Report Focuses on California’s Day Laborer Population

Posted on July 31st, 2007 — in Demographics :: Employment :: Immigration

A new report analyzes data from the 2004 National Day Labor Survey to paint a portrait of the day laborer population in California, a group that receives a significant amount of attention in the mass media.

Day Labor in the Golden State [Public Policy Institute of California]

According to the report, issued by the Public Policy Institute of California, day laborers (defined in the report as people, primarily men, and primarily immigrants, who gather on street corners and in parking lots to wait for temporary employment) is not as large as the media attention would have you believe — at about 40,000, the population represents 3% of the state’s undocumented male workforce and 0.2% of its total workforce. The average day laborer has limited English skills, a low level of education, has lived in the state for less than 10 years, is employed about 23 hours a week, and makes about $259 per week. About 20% of the day laborer force are either US citizens, permanent residents, or temporary residents.

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Review Finds Substantial Security Flaws in California Electronic Voting Systems

Posted on July 31st, 2007 — in Elections and Voting :: Politics

A recent set of reports commissioned by the Secretary of State and conducted by the University of California found that three of the major electronic voting systems used in California — Diebold, Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia — have substantial security and accessibility flaws.

The Secretary of State’s office has posted an overview of the so-called “top-to-bottom review” on its website, along with separate reports on reviews of each of the three systems and a fourth report of the accessibility and usability of all three systems. Many of the security flaws, according to the UC reviewers, revolve around the inconsistency in security between the electronic voting systems and the operating systems that they run on.

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California’s Population Explosion: By 2050, It Would Be the 23rd Largest Nation in the World

Posted on July 30th, 2007 — in Demographics :: State of the State

One of the bigger pieces of policy prognostication to come out of Sacramento this month was a set of data suggesting that California’s population will reach the 60 million mark by the year 2050. To put that in perspective, with a population of 60 million, if it were a separate country, California would be the 23rd most populous nation in the world (in 2007 terms, of course) — ahead of Italy and just behind the United Kingdom and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As it is, in the year 2007, with a population estimated at over 37 million, California would already be the 35th most populous nation in the world (well ahead of Canada and Algeria and just behind Kenya).

The other part of the figures that attracted considerable media attention: California’s population by 2050 will be majority Hispanic, comprising 52% of the total. Whites will comprise 26%, Asians 13%, and African-Americans 5%.

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State Health Insurance System in “Frail” Condition, According to New Report

Posted on July 26th, 2007 — in Health Care

Key findings of a recent report on the state of the health insurance system in California are grim.

The State of Health Insurance in California [UCLA Center for Health Policy Research]

6.5 million non-elderly Californians were uninsured at the end of 2005. (Most elderly Californians have health coverage.) Three-fourths of that total were people who had not had health coverage for a significant amount of time — not just because of gaps in employment or other temporary setbacks. One in four had never had health insurance. Over half had either never had insurance or had lacked it for over 3 years. 61% of the uninsured were people in families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty line. Over 80% of the uninsured were people with jobs and/or their family members.

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Big Out-of-State Money Behind 2006 Marriage Initiatives Will Zero in on California in 2008

Posted on July 26th, 2007 — in Ballot Measures :: Campaign Finance :: Politics

No fewer than four initiatives that would ban same-sex marriage and/or domestic partnership benefits in California (as well as anything resembling them, including, for instance, hospital visitation rights) are circulating for the 2008 ballot. In view of that fact, it’s instructive to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. A new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics takes a closer look at the money behind the marriage amendments that were on the ballot in nine states in 2006.

The Money Behind the 2006 Marriage Amendments [National Institute on Money in State Politics]

In 2006, more than $18 million was raised in support of or in opposition to anti-same-sex marriage amendments in nine states. The states were Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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Environmental Issues Increasingly Important to California Voters

Posted on July 26th, 2007 — in Politics :: Resources and Environment

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that environmental issues are increasingly shifting to the front burner of concerns for voters in the state. 54% of likely voters now say that a candidate’s positions on the environment will be “very important” in deteremining how they vote. Compare that percentage to July 2004, when only 37% of likely voters said the same thing.

