Californias prison healthcare receiver has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to use his emergency powers to fund a $7 billion plan to build 10,000 new medical beds and upgrade other medical facilities in an ongoing quest to bring prison healthcare up to constitutionally required standards.
Court-appointed receiver J. Clark Kelso made the request to the governors legal affairs office after Republican state senators refused to endorse his spending proposal, saying it was too costly.
Kelso is now asking the governor to use his authority under a prison overcrowding emergency declaration, issued in 2006, to bankroll the proposal. The governors office is considering the receivers request, but is reluctant to take money from the general fund considering the state is facing a $17 billion deficit, said Lisa Page, a spokeswoman for the governor. The governor would prefer to work with the Legislature to fund the proposal by issuing lease-revenue bonds, which would be more cost-effective, she said.
Under the order of a federal judge, Kelso ultimately could force the state to fund the new facilities, but has not yet taken that step. -- by Rebecca Vesely