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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« March 2006 | | May 2006 »
April 29, 2006

Angelides gets Dem endorsement

The treasurer gets 67 percent of the vote from the party's convention delegates.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:29 PM



Spending the windfall

In advance of the governor's revised budget next month, I'd like to take (and post) suggestions for how you think the state should spend, or not spend, the windfall that has come in to tax collectors this month. Let's start with the conservative assumption that there is "only" $4 billion to deal with, and it's all one-time revenue.

Here are some ideas I have heard already:

1. Don't spend it. Save it in a reserve in case the economy craters or to help cover the still-substantial structural deficit next year.

2. A down-payment on the governor's infrastructure plan, starting with fixing the levees.

3. My favorite so far: Give $3 billion to the schools in a one-time payment to satisfy the obligation the education lobby claims the state owes the schools. But require districts to dedicate the money to paying for unfunded retiree health benefit obligations if they have any. If they are free and clear, they can spend it on anything they wish.

4. A tax rebate to low-income and middle-income taxpayers to make up for the wage gains they didn't get as the upper-income folks made all the money that probably generated most of these taxes.

Other ideas?

email me at
dweintraub@sacbee.com


Posted by dweintraub at 4:35 PM



Income tax payments up 40 percent in April

More numbers from the Franchise Tax Board:

The $11.3 billion in personal income tax payments in April were 40 percent more than April 2005. In April 2001, at the height of the dot com boom, the state collected $10.2 billion in PIT payments.

As of Friday, 11.6 million returns had been processed and another 2 million returns had yet to be counted.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:44 AM



Poll: Westly 33, Angelides 20

The LA Times Poll has Westly up by 13 on Angelides. For the fall, the poll shows Westly beating Schwarzenegger and the governor tied with Angelides in hypothetical match-ups.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:22 AM



April 28, 2006

April showers

The Franchise Tax Board wrapped up the month today with personal income tax collections of about $632 million, bringing the total for April, not including withholding from paychecks, to $11.25 billion. After deducting refunds mailed out, the state was left with a net of about $9.5 billion. The projection for the month in the January budget was $6.3 billion. The bank and corporate tax, meanwhile, finished the month about $200 million above projections. Do the math, and you come up with nearly $3.5 billion more than the governor's budget projected, just in April. Throw in the $1 billion surplus coming into the month and you get to revenues of $4.5 billion above the figure in the January budget. Could be a few hundred million more or less depending on how withholding and the sales tax did this month.

But you get the idea. If only one-third of the new money is considered ongoing, that's $6 billion in added revenue over the two year period covering the end of this fiscal year through June 30 2007.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:25 PM



Roach coach

After implying as much for a couple of weeks, Jon Fleischman now states flatly that he thinks the second-place Republican finisher in the special election for Duke Cunningham's old 50th Congressional district should challenge the leading Republican in the June primary for a full term in the seat. Fleischman, who traveled with his candidate, Eric Roach, on a trip to Washington to guage support, continues to be a case-study in the merger of news-making and new-reporting as a blogger and editor who is still practicing politics full time.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:22 PM



Party party party

Bill Bradley says Phil Angelides is "on the verge" of winning the Democratic Party's coveted pre-primary endorsement.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:15 PM



April 27, 2006

No more butt kicking

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has put up for auction the horn-back leather boots he won from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in their Rose Bowl wager earlier this year. Each governor bet a pair of boots, with the agreement that they would be sold together to raise money for charity. After the Longhorns beat USC, Perry decided that the proceeds would go to his state's disaster relief fund.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:24 PM



Another billion

Today's take at the Franchise Tax Board: $945 million. That puts the state about $2.5 billion ahead of projections for April alone, and about $3.5 billion ahead of January's projections for the fiscal year that ends June 30. With one day still to go in the month.


Posted by dweintraub at 2:59 PM



Disconnect

Within 24 hours, Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer announced that he is suing the federal government for not doing enough to stop global warming, and he is going after the oil companies for charging too much for gas. If you're concerned about global warming, shouldn't you be in favor of higher gas prices?

Posted by dweintraub at 2:54 PM



PPIC Poll

PPIC has a new poll out today that focuses on education, and shows that voters are still down on the schools and the governor's handling of the issue. Overall, his approval rating is a respectable 46-44 among likely voters. But only 33 percent approve of the way he has handled the education issue. No doubt still a residue of his "broken promise," even though his current budget proposal would bring the schools' ongoing funding base back to the level it would have been if he had funded them the way the education lobby thought he should have.

Voters say they would be happy to raise taxes for schools -- as long as somebody else pays them. Upper income? Sure. Sales or property taxes, not so much.

The poll also checks in on the Democratic primary and finds Westly ahead of Angelides, 26-20, and by an even greater margin (29-20) among voters most concerned about the public schools. In other words, Democrats say they would love to raise taxes on the rich to increase funding for schools, but they prefer the candidate who says he doesn't want to do that over the one who does. Go figure.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:56 AM



April 26, 2006

Fixing what ain't broke

The folks collecting signatures to permanently dedicate the sales tax on gasoline to transportation projects report that they have reached their goal and plan to submit the signatures to the counties on May 2.

This is the so-called Proposition 42 "fix," which presumes that something in Prop. 42 is broken. The problem, as these people see it, is that in bad economic years, the governor and the Legislature have the ability, by a two-thirds vote, to use the sales tax on gas for schools or health care for poor kids or food for old people instead of building roads. In this way, Prop. 42 serves as a kind of budget reserve. In good economic years, transportation construction has first call on the money. In bad years it goes for human services that would otherwise have to be cut. Seems like a pretty good deal. But after the "fix," that will no longer be an option. The money will go to the transportation fund even if a drop in general fund revenues forces cuts in essential services.

If this does get on the ballot, the voters will probably approve it, because they think this is the same as the gasoline excise tax, which was adopted as a special tax and has always been dedicated to transportation. They don't realize that we are talking here about a piece of the sales tax which for decades before 2002 was part of the general fund, just like most of the sales tax money collected each year goes to the general fund. It doesn't get much mention, but the $1.4 billion or so that this measure represents accounts for about one-fourth or more of the state's ongoing structural budget deficit. It used to go to general fund programs. Suddenly it was dedicated to transportation. But nobody ever identified the health and education and human service programs that were supposed to be cut to free up the money that was shifted to roads.


