California Democrats Release Competing Budget Proposals

On Tuesday, Democrats in the California Senate and Assembly released separate budget plans that differ on various key spending proposals, but agree on increased funding for the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Calefati, San Jose Mercury News, 5/26).

Background

Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) released the revised version of his fiscal year 2015-2016 budget plan, which includes several health care proposals.

Among other things, the revised budget plan would allot:

  • $91.8 billion for Medi-Cal spending;
  • $326.7 million for pay increases over two years for the In-Home Supportive Services program; and
  • $228 million to help pay for costly specialty prescription drugs.

Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

The final budget, which would take effect July 1, is due June 15 (California Healthline, 5/15).

Details of Budget Plans

The two spending proposals released by the state Senate and Assembly on Tuesday both assume that the state will get about $2.5 billion more in revenue than estimated in Brown’s revised plan.

However, the plans differ significantly on how to spend that money, the Mercury News reports.

For example, Assembly Democrats are aiming to spend $605 million to open 20,000 child care slots for low-income families. Meanwhile, state Senate Democrats proposed spending half as much to create fewer slots.

John Casey, a spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), said that while there are differences between the budget plans, the two chambers share priorities.

For example, both proposals seek to spend $228 million to restore cuts made to the IHSS program. Unlike Brown’s May budget revision — which would use money from a tax on managed care plans for IHSS — the lawmakers’ proposals would use money from the state’s general fund to boost IHSS.

According to the Mercury News, state Senate and Assembly lawmakers next week will begin negotiating the proposals in an effort to compromise on key issues by the June 15 deadline (San Jose Mercury News, 5/26).

Source: California Healthline