An Examination Of California's Proposed Budget Cuts

The New York Times reports on a series of deep budget cuts to help California, which is some $24 billion in the red, deal with its’ ongoing financial woes.

"In a special election on May 19, voters rejected a batch of measures on increasing taxes, borrowing funds and reapportioning state money that were designed to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap." In response, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed measures to make up the difference. The New York Times reports that, if enacted by the Legislature, such measures "would turn California into a place that in some ways would be unrecognizable in modern America: poor children would have no health insurance, prisoners would be released by the thousands and state parks would be closed. Nearly all of the billions of dollars in cuts the administration has proposed would affect programs for poor Californians, although prisons and schools would take hits, as well."

Schwarzenegger "is threatening to eliminate the Healthy Family Program, the state’s health insurance program that covers over 900,000 children and is financed with state and federal money, as well as the state’s main welfare program, known as Cal-Works, which provides temporary financial assistance to poor families and a caregiver for the severely disabled." The New York Times reports: "Some of the proposed cuts are clearly saber rattling on the governor’s part, but there is a nervous acceptance among lawmakers, advocates for the poor and outside budget experts that the state is out of money and time."

"If lawmakers sign off on closing the health insurance program for children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid, California would be the first state in the nation to close the popular program," The New York Times reports about the program known as CHIP . "With the cuts to Medicaid, the state would probably increase its number of uninsured people by nearly 2 million, the California Budget Project says." The New York Times also notes: "The Democratic-controlled Legislature has been uncharacteristically silent on most of the cuts, most likely because lawmakers know that tax increases are not politically palatable, that huge cuts in some form are in the offing no matter what, and that any program they wish to spare will quite likely have advocates among their ranks" (Steinhauer, 5/30).

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