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Budget Cuts Aimed at Older Adults Anger California Lawmakers
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Killer Politicians
2020-06-25 04:21:33 UTC
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to cover a $54.3 billion budget
deficit includes slashing millions in spending that keep more than 45,000
people out of nursing homes — some of a series of cuts targeting older
adults who are among the most at risk for the new coronavirus.

The proposed cuts have angered state lawmakers from both major political
parties who say it’s irresponsible in light of the coronavirus pandemic
that has spread through nursing homes across the state. It’s one of many
conflicts emerging this week as lawmakers hold public hearings examining
Newsom’s proposal before they must vote on a spending plan by June 15.

Newsom, a Democrat, was the first governor to issue a mandatory stay-at-
home order in mid-March. While widely credited with slowing the spread of
the new coronavirus, it has caused state tax collections to plummet by
forcing many businesses to close for more than two months and putting 4.7
million people out of work.

Newsom’s plan to cover that deficit includes painful cuts across most
government programs, including public education, environmental protections
and state worker salaries. But the cuts targeting programs for older
adults have alarmed advocates who have likened them to “a death sentence.”

Statewide, residents in skilled nursing facilities accounted for 6.4% of
coronavirus cases but 27.2% of deaths reported by the state as of last
week. Nationwide, outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities
have killed more than 33,800 people, or more than a third of all
coronavirus deaths in the U.S., according to a tally by The Associated
Press.

“We don’t care about elders or the disabled and they are going to be the
primary victims of this budget,” said Pat McGinnis, executive director of
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

Newsom’s plan doesn’t cut everything. It includes a temporary 10% rate
increase for skilled nursing facilities which treat Medicaid patients, or
about $114 million total. The state is waiting for the federal government
to approve the increase.

But the spending proposal would eliminate two alternatives to nursing
homes for older adults. Both programs pay for people to care for older
adults in their own homes. The Community-Based Adult Services program had
more than 36,000 clients as of February while the Multipurpose Senior
Services Program has space for more than 9,200 people, according to the
Department of Finance.

“The idea that we are going to eliminate (these programs) at a time when
it’s clear that it’s not really safe to be in a nursing home, or not as
safe as we would like it to be, is really troubling,” said Assemblyman Jim
Wood, a Democrat from Santa Rosa and a member of the budget subcommittee
that oversees health care spending. “That seems to be what we do in times
of crisis. We hammer those who can least afford it, who can least protect
themselves, and have the smallest voices in our society.”

Other cuts include $205 million from a program that gives in-home
assistance to older, blind and disabled adults. The cut will reduce hours
available for care by 7% for the more than more than 600,500 people in the
program.

While Newsom has partnered with the federal government to pay local
restaurants to make meals for low-income older adults during the pandemic,
his budget would eliminate $8.4 million from a nutrition program that
offers meals to older adults in group settings.

And $135 million in proposed cuts mean fewer older adults will be eligible
for Medicaid, the joint federal and state health insurance program.

“Quite frankly, I feel like we should tell the governor he can kick rocks
with his budget,” said Assemblyman Devon Mathis, a Republican from Visalia
and a member of the budget subcommittee that oversees health care
spending. “During a health pandemic you are going to cut health? That
makes zero sense.”

Tuesday, representatives from the Newsom administration did not dig in
their heels to defend the cuts, but told lawmakers they are “committed to
work with the Legislature and stakeholders on alternatives and ideas,”
according to Michelle Baas, undersecretary at the California Health and
Human Services Agency.

“We think about COVID as a way to accelerate our creative thinking on
other ways to do business and address the needs of our seniors and older
Californians,” she said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms,
such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some,
especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can
cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/coronavirus/budget-cuts-aimed-at-older-
adults-anger-california-lawmakers/2293312/
(David P.)
2020-06-28 04:57:48 UTC
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to cover a $54.3 billion budget
deficit includes slashing millions in spending that keep more than 45,000
people out of nursing homes — some of a series of cuts targeting older
adults who are among the most at risk for the new coronavirus.
[...]
https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/coronavirus/budget-cuts-aimed-at-older-
adults-anger-california-lawmakers/2293312/
Newsom agrees to rethink sharp California budget cuts in deal with lawmakers
By JOHN MYERS, JUNE 22, 2020, LA Times

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Newsom agreed Monday to largely abandon the far-reaching spending reductions he proposed as necessary without new federal corona relief funds, striking a budget pact with leaders of the Calif Legislature that relies on a mix of different cuts, along with a more optimistic economic outlook, to protect social services programs & public schools.

The compromise, announced in a brief statement released by Newsom & Dem legislative leaders, came one week after legislators passed a placeholder budget that met a constitutional deadline, avoiding the forfeiture of their pay. Formal approval of the final budget isn’t expected until later this week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sudden & dramatic change in our nation’s & state’s economic outlook — & has had a cascading effect on our state budget,” the statement said. “In the face of these challenges, we have agreed on a budget that is balanced, responsible & protects core services — education, health care, social safety net & emergency preparedness & response.”

