State Budget Half Way There – the Easy Half

Share:

stethoscopeBalancing the Budget on the Backs of the Poor, who Rely on Medi-Cal, and Students –

On Thursday, the legislature completed roughly half of the budgetary equation – approving most of the spending cuts and transfers that Governor Brown proposed.  They made deep cuts that will disproportionately impact college students, low-income families, and the disabled.

However, the hard part remains, about 13 billion dollars of the 26.6 billion deficit as the legislature did not address either the elimination of redevelopment or the extension to higher taxes.

Without those, the legislature and Governor will have to find deeper cuts.  Back in February the Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report on the possible list of cuts needed to close the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit, should the state not extend taxes as Governor Jerry Brown proposed.

The budget would cut heavily from education, K-12, Community Colleges, UC and CSU, it would cut funding to prisons and corrections, it would result in employee layoffs and furloughs, and it would cut deeply from transportation.

On the other hand, two weeks ago, there was a legal opinion that confirmed that Democrats can put taxes on the ballot with a majority vote, under very narrow circumstances.

They could extend current taxes very narrowly, in that it would have to “change statutory tax initiatives already passed by voters.”  As such, “Any change would have to be consistent” with the “scope or effect” of the initiative.

Reported the Bee, “But the Legislature could not, by majority vote, place a tax on the ballot that is not tied to a pre-existing initiative. The opinion said a court likely would see that as “an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.”

The Bee also reports, “Democrats have said privately that it would be too difficult and legally risky to carve new taxes into past initiatives. They are seeking a constitutional amendment to extend the tax rates, which requires a two-thirds vote.”

Democrats have rejected this approach and time appears to be about run out on even the possibility.

The Bee writes this morning on the current situation, “Given lawmakers’ reluctance in passing more than $10 billion in cuts this week to state and local programs, it remains to be seen what appetite they have for another round with the carving knife.”

They report that UC and CSU are already scheduled to lose another $500 million in funding, and will determine by June 1 how they will close that gap.  Meanwhile, community college students will pay $36 rather than $26 per unit.

Also cut deeply will be Medi-Cal.  This is an issue we have not discussed nearly enough.

Anthony Wright, on the Health Access California blog, notes that the legislature approved cuts of $1.6 billion to Medi-Cal.

He writes, “Fully understanding the magnitude of the budget crisis, this is a sad day for California. These cuts will impose costs and reduce access care to over eight million Californians with Medi-Cal or Healthy Families coverage. These severe cuts make it harder for our health system to be there for us when we need it. Because of these cuts passed with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, California is a less healthy, less caring, less secure state tonight.”

He continues, “The impact of these cuts will be significant, to the health of individual families, our health system on which we all rely, and our attempts at economic recovery. At a time of economic distress in California, these cuts will put administrative and financial barriers to care, place greater fiscal strain on families, and turn away hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds for our economy.”

These cuts include a cap on doctor visits, increased costs, a copay on clinic, dental, and pharmacy visits and prescriptions in Medi-Cal.  It will eliminate coverage for over-the-counter drugs in Medi-Cal.

This is a point that a lot people do not understand.  We have dependent kids in our household who are covered under Medi-Cal.  This is greatly going to increase our costs and the costs numerous low income families, who will now not be able to afford a lot of over-the-counter medication.

We have had to take the children to the ER numerous times for a variety of reasons, now there will be a $50 copayment for ER visits.  How is a low income family going to afford that?  They can’t.  So unless the condition is life threatening, these changes are going to force low income families to avoid taking their kids and themselves to doctors and the emergency room.

That will put everyone at risk – particularly those most vulnerable.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

44 thoughts on “State Budget Half Way There – the Easy Half”

  1. Neutral

    [i]Where’s the public outrage towards the Democrat’s cuts? [/i]

    Properly directed towards the Republicans who are so fearful of the public they’ve denied us a vote on the *entire* package.

  2. Frankly

    Democrat template = Wealthy Republicans taking from the poor.

    Republican template = Bloated government and over-priced public employee labor causing necessary cuts to services.

    The first is more emotive and is stronger campaign fodder.

    Which is more accurate?

  3. rusty49

    “Properly directed towards the Republicans who are so fearful of the public they’ve denied us a vote on the *entire* package.”

    Wrong, those tax extensions are part of the other 13 billion, as David stated: “However, the hard part remains, about 13 billion dollars of the 26.6 billion deficit as the legislature did not address either the elimination of redevelopment or the extension to higher taxes.”

    So where’s the outrage that the Democrats are sticking it to the low income, students, disabled and the children?

