County-Level Estimates of the Effects of a Universal Preschool Program in California

Posted on January 25th, 2006 — in Children and Families :: Education :: Social Policy

Thanks to Rob Reiner, Californians will be voting this June on an initiative to bump up taxes on the rich to pay for universal pre-school. Judging by a new report from RAND, it sounds like a pretty good idea. Researchers estimate that pre-school for all would create lots of benefits down the road, including fewer kids who flunk a grade or end up in special education, more teenagers completing high school, and even fewer juvenile court cases. The study also breaks down the numbers by county, and finds that the liberal Bay Area (where a lot of the yes votes will probably come from) would benefit the least, mostly because kids already have high pre-school attendance rates. Ironically, the more conservative Central Valley (which may be less receptive to higher taxes) would benefit the most.
County-Level Estimates of the Effects of a Universal Preschool Program in California


The High Cost of Low-Priced Drugs to California

Posted on January 23rd, 2006 — in Health Care

Allowing Americans to buy drugs from Canada is a popular idea; Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support of the notion may even be one reason for his recent political revival. But a report from the Pacific Research Institute argues that forcing drug companies to sell their potions at artificially low prices will damage the industry — an industry largely based in California. In turn, that will mean a loss to the state economy of between $670 million and $3 billion, and job losses ranging from 23,900 to 105,600. But do Californians really want to protect their economyby gouging their fellow Americans who buy the medicines we make? If the new numbers are correct, they present an interesting dilemma?
The High Cost of Low-Priced Drugs to California


Update 2002-2004: The Progress of English Learner Students

Posted on January 22nd, 2006 — in Education

The progress of English learners in the public schools is always an issue of relevance in California, where so many students are immigrants. The Legislative Analyst’s Office considers the numbers and concludes that improvement in English performance is slower than portrayed by the state Department of Education.
Update 2002-2004: The Progress of English Learner Students


Special Survey on the California State Budget

Posted on January 20th, 2006 — in Polls and Surveys :: Public Finance

The obvious lead on the new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California is that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has regained some of his lost popularity. But here’s an interesting sidelight: For years, lots of people have claimed that raising taxes is political suicide. Not so. Asked if they would support raising income taxes on rich people to pay for state spending, 65 percent said yes. And it’s not just the firebrand liberals. Among independent voters 67 percent said yes, and even among Republicans opinion was roughly split, 46 percent yes and 52 percent no.
Special Survey on the California State Budget


Helping Low-wage Americans. The Earned Income Tax Credit: An Effective Solution to an Age-old Problem

Posted on January 19th, 2006 — in Social Policy

As part of his new, more moderate image, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed raising the minimum wage as a way to help California’s working poor. But is he suggesting the wrong idea? The Employment Policies Institute suggests that an earned income tax credit is far more effective than a higher minimum wage in lifting people out of poverty. Some states have an EITC, but not California. Perhaps if Schwarzenegger had proposed an EITC, he would have done just as much to make new friends on the left and less to alienate his old ones on the right.
Helping Low-wage Americans. The Earned Income Tax Credit: An Effective Solution to an Age-old Problem


Employer Mandates and the Health Care Crisis: Economic Impacts in California and the Bay Area

Posted on January 16th, 2006 — in Health Care

How to provide health care for all Californians? The Bay Area Economic Forum criticizes one approach — a state or local requirement that employers provide insurance for their workers. The costs will be too high, restricting business growth and employment. Nor would an employer-based system cover the increasing number of self-employed. So what is the answer? The researchers promise a second report later in the year to offer their suggestions.
Employer Mandates and the Health Care Crisis: Economic Impacts in California and the Bay Area


Implications of the Federal Deficit Reduction Program

Posted on January 14th, 2006 — in Public Finance

How can a deficit-reduction plan increase the deficit? Well, what’s good for Washington is not always good for Sacramento. The Legislative Analysts’ Office reports that the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 would actually cost California, which is already in the red, $3.1 billion through 2010. A little more than half the loss would come from reduced federal funds, a little less from increased state costs. Looking at the same bill, the California Budget Project focuses on what it says would be a “significant toll on programs that assist low-income families and children.”
LAO: Fiscal Effect on California: Pending Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
CBP: What Would the Conference Agreement on Federal Budget Cuts Mean for California


Promoting Access to Higher Education: A Review of the State’s Transfer Process

Posted on January 12th, 2006 — in Education

Education California’s celebrated Master Plan for Higher Education envisioned a system that was stratified, but where it was easy to move from one level to the next. More students would be pushed toward community colleges, but with the promise that they could transfer later to the University of California or California State University. But now the Legislative Analyst’s Office finds that the system is broken, that different course requirements at different campuses create a complex maze that discourages transfers. Few students are making the switch, the report finds.
Promoting Access to Higher Education: A Review of the State’s Transfer Process


2005 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count

Posted on January 11th, 2006 — in Demographics :: Polls and Surveys

The U.S. Census is sometimes said to undercount the homeless population, but the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority makes its own attempt for California’s largest city. Researchers estimate that during a three-day period last year, more than 80,000 people were homeless in Los Angeles County, a population that would normally constitute a good-sized city on its own.
2005 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count


Medi-Cal Facts and Figures: A Look at California’s Medicaid Program

Posted on January 10th, 2006 — in Health Care

The California HealthCare Foundation provides a basic summary of Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid. This is not the main thrust of the study, but one interesting angle is the map found on page 6, which shows the rates at which the federal government matches state Medicaid spending. Generally (though not uniformly) the states with the lowest matching rates tend to be Democratic leaning, and the states with the highest rates tend to back Republicans — another example of how the federal government tends to work as a subsidy mechanism, shifting funds from the “blue states” to the red ones.
Medi-Cal Facts and Figures: A Look at California’s Medicaid Program