Replenishments, Recalls, and Republican Budgets, Oh My!

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BUDGET DAY PLUS 69 -- It's turning into a day of interesting "medium grade" state budget news... medium grade because there's not actually a budget agreement but rather more tidbits from the ongoing budget sideshow.

At an event this morning at the state Capitol, Republican legislators and folks who provide Medi-Cal services pleaded for passage of an emergency appropriation to pay these providers who've been cut off from vital revenues in the absence of a budget.

(And by the way, because I was absent from Sacramento last week while on the convention beat, a hearty congratulations to everyone for setting a new record for the latest state budget in California history! That is, if you can congratulate someone on such a thing.)

GOP lawmakers, appearing this morning alongside some of the severely disabled who rely on these services, cast scorn on the governor and Democrats for not agreeing to temporarily replenish these funds.

"We have to get to a compromise budget," said Assembly GOP Leader Mike Villines. "We agree on that. But in the interim, why would you create innocent victims? And why would you use people as pressure in a budget?"

Neither Governor Schwarzenegger nor legislative Democrats have been all that keen on the emergency appropriation idea, with the governor calling such a plan a "Band-Aid" solution in a letter to legislative leaders last week. Instead, he said, both sides should just finally broker a deal.

While Republicans said today that their preferred budget would not further cut services to any of the Medi-Cal recipients who appeared with them at the news conference, it should be noted that both they and Schwarzenegger have suggested additional cuts in health and human services programs to balance the books.

Meantime, the "everything old is new again" feeling seems to be creeping back in, as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association appears poised to launch a recall effort against Schwarzenegger. The CCPOA remains locked in a bitter dispute with the Schwarzenegger administration over a new contract for its employees. Remember, too, that the CCPOA has sparred with Schwarzenegger in the past, and helped bankroll the effort that brought down all four of the governor's 2005 special election measures.

It will be interesting to see what argument they make in their formal recall petition, which would then have to be circulated for voter signatures, given that the guards' union was close to former governor Gray Davis in 2003, when Davis supporters accused recall backers of waging a politically motivated effort.

And if that wasn't enough drama, the Senate is scheduled to convene this afternoon to consider the GOP alternative budget plan... one which relies on borrowing against future revenues from the California Lottery and more cuts than Demnocrats have said they're willing to enact. In other words, the outcome of said vote is not expected to be in doubt... which means we'll be right back here tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel.

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About John Myers

John Myers is Sacramento Bureau Chief for KQED Public Radio and "The California Report," heard daily on 23 public radio stations across the Golden State.

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