Speaker Bass Boycotts Budget Meetings Over Governor’s Proposals
On Monday, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) refused to participate in budget negotiations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and other legislative leaders, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Bass said the governor is pushing for peripheral issues -- such as changes to Medi-Cal enrollment -- rather than working to close the state's mounting budget deficit.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Williams, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/6).
Schwarzenegger Lobbies for New Proposals
Schwarzenegger has been advocating for several changes to state health and welfare programs that he says will curb fraud and reduce costs.
For example, the governor has proposed establishing a computer system to consolidate enrollment for Medi-Cal and other public assistance programs (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/6).
In addition, Schwarzenegger met Monday with district attorneys from five counties to discuss his proposal to reduce fraud in the In-Home Supportive Services program. The governor hopes to require fingerprinting for caregivers and patients and institute compliance checks (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/6).
Schwarzenegger estimates that his proposed changes will reduce state spending by up to $500 million for IHSS alone and $2 billion for all state programs.
However, Democrats and labor unions counter that the governor is overestimating potential savings ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/6).
Bass said, "We believe that many of the governor's reforms are worthy of consideration, but what is most important right now is that we close the deficit" (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/7).
Aaron McLear, spokesperson for the governor, said legislators will continue to negotiate on budget plans with or without Bass (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/6).
In a statement, Matt David, Schwarzenegger's communications director, said, "Speaker Bass can boycott budget meetings, but it will not change the size of our deficit, the amount of cuts necessary, and it will not stop IOUs from going out."
Schwarzenegger said he aims to resolve the budget stalemate by Friday, which is the last day many banks have said they will cash the state's IOUs.
Bond Rating Downgraded
On Monday, the Wall Street credit ratings firm Fitch Ratings downgraded California's general obligation bond rating from A-minus to BBB. California currently has the worst bond rating among all 50 states.
The agency said the downgrade is based on the state's inability to resolve budgetary and cash flow issues (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/7).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.