whether a proposal to reduce in-home workers' wages to the state minimum wage rate will be reversed. Democrats say that they want to restore the $130 million, revised from $98 million, to protect the wages of in-home workers (California Healthline, 7/16).
Schwarzenegger, speaking at a restaurant in San Diego, said lawmakers had made progress and predicted that a budget agreement would be reached by the end of the week. "We're doing a good job this week. They're coming together again, the Democrats and the Republicans," Schwarzenegger said (Marelius/LaVelle, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/22). Burton said, "If he's optimistic, he may know more than I do, and that's good" (Los Angeles Times, 7/22). Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) said he will not call a budget vote until the Democratic leaders and the governor reach an agreement (Bluth/Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 7/22).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.