"The state's new fiscal year begins Tuesday
, and once again California will not have a state spending
plan in place as lawmakers try to bridge a $15.2 billion deficit," writes the Bee's Judy Lin.
"Lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger remain far
apart on any solution.
"The state will continue to pay for essential services
but many other payments will not be made, including
those to school special education programs, community
colleges, local governments and vendors.
"'A budget impasse that lasts through July will cause
bills to stack up,' state Controller John Chiang said in a statement.
'Real people, with mortgage payments to make, employees
to pay and families to feed, should not be held hostage
by political and philosophical battles that block passage
of a sound and timely budget.'"
Lin looks at the budget delay's impact on health care services.
"A south Sacramento pharmacist says he'll stop accepting new Medi-Cal patients starting Tuesday because the state will
begin paying him 10 percent less for their prescriptions – not enough to cover the cost of drugs.
"A Plumas County hospital district is making plans to
close the only emergency room in a 1,200-square-mile area of the Sierra Nevada because the rural health
care provider won't get paid by the state unless lawmakers pass and Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a budget by the end of
"And the operator of an east Sacramento adult day care
center is worried that dozens of senior and disabled
clients may wind up in overcrowded emergency rooms
if they can't get his center's preventive care.
"This year's tardy state budget – plus the prospect of even deeper cuts in California's low-income health insurance program – has patients and providers bracing for reduced access
to health care, including closures of medical facilities
throughout the state."
The Chron's Erin McCormick looks at the extra dough collected by some state workers.
Really, she's just rubbing it in to those of you that will be working
in the Capitol this month for no paycheck, let alone
"A nurse at a state prison in Monterey County collected
$198,000 in overtime last year - bringing her total pay to more than $310,000.
"The chief investment officer for the state's pension system earned $403,000 in bonuses - for a total paycheck of $945,000.
"And a deputy chief for the California Highway Patrol
collected a lump-sum payout of $103,000, even though she retired almost two years ago and
didn't collect a cent of regular pay last year, according
to a Chronicle analysis of state workers' pay.
"The extra pay is among $2.1 billion given to state employees in 2007 - including overtime, bonuses, premium pay, relocation
allowances and lump-sum payouts.
"Pushed upward by a surge in overtime, these payouts
are helping to drive up the state's costs at a time when California is facing a $17.2 billion budget deficit.
"'There's a lot of unaccountability around these types of extra
pay,' said Christina Lokke
of the nonpartisan government watchdog group California
Common Cause. 'Who is making the decisions about who gets this money?
Why are certain people getting these benefits that
others don't get? Many of these things seem to be decided under
a veil of secrecy.'
"The extra pay pushed the total earnings of 616 of the state's 364,000 employees to more than the $212,000 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would make if he accepted
his annual paycheck. That included 274 psychiatrists, 48 investment officers, 23 prison guards, 18 nurses and three fire battalion chiefs."
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, usually a darling of the
national media, found himself being told by the host of NBC's "Meet the Press" that if he ran a private company the way he has run
the state, he might have been fired by now," reports Evan Halper in the Times.
"Tom Brokaw, who will be moderating the program through the presidential
election, put a series of confrontational questions
to the governor in an interview taped in California
and aired this morning.
"'When you ran for governor in 2003, you ran as a fiscal conservative who would change
the system, who would bring business-like techniques,' Brokaw said. 'Now, you are facing a $15-billion deficit here in California. Unemployment is
running at about 6.8%; you've got the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression.
If you were the CEO of a public company, the board
would probably say, 'It is time to go.'
"Schwarzenegger joked: 'Are you always this positive?'
"He defended his record, saying that he has brought
Republicans and Democrats together to fix the state's workers' compensation system and build public-works projects, among other accomplishments.
"'That doesn't mean when you are doing a good job the economy doesn't go down eventually,' Schwarzenegger said. 'What goes up must come down. We see that nationwide.
We see that other states are struggling. The country
is struggling. People are struggling, and I think we
see that all over the world.'"
The LAT's Dan Morain looks at the images that supporters and opponents of
gay marriage are using to raise money for the campaign over Proposition 8.
"Fundraising for the campaigns is only now beginning
in a serious way. But groups on each side will rely
on images to help them persuade constituents to dip
into their pockets."
"Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for gay rights
from its base in Washington, D.C., featured on its
website a photo of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin of San Francisco, who have lived together since the
Eisenhower administration. They made news around the
country when they exchanged vows the evening of June
"'Help preserve this momentous victory -- donate to HRC,' the caption reads.
"Human Rights Campaign has contributed $242,600 so far to defeat the initiative.
"On the home page of the National Organization for Marriage,
based in New Jersey, a photo prominently shows a different
type of family: a man and a woman cuddling a small girl.
"'If my Dad married a man, who would be my Mom?' the caption reads. A "donate" button is directly above.
