The California legislature passed a state budget today.
Perhaps the most notable item is that it was an on-time budget, and even done during daylight hours, after years of late–and late-night–sessions. Many attribute the change to Proposition 25. While there’s a lot of attention to the legislators losing pay if the budget was late, the real breakthrough was the ability to pass a budget by majority vote–without Republican votes.
Up until then, Governor Brown and legislative leaders sought to negotiate with Republicans to extend current tax levels–to prevent their expiration from blowing a hole in the budget. But it didn’t seem like they were willing to close a deal, as they were wedded to a list of 41 bullet points that included a spending cap, regulatory drollbacks, and more.
So the budget doesn’t include those revenues, and the hole is addressed through additional cuts, some one-time fixes, and some minor revenues. The major cuts to health care were made in March, and more cuts were booked to Medi-Cal in this last round (although they are based on certain assumptions, rather than policy changes).
What this budget doesn’t do is include the revenues and reforms needed to fix out budget problems once and for all–that still requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature, and hence Republican votes.
Until then–whether in the next weeks as Governor Brown considers this budget, or over the next several months, we as health advocates will continue to be clear about the awful impacts of the steep cuts already made, and the consequences of what additional cuts would be forced without extended revenue.