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State Senate Rejects Bond Package for Prisons

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Aired 4/19/09

The California State Senate once again rejected a $7 billion bond package to build new medical and mental health care facilities in the state's prisons. As Marianne Russ reports, the move could actually worsen the state's budget problems. 

The money was requested by the man appointed by a federal court to bring health care in prisons up to constitutional standards, receiver Clark Kelso . The Senate twice rejected the measure this week. Kelso, in a sharply worded letter to the Department of Finance, is now demanding $70 million right away to keep the construction of new medical facilities on track. He says he needs another $3.4 billion next fiscal year, and $3.5 billion in 2010. That would worsen the state's budget deficit, which already stands at more than $15 billion. That means if lawmakers dawdle on working out a budget, the state could run out of cash by the summer. The Schwarzenegger Administration supported the plan, but Republicans rejected the measure, saying it was premature, given a potential court settlement on prison overcrowding.

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