Californians and the Environment (July 2007) [Public Policy Institute of California]

More specifically, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has some cause for concern, if the PPIC survey is to be believed. Only 47% of all adults statewide approve of the job Schwarzenegger is doing on the environment. In January, that figure was 55% (among likely voters, that figure is 51%, down from 57% in January). More broadly, Schwarzenegger’s overall job performance approval ratings have also dropped, from 58% to 52% among all adults, and from 61% to 59% among likely voters.

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Legislative Analyst’s Office Releases Summary of State Budget

Posted on July 20th, 2007 — in State Budget

A new summary of the $145 billion state budget (which just passed through all of its hurdles in the Assembly today after weeks of wrangling and now faces more hurdles in the Senate) released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office today says that even if the budget passes in its current form, the state will face operating shortfalls of $5 billion in both 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. Which means, essentially, that the three-week-plus impasse over the 2007-2008 budget is almost destined to repeat itself next year and the year after that. (This year’s budget shortfall was $3 billion, as a point of comparison.)

According to the report, “The budget assumes the state will start 2007-08 with a fund balance of $4.8 billion. It projects $102.3 billion in budget-year revenues, an increase of 6.5 percent from 2006-07. The budget authorizes expenditures of $103 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent from 2006-07. The resulting operating shortfall of $0.7 billion leaves the General Fund with a year-end reserve of $3.4 billion.”

The 2007-08 Budget Package [State Legislative Analyst's Office]

Various other items of note:

The governor’s original January 10 budget proposal and May 14 budget revisions can be found here.


Broadband Access Higher in California than Rest of U.S., But Gaps Remain

Posted on July 19th, 2007 — in Demographics :: Growth, Development & Infrastructure

Although California is well ahead of the rest of the country, there are significant gaps in broadband availability and adoption in the state, according to a recent report from the Public Policy Institute of California. Unsurprisingly, the availability and adoption of broadband is higher in areas with higher incomes and higher population densities.

Nationally, 39% of households had access to broadband at the end of 2005, which is up from 7% at the end of 2000. The comparable figures for California: 10% at the end of 2000 and 47% at the end of 2005. Possible explanations for the higher rates of broadband availability and adotpion in California include (a) more “favorable demographics” (comparatively higher incomes, more education); (b) more profit in offering broadband because of the higher population density and generally higher incomes in the state; and (c) state policies favoring wider deployment of broadband services.

Factors that feed into the gap in broadband availability and adoption include (a) neighborhood income, (b) the presence of personal computers in the household, (c) ethnicity (Hispanics and African-Americans are less likely than whites and Asians to have broadband), and (d) regional differences (the Central Valley and areas of Northern California north of the Sacramento Valley are far less likely to have broadband than coastal counties and the Inland Empire).


California “Food Insecurity” Index Lower in Most Recent Survey

Posted on July 6th, 2007 — in Children and Families :: Social Policy :: State of the State

The number of people in the state experiencing regular “food insecurity” (a term of art for being unable to put food on the table on a regular basis of the course of a given year) fell slightly in the period between 2003 and 2005, but was still higher than in 2001, according to a study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

In 2001, the prevalence of food insecurity among California low-income households was 29.1%. That figure had risen to 33.9% by 2003. The figure dropped back to 30% by 2005, according to the study, perhaps due to higher rates of job growth and overall economic improvement in the state during that period. The figures showed negligible change for the households among that total defined as having “very low food security,” i.e., those with disrupted eating patterns and lower food intake.

The counties with the highest food insecurity prevalence figures in 2005 were Kings, Napa, Merced, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Alameda, Tulare, Santa Cruz, Humboldt, Del Norte, Tehama, Glenn, and Colusa.


Cons of Privatizing the State Lottery

Posted on July 6th, 2007 — in Education :: Growth, Development & Infrastructure :: Tribal Gaming

A recent report from the California Budget Project dissects the governor’s proposal to privatize the state lottery and finds it wanting in several respects. According to the report, the proposal overestimates the amount of money that the state would likely get from privatization (in the range of $13-18 billion rather than the $37 billion claimed by the governor’s office).

Privatization would also likely conflict with existing or pending tribal gaming compacts. It would also more likely than not wind up enticing low-income Californians, who already buy the bulk of lottery tickets, to spend more money on the lottery.