Sep 19, 2012

The Great Recession may be easing, but whatever recovery is out there isn't reaching the middle class in California, according to numbers extrapolated from U.S. Census Data.


From the California Budget Project: 'Between 2006 and 2011, the state’s median household income – the income exactly at the middle of the distribution – fell by approximately $8,300 after adjusting for inflation, a 13.5 percent decline. California’s typical household income now stands at its lowest level since 1994, which means that virtually the entire increase in median household income that occurred during the economic boom of the 1990s has been erased."


"The impact on families of losing $8,300 during the past five years is substantial: That amount of income could have been used to buy enough groceries to feed a family of four for nearly a year. "


"Viewed another way, the income that California’s typical household lost due to the recession would cover nearly half a year’s rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles County or approximately eight months’ rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Sacramento region."

Speaking of finances, the state is struggling to meet the projections contained in the 2012-13 budget that Gov. Brown signed earlier this summer.

From the LAT's Chris Megerian: "Two months into the new fiscal year, California is straining to meet financial benchmarks laid out in the budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in June."


"A Brown administration report released Tuesday said revenues were 2.1% below expectations so far -- $11.04 billion instead of the $11.29-billion goal."


"Republicans say the budget is already going off the rails, pointing to a recent report from the state controller saying the state has spent $3 billion more than expected in the new fiscal year. "This is just further evidence that the Democrat budget was based on phony spending reductions and unrealistic assumptions," said Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) in a statement."


As expected, Gov. Brown signed legislation to make changes in the state's system that provides employer-paid insurance for workers injured on the job.


From the AP's Judy Lin and Julie Watson: "Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bipartisan bill Tuesday intended to reduce workers' compensation costs for California businesses while increasing benefits to people injured on the job."


"His office said statewide changes were needed because the cost of workers' compensation insurance has risen from $14.8 billion to $19 billion for California businesses in the past two years. Supporters said by making the system more efficient and limiting litigation, the bill, SB863, will save businesses $1 billion next year and allow increased payments to disabled workers."


"Opponents, including some chiropractors and attorneys for injured workers, argued that limiting litigation would mean fewer benefits for people who are unable to return to work. According to the insurance-run Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California, there were 527,000 workplace injuries reported in 2011, about 174,000 of which resulted in temporary and permanent disability or death."

The fact that President Obama is leading in California, a blue state, is not news. But Obama is leading in every part of the state, even the heavily GOP Inland Empire, and is tied with Romney in the conservative Central Valley, according to the latest Field Poll.


From the Chronicle's Carla Marinucci: "In the weeks after the Republican National Convention, presidential candidate Mitt Romney has failed to gain any ground against Democrat Barack Obama in California - even in key Republican strongholds, according to the latest Field Poll."


"The poll taken Sept. 5-17 in solidly blue California shows that Obama leads Romney by a commanding 58-34 percent margin - with the Democratic president preferred 60 to 24 percent by independent voters."


"...Voters hold a strongly positive view of Obama - 61 percent favorable to 36 percent unfavorable, a marked contrast to Romney, who is seen by 53 percent of voters in an unfavorable light, compared with 39 percent favorable."


The city of Richmond is pondering a penny-an-ounce tax on high-sugar drinks, and the makers of soda pop plan to dig deep into their pockets to fight the measure.


From the Chronicle's Matier and Ross: "Big Soda is expecting to spend upward of a million bucks in the coming weeks to sour the residents of Richmond on the idea of putting a penny-an-ounce tax on high-sugar drinks. That comes to about $45.50 per voting household."


"And with good reason. The Nov. 6 ballot measure, which proponents tout as a way to fight childhood obesity, could spread to other cities - and that's the last thing soda giants, markets or restaurants want."


"There's definitely a lot of interest - we're being seen as the pioneers," said Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman, who campaigns with a 40-pound bucket of sugar to show a typical child's yearly intake of soda."


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