Capitol Alert: Budget deal to reject home-care overtime restrictions

06/12/2014 2:37 PM

06/12/2014 3:29 PM

The budget pact coming together at the state Capitol will reject limits on overtime for in-home care workers sought by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown's $107.8 billion general fund plan capped the number of hours for in-home workers, with the goal of preventing payments required by federal regulations set to take effect next January. The administration had warned that the rule could increase home-care costs by more than $600 million by June 2016.

But in-home care workers, the unions that represent them and many of their Democratic allies in the Legislature criticized the proposal, saying it would sharply reduce their take-home income and disrupt their clients' lives. The Assembly and Senate budgets contained $66 million for overtime payments.

It was unclear, though, if the plan would restore a 7 percent cut in home-care service hours. Assembly and Senate budgets included $140 million for the restoration.

Brown and legislative leaders continued to meet Thursday to iron out details of the final package, with the Legislature's budget-writing committee expected to convene later to take up items dealing with resources, health, welfare and other issues.

Lawmakers have been getting briefed on the deal, with a planned vote Sunday, the constitutional deadline to pass a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Other parts of the agreement address growth in Medi-Cal caseloads and costs as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act. Brown's revised budget pegged the unanticipated cost at $1.2 billion, but it looked increasingly likely that the final pact will reflect the viewpoint of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, which has said the administration overstates the expense by some $300 million.

The overtime issue has been among the main outstanding budget sticking points, along with how to spend cap-and-trade revenue. The agreement allocates 25 percent of cap-and-trade money to high-speed rail in 2015-16 and beyond. That is roughly comparable to the project's share of the estimated $870 million in cap-and money forecast for 2014-15.

Other recipients include affordable housing projects, which would be eligible for about $130 million of cap-and-trade money in the coming fiscal year. "We think this is a great step," said Shamus Roller, executive director of Housing California.

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