With the state facing its fourth consecutive year of drought, and an $11 billion water bond recently approved for the November ballot, the perennial debate over water policy issues will likely ratchet up in 2010. A recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California attempts to refocus the discussion by analyzing the “myths” about how the system works and the possible options for improvement.
Aside from their rhetorical value for certain stakeholders, the persistence of these myths can be attributed to the lack of rigorous scientific and technical information in the public policy debate over water issues. By examining the “myth,” the “reality,” and “how the myth drives debate,” the authors deconstruct the status quo and reframe the policy issues with hard evidence.
California’s first citizens redistricting commission, authorized by the passage of Proposition 11 in 2008, will begin accepting applications on December 15. Prop. 11, also known as the Voters First Act, assigns the task of setting the geographic boundaries of the state’s 120 legislative districts and four Board of Equalization districts to a 14-member citizens commission. Previously, redistricting was the responsibility of the state legislature. State Auditor Elaine Howle discussed the process of developing the commission in a recent Capitol Weekly interview.
The state’s budget watchdog agency has issued its forecast of the state’s General Fund shortfall for the next budget year, estimating the state faces a shortfall of nearly $21 billion. The Legislative Analyst’s Office says the budget gap consists of a $6.3 billion projected deficit for the rest of 2009–10 and a $14.4 billion gap between projected revenues and spending in 2010–11. The 2010-11 estimated deficit is much higher than previous predictions of around $7 billion.
The two Republicans most likely to challenge Barbara Boxer in her bid for a fourth Senate term received lukewarm support in the most recent Field Poll of Republican voters. State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) is favored by 20%, while businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who has not yet formally announced her candidacy, is at 21%. Nearly 60% of respondents were undecided. In matchups against the Republicans, Boxer holds leads of 17 points over DeVore and 14 points over Fiorina.
From an analysis of thousands of lobbyist disclosure reports, the Sacramento Bee has developed a database that tracks gifts to state lawmakers between January 2008 and June 2009. During those 18 months, lobbyists gave legislators, their staffs, and relatives about $610,000 in gifts, including concert tickets, 424 meals at the upscale Sacramento restaurant Spataro (average cost: $57 a meal), kegs of beer, and free travel to destinations from Hawaii to Hungary. (While legislators may not accept more than $420 in gifts annually from a single organization, there is no restriction on gifts to lawmakers’ friends and families.)
Over the past several decades, international trade and increased foreign competition has led to widespread job losses in American manufacturing. The general perception is that these losses have primarily affected jobs and industries that are traditionally male, such as auto manufacturing. Researchers from Dēmos, however, point out that women workers in the US have been significantly impacted by trade-related job losses. Female-intensive industries, such as textiles and apparel, have faced the highest levels of import competition over the past decade and, as a result, have had high levels of job displacement. The situation is compounded by the finding that many manufacturing jobs pay much better than other jobs available to non-college-educated women workers, so laid-off women are likely to find their earning power lowered, perhaps permanently.
Given these conditions, the authors argue for a governmental policy that emphasizes training, professionalizing the jobs that are likely to stay within the country, and a commitment to supporting families during periods of job transition.
The Pew Research Center examines data from several sources to determine if (and how) recent immigration patterns between Mexico and the United States have changed. Statistics from several sources point to a substantial decline in the number of immigrants entering the U.S. from Mexico since 2006. Yet there appears to be no significant change in the number of immigrants returning to Mexico, despite the downturn in employment opportunities due to the current recession.
While the September 2008 and February 2009 state budget agreements cut billions of dollars from state public services, they also included changes to corporate tax rules that will net millions of dollars in tax breaks for some California businesses. A report from the California Budget Project explains how the changes — elective single sales factor apportionment, tax credit sharing, and net operating loss carrybacks — will cost the state $8.7 billion in lost revenues between 2008-09 and 2015-16. The companies that will profit from the changes are some of California’s largest — 80 percent of the benefits will go to companies with gross receipts in excess of $1 billion.
After California voters approved Proposition 8 in November 2008, restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples, a group of secular and religious leaders gathered in Pasadena to analyze the ways in which conservative religious communities contributed to the measure’s success. Their report examines how gay and lesbian religious organizing efforts have fallen short, and outlines strategies to guide future advocacy efforts.
Many recent health care reform proposals have included some form of “individual mandate” — a legal requirement that every citizen obtain adequate health insurance coverage. People who don’t receive coverage through their employer or some other group would be required to purchase their own individual coverage; failure to do so would result in fines or other penalties. This background report from the California Research Bureau looks at the pros and cons of the individual mandate — how many uninsured people would likely be covered, the costs of implementation, administration, and enforcement, and likelihood of compliance, based on similar policies in other areas (auto insurance, child support payments, immunizations).