Senate Republicans Reject Democrat Union Pay Measure

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Senate Democrats on Thursday attempted to push through legislation that sought to insulate state employees during budget negotiations. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans called for on-time budgets and countered that the state should instead protect funding for critical services to those who receive 24-hour care and Medi-Cal providers.

The elderly, the disabled and others who rely on state health services are hit especially hard during a budget impasse and it is with them that our priorities should be placed.

"Democrats defined their priorities today as they began their annual game of budget chicken and threw the elderly, blind and the disabled under the bus ," said Senator Jeff Denham (R - Merced).

"The Democrats should get their priorities straight and protect California’s most vulnerable populations, not state bureaucrats. Without a budget, some Medi-Cal providers, including nursing homes, run out of money and have in the past been forced to close their doors and deny care to those who need it, while small businesses have been equally forced to secure costly loans at high interest rates to keep in operation," said Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R - Diamond Bar).

"A budget is a blueprint of our priorities. In this case, the Democrats are saying state employees are more important than the blind, aged, disabled, and those who are in nursing homes. If we’re going to provide state workers their salaries during budget delays, we should also ensure funding for those most in need.

"Not more than 30 minutes before taking up AB 790, we passed a resolution officially recognizing April as Autism Awareness Month. Why are state employees more important than children with autism or people in nursing homes? AB 790 needs to be amended to reflect our priorities," commented Senator Tony Strickland (R - Thousand Oaks).

"Just because our Legislature continues to spend money it does not have, dragging budget negotiations far past the deadline, vulnerable Californians should not be treated like pawns and suffer while bureaucrats and public employee unions are protected," said state Senate Republican Caucus Chair Bob Huff (R - Diamond Bar).

For well over a decade, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to pass emergency funding legislation while they worked through their budget differences during budget negotiations. Specifically, 1998 SB 267 Maddy (Co-Authors: Solis, Ashburn and Honda)   This measure covered all key programs. The Legislature also passed AB 561 that same year, which authorized up to $2 billion in loans to continue payments specifically to the developmentally disabled through the budget stalemate.

Unfortunately, Democrats have killed every continuous appropriation measure introduced (or co-authored?) by Republicans thereafter.

1999: SB 657 Principal Co-Author by Assemblymember Cox

An urgency measure that would have provided that, in the absence of the enactment of the annual Budget Act by July 1, funding would be continuously appropriated from the Federal Trust Fund to the Department of Aging to continue the programs operated by the local area agencies on aging.
Placed on Senate Appropriations Suspense File by Democrats.

2002: AB 41 Daucher (Coauthors: Assemblymembers Benoit, Berg, Bogh, Cox, Garcia, Koretz, Longville, Nakanishi, Pacheco, Plescia, Strickland, and Wyland)

This bill would have created the Senior Citizens Interim Payment (SCIP) Fund, which would be continuously appropriated for up to $22 million in Federal Trust Funds in any year in which the state budget is not enacted by July 1. Also, this measure would have provided funding to pay for local administration of services to the elderly provided through the California Department of Aging’s ( CDA) Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) in the absence of an enacted state budget.
Placed on Assembly Appropriations Suspense File by Democrats.

2002: AB 2552 Daucher (Assemblymember Cox and Senator Ortiz: Principal Co-Authors) (Assemblymember Wyland: Co-author)

This bill would have continuously appropriated monies from the Federal Trust Fund to the California Department of Aging ( CDA) for the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) in the absence of an annual budget by July 1. Federal funds pay for 90% of AAA services, while the General Fund pays for the remaining 10%. CDA cannot access any funds to allocate to the 33 AAA’s to provide services when the budget act has not been enacted.
Placed on the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File by Democrats.

2005: AB 119 Strickland (Senator Scott: Principal Co-Author)

This bill would have increased the amount from $2 billion to $4 billion in the continuously appropriated Medical Providers Interim Payment fund to pay for Medi-Cal expenses in a fiscal year in which there is no enacted state budget.
Placed on Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File by Democrats.

2006: AB 237 Strickland (Senator Scott: Principal Co-Author)

This bill would have increased the amount from $2 billion to $4 billion in the continuously appropriated Medical Providers Interim Payment fund to pay for Medi-Cal expenses in a fiscal year in which there is no enacted state budget.
Placed on Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense File by Democrats.

2008: SB 1456 (Denham)

This bill would have appropriated funds during extended budget negotiations to ensure that hospitals and nursing homes receive the necessary funding to keep their doors open. Health care for those in need should not be interrupted while the Legislature works towards a balanced budget.
This measure was rejected by Democrats in the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee on June 6, 2008.