Monday, June 29, 2009

No Plan B, Governor?

The Assembly passed three bills providing cash solutions to keep the state from issuing IOUs on July 2. Republicans in the Senate still refuse to support these solutions, which means that we will lose over $3 billion.

Recognizing that these are the governor’s proposals, Senate Budget Chair Denise Moreno Ducheny and I sent a letter to the governor’s Department of Finance today to ask for the governor’s backup plan. Our letter reads:

“As Chairwomen of the respective Budget Committees, we request that you outline, by close of business today, how your administration specifically plans to fill the $3.3 billion hole through 2009-2010, if the measures are not enacted.”

The response from Mike Genest, Director of the Department of Finance, states:

“…we have not developed a specific plan for addressing the potential loss of these solutions.”

In addition, the governor is holding the state hostage. As part of a budget agreement, he has submitted a list of new demands – sweeping policy changes – which could have been submitted with one of any of his four May Revision budget proposals. Now, he wants to reduce what the state contributes in pensions for new hires, change state retiree health care, scale back eligibility for people in the welfare-to-work program, create rules to root out fraud in-home services, and change portions of Medi-Cal.

While I am not averse to discussing these issues, none of them are simple subjects with simple solutions. The governor can’t lose focus on the real problem. His new demands don’t solve the immediate cash crisis. We have 30 hours until California faces financial ruin.

These are disappointing developments. The governor himself has imposed a July 1 deadline for passing a budget revision, yet he continues to throw roadblocks in our way.