California Democrats Reject, Stall on Brown's Proposed Budget Cuts

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California Democrats have refused to enact certain proposed spending cuts included in Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) fiscal year 2012-2013 budget proposal, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Assembly Democrats have rejected various proposals, including one that would reduce the amount of time that unemployed adults can receive welfare-to-work benefits from the state's CalWORKs program. According to the state Department of Finance, the Assembly has rejected $1.3 billion of nearly $4 billion in budget cuts proposed by the governor.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are delaying decisions on Brown's proposed cuts (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 3/27).

Background

Brown's $92.6 billion budget proposal calls for cutting:

  • $946.2 million from CalWORKs by limiting the amount of time most adults could be on the program from four years to two years;
  • $842.3 million from Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- by merging services for beneficiaries eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare;
  • $163.8 million from In-Home Supportive Services -- which provides services for the elderly and people who are blind or have disabilities -- by eliminating domestic assistance for beneficiaries in shared living environments; and
  • $64 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program, by moving children out of the program (California Healthline, 2/28).

Senate Democrats Delay Decision on Cuts

Brown requested that officials implement the cuts this month to free up more funding for the state.

However, Senate Democrats say they will wait until at least May before making any decisions about the proposed cuts.

Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) suggested that it is still early in the budget calendar. "It's just March," he said, adding, "We ought not do any more damage to people before we have to and unless we absolutely have to."

Steinberg hopes tax revenue in April will be higher than the governor predicted, which might curb the need to make significant cuts. However, the Legislative Analyst's Office recently determined that Brown's budget forecast assumes too much revenue.

Some experts say the delay could help Democrats who do not want to upset their base by enacting significant budget cuts before the June 5 primary election.

Jeff Cummins, a political science professor at California State University-Fresno, said Democrats are "mainly taking symbolic actions so they're on record as opposing these proposals."

GOP Position

Assembly member Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), vice chair of the GOP's budget committee, said Republicans are more supportive of the program cuts than Democrats. He said Democratic opposition to the cuts is "not really a difficulty for Republicans," but is "a huge difficulty for the governor."

State Response

Members of the state Department of Finance have warned Democrats that they must find other ways to balance the budget if they do not accept Brown's proposed cuts.

H.D. Palmer -- spokesperson for the Department of Finance -- said, "If the actions to date were their final word on the matter, the Assembly would have to come up with more than billion dollars in savings somewhere else to balance the budget" (Sacramento Bee, 5/27).


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