Brown Signs $167.7B Budget With Few Line-Item Vetoes

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a $167.6 billion state budget that includes funding to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented children, as well as other health care implications, the Los Angeles Times‘ “PolitiCal” reports. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

The budget will take effect July 1 (Megerian, “PolitiCal,” Los Angeles Times, 6/24).

Background on Budget Plan

Last week, California lawmakers and Brown announced a budget deal with several health care implications.

Overall, the budget allots nearly $32 billion for health care programs, including about $18 billion for Medi-Cal.

Under the budget deal, the state in May 2016 will begin extending Medi-Cal coverage to about 170,000 undocumented immigrant children under age 19. The expansion is projected to cost $40 million in the next fiscal year and about $132 million annually following implementation.

The budget deal also includes $226 million to restore for one year a 7% pay cut In-Home Supportive Services providers.

Brown rejected a provision in lawmakers’ budget plan that would have increased Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates by 5%, citing concerns about costs.

Meanwhile, Brown announced two special legislative sessions to address additional funding concerns related to the budget, one of which will be used to consider ways to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements (California Healthline, 6/22).

Details of Brown’s Approval

The budget approved by Brown includes a $115.4 billion general fund, as well as a $3.5 billion rainy day fund (Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 6/24).

Brown used line-item vetoes to trim $1.3 million from the budget, none of which came from the general fund. The cuts were the fewest number of vetoes on the state budget since 1982, according to Capital Public Radio’s “KXJZ News.”

H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the state Department of Finance, said, “The governor has indicated that, given the precarious nature of the way this budget is balanced, we need to identify new funding sources to finance both transportation improvements in the state and for health care financing.”

Palmer added, “The fact that there are very few vetoes, in terms of numbers of vetoes and dollars associated with those vetoes, speaks to the governor’s ability to reach a fiscally responsible budget agreement with the legislature” (Orr, “KXJZ News,” Capital Public Radio, 6/24).

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