Healthcare and education reform were key themes of Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address Thursday in which he called for the Legislature to convene a special session to work out issues involving the state’s compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act.
"Our health benefit exchange, called Covered California, will begin next year providing insurance to nearly one million Californians," Brown said. "Over the rest of this decade, California will steadily reduce the number of uninsured."
But he said it will be "incredibly complex" to implement a broader expansion of Medi-Cal called for by the federal law.
"Working out the right relationship with the counties will test our ingenuity and will not be achieved overnight," Brown told legislators packed into the Assembly chamber. "Given the costs involved, great prudence should guide every step of the way."
On education, Brown called on legislators to approve his plan to cut categorical programs and put more decision-making authority back at the local level with school boards.
"I am asking you to approve a brand new Local Control Funding Formula which would distribute supplemental funds -- over an extended period of time -- to school districts based on the real-world problems they face," Brown said. "This formula recognizes the fact that a child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help."
Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the details would have to be worked out about how the money is spent and on what kind of educational efforts.
"The idea of giving lower-income, disadvantaged students more resources is absolutely the right direction," Steinberg said. "The question as we formulate policy going forward is how to make sure that that extra money actually goes toward the proven practices and the strategies that will help those students achieve. That’s where the work will be.''ALSO:
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown gives his State of the State address at the Capitol. To the left is Assembly Speaker John Perez; at right is Senate President Darrell Steinberg. Credit: Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee