The overseer of health care in California state prisons has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to circumvent state lawmakers by using an emergency declaration to proceed with a $7-billion plan to build medical beds, reports the Los Angeles Times. Last month, Republicans in the state Senate blocked passage of the plan by court-appointed receiver J. Clark Kelso and endorsed by Schwarzenegger to borrow money to construct 10,000 beds in up to seven facilities for ailing and mentally ill inmates and to renovate existing prison clinics.
After the Senate’s rejection, Kelso issued a demand that the state provide the money he needs, regardless of whether it is borrowed or comes directly from state coffers. Yesterday, Kelso went further by proposing that Schwarzenegger use his authority under a prison overcrowding emergency he declared in 2006 to execute a contract with the receiver for the construction and funding. Lisa Page, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, said he had not decided whether to go along with Kelso’s new plan. “We think it’s much better to work with the Legislature on a solution than go around them,” she said.