California's redevelopment agencies, ordered abolished by Gov. Brown unless they forked over a hefty fee, asked the state Supreme Court to rule on the issue and the court agreed -- and temporarily put the governor's plan on hold until the case is decided.
From Marisa Lagos in the Chronicle: "The state Supreme Court put the brakes Thursday on a plan to dismantle redevelopment agencies in California, posing yet another challenge to California's ability to keep its budget balanced."
"The court said it would decide by mid-January whether the state's plan to eliminate the economic development program is legal, and allowed redevelopment agencies to continue to exist while the case is pending. But it also barred the agencies from starting any new projects, issuing bonds or purchasing or transferring any property until the suit is resolved."
"If the case is successful, it will punch a $1.7 billion hole in the state's budget for the current fiscal year and cause a $400 million annual shortfall in future years."
The decision comes just two days after state Controller John Chiang said that taxes and other revenue fell short of projections in July - though other state officials said those numbers are likely to change - and as doubts about the nation's economic stability continue to roil stock markets.
The $150 fire prevention fee that Brown and the Legislature approved has caused sparks around the state, especially in rural areas, where there is a fear that it will take money away from firefighting efforts. Brown is working on some changes, reports the AP's Don Thompson.
"The amount raised by the fee will be subtracted from CDF's budgets. That will leave the department with a $50 million budget hole next year and a gap of up to $200 million in future years."
"H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the governor's Department of Finance, said the governor will seek to amend the law when the Legislature returns from its summer recess next week.
Republican lawmakers and local fire officials said the law, enacted as part of the state budget, was poorly written and should be changed or repealed."
"They said it unfairly taxes rural residents twice for fire protection because many of them already support local districts."
"John Vigna, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said lawmakers are consulting with the administration and hope to fix the problems when they return to the state Capitol for the final four weeks of their legislative session."
California's school dropout rate is almost 20 percent, according to newly released figures, which translates into 94,000 students hitting the streets without diplomas. The Chronicle's Jill Tucker whas the story.
"Perhaps more alarming are the 17,000 eighth-grade students who quit before attending a single day of high school, about 3 percent of their class."
"These numbers are believed to be California's first accurate assessment of the dropout and graduation rates using a data system that tracks individual students over their four-year high school career, according to the state Department of Education."
"Overall, 74 percent of high school students graduated on time. The remaining 7 percent who didn't graduate or drop out were students still enrolled in school or who earned a general equivalency diploma."
"In past years, the state used an unreliable system that relied on schools to manually track students and report dropout rates. The data were sketchy at best, with rates fluctuating year to year and among districts with similar demographics."
In the flap over lawmakers' disclosure of their scheduling documents, one legislator is releasing the material, after all. The AP's Juliet Williams reports.
"A California lawmaker who is at odds with the Assembly's Democratic leadership has released his daily calendar for the first six months of 2011 to the Associated Press, breaking with the Legislature's policy of forbidding members from publicly releasing that information."
"Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada-Flintridge, said there are no secrets in his schedule and therefore no reason why he should not release it."
"Portantino is in a feud with Assembly Speaker John Perez, a fellow Democrat. Portantino said the speaker slashed his office budget earlier this year because he refused to vote for the state budget."
"These are the schedules of public figures, and I think that's the point here," Portantino said Thursday. "We're not talking about private information. We're talking about a public calendar of a public official."