Cuts, more cuts

Mar 25, 2011

Gov. Brown cut more than $11 billion from state spending, including billions of dollars worth of services for the aged, the sick and the poor. So he's dealt with about half of his proposed tax-and-cut budget, but the remaining half -- taxes -- remains short of an agreement. It's all just another day in the Capitol.


From the LAT's Shane Goldmacher: "The governor signed the new laws to tackle $11.2 billion of the state's estimated $26-billion deficit, even as he scrambled to find Republican support for the other half of his budget plan: a ballot measure asking voters' blessing to renew expiring taxes. Time is running out to place such a measure on the June ballot, he said."

"State officials will now begin notifying many Californians that their government benefits are to be cut within 90 days — at just about the start of the new budget year. Come July, welfare grants will be reduced by 8%, and parents will be kicked off the rolls after four years instead of the current five."

"Assistance for the elderly and disabled, in their homes and at senior centers, will also be reduced. State-subsidized child care for 11- and 12-year-olds will be eliminated."


In the array of cuts was $1.5 billion from health care services for the poor, notes Dan Weintraub of HealthyCal.


"Most of the cuts will be achieved by reducing by 10 percent the reimbursement for doctors, hospitals and other providers that care for the poor. The bill will also increase premiums in the Healthy Families program, implement co-payments in Medi-Cal and limit doctor visits and the reimbursement for over-the-counter medication..."


"Among the cuts in health care: Increased premiums in the Healthy Families insurance program. For families with incomes from 151 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, premiums will nearly double from $16 per month to $30, with a family maximum of $90 per month. For families with incomes above 201 percent of the federal poverty level, premiums will increase from $24 per child to $42 per child, with a family maximum of $126. The budget also increases co-payment for emergency room visits from $15 to $50, while hospital stays would carry a co-payment of $100 a day and a maximum of $200."


Meanwhile, the poor aren't the only ones in pain: California's employers face a new payroll tax to pay the feds back for the money they loaned the state to cover jobless benefits.


From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "The report concludes that for a decade, the EDD "has consistently failed to perform" at a level the U.S. Labor Department "considers acceptable regarding its timely delivery of unemployment benefits," State Auditor Elaine M. Howle wrote in a letter to the governor and legislators."

"The unemployment insurance fund, insolvent since January 2009, relies on federal loans to pay jobless benefits. The debt is expected to hit $13.4 billion by the end of this year unless state lawmakers and the governor agree to raise payroll taxes, cut benefits or do some combination of both. An interest bill of $362 million is due in September."

By law, the state, which faces a $26-billion general budget deficit, must repay the federal loans to the EDD by November."


Speaking of the economy, California's Indian tribes are commissioning a study to look at the economic benefits of tribal casinos, reports the Bee's Dale Kasler.


"The study, to be released later this year, will be led by one of California's most prominent economists: Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics consulting in Los Angeles."


"The main thing is letting California legislators and the public know that Indian gaming is working," said Susan Jensen, spokeswoman for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. The association is co-sponsoring the study with the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations and the California Association of Tribal Governments."


"Thornberg said he'll prepare an independent look at Indian gambling without any thought to political implications. "From my perspective, this is a matter of doing an economic survey," he said. "We're not weighing in on the pros or cons."


In San Diego, officials are considering canceling the planned layoffs of hundreds of teachers by pulling redevelopment money from a new library project, reports Emily Alpert of the Voice of San Diego.


"The school board had earlier opted to spend $17 million in money that goes from downtown redevelopment to the school district on space for a charter school in the planned downtown library. School district leaders believed the money could only be used on facilities."


"Now that the school board has the green light to use redevelopment money on day-to-day costs, school board President Richard Barrera is proposing to use more than $7 million that would have gone to the library lease this year to cancel as many layoff warnings as possible. The school board will vote on the idea next Tuesday. It is unclear exactly how many teachers it would spare; Barrera asked the school district to focus on keeping classes small in the youngest grades."


"The schoobrary would still be paid for: San Diego Unified could shift the library spending from redevelopment money to its $2.1 billion school construction bond. That could push back other school renovations, since the district only gets so much bond money each year."


As if all the economic turmoil isn't enough, Southern California hospitals are sounding an alarm about CRKP, a bacteria-resistant "superbug" that is starting to show up in hospitals in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. Swell.


From Susan Abram, Melissa Evans and Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino in the Inland Daily Bulletin: "The CRKP was initially contained to the East Coast, but laboratory results for the last six months of 2010 show it has spread to medical facilities in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties."


"We had two cases," PVHMC's Desai said. "Last one was three or four months ago. The infection was present on admission and both patients recovered." Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has recorded 356 cases, while San Bernardino County remains somewhat unscathed."


"So far, no one has reported it in our county," Public Health Officer Maxwell Ohikhuare said. However, Fontana-based Kaiser Permanente has had two cases in the past twelve months though no fatalities, according to Jennifer Resch-Silvestri, public affairs area director."


And we look into our "High School Confidential" file to read about the woman who was a school clerical worker by day and a porn star by night. Naturally, one of the students recognized her and, naturally, he blabbed all.


"The woman, known by the stage name Samantha Ardente, has been suspended without pay while Etchemins High School near Quebec City decides whether the star of Serial Abusers 2 will keep her day job."


“It’s a first in our history,” school board spokeswoman Louise Boisvert told QMI Agency. “Even if she didn’t work directly with the students, we have to evaluate the impact that this story will have on her, on the students and on the staff.”


"The administrative employee was recently confronted by a student who had seen one of her films. She refused his request for an autograph and told him to keep quiet about her double life. He instead told his friends and word eventually got back to the administration."


That's entertainment...



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