Over two days, California lawmakers completed work
on roughly half the state budget, approving billions
of dollars in cuts. The remaining half, however, includes extending existing taxes and placing the package
before voters in a special election -- politically, a daunting prospect.
From Dan Weintraub at HealthyCal: "You might say they’ve done the easy half — but cutting spending
the way they’ve done was not easy. Democrats cut grants to the aged
disabled, and to welfare mothers, and voted to force
low-income people to make
co-payments when they go to an emergency room or spend
the night in a hospital.
They imposed cuts on University of California and Cal
State University system
that will likely mean more tuition hikes and fewer
"But the even harder part, politically, will be winning
approval for extending about $11 billion in temporary tax increases expiring
this year. Republicans so far are not willing to cast
the votes needed to place
those measures on the ballot. And even if they do make
it to a special election
in June, there is no guarantee that voters will approve."
"The alternative would be another $11 to $12 billion in
cuts, starting with K-12 education but extending to every level of state and
With the world concerned about the safety of nuclear
energy, the report of an emergency cooling glitch at PG&E's Diablo Canyon plant couldn't come at a worse time. The Chronicle's David Baker tells the tale.
"For 18 months, operators at the Diablo Canyon nuclear
plant near San Luis Obispo didn't realize that a system
to pump water into one
of their reactors during an emergency wasn't working."
"It had been accidentally disabled by the plant's own
engineers, according to a report issued Thursday on
the safety of nuclear
reactors in the United States."
"The report, from the Union of Concerned Scientists
watchdog group, lists 14 recent "near misses" - instances in which
serious problems at a plant required federal regulators
As the fight over public pension benefits shifts into
high gear, both Republicans and Democrats see political advantage
in the dispute.
From the LA Times' Anthony York: "Some labor leaders have said they'd
sooner see state budget negotiations unravel than give
way on pensions for
their members. GOP lawmakers,
who are leading the charge for a pension overhaul in
Sacramento, say they are
prepared to let that happen."
"They concede, when pressed, that adjusting pensions
provide substantial savings to the state for years
to come and would do little
to ease the current budget crisis. It would, however,
dilute the influence of
labor in California politics…"
"State Republicans, who have demanded
a benefits rollback as a condition for supporting Gov. Jerry Brown's
budget plan, are emboldened by GOP headway on the issue
in Illinois, Colorado
and New Jersey, among other states. A nonprofit with
ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove, Crossroads Grassroots
Policy Strategies, is running ads in California as
part of a national campaign
promoting the message that Democrats are "shutting
across the country to protect union wages and pensions."
And more on pensions: CalPERS is sticking to it's earning forecasts rather than
lowering them, a move that affects the costs of public
pensions. Ed Mendel at CalPensions tells the tale.
"Actuaries got another rebuff this week when the
labor-friendly CalPERS board voted to leave its earnings
much like a CalSTRS board action in December that did
not lower its forecast as
far as actuaries recommended."
"A lower earnings forecast raises pension costs for
and local governments struggling with budget cuts during
a deep recession. But
another rate increase also might fuel the drive for
pension reforms that
increase worker costs and cut their benefits."
“I was afraid we were going to throw gasoline on the
in the public pension debate,” Neal Johnson of the Service Employees
International Union told a CalPERS committee after
a key vote."
As the Republican Party gathers at its convention this
weekend in Sacramento, one item high on the agenda is coming up with a strategy
to limit the impact of the "top-two" primary, a voter-approved device aimed at encouraging moderate candidates.
From Mike Mishak at the LA Times: "At the party's convention, which opens Friday, a
group of conservatives including the California party
chairman wants to codify the power to crown their party's
nominees with early endorsements — long before voters even cast their first ballots for
statewide, congressional and legislative offices."
"Such a move would pit the activists against the GOP's
leading congressional and state legislators, and help
preserve the most conservative members' hold on the
party machinery. Democrats will tackle the nomination
issue at their convention next month."
"A reform designed to move California politics to the
center may actually move it a bit more to the extremes,"
said Thad Kousser, a political scientist at UC San Diego."
And now, from our "Whote Lot of Shakin' Goin' On" file comes a prediction that an earthquake is imminent
in California. Problem is, the guy who is making the
prediction is a scientist who made a similar prediction
before the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. Hmmmm.
"The month of October,
March, and April are the three most devastating earthquakes
in terms of damage
in the San Francisco Bay Area in history. And we are
having on the 19th of this
month not only the full moon, but within an hour the
closest approach of the
moon to the earth until the year 2016. The next day is the equinoctial tides.
So you're bringing together three of the maximum tide
raising forces. We know
about the ocean tides. But there is also an Earth tide.
And there is a tide in
the ground water. All of these help to release sudden,
built up strain, and
"My -- what I call a seismic
window, this top seismic window in years is developing
between the 19th and
26th of this month. And this was 7.0 monster and it says geologist had warned
about it. And a week earlier, the they were talking
about the tides, not to
worry about the really tides coming up. I think there
is worry here too."
I'm not worried, not me, not really....