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Children's Vision Care Saved As Gov. Brown Signs $8 Billion In Cuts

Paresh Dave |
March 24, 2011 | 1:46 p.m. PDT

Deputy Editor

Gov. Jerry Brown approved more than $8 billion in spending cuts and about $3 billion in money transfers and loans on Thursday, closing about 40 percent of California's budget deficit.

"I came here not to kid anybody or to engage in gimmicks, but to live within our means," Brown said after signing a series of bills to reduce the amount of money spent on areas such as health care, higher education, social services and the courts.

"California's massive budget shortfall driven by the nation's still weak economy has resulted in deep cuts that will limit young Californians' ability to obtain a college education, place thousands of the state's children at risk of homelessness, and make it immeasurably tougher for parents to move from welfare to work," said Jean Ross of the California Budget Project, an independent fiscal and policy research group.

To make the rest of the deficit disappear, Brown still wants state lawmakers to eliminate redevelopment agencies, a business tax loophole and enterprise zones. Under his plan, they also need to place a measure before voters in a mid-to-late-June special election that would ask Californians to approve five-year extensions of higher rates of income, sales and vehicle taxes.

Should the tax proposal never make the ballot, or make the ballot and be turned down by voters, Brown warned deep cuts would have to be made to the services Californians care about most--schools and public safety.

"The next round of cuts will be much more painful and much more disruptive," he said.

Republicans have so far refused to support the idea of placing a tax measure before voters.

"I besiege my Republican colleagues let the voters decide what the state of California looks like for the next few years," Brown said, calling it a "precondition to devasting so much of public service."

Legislators did amend the original vision Brown had for cuts. They reduced the amount of a reserve fund and relied more on shifts of money from one fund to another. This allowed them to save some programs from complete elimination, including vision care for children who are enrolled in the Healthy Families Program.

Whereas an eye appointment and glasses may cost $100, children in a family not wealthy enough to afford regular health care insurance but not poor enough to qualify for Medi-Cal can get vision, dental and health care four about $250. Brown proposed saving $11 million by taking away vision benefits. The Legislature took away only $3 million by blocking only some providers and certain lenses from coverage.

We recently checked in with one college student who benefitted from Healthy Families:

Bills Signed

AB 95 – Resources

AB 97 – Health Services

AB 99 – Proposition 10

AB 100 – Proposition 63

AB 105 – Transportation

SB 70 – Education

SB 72 – Human Services

SB 74 – Developmental Services

SB 78 – Judiciary

SB 80 – General Government

SB 82 – Cash Resources

SB 84 – Loans and Transfers

SB 86 – Tax Enforcement




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