SACRAMENTO — A controversial proposal to block the payment of state funds to family planning clinics that refer women for abortions was rejected Friday by the Legislature's budget-writing conference committee.
Without debate, the committee voted 4 to 2 to remove the provision that had been inserted into the proposed 1986-87 budget by the Senate last week after an emotional debate in which Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) likened Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan.
Last year, the same language was rejected by the Legislature but left in the budget through a clerical error. It was later thrown out by a state appeals court as unconstitutional.
The provision would have prevented the state from spending up to $26 million to subsidize family planning clinics--including 16 operated by Planned Parenthood--that assist women in obtaining abortions.
Provision Left Intact
At the same time, the conference committee left intact a provision that would limit state funding for abortions only to those cases in which a woman is the victim of rape or incest, the mother's life is endangered by the pregnancy, or the fetus suffers severe abnormalities.
This provision, sought by Gov. George Deukmejian, has also been struck down by the courts in previous years. Several Democratic committee members indicated that they were willing to accept the language this year on the assumption that it will again be thrown out.
As the budget panel neared the completion of a final version of the spending plan that would take effect July 1, it also adopted a toxics budget designed to bolster enforcement and expand the cleanup of abandoned sites and leaking underground tanks.
The committee unanimously approved the addition of 158 employees to aid in the cleanup of an estimated 34,000 underground tanks, of which more than half are estimated to be leaking and potentially contaminating water supplies.
Toxic Cleanup Plan
Another 30 state workers would be hired to search out and clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites. More than 50 employees would be enlisted in efforts to strengthen the enforcement of the state's hazardous waste laws, according to Assemblyman Lloyd G. Connelly (D-Sacramento), who helped draft the toxics plan.
The panel also voted to establish "strike forces" of prosecutors in nine key counties to crack down on polluters. These would be modeled on a successful program operated by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, Connelly said.
The conference committee is scheduled to complete its work Sunday so that both houses can approve a final version of the budget by the end of next week and send it to the governor.