A recent California Budget Project report has some sobering statistics about poverty and the cost of living in California. Interestingly, this report coincides with recent federal Census numbers that show a three-tenths percent drop in the nationwide poverty rate (12.3%) and a rise in median household income ($48,200) between 2005 and 2006, although there are questions about how the Census Bureau defines poverty. The same Census figures show a California median household income of $55,318 and a 12.2% poverty rate. This poverty figure represents a 1 percentage point drop from 2005 to 2006. The news release from the CBP noting these figures states that this change is “statistically insignificant.”
Another initiative currently circulating that could appear on the ballot in June 2008 would institute drastic reform of the way California elects the president every four years. As the language of the ballot measure puts it,
Under the initiative, an elector would be required to be a member of the political party that nominates the elector at the time of the nomination and during the 4 years preceding the nomination, unless the political party was not registered as a party during that period. The initiative would require each elector nominee to sign a pledge that he or she will cast his or her ballot for the candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States who receive the plurality of votes in the congressional district in which the elector is nominated, or who receive the plurality of votes in the state in the case of the two electors selected on a statewide basis, unless those candidates are no longer alive at the time the elector’s vote is cast.
A Field Poll released last Saturday shows that likely voters still support a fix for the state’s current term limits law. A total of 70% of the state’s voters are strongly in favor of term limits for state legislators in general, while only 27% say that legislators should be allowed to run for as many terms as they want.
With a deal finally reached on the state budget after over 7 weeks of delay, a number of the postmortems from the deadlock focus on the apparent reality that the GOP senators who balked at passing the budget — allegedly because it wasn’t balanced, it spent too much money, and it allowed the Attorney General to run rampant with vexatious environmental litigation — actually ended up settling for a budget that looked a heck of a lot like the one that they could have passed 7 weeks ago. In the final analysis, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, none of the other GOP holdouts objected when Dick Ackerman informed them that he was electing to vote for the budget:
During a private meeting Tuesday morning, Senate Republicans told Ackerman that he was free to provide the final vote for the budget, even though they still intended to vote against it on philosophical grounds.
News reports are saying that a budget deal has finally been reached, with Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman joining Senator Abel Maldonado in voting for the stalemated budget after a 51-day impasse. Reports are saying that the deal was achieved after Democrats compromised on the question of CEQA greenhouse gas emission lawsuits that GOP senators had demanded as a condition of passing the budget.
The budget stalemate was the third-longest in modern state history, exceeded only by the budget crises of 1992 and 2002. In the past 25 years, the legislature has met the June 15 budget deadline only 6 times.
A new Field Poll today shows Hillary Clinton with a widening lead over her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination among likely voters in California. Since March, Clinton’s lead has expanded from 41% to 49%, while her closest rival, Barack Obama, has declined from 28% to 19%. John Edwards, the next-closest contender, has declined from 13% to 10%. All other Democratic presidential candidates are supported in numbers less than 5%.
A new report is out from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center about Lake Tahoe. It observes that the climate of the lake the area around it has shown a noticeable warming trend.
The fraction of snow in the area’s total precipitation has dropped from 52% to 34%. The number of days with average temperatures below freezing has decreased by 30 days a year. The nightly low temperatures in Tahoe City have increased by an average of 4 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the average lake surface water temperature has risen by at least 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 35 years.
Yet another Field Poll, out today, shows Giuliani holding onto solid support as the leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, with 35%. The next three candidates behind Giuliani don’t even have half that much support. Mitt Romney comes in second with 14%. Fred Thompson, who hasn’t officially declared his candidacy yet but is expected to do so sometime next month, is third with 13%.
John McCain, who had 24% support the last time the presidential preference poll was taken in March, has plummeted to fourth, with 9%. The fifth candidate, Tom Tancredo, is way behind at 3%. Five other candidates register at 2% or less.
One potential stumbling block for Giuliani is that his support appears to be wide but not that deep. Among likely voters who say that they are following the presidential race closely, Giuliani’s lead over Romney and Thompson is much narrower (a margin of 14-15 percentage points, still significant, but not insurmountable).
Another new Field Poll came out today. Its findings: Californians’ views of President Bush’s performance are virtually unchanged since a similar poll was conducted in March, with 26% of registered voters saying that they approve the job that he is doing.
According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, until this most recent poll, California’s opinion of the president’s performance had been about 10 points more negative than that of the national electorate as a whole. That is no longer true. A CBS News/New York Times poll released yesterday, for instance, shows only 29% of voters nationwide approve of Bush’s performance. As a point of comparison, the last president to have approval ratings as low as or lower than Bush was Richard Nixon, whose approval sunk to 24% in the days just before he resigned in August 1974.
According to figures released on Friday by the state controller’s office, total tax receipts in July were $787 million (16%) below estimates put forth in the governor’s May budget estimate — although they were still higher (by $132 million, or 3.3%) than the revenue for the same period last year. The shortfall, according to the controller, appears to be mostly due to disappointing sales tax revenues. Sales tax revenues in July 2007 were 3.4% under sales tax revenues for July 2006.