Posted by dweintraub at 4:46 PM



April revenues (cont.)

Holy Cow.

Today at the Franchise Tax Board, clerks opened checks totalling $1.6 billion in personal income tax payments. Since, as of yesterday, the state had already met its projection for the month, all of today's take is found money. And there are still two days to go in April, three if you consider that next Monday, they'll still be counting money that comes in over the weekend.

Last April, the final two days of the month brought in about $800 million a day. That's not typical, but it could happen again. If it does, the state will end the month about $4 billion ahead of the projections in the January budget, counting the $1 billion they were already ahead going into this month. Even if Thursday and Friday turn out to be a bust, the revenues already look much more robust than the legislative analyst's projection, which itself was about $1.3 billion higher than the governor's January budget outlook for the current year.

If this money were ongoing, expected to be part of the state's permanent revenue base, the structural deficit would be all but erased. That's not likely to be the case, however. A good chunk of this cash is probably from the capital gains tax, reflecting profits Californians made in real estate and the stock market last year. Those sources tend to fluctuate wildly. We will have to wait and see how much of it the Department of Finance and the legislative analyst are willing to say might show up again next year.

And legislative aides note that there will be higher than expected expenses as well when the governor revises his budget in May. Prison costs already are known to be several hundred million dollars more than budgeted. And several outstanding lawsuits could cost the state a billion or more. So some of this new money is already going to be spoken for.

But figuring out how much of a mutlibillion-dollar windfall is real, and how much will be left over after paying outstanding bills, will probably be a lot more pleasant than it would be to deal with finding things to cut if revenues were running short.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:48 PM



Minimum wage

John Myers reports here on how the governor might raise the mininum wage without going through the Legislature, where Democrats are reluctant to give him the $1 increase he is proposing without also attaching an automatic cost-of-living provision.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:40 PM



Crime rate up in 2005

California crime rates nudged upward in 2005, according to this preliminary report released today by Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer. He blames gangs and meth.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:32 AM



April 25, 2006

April revenues

With three work days left in April, state tax collections look to be outpacing projections once again, even, perhaps, out-running the more optimstic view of the Legislative Analyst.

This is thanks in part to what must have been one of the single biggest days ever for collections of the personal income tax on Monday, when $2.7 billion was counted at the Franchise Tax Board in the haul from the weekend mail. Combined with another $700 million collected today, that puts the month's take at more than $8 billion, less about $1.7 billion in refunds that have been mailed out. That's just about the total that was projected for the entire month. The final three days of April are always unpredictable. Sometimes the money falls off sharply, but other times, as it did last year, it keeps on coming right through the end of the month. So the state could easily see somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion more by Friday. The corporate income tax, meanwhile, has also met its projection for the month and will likely top it by $100 million or more.

Coming into this month, the state was already running about $1 billion ahead of projections. The legislative analyst's forecast for this year and next year combined was $2.3 billion higher than the governor's. But the LAO saw only $1.3 billion of that coming in this year, and $1 billion next year. So it's starting to look as if even that rosy projection was at least a little on the low side.

All of this means that the governor's revised budget in May will probably have $2 billion or so in new money from the current year and an increased projection for the budget year on the same order of magnitude. Schwarzenegger's most difficult chore will be finding ways not to spend it -- or at least finding ways not to commit what might be short-term money to long-term obligations. With the housing market softening or perhaps cratering, and construction employment weakening, we could be in the midst of a mini-version of the dot-com boom and bust. The long-term structural deficit, even with this new money, is still going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion.

One obvious possibility for the governor would be a huge one-time payment to schools to satisfy the demands of the education lobby, which maintains that the governor and the Legislature illegally shorted them $3 billion over the past two years. But until now, the governor's finance people have said there is no way to give the schools that money without building into the base from which future budgets would have to grow. Doing it in the context of a lawsuit settlement might be one way to give the schools the money now without having to guarantee it to them in future years. Even the CTA agrees that this is the limit of the state's legal obligation. Ideally, the money would go into local reserves to cushion them against any more tight times that might be coming in the years ahead.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Let's see what the post office brings to the tax collector over the next three days.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:02 PM



New Angelides ad

Here is the latest Angelides ad, again featuring his three daughters. I continue to believe that this is a schmaltzy way to make the pitch for a candidate for governor of the largest state in the union. I suppose the campaign is trying to balance his main message -- the tough fighter -- with his softer side. I just don't think it works. His best message for the Democratic primary audience s that he is the only candidate with a plan to balance the budget and increase school funding -- by taxing big business and the rich. He says it all the time on the stump but doesn't seem to want to trumpet it -- or even mention it -- in his television commercials.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:10 PM



Church dodges eminent domain

The Claremont Institute has an update on that Long Beach church that was threatened with eminent domain by the city. It's been spared.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:55 PM



What's the matter with populism

In this paper for the Progressive Policy Institute, Stephen Rose explains to Democrats why class warfare is a losing strategy for rebuilding a governing majority in this country.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:49 AM



Windfall profits tax

A bill that would slap a "windfall profits tax" on Californians who sell their houses for more than a 10 percent profit --- oh, sorry, no such bill. A bill that would slap a new tax on oil company profits passed in a key legislative committee Monday. Ap has the story via the Mercury News.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:53 AM



April 24, 2006

Eminent domain

Steven Greenhut reports on the love-fest between Maxine Waters and Tom McClintock at a weekend conference on eminent domain.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:52 PM



Private, public pay compared

A new survey compares state pay and benefits to those in the private sector and local government. The story is here, along with links to the survey report.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:49 PM



UC execs' perks

University of California executives received cars, extra vacation, bonuses and severance packages that were not approved by the university’s governing board or disclosed to the public in violation of UC policy, according to an audit released Monday.

The story is on the Bee's website.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:47 PM



Great American Boycott

The state Senate is expected to take up a resolution this afternoon by Sen. Gloria Romero that would recognize May 1 as "The Great American Boycott." That's the event whose organizers are encouraging immigrants to boycott school, work and commerce.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:53 AM



April 22, 2006

Employment declines

California employers shed more than 10,000 jobs in March. Analysts blamed the weather, but a more lasting slowdown in construction could be in the offing.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:52 AM



April 21, 2006

Court upholds stem cell measure

A trial court judge in Alameda County has issued a preliminary ruling upholding the constitutionality of Prop. 71, the $3 billion stem cell measure. But the agency that the initiative created still won't be able to issue bonds until this ruling is final and appeals are exhausted.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:22 PM



New Angelides ad

Bill Bradley has an update on the Tsakopoulos family ad on behalf of Phil Angelides.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:09 PM



Hiltzik reaction

Hugh Hewitt thinks Michael Hiltzik should be fired for posting comments on his own blog and elsewhere under a pseudonym. Hewitt says this is the same as journalists who invent sources to use in their pieces.

