Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 15, 2014
Hospitals pour money into California ballot campaign

sutter_health_resized.jpg

In less than three months, healthcare networks and individual hospitals have pumped more than $51 million into a proposed ballot measure meant to lock up revenue from a Legislature-approved fee on acute-care hospitals.

The measure would limit lawmakers' ability to change or repeal the "Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement Act," which lawmakers passed last year as SB 239. With hospitals' backing, the law continued a hospital quality-assurance fee first passed in 2009 through 2016.

The money helps pay for children's health coverage, Medi-Cal, and other programs. Even though hospitals pay the fee, matching federal money means a net benefit of $10 billion for the hospital industry from 2014 through 2016, according to a legislative analysis.

The proposed ballot measure would strip the Jan. 1, 2017 sunset date from the law. It also would require voter approval for any changes to it. And any attempt to repeal the law entirely would need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

In addition, the proposed initiative declares that revenue from the law and interest doesn't count against the state's school-funding guarantee.

April 15, 2014
Community college completion rate falls during recession

Los_Rios.JPGCompletion rates at the California Community Colleges have fallen steadily over the past four years, according to the first update of the system's Student Success Scorecard.

The accountability report released Tuesday, which tracks key performance measurements across the state's 112 community colleges, shows that the six-year completion rate for students seeking to earn a degree or transfer to a four-year institution fell to 48.1 percent last year.

That completion rate, for students who entered in the 2007-08 academic year, dipped 2.6 percentage points from the previous six-year cohort and was down from 52.2 percent among those who entered in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 academic years, even as thousands more students earned degrees or transferred.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris blamed the recession, during which time enrollment ballooned to more than 2.6 million while course offerings were reduced by a fifth amid budget cuts.

"These results document the damage done by years of rationing education in California," Harris said in a statement. "Students with goals of transferring competed for fewer seats at California State University and University of California. Sadly, the only transfer activity that increased was for students who could afford to go out of state."

Results were mixed for the Sacramento-area Los Rios Community College District. While most Los Rios schools have six-year completion rates lower than the statewide average, some maintained relatively steady throughout the recession.

Completion rates at Folsom Lake College fell from 48.4 percent to 47 percent over the past three years before ticking back up to 47.2 percent among the 2007-08 cohort. Cosumnes River College fluctuated between 46.8 percent and 50 percent completion over the past four years.

Sacramento City College and American River College have been hit harder. Six-year completion rates at Sacramento City climbed to 60 percent among the 2004-05 cohort, but have since fallen to 51.6 percent. American River has fallen nearly 7 percentage points over the past two years to 43.1 percent completion.

Students who entered community college prepared to do college-level work performed significantly better. Among the 2007-08 cohort, they succeeded at a 70.2 percent rate, compared to 40.5 percent for students who needed remedial education.

Like the overall completion rate, those numbers were down from previous years, though successful completion of remedial math, English and English as a second language classes have all shown consistent gains during the same period.

Community colleges across the state are currently focusing on improving transfer rates with an associate degree program that guarantees admission to CSU.

PHOTO: Eduardo Ramos, center, has his photo id picture taken on the first day of school at Los Rios Community College District expansion in Elk Grove on August 26, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

April 15, 2014
State tax revenue continues to outpace estimates

brownbudget.JPGState tax revenue continued to outpace budget estimates last month, with year-to-date revenue now $1.4 billion more than the Brown administration projected, the state Department of Finance reported Tuesday.

The report is the last benchmark ahead of April, a heavy month for income tax revenue. Last month, personal income tax revenues to the general fund came in $274 million above estimates, while corporate tax revenues exceeded estimates by $110 million, according to the Department of Finance.

Sales and use tax receipts were $12 million below the forecast for the month of $1.6 billion.

If revenue remains higher than projected in coming months, Gov. Jerry Brown is likely to face increased pressure from Democratic lawmakers and social service advocates to free up spending. Brown has proposed a $154.9 billion spending plan for next fiscal year that includes modest increases for social services and schools, but also billions of dollars to address long-term debt. A surplus also makes it likely the administration would implement contract provisions to increase pay for state employees.

The governor will release a revised budget proposal in May.

PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, left, Gov. Jerry Brown, center, and Assembly Speaker John A. PĂ©rez, right, celebrate a budget deal with a formal announcement at the Capitol on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

April 15, 2014
AM Alert: Californians split on Congress, own representatives

Capitol_Building_Washington_Congress.jpgLike the rest of the country, California voters hold a deeply negative view of the job performance of the U.S. Congress: Just 13 percent approve of the work of the nation's lawmakers in a new Field Poll, compared to 79 percent who disapprove. That's a slight uptick from last fall, when Congress' approval rate in California hit a two-year low in the wake of October's government shutdown.

Things improve considerably, however, when Californians reflect on their own representatives: 44 percent of poll respondents gave their congressperson a positive assessment, while 33 percent gave them negative marks. That could be good news for House members facing tough campaigns this fall, as 46 percent of California voters are inclined to re-elect their representatives in November.

Who is most unhappy with Congress? Reporter Christopher Cadelago has more in his story. Here are the statistical tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert.

GETTING OFF TRACK: Amid legal uncertainty for the project's funding plan, calls to cancel the state's proposed high-speed rail system and spend the money elsewhere have increased in recent months. Look for a response from Dan Richard, chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, when he addresses the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco at 6 p.m.

TAX DAY: Tax returns are due today, so state controller John Chiang kicks off the morning with tips and advice, 7 a.m. at the Franchise Tax Board on Butterfield Way.

Meanwhile, the NorCal Tea Party Patriots are hosting a "freedom march" to the Capitol, starting at 11 a.m. at the Tower Bridge. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association president Jon Coupal and local congressional candidate Igor Birman are among those scheduled to speak at a noon rally on the west steps.

PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol, with the Senate at right and the House of Representatives at far left, is seen in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 2013. The Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite



FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

Capitol Alert Staff


Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. jmiller@sacbee.com. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. akoseff@sacbee.com. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

More Capitol Alert

Capitol Alert on Twitter

FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Watch Bee news, lifestyle videos | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying

Popular Categories

Categories


April 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      

Monthly Archives


Latest California Clips