  4. David M. Greenwald

    I wonder where you are reading that you somehow think there isn’t outrage? However, most people I don’t think are blaming the Democrats for it because appear to lack other choices and the Republicans would like to cut a full $26 million and would instead of cutting programs, be eliminating them. However, to say there isn’t outrage, you just aren’t looking in the right place.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    I actually provide an example IN THE ARTICLE. Statement from Anthony Wright: “Because of these cuts passed with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, California is a less healthy, less caring, less secure state tonight.”

    What do you want him to say that he did not? The Democrats did it? The Republicans voted for it too!

  6. rusty49

    Sure David, you can find an example here and there but I’m not hearing the outrage on the news or seeing many articles on this. You know if Republicans were in charge the Democrats would be crying like a bunch of babies and we would be bombarded with stories about the effects on the poor masses. You can call this bi-partisan if you like but we all know these cuts had to be generated by the Democrats as they control what comes out Sacramento. So why are most Democrats being so quiet about the cuts?

  7. Eric Gelber

    Let’s be clear. Most discretionary spending is in the areas of social services and education. If the Republicans were in charge, we’d be looking at $26 billion (rather than $13 billion) in cuts to these programs (including, in some instances, their outright elimmination) from the outset. We can potentially avoid additional cuts this year if voters are given the opportunity to vote on tax extensions–which the Republicans have so far been unwilling to permit. It’s incumbent on those who decry the specific cuts to propose alternatives. Most of the alternatives proposed wouldn’t come close to addressing the deficit.

  8. rusty49

    “We can potentially avoid additional cuts this year if voters are given the opportunity to vote on tax extensions–which the Republicans have so far been unwilling to permit.”

    Let’s be clear, the Democrats don’t need the Republicans to push this vote through. They only want their vote so they can say it was bi-partisan.

  9. David M. Greenwald

    Rusty: I think Eric Gelber hit the nail on the head, yeah we can complain about social services being cut, the problem is that the alternative is the Republican’s plan which will be cut even more. Whereas if the Republicans were in charge, as you suggest, and proposed these sames cuts, there would probably be an alternative that would suggest less cuts. That’s a huge difference that frames the entire response here.

  10. rusty49

    You can twist it any way you want, but it’s hillarious to watch you Democrats try and justify the cuts Brown is making when you know you would’ve blasted Arnold if he tried the same cuts. Mr. Shor called it right, nothing but hypocrites.

  11. Don Shor

    You completely missed my point, rusty. I was referring to the comments you and others made on this and other threads, focusing on what YOU perceive to be hypocrisy and cowardice on the part of Democrats. So perhaps instead of criticizing others, you can tell us how you would balance the budget?

  12. David M. Greenwald

    LOL. Rusty: Only Nixon could go to China, only a Republican can raise taxes, only a Democrat can cut social programs. That’s the way the political world works.

  13. J.R.

    “We have had to take the children to the ER numerous times for a variety of reasons, now there will be a $50 copayment for ER visits. “

    The ER is an Emergency Room. It is not meant for routine visits. It is extremely expensive to run. $50 does not begin to cover the cost of an ER visit. $50 is an incredibly cheap price to pay.

    ” So unless the condition is life threatening, these changes are going to force low income families to avoid taking their kids and themselves to doctors and the emergency room.”

    I always thought the emergency room was meant for emergencies. Who knew?

  14. Frankly

    How to balance the budget:

    First the root cause…

    The number of state government employees has risen 36.7 percent from FY 1990-91 to FY 2008-09.

    Now add to this the large increase in state government employees’ wages and benefits, and you have the general root cause of overspending, and overspending is the root cause of the budget problems. Some want to blame the recession, however, the housing bubble over-inflated state revenues; and had we been living within our means, we should have been running surpluses during that time of excess.

    The solution is to cut the cost of government. That means cutting the workforce, cutting the pay and benefits to market levels, while demanding greater performance from the workers that remain. This is what the private-sector has been doing for decades since global competition ramped up.

  15. David M. Greenwald

    “The ER is an Emergency Room. It is not meant for routine visits. It is extremely expensive to run. $50 does not begin to cover the cost of an ER visit. $50 is an incredibly cheap price to pay.”

    $50 is a huge amount of money to someone who lives paycheck to paycheck or requires public assistance.

    The other problem is that it’s almost impossible to get into Communicare on short notice. Baby has had numerous issues including pneumonia, ear infections, fevers, etc. that required at least urgent care, the kids have had their share as well. Even with as much money as we make, if we were paying $50 a pop, it would be a problem. In one month we had 8 ER visits for three kids. That would be $400. To someone who maybe makes $1000 a month or even $2000 paying a good chunk in rent, that would be too much. $50 is a lot to some people.

