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Calif. Prisons Receiver Asks Court to Force State to Pay Up

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

 

The state's budget mess just got a little messier. The man in charge of medical care at state prisons is asking a court to force California to pay for upgrading care. And it could add a few billion to the already massive deficit. From Sacramento Marianne Russ reports.

 

Receiver Clark Kelso was appointed by a federal judge to improve care in the state's prisons. He says the state is required to foot the bill. But California is not complying:

 

Kelso: The legislature, Governor and Controller have made deliberate choices to reject the Receiver's funding requests."

 

Kelso says he's running out of money. So he's asked a court to force the state to pay for his $8 billion construction plan to build 10,000 new medical beds. He wants to fine California $2 million a day if it doesn't comply. Kelso is also asking the court to hold the Governor and the Controller in contempt. He says he needs three billion dollars this fiscal year. That would add to the state's $15 billion deficit.

 

Kelso: I cannot permit the sate's fiscal and budget meltdown to interfere with my federal and constitutional mandate to improve healthcare in California's prisons.

 

Senate Republicans twice rejected a plan to borrow the money for Kelso's construction. Both the Controller and the Schwarzenegger administration still support some kind of borrowing to ease the pressure on the state's cash crunch. The Assembly Republican Leader calls Kelso's move "extreme" and says he hopes he'll reconsider.

 

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