Budget negotiations grind on and the Republicans are
preparing for their spring convention in Sacramento.
But less visible are the discussions over major changes
in the state's public employee pension system, including some proposed by a group of GOP lawmakers.
From CalPensions' Ed Mendel: "This new wave of pension reforms — hybrids, caps and
current worker cuts — is somewhere in the middle between the polar opposites
previous cost-cutting plans."
"The new reforms are not a long-term death blow to public
pensions like shifting all new hires to a 401(k) plan, which may have lost some
of its appeal after the stock market crash. Sen. Mimi
Walters, R-Laguna Hills,
has a 401(k) bill, but it’s a distant long shot at best."
Meanwhile, CalPERS' board is poised to meet and adopt
changes that would boost the level of workers' contributions
toward their reirement. The AP's Adam Weintraub has the story, via the Press
"Staff of the California Public Employees' Retirement
System have recommended that the board reduce its estimate
about how much money
the fund's investments will make in future years, dropping
"discount rate assumption" from 7.75 percent to 7.5 percent."
"While it's a relatively small change, the reduction
force the state and other employers with workers covered
by CalPERS to increase
the amount they pay into the pension fund, probably
by $200 million or more.
The pension fund could take all or part of that from
California's general fund,
the part of the state budget that pays for day-to-day operations but is facing
a $26.6 billion deficit."
For Republicans, people who were never elected to any
public office play a prominet role, such as talk-radio screechers John and Ken and tax-cutter Jon Coupal.The LAT's Anthony York and Shane Goldmacher tell the
"As Gov. Jerry Brown seeks the handful of Republican votes he needs to ratify
his spending plan, his foil is not so much GOP lawmakers
as "the Three Johns" insiders' shorthand for a potent
band of anti-tax activists including, in addition to the radio hosts,
state Republican Party official and blogger Jon Fleischman
and Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
"None of them holds public office. Kobylt and Chiampou
aren't even Republicans (they're unaffiliated), and Kobylt says he's never met Coupal or Fleischman.
But together they work to tug Republicans away from
compromise in the Democrat-dominated Capitol. State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a Republican
from San Luis Obispo, said some of his GOP colleagues
"crouch in fear and hide under their desk" lest they
offend these enforcers of anti-tax orthodoxy."
When it comes to redistricting, the possibilities presented
by the latest census figures are limitless, and here's one of them: The Bay Area loses out. The Chronicle's John Diaz takes a look.
"California's addition of 3.4 million residents over the
past decade allowed it to keep its 53 congressional seats -- but the more
dramatic population shifts within the state all but
guarantee that some
comfortable incumbents are going to be out of office
in two years."
"And at least one of those out-of-luck members of Congress
is likely to come from the Bay Area."
Republicans see themselves as the party that likes
the cuts, but GOP governors have ruled Sacramento for
23 of the past 28 years, and they have approved vast spending increases.
You want cuts? Talk to the Democrats, notes the LAT's George Skelton.
"But this week, trying to partly close a $26.6-billion
deficit hole, they hope to pass a budget that cuts
programs by $12.5 billion.
And if you don't think most of these are real cuts,
take a close look. But
avert your eyes from the elderly poor, the disabled
and sick welfare kids. Some
sights aren't pleasant."
"Health and human services — programs for people without
financial political muscle — would take by far the sharpest whack, roughly $6
billion, in a budget approved by Democrats on a two-house conference committee.
No Republican voted for the budget bill."
Leaving the Capitol -- and who can blame us? -- we turn to our "Life Behind Bars" file and learn that women are crazier than men. We
knew that all along, of course.
"A criminology professor at Indiana University of
Pennsylvania, Gido said an estimated 42 percent of women in U.S. jails and
prisons are mentally ill, compared with 24 percent of men.
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Corrections reports
that 44 percent of female inmates and 18.6 percent of male inmates have mental
"Women are more likely to have a co-occurring disorder —
meaning mental health problems combined with drug or
alcohol abuse — and a
history of trauma, according to Gido, the former director
of program and policy
analysis for the New York State Commission of Corrections."
Time for a breakout...