No topic was more contentious than Newsom’s original plan to cut $14 bil in spending, a downsizing only to be reversed if Congress & Trump provide new corona assistance to states in early summer. The governor’s effort would have cut spending on 89 different state programs. About $8 bil of the cuts would have come from funding for K-12 schools & community colleges.

Lawmakers flatly rejected Newsom’s cuts to schools & a wide array of social services, insisting the state should extend the deadline for new fed $$ until the end of Sept before finding an additional $14 bil in budget savings.

The final agreement, outlined for The Times by legislative sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss it publicly, relies on a hybrid of two approaches to reduce spending by $12 bil. Spending cuts linked to future fed funds will be made immediately, as Newsom had wanted. But the agreed-upon cuts largely avoid major impacts to social services pgms Dem lawmakers said are vital to the state’s most vulnerable residents. Key portions of the projected deficit would be erased by using part of the state’s historically large cash reserves. The agreement, the sources said, also assumes tax revenues will be better than expected — reducing additional cuts by about $1 bil.

An estimate provided by the Newsom admin shows the final agreement relies on solutions that will shrink the projected deficit in the fiscal year that begins in the summer of 2021 down to $5 bil; the legislative budget plan would have left a shortfall of $13.5 bil.

“This is a multiyear framework,” Newsom said on Monday during an event to discuss the state’s response to COVID-19. “We have a lot of work to do over the next few years.”

The governor & legislative leaders highlighted the budget deal’s protection of funding for K-12 schools, largely left at current service levels — a notable outcome, given the sharp decline in tax revs & with school spending the largest part of the state’s general fund. While legislators abandoned their effort to adjust school spending for inflation, education advocates believe most districts will be able to maintain ops as they were in the prior academic year.

The budget also gives schools a one-time boost of about $5 bil from the state’s portion of the federal CARES Act, earmarked to help cover distance learning & other unexpected costs related to the pandemic.

Maintaining current school services won’t be easy, as the budget agreement spreads out the state’s funding for those services over several years. School districts will have to use cash reserves or borrow money to foot the bill for about $12.5 bil in expenses that the state would normally be required to cover. While similar deferrals of state education spending were used extensively during the Great Recession, the amount of delayed funding grew toward the end of private negotiations. And budget advisors say up to $6 bil of the IOUs to schools can be canceled if the fed funds materialize.

While some school districts may struggle with providing cash to be repaid later, Newsom said the budget will prohibit teacher layoffs.

“That was foundational, important, something we all care deeply about,” he said Monday.

But other proposed cuts, according to legislative sources, grew deeper in the final deal & were more in alignment with Newsom’s original budget plan. That includes $970 mil less for the Univ of Cal & Cal State Univ systems, combined. Programs aiming to provide more housing for low- & middle-income Californians will be cut by $250 mil. And court ops across the state will be cut by $150 mil.

County govts, which have lost tax revs during the fast-moving recession that pay for public safety & health pgms, would receive $750 mil to fund those svcs — less than the $1 bil local officials asked for during the negotiations. The remaining $250 mil would only be allocated if new fed relief arrives.

“It’s a tough budget for all of us,” Newsom said Fri during a visit to a Sacramento restaurant to promote his pgm for helping shut-in seniors to receive meals during the pandemic. “The magnitude of the shortfall is unprecedented in the state’s history.”

The budget agreement also includes new tax revs. It cancels $4.4 bil in tax breaks primarily used by biz tax filers, an effort roundly criticized by Repubs in the Legislature during the vote on the legislative budget this week.

Legislators set aside less $$ for the state’s COVID-19 response, rejecting Newsom’s plan to essentially prepay costs that should be reimbursed by FEMA.

The budget agreement boosts some spending, adding $350 mil for homelessness pgms. It also expands Calif’s tax credit for its poorest residents to those who have only an employer ID #, not a SocSec #, often because they lack legal immigration status.

State govt workers will bear some $2.8 bil of the budget cuts, with those represented by Service Employees Int'l Union Local 1000 taking two furlough days/month & delaying until 2022 a pay increase that was supposed to go into effect July 1. A separate furlough plan was agreed to last week by the union representing correctional officers. With other groups of workers, the deal provides Newsom the power to impose some furloughs on his own.

“To be clear, this budget required some tough decisions & more work remains ahead,” the statement released by Newsom & legislative leaders said.

Marathon talks between Newsom & lawmakers ran thru two consecutive weekends & late into most evenings before Monday’s announcement. In the decade since voters loosened the legislative threshold for passing a budget, the process has generally produced quick agreements between Dem governors & legislators, though last year’s deal was delayed by disagreements over how to address the state’s housing crisis.

In reality, Calif has no real deadline for a final agreement — instead requiring the initial budget bill to be ratified by June 15 to prevent lawmakers from losing their pay, followed up by a series of budget-enacting bills approved on a more flexible timeline. A 2014 court ruling determined only the overview budget plan is subject to the June 15 constitutional deadline, with revisions & additional decisions allowed weeks or even months after the fiscal year begins July 1.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-06-22/gavin-newsom-budget-deal-california-legislature-coronavirus-deficit
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