Thursday, 02 February 2023

State passes $145 billion budget

LAKE COUNTY – The State Senate on Tuesday ended a 52-day budget stalemate when it approved California's budget for fiscal year 2007-08.


The Senate voted 27-12 Tuesday afternoon to accept the $145 billion budget, which includes $103 billion in general fund spending, according to David Miller, spokesman for North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins.


In a statement after the vote, Wiggins noted that the Senate's version of the budget was very similar to that passed July 20 by the Assembly and to a budget the Senate almost approved three weeks ago. Wiggins said the Senate should have arrived at a final budget “much, much earlier.”


“But I am glad that we are putting this impasse behind us, because it will allow us to resume payments to child care facilities, to nursing homes, to health clinics and other providers who receive reimbursements through Medi-Cal, to those who offer care and services to the developmentally disabled, and to anyone else who has been negatively affected by the delay,” said Wiggins.


This budget fully funds education and law enforcement, allows the state to pay off $2.5 billion of its overall bind debt earlier than scheduled and keeps a record $3.4 billion in reserve – all without raising taxes, Wiggins reported.


“It is my hope that we can move quickly now on other major outstanding issues, especially health care reform, and that we can reach early agreement on the next round of budget talks in 2008,” said Wiggins.


There was one part of the budget package Wiggins didn't agree with, according to her office. Senate Republicans demanded the elimination of an existing requirement that all state-owned buildings be “green,” which Senate Democrats agreed to honor. Wiggins, however, voted against the change.


Assemblywoman Patty Berg's office offered no comment on the budget's passing. However, in July, when the Assembly passed a $103 billion budget version, Berg said it would protect children, the elderly and the poor.


As chair of the Assembly's Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, she worked to add $12 million to the state’s Adult Protective Services program in order to give every county in the state at least one watchdog to protect seniors from elder abuse.


The Assembly budget also preserved the Williamson Act, increased funding for the California Methamphetamine Initiative, prevented a wage freeze for In-Home Supportive Services workers, maintained Rural law enforcement grant program, kept intact the homeless program for mentally ill, fully funded K-12 education and created a $3.4 billion reserve.


However, just how close the two budgets are in their specifics wasn't clear Tuesday evening, although it's reported that they are very similar.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement Tuesday afternoon that lauded the Senate's responsible budget,” which he said protects the state's priorities and keeps its economy strong.


“It was a challenging process but in the end our legislative leaders came together to deliver a spending plan that does not raise taxes, creates the largest reserve in history, and reduces our operating deficit after the spending vetoes that I have promised,” Schwarzenegger said in the statement.

 

Schwarzenegger said the budget also limits spending growth to less than one percent, pays down $2.5 billion in debt, fully funds education and public safety, and allows the state to move forward with the infrastructure bond measures that voters approved last year.


“We now will move forward together on the issues we've been elected to address such as health care, a comprehensive water plan, and redistricting reform,” Schwarzenegger said.


The budget comes none too soon.


Late last month, State Controller John Chiang reported that the budget impasse forced him to withhold $1.1 billion in state payments to hospitals, nursing homes, child care centers, community colleges and other programs. Chiang estimated at that time that he would not be able to pay another $2.1 billion in state payments in August.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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