Senate Passes Partial Budget Package, Cuts to Prison Health Care
On Thursday, the Senate approved a package of bills aimed at reducing California's $20 billion budget deficit, in part by cutting prison health care spending by $811 million, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/18).
In testimony before the legislature earlier this month, J. Clark Kelso, the court-appointed receiver who oversees the prison health care system -- said he supports the cuts.
A federal court put the prison health care system in receivership because of concerns that the quality of medical services in prisons did not meet constitutional standards.
In his testimony, Kelso told state lawmakers said the quality of health care in prisons is improving (California Healthline, 2/11).
Other approved budget bills include a cap on government payroll costs and a measure to tax online transactions (Selway/Marois, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek, 2/18).
On Monday, the Senate is expected to consider another measure that would adjust state gasoline taxes (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 2/18).
The Assembly is expected to move on a similar package of budget measures next week (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/18).
Furlough Exemption Passes Senate
In related news, the Senate on Thursday approved a bill (SBX8 29) by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that would end previously mandated furloughs for about 80,000 state employees.
The change will affect employees who work in departments that get at least 95% of their funding from sources other than the state's general fund (Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, 2/19).
In October 2009, the California Medical Association filed a lawsuit protesting Schwarzenegger's furloughs for the Medical Board of California. CMA argued that the furloughs were illegal because the board receives funding from physician licensing fees instead of the state (California Healthline, 10/15).
Steinberg'sÂ bill now heads to the Assembly (York, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 2/18).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.