Facing the harsh economic realities created by our state budget crisis, legislators yesterday took their first steps to balance the budget focusing on health care. The Los Angeles Times reported:
“Lawmakers on a key state budget panel Wednesday took their first steps, albeit gingerly, to trim government spending, agreeing to charge the poor more for medical care, pay less to the physicians who tend to them and reduce what taxpayers spend on children’s eye care, among other cuts.
The action in the Senate Budget Committee represented the first substantive budget votes since Gov. Jerry Brown proposed an austere spending plan a month ago. It signaled a willingness among Democrats, who hold majorities in both houses, to embrace at least some painful reductions in social services to balance California’s red-ink-stained books.
Brown, a Democrat, has called on the Legislature to approve $12 billion in budget cuts before a proposed ballot measure would go before voters in June asking them to extend sales, income and car tax hikes for five years.”
Studies show that if California could become as efficient and effective as other states in major programs like state corrections, public safety, welfare, and mental health, as much as $9 billion each year could be saved and outcomes could be improved. California Forward calls this Smart Government, and our Restructuring Framework is built around this simple idea: California’s three most significant areas of government spending – education, health and human services, and public safety – are fundamentally interrelated. We believe that our Restructuring Framework would dramatically reduce the need for our legislators to make the kind of cuts reported by the LA Times.
According to a recent survey conducted by Viewpoint Learning for California Forward, however, the Senate Budget Committee is acting in accordance with what Californians want. The study of over 1,000 Californians found that 67 percent of those surveyed disagreed with the statement, “Taxes need to be higher to pay for the services Californians need.”