Throughout the last three weeks of budget subcommittee hearings, legislators have continually asked for input, advice, suggestions for any options other than the budgetary carnage they are considering.
Now, one program on the chopping block has an alternative.
The California Association for Adult Day Services has developed a restructuring plan that could lop 17% off the budget for adult day health services, a program that is facing elimination with the pending budget proposal.
"It proposes some administrative streamlining, and replacing some [state] general fund money with federal dollars through license reduction fees, and it thins out some positions," Lydia Missaelides of the CAADS said. "Legislators have been asking for plans that might reduce state bureaucracy and administration, and we've done that."
Missaelides said she hired a consultant to help her organization craft an alternative plan on short notice.
"We've been scouring the state budget for any other rocks that haven't been turned over," she said. "But we're not budget experts. And we just haven't had time to do more."
The $28 million savings is a far cry from the $177 million the state stands to save by eliminating the program. But Missaelides said California officials understand that adult day health services actually save the state money by keeping seniors out of nursing homes, and the additional savings might be enough to keep the program afloat -- or at least prompt a conversation about how to save it.
If the program is completely cut as planned, Missaelides thinks advocates might file a lawsuit over its elimination, just as mental health advocates have successfully sued over large cuts to those services.
Another proposal surfaced last week. Senate member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 223, which would allow counties to ask voters to reinstate the vehicle license fee to pay for public safety and social service programs.
"We're not county-funded," Missaelides said of the proposal, "but maybe it could be an offset."
Missaelides will meet with legislators today to discuss the CAADS's cost-cutting alternative. The full legislative committees meet at the end of the week to finalize budget details. The budget is expected to hit the legislative floor next week.
State officials said legislators are aiming to pass the budget to the governor by March 4.
"We've done everything we can do," Missaelides said. "I think right now they're looking at bigger, simpler solutions. They may just be going to make decisions and get 'er done. But we'll see how things go this week."