June 15, 2017: CAPRADIO.Com - California Approves Largest-Ever Budget

June 16, 2017

The California Legislature has passed a $125 billion spending plan, its largest-ever budget, Thursday.

In a compromise between Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown, the plan funds much of what the governor had proposed cutting.

"This bill is the culmination of months of consideration, deliberation, and negotiation in the Legislature and with the administration," Senate Budget Chair Holly Mitchell said.

It started with Gov. Brown in January predicting sluggish revenue and scaling back legislative priorities. He planned to slow education funding increases, freeze child care provider rates, and phase out a middle-class college scholarship. Through negotiation and a rosier budget outlook, none of those cuts will occur.

As usual, the budget’s support falls largely along party lines. Senate Republican leader Pat Bates argued new gas and tobacco taxes aren’t used as voters intended.

"A full loaf is what was promised, and we’re giving them a half a loaf," Bates said. "And we should be baking a better loaf."

Once signed by the governor, the new budget takes effect July 1.

CapRadio will provide more updates on the state budget deal throughout the day.

Ben Bradford / Capital Public Radio

UPDATE: 5:22 p.m., June 15

Budget Includes Use Of Tobacco Tax Revenue To Fund Higher Payments For Medi-Cal Providers

California’s increased tobacco tax will fund higher payments for Medi-Cal providers, under a budget deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers.

Gov. Brown had proposed using the funding to backfill rising costs of the Medi-Cal program.

"This is going to make a significant difference." Democratic Sen. Richard Pan said. "Now, are we all the way yet? Can we do more? I would say yes. However, this is a substantial step forward."

Physicians and dentists will receive an extra $465 million for Medi-Cal services, about half the projected tobacco tax revenue.

Republican Sen. Jeff Stone argued it's still not enough to incentivize doctors.

"They lose money on the Medi-Cal population," Stone said. "And as a result, many doctors still will not treat new Medi-Cal patients."

Physician groups argue that voters approved the tobacco tax with the understanding it would pay for increased care.

Ben Bradford / Capital Public Radio

 

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