Later today, both the Assembly and Senate budget committees will be considering and making decisions on many of the health care cuts proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger. And with that, the budget debate goes into full gear.
This is still an early stage: any decision made at this point can still be reversed. Given the massive deficit, and the major effort it will take to raise revenues, it is likely that cuts that the both the Assembly and the Senate agree with the Governor on are close to final. Yet the rejection of those cuts does not mean we can breath easy. Unless there are revenues or taxes to fill the gap, those cuts still loom as possibilities. So this is a day where we can’t win, but we can surely lose.
However, while these are not final decisions, the actions made today in the Assembly and Senate are hugely important. The decision to reject health care cuts will set the stage for the budget negotiations. It will send the clear signal: some cuts are too severe, and we need to raise revenues to prevent those cuts. And then we have the debate, with those legislators who want a cuts-only budget, rather than a budget solution that includes some revenues or taxes.
It’s important that the majority of legislators make this stand, so that the choice is clear, between denying children and parents health coverage, defunding doctors and hospitals, eliminating dental and other benefits, etc… and raising the revenues needed to prevent those cuts.
To follow along, here’s a health budget cuts scorecard, which details the cuts impacting access to health care, and what their status is with the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate. We’ll update it after today.
We’ll be posting through the day on the action.