So, now that the feds are sending billions of dollars
our way, we can go back to keeping our taxes down and not making
any cuts, right? Right?
Well, maybe not, reports the Bee's Kevin Yamamura.
"California stands to receive possibly as much as $14 billion in
direct budget relief from the federal stimulus plan,
which the House is
to consider today.
"But the state, struggling to close a $40 billion budget deficit, isn't ready to cash it in just yet.
still doesn't know how much money is coming this way. And the one-time
cash infusion can't be applied for permanent costs, ones beyond 2010.
"'You only can set off anything if you know that you
get it permanently,
because otherwise it has no effect on the structural
Arnold Schwarzenegger said Monday. 'And so we don't want to take money
and say OK, we get this year the money and maybe next
year and from
then, boom, it drops off.'"
Hmmm...like that VLF tax cut and uber-spending earlier in the decade?
But the money may ease the pain for public schools, reports the Chron's Nanette Asimov. "An economic stimulus package working its way through
provide $10 billion in federal relief over the next two years
California's public schools, raising optimism among educators
might ease cutbacks caused by the state's budget crisis.
The package would provide millions of dollars to most
districts in the Bay Area and across the state for
special education and help for low-income students."This does not solve the fiscal crisis, but it does
throw us a
lifeline," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell
Although no package has been approved, California educators
salivating over what could be the largest infusion
of one-time federal
cash for schools in the state's history.
To put it in context, in 2007, the federal government spent $54
billion on education nationwide, an amount dwarfed
by the $140 billion
in the stimulus bill. California's share would be about $10 billion -
more than $1 billion of it for the huge Los Angeles Unified School
"State Controller John Chiang told California's Franchise Tax Board on Tuesday to stop sending his
office tax refund claims," the Bee's Shane Golmacher reports.
"Chiang has vowed to stop making certain payments, including
taxpayer refunds, as of Feb. 1 to conserve cash. The state faces a roughly $40 billion deficit through July 2010.
More acutely, beginning in February the state doesn't have enough money
in its coffers to pay its current bills."
Does that mean that people with tax liabilities are
allowed to send in IOUs instead of checks?
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown will ask a federal judge today to end court oversight
of healthcare in California prisons and return the
inmate medical system to the state's control,"
reports Michael Rothfeld in the Times.
"In a filing with U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson, who seized prison healthcare from the state nearly
three years ago, Brown and Schwarzenegger administration
officials are expected to contend that the receivership
has exceeded its authority and violated federal law
with an $8-billion plan to renovate healthcare clinics and build
seven "holistic" facilities for 10,000 inmates.
"'We believe the receivership has become a government
unto itself, operating without accountability, without
public scrutiny and without clear standards,' Brown said Tuesday. 'Tremendous sums have been spent, and tremendous progress
has been made, but we feel that it's time to place the responsibility on the director
of corrections and not have this parallel government
operating on its own.'
"The state intends to ask Henderson to replace the receiver
with a special master who could report on the state's progress and work with state officials but would
not have the same broad powers."
"Frustrated emergency room doctors filed a class-action lawsuit against the state Tuesday , saying that California's overstretched emergency healthcare system -- which ranks last in the country for emergency care
access -- is on the verge of collapse unless more funding is
provided," writes Kimi Yoshino in the Times.
"Across the state, scores of hospitals and emergency
rooms have shut their doors in the last decade, leading
to long waits, diverted ambulances and, in the most
extreme cases, patient deaths.
"Doctors say the situation is only getting worse. State
officials, struggling to balance the budget, have proposed
another $1.1 billion in Medi-Cal cuts.
"'Are people truly suffering consequences? Absolutely,' said Irv Edwards, one of the doctors represented in the lawsuit and
president of Emergent Medical Associates, which staffs
14 emergency rooms in California. 'This could happen to you or me. We could be traveling
through San Francisco or San Jose, get in a car accident,
have a broken leg and end up in the ER, where it takes
hours to be treated regardless of our screams. Then
we get to diagnosis, and they say, 'There's no orthopedic on call. I'm sorry.'
If you thought things were bad between the legislative
leaders, check out the ongoing rift between Andy Stern
and Sal Rosselli. As union wars go, the war between SEIU's Andy Stern and Sal Rosselli seems anything but civil . Charging Sal Rosselli and UHW’s leadership with “financial malpractice
and efforts to subvert democracy,” SEIU President Andy Stern placed
UHW--its third largest local-- in trusteeship yesterday. Stern’s action
comes a day after UHW announced it was rejecting SEIU’s conditions for
avoiding trusteeship. Stern based his decision on three
grounds, all of which derive from SEIU’s fundamental dispute with UHW
over the transfer of 65,000 UHW members to a new statewide longterm care local.
And it looks like a new state law is helping to stem the tide of foreclosures. "Foreclosure
activity in the Bay Area is slowing, but it has nothing
to do with an
improvement in the hard-hit housing market, according to a report
released Tuesday by MDA DataQuick," the Merc's Eve Mitchell reports.
