California Republican legislators have rejected a $7 billion plan to add 10,000 new health care beds to California’s prison system, reports the Sacramento Bee. Democrats more early inmate releases and a gaping new budget hole. The plan, conceived by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and federal receiver J. Clark Kelso, was intended to help the state provide constitutional levels of health care to prisoners in two federal class-action cases. It called for the state to issue $6.9 billion in bonds to build the 10,000 beds.
Kelso said he will get the money with or without lawmakers’ approval – even if it means taking it directly from California’s already cash-strapped budget. “In order to correct the health care related unconstitutional conditions which plague California’s prisons, the receiver requires immediate access to these funds to effectuate timely and cost-effective remedial action,” Kelso said. Republicans said they needed to shoot down the proosal because it represented only a partial solution to California’s prison overcrowding crisis. They want fixes to prison construction plans approved last year, arguing that the state should provide more space for higher-security inmates. A court hearing is scheduled today on a draft legal settlement billed as offering California a path to resolving its prison problems.