On Monday, the California Senate voted 22-12 to approve a bill that would shield medical marijuana dispensaries from prosecution for marijuana sale or possession. Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg said the legislation aims to bar criminals from the medical marijuana business and clarify confusion between state and federal law. The bill now moves to the Assembly. Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" et al.
A Legislative Analyst's Office report finds that California will collect $3.2 billion more in extra revenue than Gov. Brown forecasted in his budget plan. Some lawmakers want to use the extra funding to restore safety-net programs. Los Angeles Times et al.
More than 80% of surveyed transit-dependent riders in Alameda County said they have more difficulty getting to their jobs, doctors' offices, schools or social activities, according to a new report from the Alameda County Public Health Department. The survey -- which examined the effects of public transportation cuts -- found that 6% of respondents, most of whom were seniors and people with disabilities, reported less access to health care appointments. KQED's "State of Health".
Democratic lawmakers and patient advocates seek to restore funding for California's health care and safety-net programs. Gov. Brown's revised fiscal year 2013-2014 budget plan does not boost funding for such programs. San Jose Mercury News.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 91-7 to confirm Marilyn Tavenner as CMS administrator. Tavenner -- former Virginia health secretary -- has been serving as CMS' acting administrator since 2011. The confirmation marks the agency's first permanent chief since 2006. Reuters et al.
Gov. Brown has released his revised fiscal year 2013-2014 spending plan, which is a $1.3 billion reduction from his initial proposal. The new plan anticipates $1.2 billion more in Medi-Cal spending to implement health reform provisions. New York Times et al.
Observers wonder how Gov. Brown will use $4.5 billion in extra tax revenue in his revised fiscal year 2013-2014 budget plan. Legislative Democrats say they want to restore certain safety-net programs, but Brown has argued for fiscal discipline. Sacramento Bee, KPCC's "KPCC News."
San Mateo County's trial judges say the confluence of state prison reforms and budget cuts is putting strain on the county's courts. They note that if Gov. Brown's fiscal year 2014 budget plan passes, the county's court system would be forced to close its central courthouse and reduce its South San Francisco courthouse to two judges. HealthyCal.
Democrats in the Legislature say that California should use higher-than-expected revenue to restore cuts to safety-net programs. For example, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg wants to restore Denti-Cal benefits and expand mental health programs. Sacramento Bee.
In a Sacramento Bee opinion piece, Adam Tatum -- a senior research analyst at California Common Sense -- and Andrew Crutchfield -- a research analyst at the organization -- argue that California "has many options available" to address retiree health care costs. They write, "Prefunding, buyouts and benefit reductions can all successfully reduce the state's retiree health care costs," adding, "But every year California waits before addressing the issue, costs rise and the problem becomes more difficult to solve." Sacramento Bee.
A new report from the California Public Policy Center estimates state and local governments are at least $648 billion in debt and the total could exceed $1.1 trillion depending on how pension liabilities are calculated. CPPC also calculated unfunded public retiree health care obligations at $136.9 billion, while official state and local pension unfunded liabilities stand at $128.3 billion. Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert."
Republican lawmakers are pushing a proposal aimed at increasing transparency in the state budget process. The plan would require budget bills to be available to the public for three days, give the governor the authority to cut spending when the Legislature fails to quickly address a fiscal emergency and establish a series of hearings every other year to evaluate government programs. Because the proposal is a constitutional amendment, it requires two-thirds approval in both chambers of the Legislature and then would need voter approval in November 2014. Los Angeles Times.
In a Ventura County Star opinion piece, columnist Dan Walters writes that the last two budgets proposed by Gov. Brown "cleaved deeply into California's safety net of health and welfare services." He writes that a series of bills have been introduced in the state Legislature to restore certain services. According to Walters, the bills will "test whether Brown meant what he said, or [if] it was just tax hike rhetoric." Ventura County Star.
A report from the state Department of Public Health finds that California has made improvements in key public health measures. According to the report, the rate of most illnesses in the state decreased between 2006 and 2011. KPCC's "KPCC News," Ventura County Star.
A new Bureau of State Audits report found that California's general fund spent $1.7 billion more than it received in revenues in fiscal year 2012, resulting in an accumulated deficit of about $23 billion and a negative state net worth of $127.2 billion. The report listed the state's long-term obligations at $167.9 billion, which did not include the more than $60 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care. Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert."