The Latest on the Governor’s Race

Posted on May 25th, 2006 — in Politics :: Polls and Surveys

A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California has numbers on the governor’s race and more. One interesting angle is the gender gap in the Democratic primary. Men favor Phil Angelides; women support Steve Westly. Why? Is it the effect of Westly’s feel-good TV spots vs. Angelides’ harsher ads? Or the fact that Westly tried to work with Gov. Schwarzenegger before turning against him? In any event, more women than men are undecided, and since women outnumber men in the Democratic primary vote, if the gender gap holds up it could produce a late surge for Westly.

State of Uncertainty: Californians Undecided About Primary, Divided About Leadership, Future

Preschool Operators on Prop. 82 — Not What You Expect

Posted on May 22nd, 2006 — in Education

Here’s a surprising tidbit from a new survey of preschool operators by the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Few of the educators think it would be a good idea to funnel new preschool funding through county education offices — the mechanism that would be used under Rob Reiner’s Prop. 82. In fact most of the people running preschools don’t even know where their county’s office of education is located.

Community Voices — Preschool Directors Speak on Policy Options

For More Background, see the IGS “Hot Topic” on Prop. 82

Doctors and English

Posted on May 17th, 2006 — in Health Care

It’s no surprise that in polyglot California, there are going to be people who have trouble understanding their doctor. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has issued a new report looking at the numbers, and in a way it’s surprising that the problem is not worse. Of commercially-insured HMO enrollees, for example, fewer than 4 percent reported a problem in comprehending what the doctor had to say. And the vast majority of these got help from someone else: a relative or another staff member in the medical office, for example. Do we really need professional translators, or is this a solution in search of a problem?

Language Barriers Pose a Risk for California HMO Enrollees

Pre-School: The Critics Turn

Posted on May 17th, 2006 — in Children and Families :: Education :: Politics

Critics of universal preschool are weighing in, just as Californians get ready to vote on the Rob Reiner-backed ballot measure (which really seems to have faded from the public consciousness, by the way). The Pacific Research Institute’s view is pretty clear from the report’s subtitle: “Top Ten Myths About the Benefits of Government-Run Universal Preschool.” The Reason Foundation finds that research touting the benefits of preschool is “flawed” and “of questionable value,” and contends that the Reiner measure would create a “state-controlled monopoly” that “subsidizes the preschool choices of middle-class and wealthy families.” Grumpy, grumpy. Somebody needs a nap.

Pacific Research Institute: No Magic Bullet: Top Ten Myths About the Benefits of Government-Run Universal Preschool

Reason Foundation: Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers

For More Background, see the IGS “Hot Topic” on Prop. 82

Poor in the Land of Sunshine

Posted on May 11th, 2006 — in Demographics :: Economy and Business :: Social Policy

The latest evidence that California’s higher wages often fail to offset higher living costs comes in a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California. The study of poverty in the Golden State finds that when the poverty rate is adjusted to reflect higher living costs, the rate goes up in California and down in the rest of the nation. Lots of meat to chew on here: Using new inflation numbers, the study makes clear that poverty in most parts of the country has declined since the late ’60s, but not in California. And there is a lot of data on the correlation between rising income inequality and rising poverty.

Poverty in California: Moving Beyond the Federal Measure

The Reiner Initiative From A to Z

Posted on May 10th, 2006 — in Education :: Politics

Two new reports provide plenty of detail about Prop. 82, the Rob Reiner preschool measure on the November ballot. It’s interesting that although Reiner’s previous initiative sailed through and so did a recent measure to increase the income tax for mental health programs, this one seems to be in trouble.

USC California Policy Institute: Proposition 82 Analysis: Understanding Universal Preschool from a Research Perspective

California Budget Project: What Would Proposition 82 Mean for California?

EdSource: Proposition 82: Preschool Education

For More Background, see the IGS “Hot Topic” on Prop. 82.

As Vulnerable As Louisiana…

Posted on May 10th, 2006 — in Economy and Business :: Resources and Environment :: Security

“California is as vulnerable as Louisiana, and perhaps equally unprepared for a catastrophic event.” That sobering assessment of our preparedness for a natural disaster comes from the state’s Little Hoover Commission in a report that should provide some fuel for proponents of the fall bond issue.

Safeguarding the Golden State: Preparing for Catastrophic Events

Yacht Owners Beware

Posted on May 10th, 2006 — in Economy and Business :: Public Finance

It may seem like a conflict-of-interest for Arnold Schwarzenegger to propose changes in a tax that affects yacht owners, but he did it anyway. (Full disclosure: We have no idea if the governor actually owns a yacht, but you get the idea.) In 2004 the Legislature and the governor temporarily lengthened the amount of time vessels, vehicles and aircraft must be kept out of state to avoid the California tax. Now the governor wants a one-year extension of the temporary change. The Legislative Analyst’s Office concludes that instead the change should be made permanent, since it had few harmful economic impacts and brought in more money to the state.

California’s Taxation of Vessels, Vehicles and Aircraft

Bland Statistics — But For Working Families a Real Difference

Posted on May 9th, 2006 — in Children and Families

Sometimes mere numbers can make a big difference. In a new report, the California Budget Project finds that the state has been slow to adjust the income limit at which families qualify for child care assistance. If the state were to update the numbers, the limit would rise, and more families could receive help.

Updating California’s Income Limit for Subsidized Child Care

The Latest on UC’s Salary Woes

Posted on May 8th, 2006 — in Education

There has been plenty of news recently about compensation packages at the University of California. The State Auditor’s office takes a look at this issue — and finds the university violating its own policies.

University of California: Stricter Oversight and Greater Transparency Are Needed to Improve Its Compensation Practices