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Key panel wraps up budget work, axes redevelopment

March 3, 2011 |  5:58 pm

State lawmakers on a key budget panel finished crafting a spending plan Thursday that included the complete elimination of the state’s redevelopment program.

The panel’s action sets the stage for a potential vote on both floors of the Legislature next week on a budget plan. The proposal that Democratic legislators adopted over Republican objections hews closely to the plan Gov. Jerry Brown outlined in January.

Brown, in a written statement, praised lawmakers for making “some bold decisions.”

"I commend their work and their willingness to face the tough challenges that this year’s budget presents,” the governor said.

The approved package includes $14 billion in tax increases and severe cuts across an array of state services, though fewer than Brown had proposed.

On Thursday, legislators on the joint budget committee voted to eliminate the state’s network of day care centers for the elderly and frail, to save $178 million. They softened the blow, however, by earmarking $85 million of the savings to form a new, smaller program. Democrats also cut deeper than they had previously into welfare grants, trimming them by 8%. And they voted to implement a cap on the number of doctor visits a Medi-Cal patient can have per year to seven, though exemptions for medical need would be allowed.

“We put pounds of flesh on the scale to help balance this budget,” said committee Chairman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills).

One of the most contentious issues was Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies. Democratic lawmakers on the panel sided with Brown, saving $1.7 billion, though supporters of the program called the move unconstitutional and threatened to sue.

Republicans objected to the elimination of redevelopment, as they did to many parts of the Democratic plan. Closed-door negotiations are expected to continue in an attempt to bridge the partisan divide as Brown presses the Legislature to approve his plan by March 10. He needs at least four GOP votes to place his tax proposal on the ballot.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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