  16. wesley506

    The University of California (UC) and the California State
    University (CSU) account for more than one-third of state
    employment. More than one-third (37.8 percent) of all state
    employees worked in higher education in 2008-09. Of these,
    almost all (99.6 percent) worked for either the UC – the state
    government’s largest employer – or the CSU.

    Maybe Jeff thinks the solution is to downsize the CSU and UC system, make all the professors/instructors at will employees, require that they be paid no more than minimum wage, and mandate that all class sizes be no less than 300 students/class.

  17. J.R.

    “The total state payroll is $1.475 billion per month, paid to 233,771 employees (http://www.sco.ca.gov/ppsd_empinfo_demo.html).”

    Maybe so, but public employee benefits and payroll paid by the State of California amounts to much more than this. For example, teachers salaries are paid from State funds, via Prop 98, but not accounted for in your figures.

    Local governments spent $145.1 billion in government employee compensation in 2008 in California, much of it from State Funds passed down to local governments.

    See
    [url]http://unionwatch.org/what-percent-of-california-state-and-local-budgets-are-employee-compensation[/url]
    for a detailed analysis.

    This makes it clear that cutting public employee compensation, state and local, is much bigger factor in balancing state spending then some people seem to want to recognize.

  18. J.R.

    “$50 is a huge amount of money to someone who lives paycheck to paycheck or requires public assistance. “

    That is true. But the choice is not between having a $50 payment at the ER and having no payment, as you seem to assume.

    The choice is between having a $50 payment at the ER and having no ER.

  19. Adrienne Kandel

    The state payroll of $1.475 billion per month includes CSU, according to the web page it comes from, so it’s paid to more than the 233,771 employees listed because that number is non-CSU.
    Cutting staff and cutting services mean pretty much the same thing — of course you could cut California budget importantly by eliminating teachers, prison guards, governor, legislators, scientists watching out for the environment, social workers helping people make it through hard economic times (yes they need funds to give out as well), highway patrol offices, highway repair workers, lawyers to prosecute, lawyers to defend, the office of emergency services because we surely won’t have an earthquake, people to keep state parks open or protect them, etc. The question is, which of these services are you prepared to cut or eliminate because you feel it’s better than having people chip in to pay for them? Or if you think it can be done more cheaply or with fewer people, specify please. It’s easy to repeat false generalities about overpaid bureaucrats who don’t really work, but only because that’s been the tenor of political discourse and advertising for so long. Who do you know or have you researched getting paid how much more than they’re worth for doing how much less than they should?

  20. Adrienne Kandel

    [quote]Where’s the public outrage towards the Democrat’s cuts? [/quote]
    If you speak to one of our representatives, Mariko or Lois, you’ll understand why people like me aren’t outraged. These people are choosing their work largely because they care so deeply for the folks whose services they are now forced to cut. Other jobs would be easier, more pleasant, fewer hours, and not earning them undeserved scorn. The problem is, they cannot raise revenues because they can’t get the Republican votes required for the 2/3 revenue raising requirement. So they have to cut huge amounts or shut down the government and help no one. They’re hurting people as little as they can, and in there because others would be hurting them more.
    Most of the state budget is in health and human services in part because we’re in recession and in part because so far we as society have decided we want only some rather than all down on luck folks to go hungry, go without health care, and go without shelter. Last year’s $86.5 billion budget included $26.3 billion in health and human services — already cut to the bone then — along with $36 billion in K-12 education and $11.5 billion in higher education. Prisons come next at $8.9 billion. Then: legislative, judicial, executive $3.15 billion, natural resources $2.1 billion, business + transportation + housing $905 million, state and consumer services $598 million,”general government non-agency departments” $586 million, tax relief / aid to local governments $534 million, environmental protection $77 million, labor and workforce development $58 million.
    So where will you cut without being outrages?
    I propose this start: include on the same ballot a referendum to limit the 3 strikes law to violent criminals, along with an estimate of budget savings. After that start, I’m stumped on what to cut.

  21. J.R.

    “After that start, I’m stumped on what to cut.”

    Unfortunately, not cutting anything will lead to fiscal disaster and cause all of the wonderful programs you like to go down the tubes, along with the people who depend on them. How compassionate is that?

  22. David M. Greenwald

    “The choice is between having a $50 payment at the ER and having no ER. “

    That’s correct and that’s not a good thing when you are talking about the health of kids. I mean maybe if we had $50 copays, we don’t take the baby the ER after a week of fevers and they don’t find the pneumonia, that could have impacts down the line, no?

