A sign of an improving economy: Tax collections during December came in a hefty 20 percent above projections. Not bad.
From the Bee's David Siders: "California income tax collections came in $1.6 billion, or 20 percent, above projections in December, the Legislative Analyst's Office said Tuesday, just days before the Brown administration releases its annual spending plan."
"December is a significant month for personal income tax payments by California's wealthiest taxpayers. Including that month, the nonpartisan analyst's office said revenue from personal income and corporation taxes were running $2.1 billion above projections so far this budget year."
The swine flu is showing up in California -- again -- and authorities are urging people to take precautions.
From the Mercury-News' David E. Early and Tracy Seipel: "Officials said the peak of the flu season is just beginning and the numbers are relatively small compared to other parts of the country, but they reminded the public that there is still time to get vaccinated."
"Some people think if they don't get it in the fall, it's too late,'' said Erika Jenssen, chief of communicable disease programs at the Department of Public Health in Contra Costa County, where 17 flu patients younger than 65 have recently been admitted to intensive care units. "The peak flu season in California comes January through March."
Democrats in the Legislature, backed by the state schools superintendent, proposed a universal kindergarten in California for 4-year-olds, costing nearly $1 billion over five years.
From Cabinet Report's Tom Chorneau: "Steinberg’s SB 837 – the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014 – is a massive expansion of the state’s fledgling transitional kindergarten program, created in 2011 to provide pre-K instruction for four-year-olds born between September and December who had been phased out of eligibility for regular kindergarten because of their age."
"Only 40,000 of the 120,000 children now eligible for transitional kindergarten are enrolled in the program statewide, a legislative staff member confirmed at Tuesday’s press conference. Parents have the option of enrolling their child in transitional kindergarten under the 2011 law, but, according to Sen. Jerry Hill, many school districts throughout the state continue to interpret the law as voluntary and do not offer the program."
A group of Democratic egislators backed by enviornmentalists want Gov. Brown to immediately halt all hydraulic fracturing -- or "fracking" -- in California.
From the LAT's Melanie Mason: "Nine Democratic legislators, led by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) sent Brown a letter Tuesday urging him to take executive action to stop all fracking until environmental and health questions are addressed. Several bills to impose a moratorium on fracking fell short in the Legislature last year."
"The governor has the ability to enact a moratorium through executive order without the Legislature taking any action," Levine said in a conference call with reporters. "We saw how difficult it was for compromise in the Legislature on this issue, but there's still opportunity for environmental leadership in the executive branch."
MIchelle Obama heads to San Francisco at the end of the month to raise money -- a path well-traveled by her husband.
From the Chronicle's Carla Marinucci: "The first lady will attend two fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee in the city on Jan. 30, a day after she attends one in Los Angeles."
"In addition, she plans to be the “special guest” at a Jan. 31 lunch benefit for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the Fairmont Hotel, according to an invitation obtained by The Chronicle. The event will be hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi."
"Tickets for the lunch will range from $500 to $32,400. The priciest tickets allow the holders into a VIP reception and a photo op with the first lady, according to the invite."