The best government money can buy

Feb 8, 2016


Well, it's an election year and that means the campaign donations are flowing like water to candidates, especially Democrats. 


The Bee's Jim Miller tells the tale: "Members of the California Legislature began the election year with more than $40 million cash on hand after raising about $39 million last year, according to campaign reports filed this week."


"About 69 percent of the contributions went to the Legislature’s majority Democrats, with the rest donated to Republicans."


"Lawmakers began 2015 with about $23 million cash on hand and collectively ended the year with about $17 million more in almost 400 campaign committees. They reported about $49 million in campaign contributions, but about $10.7 million of those reflected some lawmakers’ transfer of money from one campaign account to another and not actual campaign donations."

California's $3 billion, voter-approved stem cell outfit is taking a close look at human genetic changes.


From David Jensen in Capitol Weekly: "California’s stem cell agency has embarked on what is likely to be an exhaustive review of genetic alteration of human embryos with likely recommendations for changes in the $3 billion research effort."


"The 11-year-old agency plans to examine a host of issues ranging from inadvertent, inheritable changes in the human race to informed consent on the part of patients.  The move emerged from a day-long review of the far-reaching subject at a meeting Thursday of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is formally known."


Responding to a request from the California Stem Cell Report, Kevin McCormack, senior director for communications for CIRM, laid out the scope of the agency’s future steps and gave his impressions of the session, which suffered from audio quality issues in its audiocast. (See here and here.)McCormack said the issues were “too many and too complex” to produce recommendations immediately."


California's economy is on mend -- at least for now -- but the money experts on Wall Street are  jittery about the state's massive debt.


From the Chronicle's Melody Gutierrez: "California has come a long way to dig itself out of budget deficits, but the state remains on shaky ground due to nearly $400 billion in unfunded liabilities and debt from public pensions, retiree health care and bonds, financial analysts say."


"Yes, the state’s budget is balanced if you are looking at what they are required to spend cash on this year, but not when you look at their expenses,” said Gabe Petek, a credit analyst with Standard & Poor’s."


"The high debt and unfunded liabilities have resulted in the state’s rating lagging behind other states, Petek says. California saw its bond rating rise last year from A+ to AA-, the highest level the state has had in 14 years. Good bond ratings are a sign of a strong budget and financial management and allow states to pay lower interest rates when selling bonds."


Consistency is the hobgoblin of mediocre minds, as they say, but there is something unusual about doctors who favor legalizing recreational marijuana use while condemning tobacco use.


From the Bee's Dan Morain: "Understandably, the California Medical Association is funding a 2016 initiative to raise the tobacco tax by $2, to $2.87 per pack, and for the first time tax electronic cigarettes."


"Yes, docs would win, too. Physicians’ reimbursement for treating people without private insurance would rise. But by adding $2 to the cost of a pack, kids would be priced out of smoking tobacco and vaping nicotine, and more adults might quit. All for the good of public health."


Less understandable, the California Medical Association last week endorsed the initiative pushed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and billionaire Sean Parker that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana. By legalizing it, Larson said, the state could better regulate it..."


"As the California Medical Association issued its endorsement, professor Stanton Glantz of the UC San Francisco medical school, and UCSF researcher Rachel Barry issued their 66-page diagnosis of the Newsom-Parker initiative, concluding that it could transform the marijuana business into the next tobacco industry.


The gas leak that has drven thousands of Southern California people from their homes has prompted agreement from rival forces on at least one thing -- the feds need to step in.


From Gregory Wilcox in the L.A. Daily News: "While the three-month old gas leak is polarizing Porter Ranch residents, it is creating some bi-partisan bedfellows during a time of presidential campaign rancor."


"Representatives Brad Sherman, a Democrat, and Steve Knight, a Republican, are in agreement that federal legislation is needed when it comes to the national gas storage industry.

Both are working on bills that call for just that and they seem amenable to cross-party communication."


“I called and emailed Knight’s office and they have been non-responsive,” Sherman said in an interview one morning last week."




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