My way

May 17, 2012

The governor may have a bully pulpit, but CalPERS goes its own way, as shown by its latest move on the state's contribution to the pension fund.


From CalPensions' Ed Mendel: "The CalPERS board yesterday raised the annual state payment for state worker pensions $213 million to a total of $3.7 billion, rejecting Gov. Brown’s request for a bigger increase to avoid a “loan” costing “$145.9 million over the next 20 years.”

"Unions asked the board to spread out higher pension costs mainly caused by a lower investment earnings forecast. Paying part of the new rate over two decades, instead of the full amount now, makes an extra $149 million available for worker pay and other programs next fiscal year."


"Although the amount of money may be relatively small, compared to the $16 billion state budget deficit revealed this week, the issue is the big one facing public pensions."


Increases in students' fees and tuition are a regular fact of life now, and the latest example comes from -- you guessed it -- the University of California.


From the LAT's Larry Gordon: "University of California regents Wednesday discussed the possibility of a 6% tuition increase for next fall but pledged that they would lobby hard to avoid such a $732-per-student hike."

"With such money worries rippling through the 10-campus system, the regents approved the hiring of a new chancellor for UC San Diego at a $411,084 salary, which is 4.8% higher than his predecessor, Marye Anne Fox."

"In addition, Pradeep Khosla, now the engineering dean at Carnegie Mellon University, will receive a relocation bonus of nearly $24,700 annually for his first four years. The raise will come from non-state funds and Khosla's overall package is reportedly less than what he now earns, but some critics said any UC raise is unwarranted in today's brutal fiscal situation."


As the world -- California, too with $2 billion at stake -- waits all a twitter for Facebook's initial public offering, some people wonder whether Facebook's 20-something creator is up to the task of running such a high-value company.


From the Chronicle's Benny Evangelista: "Mark Zuckerberg is the guiding force behind Facebook's meteoric rise from college dorm room project to global Internet powerhouse."


"But with Facebook poised to hit Wall Street on Friday in one of the biggest initial stock offerings in history, investors have to decide whether Zuckerberg has the chops to lead a more publicly scrutinized company that could be valued at more than $100 billion."


"The level of difficulty for sustaining success at a company that size is high even for a seasoned business executive, much less a college dropout who just turned 28 this week...."


"Financial handicappers have few historical trends to rely on with Zuckerberg. Even when Google's 31-year-old co-founders Sergey Bren and Larry Page took their company public in 2004 in what is the biggest Internet IPO to date, the search giant already had veteran Eric Schmidt as chief executive officer."


The California court system has been plagued for years by overcrowded calendars, a dearth of staffing and other maladies, but the strapped state's budget cuts are making matters far worse.

From the Chronicle's Bob Egelko: "
San Francisco's courts have cut their staff by 31 percent since 2008. Eleven of the 63 civil courtrooms at 400 McAllister St. have been closed since October, when an emergency infusion of state funds averted a much larger shutdown. People have to wait one to three hours in line to pay their traffic tickets."


"That was before Gov. Jerry Brown proposed cuts of $544 million to the state's courts on Monday as part of a plan to make up California's $16 billion deficit."


"We're rationing justice," Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the leader of the state Supreme Court and the nation's largest judicial system, said the next day.

California's landmark law to curb greenhouse gas emissions includes a system in which major polluters -- utilities, for example -- will be paying to continue to emit carbon emissions as stricter controls are phased in. Who will they pass those costs to?


From Craig Miller at KQED: "Forcing utilities to pay for their carbon emissions,as California plans to do, will mean more costly megawatts. Six months before formal compliance with the state’s new cap & trade system begins, regulators are still sorting out what to do about that."


"One of them is to provide rebates to offset hikes in electric bills. A new report from the clean-economy advocates, Next 10 attempts to sort out the options and put some concrete numbers on them. For example, the authors estimate that for PG&E customers, pricing carbon will add somewhere from two-to-seven dollars a month to summer electric bills, and anywhere from $2.50-to-more than $10 for customers served by Southern California Edison. Where you fall in that range depends in part on which of California’s many climate zones you live in. Places like the Inland Empire, which rely more on air conditioning, would fall in the upper end of the range."


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