But Patrick Frey, whose sleuthing exposed the fraud and who is The Times' number one critic in the blogosphere, says a suspension ought to be enough. Here is a link to his blog, where he's posted several reaction items and you can find the original post. Just keep scrolling.

Cathy Seipp says The Times is looking at his print columns now, too.

And Roger Simon thinks maybe he wanted to get caught.

By the way, we will soon be soliciting comments on this blog and elsewhere in the Bee. I pledge never to use a sock puppet to get my points across.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:25 PM



AP: Bush will not declare disaster to aid levees

Instead, the president will let the Corps of Engineers accept state money to use for repair projects.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:11 PM



A new low

Only 14 percent of California adults say they smoke.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:40 AM



April 20, 2006

Gov appoints mayor's sis to court

Gov. Schwarzenegger today appointed Mary Lou Villar to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Villar, a Democrat, is the sister of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. She is a former legal aid attorney who has worked for the past 15 years as an administrative law judge for the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:23 PM



UFW likes 'em both

In another in a string of dual endorsements, the United Farm Workers are backing both Angelides and Westly for governor. This has got to be grating on Angelides, who thinks of himself as the labor candidate and has been working for years to secure union backing for his eventual run for governor.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:13 PM



New prisons chief

The governor has named Jim Tilton as the new interim director of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, succeeding Jeanne Woodford.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:06 PM



Budget challenge

NextTen has updated its online budget challenge, which offers you a chance to try to balance the state's budget through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. You can actually increase spending in some areas while cutting it in others, if you like. Give it a try.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:00 PM



Sexual harassment

This unanimous California Supreme Court decision seems like a victory for common sense -- ruling that writers for the television sitcom "Friends" didn't commit sexual harassment with their raunchy talk and behavior. The court said their talk might have been objectionable in another context but in this case may actually have been a necessary part of the job.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:52 PM



No lawsuits left behind

The Capitol Weekly reports on what looks like a Richie Ross stunt to have his candidates ask voters to join them in suing President Bush over the No Child Left Behind act.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:40 PM



Multi-lingual petitions

Rick Hasen, still bird dogging the Padilla case, has this update: the 9th Circuit has decided to review the ruling en banc, and told the district courts not to cite the original three-judge ruling as a precedent. This is the case in which the court ruled that recall petitions, and presumably other ballot petitions as well, had to be circulated in multiple languages.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:41 AM



Sock puppet fight

Golden State's Michael Hiltzik has stirred up a blog storm by using pseudonyms to comment on his own blog and elsewhere -- defending his work.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:36 AM



Down-ballot races

The Field Poll takes a look at the down-ballot races. In contested primaries, the only clear favorites are John Garamendi for lieutenant governor and Jerry Brown for attorney general, and perhaps Tony Strickland for controller. Also, Tom McClintock has a high favorability rating.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:17 AM



Incentives

Stephen Bainbridge writes on the connection between high school enrollment, drop-outs and the minimum wage.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:24 AM



April 19, 2006

Doolittle told commissions violate ethics code

A professional society of fundraisers tells Rep. Doolittle that its code of ethics prohibits the kind of commissions the congressman's wife has been collecting while raising political money on his behalf.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:20 PM



Gov says he will confront Bush

John Myers has a report on Schwarzenegger's comments today about the feds' refusal to help with emergency levee repairs. The gov's word for it: inexcusable.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:19 PM



Good news from UC

Conventional wisdom in California is that we are denying opportunity to the next generation by freezing our children out of a public college education. But this story from AP today seems to suggest otherwise. It reports that the University of California has just offered admission to a record 55,000 in-state freshmen, up 10 percent from last year's number, which was also a record. That's a growth rate three times higher than the growth in the number of high school graduates.

Also of note: only 36 percent of the offers went to white students, and that was down 2 percent from last year. Another 36 percent were Asian Americans. Actually, there were a few more Asian Americans than whites, and while the story doesn't say this, I wonder if this is the first time that has happened. The number of blacks, Hispanics and American Indians combined was at 22 percent, up from less than 21 percent a year ago.

This is the University of California, folks, arguably the most prestigious public university in the world. And it's incredible diverse, a credit to our society. Why don't more people know that?

UPDATE: My hunch was right. This chart shows that this is the first time that white students were not the dominant ethnic group among the freshman granted admittance to the UC. Last year, whites were 37.7 percent and Asian-Americans were 34.6 percent. Although other numbers show that Asian-Americans have been the number one ethnic group among students who actually accept offers of admissions.

Also:

35.4 percent of this class have parents who did not graduate from college.

33 percent of those admitted are from low-income families.

57 percent are women.

The average grade point average is 3.78


Posted by dweintraub at 3:52 PM



Angelo for Angelides

Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, a longtime patron and mentor to Phil Angelides, is preparing to launch a massive independent expenditure on his behalf in conjunction with public employee unions, according to this Sacramento Bee story and this blog item from Bill Bradley, which has more detail. The question is whether more exposure will help or hurt the treasurer's campaign for governor. He seems to be sinking in the polls as voters learn more about him.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:13 AM



Field: Prop 82's lead shrinking

The latest Field Poll finds that Prop. 82's lead has shrunk from 21 to 13 points. It's now ahead, 52-39. Despite its surface popularity, this is a measure that looks beatable if it's confronted by a well-done and adequately financed opposition campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:28 AM



Bush, Schwarzenegger to meet

The two will get together in San Jose on Friday.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:50 AM



April 18, 2006

Public Health

Gov. Schwarzenegger has thrown his support behind an idea a lot of people have been pushing for a while: a separate state Department of Public Health to concentrate action and accountability for things like bird flu and toxic terrorism.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:22 AM



April 17, 2006

Who's paying taxes

The wealthiest 1 percent of Californians, on average, pay more than $100,000 a year in taxes, but the share of their income they pay to the government is less than that paid by the poorest fifth of non-elderly famlies, according to this report from the California Budget Project.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:09 PM



