Spending by Counties, Special Programs Could Be Affected by Proposition 76
Proposition 76 -- a Nov. 8 special election ballot measure that would place a cap on the state budget -- could require counties to fund Medi-Cal in the event of a state budget deficit because the initiative would allow the governor to reduce state funding to the program without permitting him to reduce benefits, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In addition, programs that rely on special funds could be prevented from spending money because the budget spending limit also would apply to special funds.
Proposition 76 would mandate that the state spend no more than the average revenue for the previous three years. In addition, the governor could unilaterally make budget cuts if the budget becomes unbalanced, according to the Chronicle.
If state Medi-Cal funds run out because of the budget cap, counties would have to pay the difference because they are partly responsible for funding benefits through the state's welfare program, according to Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill. Counties use federal, state and local money to help pay for benefits.
The spending cap also could prevent programs financed by special funds, which account for $23.3 billion of the state's $100 billion budget, from spending money if the programs collect more than the cap allows to be spent. The programs, which usually are self-supporting, collect specific fees or taxes for designated purposes, such as the tobacco tax that funds children's programs or the increased state income tax that funds mental health programs.
For example, Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, said that approximately $43 million in tobacco tax money would not have been able to be spent in 2005 if Proposition 76 had been in place since 1987 (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/18).
Additional information about other measures on the special election ballot is available at HealthVote.org.