State Budget Update: Brown’s New Compromise Tax Initiative
Governor Brown and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) reached a compromise deal in March on a ballot initiative to raise revenues for critical state programs. The year started off with three measures fighting to qualify for the November 2012 ballot. However, the Governor’s new compromise tax plan with CFT, the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, narrows the number down to two. The competitor to the Governor’s proposed initiative is Molly Munger’s measure Our Children, Our Future.
The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 aims to raise billions of dollars for K-14 education thereby freeing up general fund money to support other state programs by:
Raising income taxes on the wealthiest Californians for 7 years:
- 1% tax increase on single filers making $250,000 or more and joint filers making $500,000 or more (up from 9.3% to 10.3%).
- 2% tax increase on single filers making $300,000 or more and joint filers making $600,000 or more (up from 9.3% to 11.3%).
- 3% tax increase on single filers making $500,000 or more and joint filers making $1 million or more (up from 9.3% to 12.3%).
Raising the state sales and use tax by ¼ cent (a penny for every $4 spent) for 4 years.
In addition to raising revenues, the Governor’s ballot initiative guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state agencies to local governments in 2011. The initiative would ensure that if revenues dedicated to realignment dropped or were eliminated, the state would provide alternative funding at least equal to what would have been generated for realignment for as long as local governments are required to operate the realigned programs. Furthermore, the measure would limit the state's ability to make changes to the programs and revenues shifted to local governments in 2011. Changes made to realigned programs after September 2012 would be required to (a) impose no new costs to local governments or (b) provide additional funds to local governments by the state for any changes. For further details, read the Legislative Analyst’s Office overview of the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012.
The Munger Proposal aims to raise revenue for education programs by:
Raising taxes on all Californians:
- Even the lowest-income families and individuals in the state would see a tax increase. Tax rate increases would range from 0.4% on taxable incomes between $14,632 and $34,692 and 2.2% on taxable incomes over $3 million.
Funds raised through the Munger proposal would be mostly dedicated to K-12 education and early care and education programs. Learn more about the Munger tax proposal on their website.
Exchange Board Meeting Focuses on Marketing, Outreach & Enrollment
The California Health Benefit Exchange Board held its first meeting outside of Sacramento on March 22nd. The meeting drew a healthy crowd of community groups and stakeholders from the Fresno area. Executive Director Peter Lee provided updates on personnel matters and administrative issues. David Panush, Director of Government Relations, provided an update on the recently released federal final rule on health exchanges and qualified health plans. Following the director’s updates, three panels of presenters provided information to the Board on issues and considerations related to marketing, outreach, and enrollment assistors and navigators.
Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Labor Center shared research findings from California Simulation of Insurance Markets (CalSIM) modeling on health insurance coverage take-up under the ACA. The CalSIM modeling analyzed insurance coverage projections under a basic and enhanced enrollment trends. According to results from the modeling, even under an enhanced enrollment scenario, a pool of over 3 million Californians will remain uninsured. Undocumented immigrants will account for 1 million of the residually uninsured in the state.
Maggie Linden and Lizelda Lopez of Ogilvy and Associates, the contractor selected to conduct research for the Exchange on marketing, outreach, and the Exchange assistors program, provided an update on their research plan and timeline. They are expected to present a report to the Board summarizing their findings by the May meeting. Speakers on the assistors and navigators panel shared information about the different enrollment support roles played by health promotores, insurance brokers and agents, children’s coverage and health initiatives and county agencies. Community Health Councils commented on the need to leverage the state’s enrollment entities and certified application assistors network to support enrollment in 2014. For materials from the meeting or to view a webcast, visit the California Health Benefit Exchange Board.
California’s Commitment to Health Reform
The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in June. Two key issues argued before the Court last month were whether the individual mandate is constitutional and whether the Medicaid expansion is an infringement on states’ rights.
California has invested deeply in health reform with the bridge to reform 1115 waiver, the creation of the Exchange Board, and the launch of Low Income Health Programs in 47 counties already enrolling individuals who will be eligible for Medi-Cal come 2014. A Kaiser Family Foundation report indicates that as the law stands now, federal dollars would pay for almost 94% of the cost of the additional enrollees through 2019. If the Medicaid expansion is overturned by the Supreme Court, California would no longer be able to count on the $45 billion in federal aid to pay for the expansion in 2014-2019. California’s Health and Human Services secretary, Diana Dooley, insisted that California will move forward with reform regardless of the Court’s decision.
Counties to Pilot Dual Eligibles' Transition to Managed Care
Four counties were selected to participate in the Governor’s Dual Eligibles Demonstration Project: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and San Mateo. Pending legislation in Sacramento would expand the pilot to ten counties.
Of the 1.1 million dual eligibles in California, approximately 800,000 live in the proposed counties. The plan calls for passive enrollment and allows patients to opt out of the pilot. HealthNet and CalOptima have already been selected to participate in the project for Los Angeles and Orange counties respectively. Comments are being accepted on the demonstration project through May 4th, 2012. Read the description of the Dual Eligibles Demonstration Project and learn how to submit comments.
Healthy Food in California’s General Plans
AB 1897, which would require all cities and counties to incorporate a healthy food element into their comprehensive land-use planning documents known as general plans, passed the California State Assembly Committee on Rules on March 29, with 10 supporting and 0 opposing votes. The healthy food element would ensure that equitable healthy food access is a primary consideration in planning and development initiatives in local communities throughout the state.
The healthy food element would be subject to specific guidelines, but would also allow local municipalities to develop ordinances around healthy food access relevant to the unique dynamics in their communities. Some health advocates believe that AB 1897 could undermine efforts by local governments to incorporate more comprehensive “health and wellness” elements in their general plans. Health and wellness elements typically contain health-oriented land-use policies that not only address equitable healthy food access, but also healthcare accessibility, physical activity resources, and other factors in the built environment that impact communities’ health. AB 1897 is scheduled to be heard by the State Assembly Committee on Local Government on May 9th. For more information, please contact CHC Policy Analyst Breanna Morrison.
April Hunger Action Day Advocacy Trainings
Hunger Action Los Angeles is working in partnership with Community Health Councils, Neighborhood Legal Services, and Inner City Struggle to conduct a series of interactive educational trainings on California food security policy and advocacy throughout the month of April. The training workshops will be facilitated in South LA, East LA and North Long Beach in an effort to equip community members with the skills and knowledge necessary to educate their state legislators on important policy initiatives regarding health and food access. The South LA workshops will be held at Community Health Councils on Thursday, April 26th from 3-5pm and 6-8pm. The date and location of the North Long Beach workshops are to be determined. For more information about the workshops, or to RSVP, please contact Frank Tamborello at Hunger Action LA or 213.388.8228.