Some Health-Related Programs Could Be Exempt From Across-the-Board Cuts Under Schwarzenegger Proposal
Officials for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) administration said some state programs, including health-related programs, would be exempt from proposed across-the-board spending cuts if state expenditures exceed state revenue, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Schwarzenegger's proposal would require the state controller to "automatically cut spending across the board" if state spending exceeds revenue and a budget agreement has not been reached, the Chronicle reports. Spending cuts could be made twice each year.
Administration Finance Director Tom Campbell said that payments to programs required by the federal government or court orders would have to be upheld under the proposal. For example, the state would have to continue to provide basic treatment to people with mental illnesses in state hospitals, Campbell said.
Campbell also said the state might be able to seek waivers that allow it to stop spending on programs that receive federal matching funds, such as some health and human service programs, while continuing to receive the federal funding. He said, "We have this mentality that we have to spend -- that may not be true."
Last month, Schwarzenegger said, "It's better to have a formula that cuts everything across the board. People come in and someone will say, 'Education is important to me.' Someone else will say, 'Health care is important to me. I don't care about education.' This way it creates more equality across things."
Senate Budget Committee Chair Wes Chesbro (D-Santa Rosa) said he is concerned about the number of state agencies that increase their requests for funding each year, adding that the plan could encourage some bodies to request increased funding in the next budget in anticipation of across-the-board spending cuts.
Chesbro said, "I fear that the difficulty in achieving what sounds great in the newspapers and to the average person -- 'Yeah, just cut across the board' -- will result in more of this process, a pressure-release valve after the TV cameras are turned off and we supposedly have a budget" (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/2).