"The economic stimulus package congressional leaders
are drafting would wipe out nearly a quarter of California's budget shortfall, a potential windfall that could help end the impasse
over how to close the nearly $42-billion gap," report Evan Halper and Richard Simon in the Times.
Does the federal teat give the stool five legs?
"The House bill, which is likely to be voted on next
week, would bring the state more than $11 billion in healthcare and education money that could
go directly to reducing the deficit through mid-2010, state officials learned Thursday night.
"'This takes a big bite out of the state's budget gap,' said Jean Ross
, executive director of the California Budget Project,
a Sacramento-based think tank. 'It is better news than many of us had anticipated.
"The money would come from the $825-billion stimulus package that President Barack Obama
has made a top priority. The package would also increase
spending in California into 2011 for various federal programs, such as job training
and food stamps."
Hope has arrived, and we'll gladly pocket the change.
And, if you think that deal is good, we've got more!
"California would get $4.5 billion to spend on highways, bridges and other projects
under a massive spending plan offered by House Democrats," write Les Blumenthal and Rob Hotakainen in the Bee.
"Hoping to get the economy humming again, House leaders
said they intend to spend a total of $825 billion on an economic stimulus plan. The spending
on infrastructure is only one component of the plan,
which also would award a $500 tax credit to most workers and help laid-off workers hang onto their health insurance.
"Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said the entire package would save
or create more than 4 million jobs nationwide, including nearly 816,000 jobs in California, by the end of 2010.
"California's $4.5 billion share is more than any other state and represents
more than 10 percent of the $43 billion that House Democrats are proposing to spend
on such projects."
Meanwhile, there's no stimulating projects in California until a budget
deal arrives. "When the state froze bond money spending last month,
most of the public attention focused on roads, levees
and other public works projects that were put on hold.
But the freeze also devastated conservation groups in the region that were counting on bond money to build trails,
plant trees, clean waterways and close land deals," reports Mary Lynne Vellinga in the Bee.
"Not only is the loss of this money shutting down projects,
it's forcing many environmental nonprofit groups to lay
off staff or close. Those that spent their own money
and were awaiting state reimbursement have been particularly
"Sandy Cooney, spokesman for the state Resources Agency,
said about $637 million in bond funding to about 4,000 environmental projects in California has been suspended.
"Environmental groups are certainly not the only nonprofit
organizations struggling in the recession. Donations
are down in all sectors, and the stock market decline
has eroded endowments. But the state bond freeze hit
environmental groups particularly hard, as they had
tapped into billons of dollars in bonds approved by
voters in recent years for clean water, parks and open
"Rocky Delgadillo, the Los Angeles city attorney who lost the 2006 Democratic primary for attorney general to Jerry Brown, is plotting another run to be the state's top cop," reports Shane Goldmacher on Capitol Alert.
"Delgadillo, who will be termed out of his post as city
attorney this year, has filed paperwork to run for
attorney general in 2010, when Brown is widely expected to run for governor.
"'City Attorney Delgadillo has served as chief prosecutor
for the city of Los Angeles for the last seven and
a half years,' said Stephen Kaufman, his attorney. 'He is now exploring the possibility of continuing his
law enforcement work at the state level.
"San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has said she will run for the post, if Brown, as expected,
does not. Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, has also filed paperwork to run for the seat."
And we also keep hearing Pedro Nava's name associated with the race...
"University of California President Mark Yudof is proposing a financial aid program that would fully
subsidize four years of systemwide fees and tuition
for low-income students who otherwise might not apply for admission because
of concerns over costs," reports Patricia Yollin in the Chron.
"The Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan would establish
an income threshold for aid: A minimum level of assistance would be guaranteed
for those whose families earn less than the state household
median of $60,000 per year.
"'We want to send an intelligible message to students
and their families and their guidance counselors that
this is possible for you,' Yudof said Thursday.
"'There's not a better time to do this than now,' said the UC president, citing high levels of unemployment
and plunging investment portfolios."
"With President Barack Obama expected to lift federal
restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research,
California's taxpayer-funded investment has allowed it to build the infrastructure that puts
it ahead of every other state," reports Terri Somers in the Union-Tribune.
"The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine,
created and funded by the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004, has invested $625 million in stem cell research, aimed primarily at
basic science and laboratory construction. That investment,
and the promise of a $3 billion funding stream over 10 years, has given universities and research institutes
the confidence to create new stem cell programs. And
it has attracted scientists and biotechnology companies
to relocate here.
"The institute is poised to invest in unique programs,
such as its Disease Team grants, which will fund interdisciplinary
teams to share expertise and bring products to clinical
trials within 48 months.
"Such progress may put California at an advantage for
federal funding when restrictions are lifted and scientists
around the country join a long line to apply for a
limited amount of money."
In a little footnote to the Gil Cedillo vs Judy Chu story, both the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and
the Service Employees International Union voted overwhelmingly
to endorse Chu. The endorsements are a slap at Cedillo,
who cut his political teeth as head of one of SEIU's largest locals in the early 1990s.
And even though it's raining outside now, it may be too little, too late, reports the Chron's Kelly Zito.
"In the Sierra Nevada, where ice and snow turn into
about 60 percent
of the water flowing out of the state's taps each year, snowpack is
about two-thirds of normal.
"Projections for the state's water supply continue to look poorer as
the water hasn't come down," said Elissa Lynn, the state's chief
"In addition to the lack of rain, environmental disputes
rulings have curtailed water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta, which funnels water to two-thirds of California, by about
40 percent. The situation is so dire that some agricultural
in the Central Valley are scheduled to receive no water
at all from the
large federal project that irrigates most of that region."
And finally, from our Magic Cheese Files, "France
is investigating what it says is a scam mounted by
a French woman who
sold thousands of Chileans kits to make "magic cheese" for French
beauty products, an official said on Tuesday.
"Gilberte Van Erpe, who was arrested and placed under
investigation in France last year, is suspected of
setting up a vast pyramid scheme, telling buyers the
fermented mass produced by the
kits could be sold to cosmetics companies in France.
"Claiming that the fermented substance was all the rage
in Paris as an
ingredient for expensive moisturizers and shampoos,
Van Erpe charged
clients some 300 euros ($389) for the kits, which had a market value of
about 3 euros, media said."
Magic Cheese may be just what the doctor ordered to
get a budget deal done.