As lawmakers draw closer to striking a budget deal, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over whether to impose additional cuts to health and social programs to close the lingering budget gap, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Staffers say legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) have reached an agreement on proposals to resolve all but $400 million of the deficit.
Although the governor has called for more cuts to health care and social services, Democrats hope to reduce spending through various accounting maneuvers.
Regardless, any budget deal likely will include major cuts to services such as in-home health care for the elderly and Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Legislative leaders said they hope to complete budget negotiations today (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 7/15).
Lawmakers Shelve Two-Tier Pension Plan
In related news, lawmakers have decided not to pursue a plan that would create a two-tier pension system lowering benefits for future state workers.
The plan would have tightened eligibility for health care benefits and reduced state contributions to HMO premiums for retired state workers.
Schwarzenegger floated the proposal last month but ultimately tabled it after Democratic legislators raised objections to the measure.
However, lawmakers are expected to revisit the plan in the coming months (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 7/15).