State Legislature Approves Main Budget Bill, Dodges Tax Measure
On Thursday, the California Assembly and Senate approvedÂ a state budget bill that includes $14 billion in cuts, loans and shifted funds, but lawmakers did not tackle a proposal to generate billions through tax extensions, the Sacramento Bee reports (Yamamura/Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 3/18).
Lawmakers still must address several provisions within the budget package. Rather than send Gov. Jerry Brown (D) the fullÂ budget measure, lawmakers will send the governor the pieces of legislation that would enact the cuts that wereÂ approved (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 3/18).
Brown proposed spending reductions and an extension of taxes as part of his plan to close the state's $26.6 billion budget deficit over 18 months. The plan includes more than $6 billion in cuts to health care and welfare-to-work services for low-income residents.
Earlier this week, the Legislature approved changes to health care and human services programs, including:
- Increased copayment requirements for beneficiaries of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program;
- Reductions to welfare-to-work grants; and
- Cuts to services for individuals with developmental disabilities (California Healthline, 3/17).
Latest Budget Vote Details
In addition to cuts made earlier this week, lawmakers also raised premiums and copayments for Healthy Families beneficiaries. Healthy Families is California's Children's Health Insurance Program (Sacramento Bee, 3/18).Â
Both legislative houses approved the budget legislation along party-line votes -- 25-15 in the Senate and 52-26 in the Assembly (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 3/17).
The Legislature's approval of the spending plan on Thursday marked one of the earliest budget approvals for the state (Buchanan/Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/18).
Issues Still Up for Debate
Brown still is seeking support for his proposal to hold a special election in June that would let voters decide whether to temporarily extend certain taxes. A recent Field Poll showed that voters support extending the taxes (Contra Costa Times, 3/17).
According to Brown, more cuts would be required if the tax extension proposal falls through.
Other contentious budget issues yet to be resolved include:
- A plan to dismantle more than 400 redevelopment agencies (Los Angeles Times, 3/18); and
- Changes to enterprise tax zones and corporate tax law.
It is unlikely that any further legislative action will tax place until next week (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/18).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.