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Brown asks Obama administration for help with state budget

February 8, 2011 |  2:45 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown met with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Sacramento Tuesday to ask for federal help to solve the state’s budget problem.

Brown’s budget hinges on $3.7 billion in cuts that must first be OKd by the federal government. The governor’s plan to shift certain state services to the counties also needs the Obama administration’s approval, Brown said.

“I met with the secretary this morning and asked her for waivers so that we can implement some of our realignment programs without the federal government getting in the way or blocking them,” Brown said Tuesday. He characterized Sebelius as “receptive but it isn’t worked out yet. We have still some things to work on.”

Among the cuts proposed by Brown that would need federal approval are $1.7 billion to Medi-Cal, $300 million in in-home healthcare and other cuts to mental health programs.

Brown said the federal government is “going to be reluctant” to approve some of those waivers but “we hope they go along with it.”

Brown made his comments Tuesday after meeting with Senate Democrats in the Capitol. He will meet with Assembly Democrats over dinner in Sacramento on Tuesday evening. Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet with both Republican caucuses and Thursday he'll address the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Brown said he was cautiously optimistic about getting bipartisan support for his budget plan in the next several weeks, a plan that he called a “wrenching adjustment” in the level of services the state can provide.

“I want the Republicans to be part of it,” he said. “I want them to own the budget, just like the Democrats. I don’t want anybody hiding out.”

“I think we have a reasonable chance of getting there,” he said, adding that the current unanimous public Republican opposition is just “part of the process.”

“I think there is enough Republicans to vote for this budget,” he said.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

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