  23. Avatar

    8 visits to the ER , what an abuse of the system , no wonder why medical premiums keep on going up . This person needs to take better care of their kids , feed them healthy , exercise them , and keep them clean ! If this person can’t do that , then some hard decisions will need to be made , like maybe adoption or giving them to another family member …

  24. David M. Greenwald

    You like to talk out of your hindparts a lot. You obviously do not have three kids if you believe that is an abuse of the system. We are talking about pneumonia (three visits)(I suppose you would have a year old baby wait for the doctor’s office to open when she has 105 fever), ear infections (two kids), vomiting (two kids), an injury suffered while playing. That was just one month. You have no clue what you are talking about.

  25. Neutral

    [i]no wonder why medical premiums keep on going up[/i]

    Finally! A reformed hard-right-fundamentalist-Christian who believes in the ACA!!! God bless you for supporting a single-payer healthcare system for California!!! When may we expect your contribution?

  26. wdf1

    JB: [i]Republican template = Bloated government and over-priced public employee labor causing necessary cuts to services.[/i]

    I don’t know the answer here (though I am suspecting the negative), but as elected political Republican employees, have the senate and assembly reps offered to cut their salaries and benefits?

    “Be the change you want to see.”

  27. rusty49

    “Finally! A reformed hard-right-fundamentalist-Christian who believes in the ACA!!! God bless you for supporting a single-payer healthcare system for California!!! When may we expect your contribution?”

    So you’re referring to the same ACA that over 1000 unions, companies, states and organizations have been granted waivers for because they would either have to drop their plans or raise the premiums too high in order to keep insuring their members. How’s that working for you so far?

  28. PeonInChief

    If you look at the state budget, it’s easy to see why there’s no outrage. The state government largely transfers funds to local schools, medical and disabled service providers, CSU and UC. I’m always unnerved by people who think we can, in an $86 billion budget, find $25 billion in “waste, fraud and abuse” or that we should cut boards and commissions (a piddling portion of the budget) or legislators’ cars (also a piddling portion of the budget, although we might want to limit them to, uh, more fuel-efficient vehicles).

    I’m outraged at the Republicans because they want to shrink the government to a size they can “drown in a bathtub”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Norquist
    I am outraged at the Democrats for being so timid, so cowardly, that they didn’t stand up 30 years ago and denounce neoliberal economics as a bunch of hooey.

  29. Neutral

    rusty: [i]How’s that working for you so far?[/i]

    Fine. Read and learn:

    [i][b]These waivers are temporary[/b] and only apply to the annual limit provision in the law – plans that receive these waivers must still comply with other new consumer protections created by the Affordable Care Act.[/i]

    And those “over 1000” only cover [i]. . . 2.1 million, representing only about 1 percent of all Americans who have private health insurance today.[/i]

    The list of consumer protections in the act are available @:
    [url]http://www.healthcare.gov/law/provisions/billofright/patient_bill_of_rights.html[/url]

    Single-payer. Accept no substitutes.

  30. medwoman

    I am not outraged at all. Just saddened when I read comments such as Avatar’s post showing such a degree of ignorance of other’s circumstances and lack of empathy. perhaps you are unaware that children, no matter how well fed, clothed and cared for frequently become sick or injured outside doctor’s normal office hours. perhaps you are unaware that especially now many parents are juggling two or even three jobs in order to be able to continue to feed, clothe and house their children thus making if unfeasible to take their children in for a routine office visit. Or perhaps you are unaware that families who have lost or been denied insurance for sometimes legitimate and sometimes bogus reasons, the ER may be the only option for a sick or injured child.

    To hpierce:
    I am a staunch supporter of financial and medical optimization prior to any pregnancy. So much so that I am a cofounder of a plan now adopted through a major medical group in northern California promoting the concept that every pregnancy should be planned and wanted and well prepared for financially,socially and medically.
    And I am aware that in this current financial downturn, there are many parents that were once well situated to support their children prior to losing their jobs and in some cases their homes, who now find themselves in the mortifying circumstance of having to ask for help for the first time.

    As a doctor, I am in a position to see the impact of inability to obtain, or loss of medical insurance and can assure you that inability to obtain medical care for any of a myriad of causes benefits no one. Not the individual patient and not the community as a whole.
    As a doctor whose first priorities are health and safety, I am a strong supporter of a single payer system.
    And I am aware

  31. Frankly

    [i]”Cutting staff and cutting services mean pretty much the same thing”[/i]

    Not at all.

    This is a prime example of a fundamental misconception that plagues the arguments of the tax and spend crowd. Combining this misconception with a dearth of top-down authority/leadership to make necessary fiscally-prudent business decisions, and we get the bulk of the root cause for public sector overspending.

