Federal Receiver Ups the Ante

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Receiver Clark Kelso has a request for his boss – a federal judge. He wants to add State Controller John Chiang as a defendant in the case that forced the court to take over prison health care. Kelso is charged with bringing care at prisons up to constitutional standards. He says he needs seven billion dollars to build thousands of new medical beds. Twice, the state Senate has rejected a proposal to borrow the money to pay for the project. And the State Controller says the general fund is short on cash. Kelso says that doesn’t matter: "What is much more likely to be the case is monies that it has are already committed for other purposes, but frankly that is not going to be an excuse for failing to fund a federally required program.” Kelso says he’s prepared to ask the judge to order the state to pay up. Controller John Chiang says that would put California at risk of defaulting on debt and other payments. He says the state would have to tap funds earmarked by voters for other programs – and that could result in costly litigation