Poll: governor up on both rivals

A new Rasmussen poll has Schwarzenegger leading both Democrats by significant margins.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:55 PM



Serious pull

Here's a rarity. All four legislative leaders are scheduled to participate in a panel discussion Tuesday on infrastructure. It's in San Jose from 11 to noon, sponsored by the Bay Area Council. Oh, and some guy named Schwarzenegger is also on the agenda.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:36 PM



Tax day

Jon Fleischman notes that the governor plans a meeting today with the leaders of California's anti-tax movement. It will be interesting to see if Schwarzenegger repeats his pledge from 2003 not to raise taxes to solve the state's ongoing fiscal woes, but only to hold that option in reserve in case of some sort of natural disaster or terrorist attack. During the special election campaign last year he said that if his budget reform measure failed, he would have to consider tax increases as an option again. He hasn't repeated that lately, and he doesn't need new taxes to balance the next budget. But all the projections show that he will need a tax increase or spending cuts next January, or 2008 at the latest, to close the structural shortfall.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:31 AM



April 15, 2006

Beat the Press

Economist Dean Baker has begun what promises to be an interesting blog critiquing economic reporting in the media. So far, BeatThePress does not seem to have much of an ideological bent, or at least not one that is clearly from the right or the left.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:30 AM



'An expensive journey'

The governor's venture into politics is costing him, according to his financial adviser and his tax returns.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:06 AM



April 14, 2006

Burton: No on 82

Liberal icon and former Senate Leader John Burton has come out against Prop. 82, the preschool initiative. And he does so more forcefully, and more convincingly, than Gov. Schwarzenegger, who said through a spokeswoman that he opposes the measure because he's against raising taxes. Here's Burton's statement:

Without any income tests the plan would help wealthy and middle class families who already take advantage of preschool, but not reach those who need it most: poor, disadvantaged and English learning children;

K-12 faces a shortage of qualified teachers. Prop. 82 offers more competition that could keep teachers out of classrooms;

The initiative would pay more per pupil for a few hours of preschool than many K-12 schools get for a whole day;

Prop. 82 ties up a resource stream that should go to the general fund for a variety of important state programs.

Proposition 82 makes it easier for my grandkids to get preschool. That's great, but they're not the ones who need the help. Even those of us who have a high regard for preschool need to vote no on Prop. 82.

Interestingly, Burton is meeting with reporters to announce his opposition at the headquarters of the California School Employees Association, the union that represents support employees in the public schools.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:30 AM



You like me, you really...

Timm Herdt raises a good point about Schwarzenegger's supposed "likeability."

Posted by dweintraub at 5:45 AM



Field Poll: Westly 37, Angelides 26

The Field Poll has Westly up by 11 in the Democratic Primary. The full poll will be here later today.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:41 AM



April 13, 2006

First 5

The First 5 Commission says one of its contractors is missing $3 million, and it wants to find out what happened to the money.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:42 PM



Prop 82

The governor opposes Prop. 82, the preschool initiative. His campaign kind of backed into making the announcement, letting it play second fiddle in stories about Angelides and Westly making a joint appearance for the measure.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:25 AM



Cashing in

Another political couple paying each other to raise money for their campaigns, this time Tony and Audra Strickland, according to the LA Times. I tend to favor a wide-open campaign finance system with full disclosure as the best device to prevent abuse, but putting donors' money in your own pocket, or your spouse's, crosses the line. Somebody needs to put a stop to this.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:21 AM



Field Poll

Here is today's Field Poll. Schwarzenegger's approval rating still hovering around 40 percent. His disapproval number is slowly dropping, down from 56 percent in October to 47 percent in this poll. But so far, those people are moving to undecided rather than back into his camp. The Legislature is still even lower than the governor, and its rating has dropped since the last Field Poll. Voters still like his bonds. And 56 percent say the state is on the wrong track. It has been at least five years since fewer than half the voters have said "wrong track" in two consecutive Field Polls.


Posted by dweintraub at 9:13 AM



April 12, 2006

New Westly ad

Steve Westly has a new ad that seeks to distance him from Schwarzenegger with a claim that he refused to implement cuts in higher ed that the governor "ordered him" to make. Apparently the claim relates to $149 million in cuts to outreach programs Schwarzenegger ordered to offset revenue lost when he rolled back the car tax on his first day in office.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:52 PM



Gov: 'I think that's a great idea'

After stepping all over his own news event Tuesday on global warming and leaving everyone confused about where he stands, Schwarzenegger today has taken a step closer to supporting the caps on greenhouse gas emissions that his aides had told people he was going to get behind yesterday.

He now sounds as if he has given a qualified endorsement to a proposal by Democrats in the Legislature to put caps on emissions beginning in 2012:

I think that it is very important, as I said yesterday. And by the way, I think this was yesterday really a historic moment to have this summit on global warming and have all the people come together, the brightest people, Democrats and Republicans, business leaders, everyone coming together. I think that was terrific.

And I think it is important that we first of all reach our targets, which I made very clear yesterday, which is that by the year 2010 we have to [roll back] our emission levels [to] the year 2000, and by the year 2020 we have to reach...the emission levels of 1990. Now, this is our cap, this 2020.

Another question is, when should we put caps in place to get there? And there are different opinions. I have an approach to say, let's carefully bring in those caps so we don't chase businesses away. I think that Assemblywoman Pavley, for instance, has recommended in her bill - and I haven't seen her bill - but she has recommended, I've heard, in her bill 2012. I think that I can live with 2012, I think that's a great idea. So I'm looking forward to working with Assemblywoman Pavley and with all of the people in order to get those laws passed and to move forward aggressively and to really have California be the leader in that.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:20 PM



March revenues up $900 mil

March tax revenues were about $900 million above projections, with the gain about equally split between corporate and personal income taxes. For the year, revenues are up about $1 billion above projections made in January. April, of course, is the big month for tax receipts and ususally dictates whether it is going to be a good year or a bad year for budget writers.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:01 PM



California 9th in taxes per capita

California ranked 9th in the nation last year in state taxes collected per capita, at $2,724. Just ahead of New Jersey and just below Alaska. According to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:44 AM



The hype machine

Bill Bradley suggests that he and others were misled by Schwarzenegger advisers who pre-spun his global warming event yesterday by implying that the governor would endorse caps on emissions. He did endorse the concept, but left the details for later, perhaps much later. The actual policy here, going slow on a very complex and economically treacherous project, is certainly defensible. But misleading journalists, and the public, into thinking you are doing much more is most definitely not.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:38 AM



Special elections

Jon Fleischman says the millionaire who finished second in the Republican column in the race to fill Duke Cunningham seat could make things miserable in June for the GOP leader, former Rep. Brian Bilbray. Fleischman also has some thoughts on the very close Orange County race to fill John Campbell's seat.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:33 AM



Field Poll on immigration

Here is the latest Field Poll, on Californians' attitudes about immigration and immigration reform proposals.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:26 AM



April 11, 2006

Why not $50 an hour?

Tom McClintock's argument against raising the minimum wage.

An excerpt:

If a simple legislative act increasing the minimum wage to $7.75 is all that is needed to improve the lot of the working poor by just a little, then why not raise it to $10 an hour and get them to the poverty level? For that matter, why not raise it to $50 an hour, assuring every working Californian a comfortable living? The truth is that if your labor is worth $6.75 an hour and the minimum wage is raised to $7.75, you simply become unemployable. The first rung of the ladder is gone, and there's no place to start.

Proponents of this policy apparently believe that it is better not to have a job paying $7.75 an hour than to have one that pays $6.75. The French minimum wage is twice that of our federal minimum wage, and the result has not been greater prosperity. Quite the contrary, France's unemployment rate is twice the American rate, and it hovers at an intractable 40% within those communities that recently rioted for days.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:44 AM



An 'amazing experiment'

John Gartner on the immigrant spirit:

America is an amazing natural experiment -- a continent populated largely by self-selected immigrants. All these people had the get-up-and-go to pull up stakes and come here, a temperament that made them different from their friends and relatives who stayed home. Immigrants are the original venture capitalists, risking their human capital -- their lives -- on a dangerous and arduous voyage into the unknown.

Not surprisingly, given this entrepreneurial spirit, immigrants are self-employed at much higher rates than native-born people, regardless of what nation they emigrate to or from. And the rate of entrepreneurial activity in a nation is correlated with the number of immigrants it absorbs. According to a cross-national study, "The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor," conducted jointly by Babson College and the London School of Economics, the four nations with the highest per capita creation of new companies are the United States, Canada, Israel and Australia -- all nations of immigrants. New company creation per capita is a strong predictor of gross domestic product, and so the conclusion is simple: Immigrants equal national wealth.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:40 AM



Bush hits new low in state

62 percent of California voters disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, according to the latest Field Poll. That's his worst rating ever in the state, and worse than every recent US President except Jimmy Carter at the end of his term (66 percent) and Richard Nixon just before he resigned (70 percent).

Posted by dweintraub at 5:37 AM



April 10, 2006

First step toward single payer?

Sally Pipes thinks the Massachusetts health plan will fail, and be replaced by single payer.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:38 PM



Special election tab

Schwarzenegger has signed legislation to pay part of the tab for last year's special election. John Myers has a report.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:43 PM



State workers union oks strike vote

From an email sent last week to members of the SEIU unit that represents state workers:

Local 1000 Council authorizes strike vote

Local 1000’s 63-member governing council overwhelmingly voted, on March 27, to authorize a statewide strike vote.

"Our members have lost patience with this governor," said Local 1000 President, Jim Hard. "While he touts more than $200 billion in infrastructure improvements, he neglects the State’s human infrastructure—the state employees who continue to maintain the services Californians rely upon and who are helping rebuild California."

"We’ve been without a raise since July 1, 2003 and without a contract since last June," said Yvonne Walker, Local 1000 Vice President for Bargaining. "This governor is proposing 14 percent in take-aways and no pay increase. Our members are fed up and aren’t going to take it any more."

The Local 1000 council called on Gov. Schwarzenegger to "begin negotiating in good faith" or "we will have no choice but to take further action up to and including going on strike."

Despite repeated requests from Local 1000, the Governor’s negotiating team has refused to return to negotiations, stating that they "don’t have authority to settle the contract."

"The governor’s actions are a blatant violation of state law," Hard said. "The Dills Act requires that employers negotiate in ‘good faith’ and that their negotiators have the authority to reach agreement in negotiations."

Regional strike authorization votes will be held beginning in mid-May.

The union has since reported that negotiations will resume later this month.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:04 PM



All the way to Reno

Apple Computer has been a pioneer in computer hardware and software and in design. If it proves to be a leader in cash management as well, California's treasury could be in trouble. Business Week reports this morning that the growing electronics firm has created a Nevada subsidiary to manage its cash reserves, with the intent of getting more favorable tax treatment. The story is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:38 PM



Gov declares emergency in flooded counties

From the governor's office:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today declared a state of emergency in the counties of Amador, Calaveras, Fresno, Merced, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Stanislaus, as a result of a series of severe rainstorms and flooding in that area that commenced on April 4, 2006.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:34 PM



New ad for governor

The governor has a new ad online, this one focusing on the environment. It uses the same announcer and soundtrack as his opening ad, but this one, rather than a fast-speed cityscape, offers mostly video of California's natural treasures. The text points briefly to Schwarzenegger's creation of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, his promotion of hydrogen fuel, his attempt to limit greenhouse gases and his measures to protect the ocean and coastline. It closes with the same shot of the governor that was used in the first ad. These commercials aren't getting much air time, but to the extent that they do, I think their understated style will serve the governor well while his Democratic opponents are slashing at each other in an increasingly bitter primary campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:11 PM



'An immigrant writes'

Gov. Schwarzenegger pens another column on immigration, this one for the Wall Street Journal. He says his beliefs are based on two principles: controlling the borders and compassion for immigrants.

He now seems to be clearly against two provisions in the House bill: one to make illegal immigrants felons and another that would make anyone who helps an illegal immigrant an accessory to a crime. He is also downplaying the need for a fence without opposing the concept entirely. He opposes sending back the 12 million here already. And he favors some kind of guest worker program.

