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Calif. Lawmakers Expedite Half-Billion Dollar Budget Bill As Part Of Tax Bargain

Democrats in the Senate and Assembly are just shy of the two-thirds majority required to pass tax changes. So, in the negotiations about how to revise a tax on managed care organizations, Republicans have had rare leverage.

The federal government has told the state to change how it applies the tax or risk losing more than a billion dollars in federal funding for Medi-Cal.

Assembly Republicans have listed a set of conditions the Brown administration and Democratic lawmakers would have to meet in order to garner the votes required to pass the tax.

That includes structuring the tax so it does not raise the cost on insurers or opposition from anti-tax groups.

Tuesday, the California state Senate and Assembly budget committees each passed versions of a half-billion dollar spending bill, as another part of a bipartisan deal.

The budget bill includes over $400 million dollars to pay down state transportation loans and retiree benefits, and about two million dollars to train more doctors in the Central Valley, both of which Republicans demanded. But Democrats say they support them, too.

"This is something Democrats can clearly live with. And they’re good policy," says Democratic Senate leader Kevin de Léon.

Lawmakers also included over $100 million to remove damaged trees and other debris from last year's wildfires.

The budget bill, the revised MCO tax and a bill to add funding for developmental disability services--another condition of Republicans that Democrats support--could all come up for votes together Thursday.

Ben Bradford

State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covers California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio