IOU redux

Jan 24, 2011

California faces another round of government-issued IOUs this spring if the governor and Legislature don't act speedily to resolve the state's deficit, says Treasurer Bill Lockyer. By the way, what's the controller's take on all this, since he's the one who actually issues IOUs?


The LAT's Shane Goldmacher has the story: "The severity of California’s yawning budget gap, estimated at $25.4 billion, is widely known. But Lockyer’s comments, at a conference at UC Berkeley, were the first to suggest that the state government is staring at a more immediate cash crisis that could require IOUs."


"The state last issued billions of dollars in the worthless scrip in 2009, causing a cascade of headlines around the world about the California’s fiscal dysfunction. Lockyer, a Democrat, offered a clear prescription to avoid repeating that fiscal calamity: "Get a budget adopted that's honest, and make the cuts as soon as possible."


More than half of California employers have plans to hire this year -- yet another indication that the economy is on the mend, however slowly. The Bee's Darrell Smith has the story.


"In all, 54 percent of California respondents planned to hire new employees, with 46 percent planning to hire in the spring quarter. About 40 percent of respondents nationally said they planned to add staff, most during the first half of the year, according to the survey."


"More than six in 10 California businesses said they expect to increase pay this year, while 54 percent said they planned to keep 401(k) retirement matching contributions in place in 2011."


At least some Republicans say there won't be support for taxes unless the public pension system gets overhauled, reports the Contra Costa Times' Steve Harmon.


"Soaring pension liabilities -- at $6 billion a year and as much as $700 billion in future years -- have become a central issue for voters, many of whom see it as a primary reason the state is in decline. Brown's own pollster, Jim Moore, documented the depth of frustration over pension costs that crosses party lines in a poll of 1,000 likely voters late last year."


"Public employee pensions are a very serious issue for 62 percent of those polled, with another 23 percent saying it's somewhat serious."


Public-employee pensions have become the whipping boy of Republicans, who are exploiting it a political issue, often at the expense of the facts.


From CalPensions' Ed Mendel: "Despite the attempt to set the stage for a discussion about retirement for everyone, most of the 90-minute panel was about how public employee wages and pensions are being wrongly blamed for state budget shortfalls."


"The panel began with a Jan. 1 segment of the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC that said public employees are the GOP scapegoat for a deep economic recession caused by the misdoings of Wall Street and bankers, leading to the housing bubble."


The pensions-and-salaries scandals in the city of Bell have prompted another wave of reformist legislation, after an earlier round failed to emerge from the Legislature's last session. The LA Times' Patrick McGreevy has the story.


"The fresh round of Bell-inspired bills comes after lawmakers failed to pass similar measures in the final days of last year's legislative session. The current proposals may have better odds because lawmakers will have more time to vet them in committee and refine them over several months. Each of the measures seeks to change state law to prevent the kinds of pay and pension abuses seen in Bell."


"Bills that have been introduced would make it harder for city council members to cash in by serving on multiple city commissions, toughen ethics training mandates and require city administrators each year to publicly disclose their salaries, car allowances, bonuses and deferred compensation payments. Other planned measures would seek to block pension spiking."


Worthy reads: Hunters at risk from marijuana growers, reports Loretta Kalb ... Politico: Jerry Brown rolling the dice on state budget (no duh) .... The wrap of the conference at Berkeley on the 2010 governor's race, from Roberts and Trounstine... 


And finally we turn to our "Hot Wheels" file to learn about the Santa Monica shopping mall where nobody forgets where they parked their car, thanks to the wonders of high tech. Of course, there are a few privacy concerns.


"Santa Monica Place recently unveiled the nation's first camera-based "Find Your Car" system. Shoppers who have lost track of their vehicle amid a maze of concrete ramps and angled stripes can simply punch their license plate number into a kiosk touch screen, which then displays a photo of the car and its location."

"In Sacramento, the Police Department and Arden Fair Mall partnered to install license plate readers on mall security vehicles. The vehicles roam parking lots and garages in search of "hot list" vehicles provided by the state Department of Justice. If a car with a "hot" plate is spotted, mall security guards view closed-circuit TV footage to locate the vehicle's driver and alert police."

"To date, the scans have helped police recover 44 stolen vehicles and arrest 38 individuals, according to mall security manager Steve Reed."


I wonder if they could find my 1980 Scirocco?....

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