The budget “blue pencil” blues…

Governor Schwarzenegger signed the budget this evening, and with it announced new line-item vetoes.

The Governor unilaterally used his line-item veto authority to make additional cuts to health and human services, and in the process harmed California families, our health system, and our state’s economic recovery. These are the wrong cuts and the wrong time: an economic recession is exactly when we need funding for community clinics and public health programs, for the health of our communities and our economy.

The package of line-item vetoes included nearly $100 million in health care cuts, as well as major “blue pencil” reductions of $366 million in CalWORKS and $256 million in child care.

Among the health care cuts are the following reductions:
* $52 million for the Office of AIDS local assistance programs (a nearly 50% reduction);
* $22 million in county administration of health programs;
* $10 million in clinic grants under the Primary and Rural Health program (an almost 90% cut);
* $7.6 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program;
* $5 million for the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health program;
* $1 million for the Prostate Cancer Treatment program (a nearly 25% reduction)

Patients with AIDS to prostate cancer will face the negative consequences of Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget decisions, as will many who depend upon community clinics and other public health programs.

Even with these significant cuts, the pain isn’t over: The legacy of this budget could force cuts into the future, from special interest tax breaks that starve the system to a constitutional spending cap. This budget lacks new revenues, and in fact provides additional special interest tax breaks, digging our budget hole deeper. We are alarmed about the placement of a 2012 ballot measure for a constitutional spending cap proposal that will handcuff our ability to invest in health and other vital services. So the fight isn’t over.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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