    Public sector “business” and unionized labor, in general, do not understand the “do more with less” credo.

    To understand the misconception/point, you first need to dig a bit into worker/human psychology: specifically, the transient nature of our higher-level needs and to what lengths we will go to prevent anything that feels like a reversal of fortune.

    Do you remember that euphoric feeling and enhanced motivation resulting from a new job or a promotion? At that point your job gives you energy. How long did that last? A year or few later and the job is old hat again and you are seeking the next growth step in your career to fulfill esteem and self-actualization needs. Spend more time at the job, and eventually you feel like you are toting a bag of rocks. The job takes more energy than it provides. Now some manager or politician suggests pay and benefit cuts. He suggests cuts to the workforce resulting in a larger workload. How does that feel? You won’t like it and if given the ability to resist it, you will naturally do so.

    In the non-unionized private-sector, there is the strategy of thirds. In these cases where an organization must grow efficiency to survive, there will always be a percentage of employees (about 33%) that have the fortitude and insight to forego their short-term protection of individual higher order needs through a commitment to the larger mission. In addition, there will always be a percentage of employees (the next 33%) initially resistant that can be saved by good leadership and change management. At the bottom though, are a percentage of employees (the last 33%) that will never be able to accept doing more for less. The basic design of the strategy is to engaging the top third to help bring along the middle third, while management works to rid the organization of the corrosive bottom third.

    I stayed at the Madison in DC this last week while attending an industry conference. The hotel had recently been sold and the new owner demanded that all employees re-apply for available jobs that would pay less and demand more. These unionized employees began their protests at 7:00 AM and it lasted until 7:00 PM every night. Screaming with megaphones, blowing horns and banging drums they chanted disrespect for the new owners and the current guests of the hotel. It was clear that the strategy of thirds was at work, but the advantage had gone to the union and not the owners. The corrosive bottom third had pulled in the middle third in an attempt to resist the changes demanded by management and supported by the top third. With state employees, not only do the unions allow the corrosive bottom third to control the strategy, but they also use their union dues dollars to brainwash votes and corrupt the democratic political process.

    This is the reason I am against unions – especially in the public sector. Unions initially gave power to the powerless employees. Now they give power to the less valuable employees.

  32. medwoman

    JB

    Again, too broad a brush.
    Yes, you can site cases of bad behavior on the part of union members.
    However there are still cases in which unions are needed to provide “power to the powerless”. Farm laborers being one example.
    There are probably others of which I am unaware.

  33. Avatar

    Medwoman & David , hey I want the best for the USA , I’d love it if we could go get medical needs taken care of without no cost , it’s absolutely stupid that this country doesn’t work that way . School and medical should be free for all . It’s backward the way it’s now .

    But with the system that we currently have for medical coverage now , sometimes you have to tend to a fever but let it do its natural healing , let them throw up its the bodies way of healing , let them cough .

    ER’s are for broken bones , heart attacks , strokes , major stuff …

  34. rusty49

    Obamacare waiver stats:

    “As of the end of February 2011, a total of 1040 one-year waivers have been granted to plans covering 2,624,720 employees. This update includes 126 new approvals. The following list identifies some key facts about annual limits waivers”

    This doesn’t even account for March. Also it’s waiver numbers for “employees” and doesn’t factor in their families. The number of people under waivers is most likely more than 5,000,000 and counting.

    Waiver recipients stood a good chance of seeing their insurance cancelled if their suppliers had to comply with Obamacare. This is just a bandaid for now because once 2014 comes around many of these same companies that received waivers will have to cancel their plans. What a mess.

  35. medwoman

    Avatar

    Nice straw man argument about getting medical care needs taken care of without cost and medical school free for all. I guess I failed to see that position in either David’s or my posts. And I am certainly glad that many of my patients over the years did not subscribe to your medical theories. Otherwise their children would have been dead from meningitis, pneumonia, pyelonephritis…..and the parents being prosecuted for child neglect.

  36. medwoman

    Sounds good. You will get no argument from me on that. Talk about an investment in our future. maybe once we start seeing the benefits, we could include all graduate degrees. Or we could do it the Honduran way and require payback in the form of provision of free service on a limited time basis for the underserved.
    What say you Avatar ?

  37. Neutral

    rusty, rusty, rusty, the incremental change from January to February doesn’t change the most important point:

    [i][companies with waivers] . . . represent[ing] only about 1 percent of all Americans who have private health insurance today. [/i]

    And let’s keep in mind that those waivers are only for companies who subscribe to the ‘mini-med’ (much cash for little coverage) plans.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for