Schwarzenegger, lawmakers push for federal money
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – In their ongoing quest to bridge California’s huge budget gap, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers on Friday sent letters to congressional leaders and the Obama administration pressing for nearly $1 billion in federal aid.
In one letter, Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers urged Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to pass legislation by Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, both Democrats, that would repay states for past Medicare costs.
California officials said the bill would fix a 30-year-old federal administrative error that has shortchanged the state about $700 million. Other states also would benefit.
“Our state economic crisis demands that we press to re-establish a more fair and equitable relationship with the federal government,” said one of the letters signed by Schwarzenegger and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Assembly and state Senate.
That letter was addressed to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in Congress.
Members of California’s congressional delegation were sent a similar letter.
Schwarzenegger and state leaders also sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting a Medicare formula change that the state says could provide $250 million more in health care funding.
They said the federal government’s calculation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit has cost California because it does not account for price discounts the state negotiated with drug makers.
Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers have been lobbying for federal aid to help fill the state’s projected $20 billion budget gap.
The federal budget proposed by President Barack Obama provides about $2.1 billion of the $6.9 billion the governor is seeking from Washington.
Schwarzenegger has said he will eliminate or gut certain social programs if he does not receive all the money he is seeking.