State Senate Rejects Prison Bonds Again: Deficit Could Grow
The California State Senate has once again rejected a seven billion dollar bond package to build new medical and mental health care facilities in the state’s prisons. The move could worsen a potential state cash crunch.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The money was requested by the man appointed by a federal court to bring health care in prisons up to constitutional standards – receiver Clark Kelso. The Senate twice rejected the measure this week. Kelso, in a sharply-worded letter to the Department of Finance, is now demanding 70 million dollars right away to keep the construction of new medical facilities on track. He says he needs another 3.4 billion next fiscal year, and 3.5 billion in 2010. That would worsen the state’s budget deficit, which already stands at more than 15 billion dollars. That means if lawmakers dawdle on working out a budget, the state could run out of cash by the summer. The Schwarzenegger Administration supported the plan, but Republicans rejected the measure, saying it was premature, given a potential court settlement on prison overcrowding.