Here Come the Lawsuits

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It's almost as predictable as the swallows returning to Capistrano.

Every year after the state budget is finally passed, groups and organizations that feel unfairly treated sue to reverse their losses.

This year is no exception, and the stakes are much higher than normal because of the cuts that have been administered to public education and social services programs for the past several years.

These groups now feel that they are at the end of their rope and are asking the courts to undo the legislature's decisions.

Various groups have filed suit to recover more than $4 billion in lost state funds.

They include:

  • Public school administrators who claim the state has illegally diverted $2.1 billion from schools
  • Redevelopment agencies who argue that California has illegally withheld $1.7 billion
  • The League of California Cities with the claim that the state has diverted $130 million in motor vehicle taxes due to local governments
  • Disability groups that contend the state has illegally cut nearly $100 million for the developmentally disabled.

In addition to the more than $4 billion at stake via law suits, California is wrangling with the federal government over its intent to slash more than $1.7 billion from Medi-Cal payments.

The jury is out on whether the feds will allow the state to do so. Combined, these lingering issues add up to about $6 billion, a rather large chunk of the $85 billion state budget.

They also come at a time when California's projected revenues for the fiscal year are already $700 million short of expectations.

It remains to be seen whether any of these suits will prevail, although many have in the past.

One fact is certain, the more that the courts side with these aggrieved groups, the more that the state will be pressed to reconstruct its already questionable budget.

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