It sounds as if he is pretty much in line with the Senate compromise that briefly gained momentum last week before stalling. If anything, he might even be a bit more pro-immigrant than that bill, which would have required illegal immigrants who have been here for two years or less to return to their native countries.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:43 AM



No wining

Jon Fleischman has the back story on our governors' big game wagers, interstate wine shipments and a Supreme Court decision.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:46 AM



April 9, 2006

On assimilaton

Why Jane Galt favors immigration:

About immigration: basically, I'm for it. Though there's (allegedly) a smidgen of native American blood in me, most of my ancestors were carpetbaggers who came here for the same reason as the Korean guy who sells you your coffee in the morning: to excape desperate poverty at home. They were greeted by pretty much the same nativist paranoia now directed at Latin American immigrants (though I haven't heard anyone suggest that Mexicans are part of a Papist conspiracy to rule America), and for the same reasons.

The three-quarters of my forebears who were Irish probably didn't speak English when they got here, and showed no particular interest in learning how to do so. Cramming themselves into tenements ten or more to a room, they were willing to work longer hours for lower pay than native-born Americans. Having brought a rich, and very foreign, culture with them, they clustered in urban areas so that they could preserve it, including a drinking culture that horrified the Protestants then flocking to temperance reform. None of them showed much propensity for assimilating; they established their own churches, schools, social organizations, and businesses, allowing their descendants to live in a little parallel Irish world that kept them out of the mainstream. More than 100 years after they landed in North America, my father's family was still living in an Irish neighbourhood in Boston (though by then they had learned how to speak English). Then, as soon as there were enough of them, they took over the political apparatus of the cities they lived in, and began running it for the benefit of the immigrant communities swelling the tenements, instead of the native-born. This separatism was so complete, so pervasive, so stubborn that America is still riven by the threat of . . . gay Irishmen marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

This makes Pat Buchanan's anti-immigrant ranting look just a tiny bit thick. And frankly, if the main contributions your ancestors made to the great American melting pot are bleary renditions of "Danny Boy" and the fine old tradition of getting blind drunk and sleeping in the gutter every March 17th, you should think thrice before complaining that "our culture" is under assault. If American culture could be assaulted, Irish-Americans would be doing 5-10 at Sing-Sing for attempted murder.

Most of the rest of my ancestors fled England so that they could puritanize in peace, and distinguished themselves largely by squatting on the same hunks of farmland for the next four hundred years. Somehow this is supposed to be more illustrious than walking the thousand or so miles from Honduras to pick fruit so you can afford to feed and educate your kids.

Having ancestors who got in early, while the rules were lax, I just can't see how I could, with a straight face, agitate to close off the borders to newer arrivals.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:13 PM



Angelides' rocky bank investment

Phil Angelides sold his share in a failing Santa Clara County bank for $1 shortly before he ran for treasurer for the first time. The nominal sales price allowed Angelides to avoid disclosing the transaction on his financial statements required as a candidate. The bank was struggling with some bad loans, including one loan to a developer who was also a board member and a partner with Angelides in another business venture. The details are in this story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:37 PM



April 7, 2006

The honest liberal

Phil Angelides continues to stake his claim as the honest liberal in the race for governor. Until recently he was laying out some very expensive priorities while pretending that they could be paid for with little more than a return to the tax rates on the wealthy that were in place under Pete Wilson (and Ronald Reagan). But every day he is getting more and more forceful in stating the case for a much larger tax increase, one big enough to close the budget gap, increase school funding beyond the level required by Proposition 98, and roll back recent increases in college tuition.

Today, Angelides said he believes that increasing school funding – and raising the taxes to pay for it – will be the “defining issue” in the Democratic primary and in the general election, if he is the nominee. He even said it is the “most important issue for decades to come.”

“I am going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that California schools are fully funded,” he said in a press conference at the union headquarters of the California Federation of Teachers, which has endorsed his campaign.

Although Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget for 2006-07 would increase school funding by more than $4 billion and fully fund Proposition 98 – giving the schools every dollar they would have received next year if he had kept his now infamous “deal” with the education community -- there’s still a dispute over $3 billion the schools say they were shorted in 2004-05 and 2005-06 combined. John Mockler, who wrote Prop. 98, tells me that the schools could be made whole if that outstanding balance were paid as a one-time appropriation to education, or a series of payments over time that need not increase the base upon which future budgets are built. This essentially matches the position of Senate Leader Don Perata.

But Angelides says he wants to go further. Today he said for the first time that he would repay that disputed money, over time, and build it into the Prop. 98 base, guaranteeing that future budgets would exceed what’s now required by law. He would also build back into the schools budget an additional $1.7 billion that everyone, including the governor, the teachers union and legislative leaders, agree must be restored over time according to the formulas in the constitution.

Steve Westly also pledges to “fully fund” the schools. But he has yet to define what that means to him, nor say how he would do it, other than by chasing down tax cheats and tweaking lottery prize formulas. Neither is a very reliable funding source for such an ambitious goal.

The governor’s position, meanwhile, can best be described as “figuring it out as we go along.” For next year, he is proposing to give the schools about $1.7 billion more than Prop. 98 requires, by his calculation and that of the legislative analyst, depending on you treat $400 million that’s dedicated to after-school programs required by Prop. 49. And while he denies that the state legally owes the $3 billion that is the focus of Angelides plan, it’s clear the governor would like to cut a deal that puts the state on a path to restoring that money, to lessen the political damage if nothing else. But he’s made it clear that this would have to be done without raising taxes, which makes it pretty difficult to do.



Posted by dweintraub at 11:39 AM



April 6, 2006

The case for open borders

Nathan Smith pens a provocative piece on law, justice, morality and the case for open borders, with a bit of pragmatic policy thrown in for good measure. He manages to skewer both left and right and makes quite a bit of sense in doing so.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:37 PM



Voter reg problems

Democrats are getting increasingly vocal in their criticism of Secretary of State McPherson over what appears to be a snafu with the state's new voter registration database. Sen. Debra Bowen, who is running for McPherson's job (along with fellow Sen. Deborah Ortiz) says she doesn't think the foul-up is a Republican plot to disenfranchise new voters, but she hasn't been shy about linking McPherson to the Bush Administration, which approved his plan. Today, Senate Leader Don Perata joined the fray, along with Bowen. They're claiming that thousands of newly registered voters or old voters who moved are going to be dropped from the rolls if the system isn't fixed.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:52 PM



Schmidt's take

With Angelides and Westly dominating the headlines, the gov’s new campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, moved in for a little space of his own today with a briefing for reporters on the campaign as he sees it. There were no surprises, few insights and not that many quotable quotes. More of a touching-base session than anything else.

