The Governor goes on the radio…

Apparently, Governor Brown misses the regular Friday Capital Notes podcast that John Myers used to do when he was at KQED, mostly on budget issues.

To give us some budget conversation to listen to, Governor Brown went on KGO radio with Ronn Owens, where he mostly talked about the budget and the November initiative to raise revenues and prevent cuts.

The whole KGO interview is of interest to listen to. In responding to callers’ questions, he defended the existing CalWorks welfare-to-work program, explained the economic contribution of immigrant, including the undocumented, argued for the building of high-speed rail, and provided context for the special status of Indian casinos given the state and country’s history.

Of particular note to health advocates, a caller asked about SB810(Leno), the bill to institute a single-payer universal health care system. He was fully aware of it, and said it “might make sense down the road,” but also described in some details many barriers to the goal–policy, political and procedural. It was interesting that the Governor had thought through some of the issues–although it was sometimes unclear which concerns he shared, versus those that he saw from opposed interest groups or the public at large.

He main point was the problems in our health system were complex, and a mess “we need to clean up,” but that in his view there was no one or simple solution. In this context, Ronn Owens trotted out a misleading figure about the supposed cost of the Affordable Care Act to the state; Governor Brown said that the federal government will pick up the cost of expanding Medicaid.

But the big news of the interview was on the budget. He talked about the many, many cuts made to education, public safety, health and human services. He even talked about the Medi-Cal cuts that were made but are pending at the Obama Administration. (In fact, the Obama Administration approved the majority of his cuts, including major provider rate cuts–federal courts are now preventing those. The federal government did reject imposing additional cost on low-income families in Medi-Cal, because it is simply against the federal law. A final cut, to place a limit on the doctor visits a Medi-Cal patient can get, is pending.)

But the news was Governor Brown goading the Legislature to approve the additional cuts he proposed. In his January budget, he asked for the Legislature to make cuts early. Instead, they are carefully considering the proposals in hearings as part of the normal budget process.

The language the Governor used made the headlines:
* SF Chronicle: Jerry Brown says lawmakers need to ‘man up,’ make budget cuts
* Los Angeles Times: Jerry Brown tells lawmakers to ‘man up,’ cut budget
* News10: “Man up,” Governor Brown tells legislators

Let’s be clear: There’s nothing manly about making these additional cuts. There’s nothing manly in approving cuts to children’s health care, to services for people with disabilities struggling to live with dignity, to low-income families, or to other health and human services.

Having already cut $15 billion dollars in the last three years from programs that help struggling California families, the legislature should be responsible in carefully reviewing—and ultimately rejecting—further cuts to an already-shattered safety net. Protecting these programs from further cuts is not just being responsible towards Californian women and children, it is a wise investment in our economic recovery.

As described above, elsewhere in his interview, the Governor appropriately defended core programs in our safety net, and in arguing for revenues to prevent further cuts to education, public safety, and other vital services. Those are the right concerns and choices the Legislature needs to consider.

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