California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing accelerating hospital construction to help jump-start the state economy as part of a broad stimulus, taxation and cost-cutting plan.
The governor proposes streamlining the permit-and-review process for nonstructural hospital construction projects under $2 million, which could reduce the wait times for already-planned projects from 10 months to as little as two weeks.
This would accelerate $160 million of in the pipeline hospital construction projects into the economy, while boosting employment in construction sectors hurt by the housing crisis, according to the governors office.
Hundreds of hospital construction projects are under way around the state, largely because of seismic-safety-standard deadlines looming in 2013 and 2015. The California Hospital Association could not be immediately reached for comment.
Schwarzenegger also proposed more cuts to Medicaid, including eliminating dental services to adults and lowering eligibility requirements, in a package of $4.5 billion in cuts to the current budget. His plan calls for $4.7 billion in tax hikes, including a temporary 1.5% sales tax increase and taxes on oil production and alcohol. The state has an $11.2 billion deficit, and unemployment is at 7.7%. The proposals must be approved by the Legislature, which has been called back for a special session to address the faltering state economy.
Overtime exemptions for executives and administrative leaders making more than $100,000 annually and more flexibility in work schedules and meal and rest-period laws for all workers were also included in the governor's stimulus plan.
The California Hospital Association, in a written statement, called the governor's proposals necessary, adding that "hospitals will be able to undertake lower cost construction projects without regulatory delays." -- by Rebecca Vesely
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