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California prison receiver wants $8B

Aug. 13, 2008 at 9:36 PM

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The court-appointed overseer of the California prison healthcare system Wednesday asked a federal judge to give the prison medical system $8 billion.

J. Clark Kelso, the federal receiver, asked U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson to hold Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Controller John Chiang in contempt of court, the Los Angeles Times reported.

For now, prison funding is held up in a partisan standoff over the state budget, the newspaper reported.

"We have fully explored and exhausted every avenue for securing this funding in a manner that least affects California's budget and immediate cash needs," Kelso said. "But the state's leaders have failed to act."

Kelso is building seven new healthcare facilities for 10,000 inmates. Additionally, he is renovating existing clinics at the state's 33 prisons.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the administration "will continue to work cooperatively with the receiver and the Legislature to move forward in a fiscally responsible way to provide the necessary funding for the receiver's efforts."

For his part, Chiang, who disburses money to pay the state's bills, said he could not legally pay any expenses without legislative authorization or a court order.

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