Schmidt’s main talking point is that the election, in his view, will be “about a choice” between Schwarzenegger and the eventual Democratic nominee, not a referendum on the governor. With both Democrats talking about new spending, and Angelides talking openly about raising taxes by several billion dollars, clearly Schmidt thinks that’s where the major choice will be debated. He complimented the treasurer for his honesty in pushing a tax hike and accused Westly of trying to “hide the ball” on how he intends to pay for increased spending.

"Phil Angelides was right to call him out on that,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said Democrats should be “nervous” given the governor’s public approval and personal popularity after the tough year he had in 2005. He noted that opponents spent $150 million attacking Schwarzenegger, with much of their advertising “character-based” yet a recent poll showed that 71 percent of voters still like him, and 61 percent of Latinos like him.

If he were in the Democrats’ shoes, Schmidt said, "I would have a shiver down my spine."

Although most political observers believe the Schwarzenegger camp would rather run against Angelides, because he has more ideological baggage and less personal money to spend on the race, Schmidt said they are “totally indifferent” to the outcome of the Democratic primary.

He promised that the campaign will be tough, and the governor’s team will draw distinctions between him and his opponent. He predicted that pundits will call it “negative campaigning” when they see contrasts being drawn on issues such as taxes. But he said he does not expect the battle to become personal.

"You won't see a campaign that attacks people on a personal level,” he said. "Highly personal character assassination, this campaign won't have any part of."



Posted by dweintraub at 2:25 PM



Free Anaheim

Former Speaker Curt Pringle, now mayor of Anaheim, gets some ink in the Wall Street Journal for his city's free-market policies.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:30 AM



April 5, 2006

Google, Earthlink picked for SF Wi-Fi

The city will negotiate with the two firms on a joint bid to provide wi-fi for free with ads (Google) or a faster connection with no ads for $20 a month (Earthlink), either available throughout the city.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:50 PM



'Free riders' in Massachusetts

Here is an analysis of the new Massachusetts health care program from the Massachusetts Legislature. This is one provision that jumped out at me:

Free Rider Surcharge

The Free Rider surcharge will be imposed on employers who do not provide health insurance and whose employees use free care. Imposition of the surcharge will be triggered when an employee receives free care more than three times, or a company has five or more instances of employees receiving free care in a year. The surcharge will range from 10 percent to 100 percent of the state’s costs of services provided to the employees, with the first $50,000 per employer exempted. Revenue gained from the surcharge will be deposited in the Commonwealth Care Trust Fund.

Seems likely to give employers way too much interest in the health care habits of their workers, and also might well lead to employment discrimination against people with chronic conditions.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:49 PM



Doree O'Connell has brain tumor

Doree O'Connell, the wife of state schools Supt. Jack O'Connell, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, according to O'Connell's office. Here is the statement:

SACRAMENTO - Doree O'Connell, wife of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, was diagnosed Tuesday with a brain tumor. She is at the UC San Francisco Department of Neurological Surgery, where she is being evaluated for surgery later this week. Superintendent O'Connell and daughter Jennifer are with Doree, who is awake and alert.

Superintendent O'Connell's public schedule will be cleared for the next several weeks.

Anyone wishing to send cards is asked to please send them to the California Department of Education, and they will be forwarded to the family. The hospital asks that people refrain from sending flowers. The O'Connell family appreciates all kind thoughts, prayers, and the respect for their privacy at this difficult time.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:28 PM



'Stairway to nowhere'

This guest commentary by a teacher on the Irascible Professor's site is about the best criticism I've read on standardized testing. Note that most of his issues have to do with grading essays and would not really apply to short answers and mutliple choice questions.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:39 PM



Drawing contrasts

Phil Angelides made news today by directly and strongly attacking his opponent in the Democratic primary, Steve Westly. His main point: Westly stood with Schwarzenegger when Angelides was standing up for “the people.” That’s what will probably lead the newspaper stories tomorrow. But I think he made even more substantive news in a quick question and answer session with reporters afterward. In response to a question, he laid out, for the first time, a plan to raise between $8 billion and $10 billion in taxes to balance the budget and pay for his priorities in expanding it.

Angelides didn’t use that number. But he did say that, by his calculations, corporations and the wealthy have received $17 billion in tax breaks and tax cuts from California and the federal government in the past several years. And he said he would go after as much of that money as he needed to balance the budget and cover the commitments he has made during his campaign.

Among the items he would need to cover with tax hikes, he specifically mentioned the ongoing structural gap in the budget, which he said is now at about $4.5 billion. According to the legislative analyst, it’s more like $5 billion, but that’s a rounding error in this discussion. I don’t think Angelides has said in the past that he would want to raise taxes to close that gap.

He has also proposed what he calls “fully funding” the schools, by which he means giving K-14 another $2 billion or so that the education community says the school are owed.

And he has proposed rolling back college tuition increases enacted under Schwarzenegger, expanding financial aid, and doubling the number of high school counselors. Those ideas have been estimated to cost about $1.5 billion.

Finally, Angelides already has endorsed Proposition 82, which would increase taxes on the wealthy by about $2.3 billion annually.

Together, that adds to about $8 billion on his own ledger and another $2-billion plus for Proposition 82.

Many observers, myself included, have been inferring all along that this is where Angelides was logically headed. But to my ear, he went farther today than he has ever has in the past in confirming that this is what he is proposing.

Other than returning tax rates on the wealthy to the level they were at under Pete Wilson and Ronald Reagan, which is what Prop. 82 would do, Angelides has not been specific about where he would get that money, and he didn’t offer much more detail today. But he did mention that corporate tax rates were cut in California in the 1990s, and he included that in the measures he would be willing to roll back to raise the kind of money he would need for his program. Before today, as far as I know, he had mentioned corporate “loopholes” but never rates.

So, back to his main point, drawing a contrast between himself and Westly. This is certainly one major area where they disagree. Westly has said he would raise taxes only as a last resort. Angelides appears prepared to make doing so a major plank of his campaign for governor.

