State Parks in Trouble, According to Advocacy Report

Posted on March 28th, 2007 — in Growth, Development & Infrastructure :: Resources and Environment

The California State Parks Foundation released its 2007 State of Our State Parks report this week, and the picture isn’t pretty, according to the Kentfield-based advocacy group.

The report spotlights the fact that the governor’s January budget reverts to the general fund $160 million of $250 million promised to the 278-park state system last year. According to the report, “Given that the total price tag for improvements in the state park system, including deferred maintenance and capital improvements, exceeds $2 billion,
this reversion will only further the growth of the huge financial needs of the state parks system.”


State Auditor Follows Up on Prison Population Projections Report

Posted on March 27th, 2007 — in Crime and Punishment :: Growth, Development & Infrastructure

In September 2005, the state auditor’s office released a report concluding (among other things) that the state correctional system needed to do a better job with its inmate population projections, which continue to follow a methodology called “microsimulation” that has been in place for over 30 years.

The 2005 report stated that the Department of Corrections’ population projections were “useful for budgeting, but have limited value for longer-range planning, such as determining when to build additional facilities.”

The report painted a picture of a department whose projections continually overestimated the need for new inmate facilities. The 1995 projection overpredicted the inmate population by as much as 71,000.

The auditor’s office has just released a follow-up to that 2005 report. The follow-up concludes that the Department of Corrections has made little progress toward implementing the recommendations in the original report. Specifically, the auditor found that the correctional system, while claiming that it had revised its methodology for population projections, had not provided documentation to support the claim that its methodology had been revamped.

The follow-up concludes that the “usefulness” of the Department of Corrections’ population projections “remains questionable.”

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Inmate Population Projections Remain Questionable [California State Auditor]

Are Jobs Fleeing the State? Or Is It More Complicated Than That?

Posted on March 23rd, 2007 — in Economy and Business :: Employment :: Growth, Development & Infrastructure

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California points out that although a standard strain of rhetoric in state politics is that jobs are fleeing California because of, among other things, restrictive tax and regulatory climate, the trends of job relocation are more complicated.

One significant conlcusion of the report is that “the shift of employment of California-headquartered companies to other states … has been offset by increased employment in the state by firms headquartered elsewhere, with the result that California’s share of national employment has remained roughly constant, with a dip in the early to mid 1990s.”

Are California’s Companies Shifting Their Employment to Other States? [Public Policy Institute of California]

California Missing a Million People?

Posted on March 23rd, 2007 — in Demographics :: Growth, Development & Infrastructure

According to new population estimates from the Census Bureau, three of the 10 counties in the nation that added the most new residents between 2000 and 2006 were in California — Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. California remains the nation’s most populous state (36.5 million), and Los Angeles remains the nation’s most populous county (9.9 million).

Meanwhile, a San Jose Mercury News article yesterday noted that the State Department of Finance’s numbers estimating the state’s population are at odds with the federal figures, with the state figures reckoning 987,000 more people in the state than the Census Bureau estimates. Among other things, population estimates are used as a significant benchmark for allocating federal funds to a wide variety of programs, so a shortfall of almost a million people could have an enormous impact on the state come funding decision time.

Arizona’s Maricopa Leads Counties in Population Growth Since Census 2000 [Census Bureau]

California Faces Future Children’s Health Care Headaches

Posted on March 23rd, 2007 — in Children and Families :: Health Care :: Politics

A new report by the Commonwealth Fund and the Lewin Group analyzed and compared various health care reform proposals currently in various stages of discussion in Congress and the White House. Two current bills under consideration, S.2772 (sponsored by George Voinovich, R-OH, and Jeff Bingaman, D-NM) and HR 5864 (sponsored by Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, Tom Price, R-GA, and John Tierney, D-MA), would create state-federal partnerships to expand coverage.

The Commonwealth Fund report noted that the two bills do not provide enough detail to enable reasonable cost estimates. The report, for the purposes of illustrating how the type of partnership proposed by the bills would work, assumed a hypothetical model plan for 15 states that would blend elements of Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care plan and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California health care reform proposal. The basic idea would involve federal matching funds to supplement state expansions of Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) programs. The report concluded that such a model could provide coverage for 84.7% (20 million out of 23.6 million) of the uninsured in the 15 states that it studied, including California.

Meanwhile, the California Budget Project noted in December that California’s SCHIP program will expire at the end of September if the level of federal support for the program is not increased. California’s SCHIP funds are used to fund the Healthy Families program, to help provide health coverage for children in county-based health programs, and to support prenatal health services. The CBP report concluded that if Congress does not increase funding, California will face a $2 to $3 billion shortfall in SCHIP funding over the next five years.

Congressional Health Care Bills, 2005-2007: Part I Insurance Coverage [Commonwealth Fund]

SCHIP Reauthorization: Healthy Families Needs Sufficient Federal Funding [California Budget Project]

California Migration Patterns: Losing More Residents than Gaining

Posted on March 12th, 2007 — in Demographics :: Growth, Development & Infrastructure

The California Chamber of Commerce recently highlighted the results of a report by United Van Lines indicating that California is continuing its trend of losing more residents to other states than it is gaining incoming residents.

According to the report, California had its lowest “outbound percentage” in 4 years, but it is still what United Van Lines calls a “high outbound” state — in other words, a state from which (as United defines it) 55% or more of the moves that United handles are out-of-state rather than in-state).

The states to which Californians are moving? According to the report, the main destinations are California’s immediate neighbors — Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada. Oregon and Nevada have ranked as what United calls “high inbound” states (where the majority of moves are into rather than out of the state) for 19 and 20 years, respectively.

Study Finds More Residents Continue to Leave California for Other States [California Chamber of Commerce]

United Van Lines 2006 Migration Study [United Van Lines]