In his State of the State address on Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) promoted his fiscal year 2013-2014 budget proposal and discussed several state health care initiatives, Reuters reports (Lucas, Reuters, 1/24).
Earlier this month, Brown released his budget plan. He said that if implemented, the proposal would leave the state with a budget surplus of $851 million. The plan projects $98.5 billion in revenue and transfers, and it estimates $97.7 billion in spending.
Brown's plan includes an expansion of Medi-Cal to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. The expansion -- included in the Affordable Care Act -- is expected to add up to 1.5 million newly eligible adults to the program. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The budget plan also includes a 4.9% funding increase for In-Home Supportive Services -- with an assumption that the state will implement a 20% reduction in IHSS service hours in November -- and a $142 million funding increase for Cal-WORKs, the state's welfare-to-work program
In addition, the budget proposal allocates $1.6 billion for a court-appointed federal overseer to manage continued improvements in the state's prison health care system (California Healthline, 1/24).
In his address, Brown said that California has "confounded" its critics by balancing its budget.
He said, "Two years ago, they were writing our obituary." Brown added, "California is back, its budget is balanced, and we are on the move" (Siders, Sacramento Bee, 1/25).
Brown called for state officials to practice fiscal discipline by using any extra funds to pay down debt and boost reserves instead of restoring funds to social programs (Vara, Wall Street Journal, 1/24).
Health Care Comments
Discussing the Medi-Cal expansion, Brown called the initiative "incredibly complex" and said it will "test our ingenuity" and "will not be achieved overnight." He said, "Given the costs involved, great prudence should guide every step of the way."
Brown also said that the state must develop "the right relationship with the counties" to successfully implement the expansion.
Brown also called for a special session of the Legislature beginning next week that will focus on implementing ACA provisions (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 1/24).
In August 2012, Brown announced plans to call the session to discuss various federal health reform initiatives, such as the launch of a state health insurance exchange and the Medi-Cal expansion (California Healthline, 11/13/12).
Reaction From Lawmakers
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) praised Brown's address. He said, "The state has been through such tough times and to stand here in January of 2013 ... [and to have Brown] point us toward so much potential to build and to achieve going forward, it really is a very good moment here in the history of our state."
GOP members had mixed reactions to Brown's address.
Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Oakdale) said that Brown "was preaching a lot of Republican values -- smaller government and good reforms."
However, Senate Minority Leader Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar) said that Brown "talks about fiscal conservatism pretty well, but the reality is, his budget's increasing by 25% over the next three years" (Sacramento Bee, 1/25).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of Brown's address are provided below:
Check out today's Capitol Desk for more information on Brown's call for the special session on health reform.