Healthcare cuts imminent after California voters dismiss deficit reduction plans

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Voters in California can expect significant cuts to healthcare services and education programs after rejecting a series of ballot measures Tuesday that would have filled part of the state's $21 billion budget gap.

Up to $600 million will now likely be sliced from the state's health and human services budget as a result of the overwhelming "no" vote. Of the six ballot measures, only one—a rule that would prevent lawmakers and the governor from receiving a raise during years in which the state's budget is in deficit—passed. The rest, which comprised a combination of tax hikes, earmarks and borrowing designed to reduce the state's budget deficit, failed as unhappy California voters were eager to show their displeasure at the Legislature's job performance.

California has a long history of budget impasses. The most recent one was resolved after nearly three months of heated debate. Many nursing home providers nearly went bankrupt during that time (McKnight's, 9/24/08). Lawmakers must now search for money to plug this year's budget gap, and the first place they chose to look is healthcare and education.