"The California arm of the National Organization for
Marriage has collected $1.1 million from 80 donors to promote the November initiative."
"New legislation takes aim at an honor system, of sorts, perhaps one of the few remaining in which
millions of dollars are at stake," writes Jim Sanders in the Bee.
"The measure targets a process in which state law requires
car insurance premiums to be based partly on motorists' estimates of how far they will drive each year.
"Honesty can hurt – financially.
"'I think it's ingrained, given the structure of the current system,
to lie,' said Michael Gunning of the Personal Insurance Federation of California,
whose members write about half the state's auto insurance policies.
"Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, proposed the new measure, Assembly Bill
2800, to permit insurance companies to offer discounts
to drivers who volunteer to have mileage verified.
"Huffman said it makes no sense to reward dishonesty
or lowballing, while offering no incentive to drive
"'Ask yourself, what would most people do, given the
opportunity to have a lower insurance rate by estimating
lower miles than they actually drive?' Huffman said."
The Capitol press corps lost another member last week in the latest round of newspaper carnage. Steve Maviglio
at the California Majority Report writes, "Steve Geissinger, the long-time Oakland Tribune writer and the paper's
Sacramento bureau chief, is the latest layoff victim.
The layoff ends
the newspaper's presence in Sacramento, though it will continue to
share articles with other newspapers in the MediaNews
namely the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times.
"Geissinger is one of the senior members of the press
president of the Capitol Correspondents Association.
I recently worked
with him on some delicate negotiations involving the
credentialing of bloggers, and first met him when I
was the press
secretary for Gov. Gray Davis. Steve often picked up stories that
others wouldn't touch; his most recent blockbuster involved the state
lottery. He'll be missed."
With more layoffs expected at the LA Times and other
papers, pretty soon, we're not going to have any copy left to summarize here
at The Roundup, and we'll have to go back to just making stuff up...
Matier and Ross report on a piece of legislation by Fiona Ma that would benefit
an associate of the Assemblywoman.
"At issue: legislation
custom-tailored to give an outfit called Current Grid LLC
a leg up in
the emerging $5 billion energy-saving industry in California.
"Current Grid sells so-called smart meters -
sophisticated electric meters for homes and businesses
utility companies to instantly monitor power usage
rather than relying
on traditional meter readers. The devices also let
their usage to help reduce wasteful consumption.
"The president of Current Grid is Patrick Koch, a Washington lobbyist whose brother is married to
President Bush's sister and who has an interesting romantic connection
of his own - the Democratic assemblywoman."
"Whatever their personal
relationship - and neither was returning calls to comment - Ma is
apparently eager to promote Koch's business interests.
"On Feb. 24, state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima
(Los Angeles County), introduced legislation on the company's behalf
that would mandate that utilities use the kind of meter
offered by Koch's firm - and Ma's office was soon calling to monitor
When the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications
up the bill in April, Ma was watching quietly from
the back of the room.
"And when the bill, SB1438, reached the Assembly, Ma was in the mix
again - making the phone call to introduce Koch to Assemblyman
Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, chairman of the Utilities and Commerce Committee,
which was hearing the legislati
And though tomorrow is the day that drivers must use
a hands-free device to use their cell phones, enforcement of the new law may be spotty at first, reports the Union-Tribune's Pauline Repard.
"Police in San Diego and Oceanside plan a monthlong
grace period before they start strictly enforcing the
"San Diego police typically hold off on writing tickets
with all new traffic laws, department spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz said.
Oceanside police Sgt. Kelan Poorman said his
agency favors education over enforcement at first.
However, he said,
officers will be allowed to write a ticket if they
feel a warning isn't
sufficient to drive home the message.
Other agencies around the county don't see the need for delayed enforcement."
And other cities around the state see no need to postpone
a new source of revenue...
In recent weeks, a workers' rights group has sent press releases to the Capitol
Press Corps asking them to attach a dollar figure to
various body parts. The releases have been part of
a campaign to boost workers comp payments for people
who are injured on the job.
But now, a man in Perth, Australia doesn't have to sell off parts. He's got a price for what his entire life is worth.
"A man who auctioned his life — his house, his car, his job, even his friends — on eBay said Monday he is disappointed with the selling
price: almost $384,000.
"Ian Usher, a British immigrant to Australia, put everything
he owned as well as introductions to his friends on
the online auction site after a painful breakup with
his wife prompted him
to want a fresh start.
"Bidding closed Sunday and reached nearly $384,000 — an amount Usher said his house in the western city
of Perth was worth
on its own."
So, does that mean his life is officially worthless?
"'I guess I'm a little bit disappointed at the final price, I'd hoped
it to be a little higher than that,' Usher told Nine Network television
on Monday. "But I am committed to selling and moving on and making