UPDATE: The Angelides camp believes I am double-counting the education piece of the deficit he intends to cover with tax increases. I don't think so, because I don't think the money he is proposing to give to schools has been counted in anybody's official or unofficial projections of the shortfall. They could be correct that the money owed would be only a one-time, not an ongoing obligation. The implication in their minds is that he wouldn't have to raise taxes to pay it. But he'd have to come up with the money from somewhere, since the state is short now without paying off that obligation. That point also serves to underscore how small a difference there really is between the Angelides education budget and the Schwarzenegger budget. If he's not proposing any increase in ongoing funding, can the status quo really be as bleak as he paints it? Finally, the campaign notes that his proposals for new counselors and teacher retention measures would come from Prop. 98 funding and would not be in addition to it. That means those earmarks would come at the expense of other things the schools are doing now or from future increases in funding that would otherwise go to expand existing services. So, if he didn't need to raise any taxes to increase the Prop. 98 funding of schools, we can probably say his tax hike would be closer to $6 billion than $8 billion, plus $2.3 billion in Prop. 82, which he has endorsed.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:30 PM



Direct democracy

Rick Hasen has an update in the court case over foreign language requirements on ballot petitions.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:36 PM



Ignoring the exit exam

The West Contra Costa school district is considering a proposal to defy the state's high school exit exam law and grant diplomas to members of the class of 2006 who have not passed the test. But at least one board member seems to understand to implications of that idea:

"We have for a long time passed along students who are not prepared for work," she said. "West Contra Costa has not always been accountable. To continue to pretend that students who can't pass this relatively simple exam are high school graduates and should get a diploma is a disservice to the students and the community."

Posted by dweintraub at 10:33 AM



Unintended consequences

The Mercury-News takes a look at the most obvious impact of California's new campaign contribution limits: only millionaires need apply to run for governor. The net worth of the three major candidates tops $1 billion.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:26 AM



Gloves coming off

Phil Angelides promises that a noon speech today will outline the "clear choice" voters face between him and Steve Westly in the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, the two candidates will face off in a joint appearance taped this afternoon for the Univision Spanish-language network.

Bill Bradley thinks it's a "dramatic turn" in the campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:21 AM



April 4, 2006

Massachusetts health plan

Massachusetts has passed a universal health care plan with an individual mandate and a modest employer mandate. Employers who don't insure their workers will pay a $295 annual fee per employee.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:16 PM



Daughter defends dad

Megan Garcia, one of the three Angelides daughters who appeared in a campaign ad I criticized here, wants equal time (or, really, space). I agreed to give it to her. Here's her note:

I don't read your blog, but I was sent a copy of the piece you did on the television ad in which my sisters and I appear. My sisters and I were deeply offended by what you wrote. We volunteered to do this ad because we believe in our dad and know that he'll be a great governor. He'll fight to make sure more California kids have the chance to go to college.

You were wrong to call the ad "slimy" and to single out my dad's campaign in such juvenile way. Al Gore's daughters proudly spoke before millions of Americans on behalf of their father at the 2000 Democratic Convention. John Kerry's daughters appeared on their dad's behalf at the 2004 convention. Steve Westly's children appear in his ads.

We spoke up on behalf of our dad because he'll do the right things for education and college opportunity. You owe my sisters and me an apology.

Sincerely,

Megan Garcia


Posted by dweintraub at 2:59 PM



Health costs

image002.gif

This report from the California Healthcare Foundation shows that nationally, spending on health care per person grew 69 percent, from $3,354 to $5,631 per person between 1993 and 2003. For context, during the same time frame, state and local spending per student in the California schools grew by 61 percent, from $4,187 to $6,752, according to the legislative analyst.

Check out the foundation's report for detail on the different elements of the health care cost increases.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:42 AM



Multi-lingual direct democracy

Here is my column from today's Bee about a little-noticed court ruling that could have a major effect on direct democracy in California, especially at the local level. It would require recall and presumably initiative petitions to be circulated in multiple languages. A major tip of the hat to Election Law blogger Rick Hasen for birdogging this issue.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:39 AM



Governor's race

A new poll from San Jose State shows Schwarzenegger's approval rating inching upward, the governor running even against both Angelides and Westly, and the two Democrats in a dead heat in the primary with more than half of the voters undecided.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:39 AM



Garamendi recovering

Heart surgery went well, his staff says.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:23 AM



April 3, 2006

Westly on schools

Every California governor since at least 1990 has taken office pledging to shift more control over education policy from Sacramento to local schools and districts. And every governor eventually grows fond of setting more rules from the Capitol, if only to implement the really good ideas he has that others don't share. Now candidate Steve Westly has rolled out a major education policy speech, and the centerpiece is, surprise, more local control. I have no idea if Westly as governor would live up to his pledges, but they're worth reading anyway. Here is a text of the speech. I did note one glaring omission: no mention of charter schools, which are booming in California and provide the purest form of local control, since they are created by local teachers, parents and communities and set their own rules while being held accountable for their results.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:09 PM



Global warming

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Assemblywoman Fran Pavley have introduced legislation to put teeth into Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's call for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The bill would require the state Air Resources Board to set caps on emissions levels and build a new reporting and tracking program to enforce them.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:04 PM



Garamendi to have heart surgery

Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi is scheduled to undergo heart surgery today to repair what his office describes as "a problem with the mitral valve" in his heart. Garamendi was hospitalized over the weekend after experiencing "some discomfort" while working on his Northern California ranch. His office said he will continue to be a candidate for lieutenant governor.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:43 AM



Angelides proposes infrastructure plan

Treasurer Phil Angelides today proposed investing $15 billion in state employee and teacher retirement funds in California infrastructure projects. The projects would include toll roads and bridges, port expansion, dedicated transportation corridors for goods movement, electricity transmission and energy retrofit projects that can generate what Angelides called a secure return on the pension funds’ investment. He said the program would be modeled after the “double bottom line” initiative he pushed and under which the pension funds have invested $14 billion in housing and business expansion in urban communities. Angelides said the Ontario pension fund in Canada has launched a similar project that is generating returns of 10 percent to 15 percent, but he said California’s pension funds could safely count on 6 percent to 8 percent returns. Finally, Angelides said his proposal would not be a substitute for a comprehensive, bond-based infrastructure plan, which he said he expects the Legislature to approve this year.

Separately, legislative leaders have been meeting to try to reach agreement on a public works bond package, and at least some aides believe that agreement could come as soon as this week.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:34 AM



 
 

NEW BLOG

At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub



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