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In the dispute over whether Gov. Jerry Brown's budget should do more to repair the state's tattered safety net, the fate of a planned cut in Medi-Cal payments to providers has taken a prominent role. A coalition of health insurance firms (among them Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California), medical professional associations (including the California Hospital Association and the California Medical Association) and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West is busing thousands of advocates to Sacramento today for a huge Medi-Cal rally.

Lawmakers expected to speak during between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. include Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville. There are a couple of bills dealing with Medi-Cal payments before the Legislature right now -- the one authored by Alejo made it out of the Assembly while the Senate version was re-referred to committee -- and Brown's proposed budget includes a 10-percent reduction that has been ensnared in a court fight since being approved in 2011 but was just upheld by a federal appeals court.

VIDEO: Dan Walters contemplates the obstacles in the way of the Legislature passing a budget on time.

SAFETY UNDERGROUND: Concerns about excavation safety burst to the surface with the San Bruno pipeline explosion back in 2010, and a subcommittee on gas and electricity infrastructure is taking a look. Starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 3191.

CONSULTANTS CONFER: The American Association of Political Consultants is holding a conference today at the Sheraton Grand, where attendees will hear panels on topics that range from international elections to the intersection of sports and politics (featuring The Bee's Marcus Breton and some prominent operatives talking about the still-of-Sacramento Kings) to a talk on ballot initiatives moderated by strategist Garry South. Democratic Party chair John Burton and California Republican party chair Jim Brulte will spar in a lunchtime talk on the state of California's political parties, moderated by USC professor and former Fair Political Practices Commission chief Dan Schnur.

CONTRACTORS COLLECT: Also in town are participants in the Associated General Contractors of America's lobby day. In a morning session at the California Chamber of Commerce building on K Street, members will discuss topics like workplace safety and transportation funding and will hear from Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, CalTrans director Malcolm Dougherty, Department of Industrial Relations director Christine Baker and Steve Sands of the Contractors State License Board.

STUDENT DEBT: Student loans have been back in the news lately, with the president and Congress squaring off over a coming rate hike, and today a Public Policy Institute of California talk is examining the implications of rising tuition and a cumulative student debt load that is nearing $1 trillion. Speakers include David Alcocer, interim director of student financial support for the University of California, Debbie Cochrane of the Institute for College Access and Success and Hans Johnson and David Lesher of PPIC. From noon to 1:30 p.m. at the CSAC Conference Center.

LATINO PRIORITIES: Members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus are going to be laying out their agenda today during a 3 p.m. media briefing. After that, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, and members of the caucus are heading over to the California Downtown Association conference room on L street for a Dolores Huerta Foundation fundraiser, which trains community organizers. Huerta will be there as well, along with what is expected to be more than a dozen lawmakers.

PHOTO CREDIT: History is repeating itself at the Capitol as advocates rally against Medi-Cal cuts, just as they did during this April 15, 2008 demonstration organized by the California Medical Association. By Brian Baer/The Sacramento Bee.



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