"Instead, a new state law
that requires lenders to wait longer before they start
proceedings against people who are behind on their
mortgage payments is
the reason for the slowdown, the report said.
"Lenders sent out
11,157 default notices — the first step in the foreclosure process that
happens after several missed payments — to Bay Area homeowners in the
fourth quarter 2008. That's a 25.8 percent drop from the third quarter
ending in September and a 12.2 percent decrease from fourth quarter
"In September, a state law was rolled out that requires
lenders to wait 30 days before filing a notice of foreclosure after
they have first contacted a borrower who has stopped
But the relief may be temporary , reports the Chron's Carolyn Said.
"Foreclosures and default notices hit new highs for
California and the
Bay Area in 2008, according to a real estate report released Tuesday.
"A total of 236,231 homes statewide, or 2.8 percent of all the
state's housing stock, were repossessed by banks last year,
to the report from real estate information service
MDA DataQuick of San
Diego. In the nine-county Bay Area, lenders took back 35,709 homes, or
2 percent of all homes and condos.
"This was a misery-packed year for a whole lot of people who bought
homes at the height of the real estate market," said Andrew LePage, an
analyst with DataQuick.
More misery lies in wait for thousands, judging by
the increases in
default notices - the first step in the foreclosure process. Statewide
in 2008, 404,952 homeowners were notified that they were in default,
generally at least three months behind on payments.
In the Bay Area,
61,347 households received the notices. Both numbers were
percent higher than a year ago."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was rebuffed
today by his fellow Republicans in the state Senate
when they refused
to vote to confirm his appointment of Cynthia Dellums
to the state
Commission on the Status of Women.
"Dellums, the wife of Oakland mayor Ron Dellums, was
20 votes from Democratic lawmakers, while all but two
Republicans stayed silent, abstaining from the vote.
"Both husband and wife are Democrats. Nothing against
lawmakers said. Their refusal to vote, several said,
was a protest
against perpetuating what they see as an unnecessary
in the midst of a $42-billion budget crisis. A
spokesman for Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) put it this way: 'It’s
the senator’s opinion that the Commission on the Status of Women
Does that mean none of these outgoing Republicans are
going to accept a $100,000 appointment on their way out the door? How about signing
a pledge on that?
As if on cue to justify the commission, Nathan Olivarez-Giles writes in the Times. "California insurers are
discriminating against women, charging them more for individual health
insurance than men, the city of San Francisco maintained
in a lawsuit
filed Tuesday against the state regulators who govern
"The suit contends that Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and Cindy
Ehnes, director of the Department of Managed Health Care,
system that allows the insurance companies to impose
when pricing policies, resulting in women paying as
much as 39% more
for coverage then men.
"At issue in the suit are rates for individuals and
not group policies.
These policies are often purchased by people who are
unemployed or work
for businesses that don't offer health insurance or adequate coverage.
"The lawsuit contends that the state's existing health insurance laws
are unfair to women and should be declared unconstitutional.
office disagreed and said the rates were in line with
And, for those of you still looking for a bill idea
before Friday's deadline:
"After a Lutheran school expelled two 16-year-old girls for having "a bond of intimacy" that was "characteristic of a lesbian relationship," the girls sued, contending the school had violated
a state anti-discrimination law," writes Maura Dolan in the Times.
"In response to that suit, an appeals court decided this week that the private religious school
was not a business and therefore did not have to comply
with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating. A lawyer for the girls said Tuesday that he would
ask the California Supreme Court to overturn the unanimous
ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal.
"The appeals court called its decision "narrow," but lawyers on both sides of the case said it would
protect private religious schools across California
from such discrimination suits.
"Kirk D. Hanson, who represented the girls, said the "very troubling" ruling would permit private schools to discriminate
against anyone, as long as the schools used their religious
beliefs as justification."
And people waiting for that state tax refund aren't the only ones who will be left in the lurch. Dale
Kasler reports on more financial woes in the newspaper biz.
"The McClatchy Co. said today it would suspend paying
shareholder dividends after April 1.
Bee's publisher said it would make its last quarter dividend
April 1 and then suspend the payouts "for the foreseeable future in
order to preserve cash for debt repayment."
"McClatchy cut the
dividend in half last fall, to 9 cents a share. Then, pressed by
declining revenue, it renegotiated its bank loans.
Under the new
agreement, the Sacramento-based chain was forbidden from paying
dividends if its "leverage ratio" exceeded a certain threshold."
And the economic pain is not just being felt in continents
that aren't permanently frozen. Times are tough in Antarctica, too, AP reports, "Once the "delicacies of the Antarctic," fresh seal brains, penguin
eggs or grilled cormorant are off the menu at research
chefs rely on imported and often frozen food.
"'You have to use what you've got in the store. Frozen stuff, tinned
stuff and if you're really desperate the dried stuff,' said Alan
Sherwood, a widely praised chef at the British Rothera
base on the Antarctic Peninsula.
"'We're now onto dried onions because we've run out,' he said. 'You can't just go out and buy some.'"