California's cap-and-trade program, in which allowances to emit greenhouse gases are auctioned off as new pollution limits are phased in, has a new partner, hey -- Quebec. The auction is part of the state's anti-carbon emissions law, AB 32, that ratchets back greenhouse gases to 1990 levels within the next eight years.
From Craig Miller at KQED's Climate Watch: "Quebec has emerged as California’s first full-blown partner in the carbon trading program that ramps up later this year. That means that, pending final approval next month, when the two governments issue their first round of greenhouse gas pollution permits in November, industrial buyers will be able to use them both interchangeably."
"Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board and heads implementation of the program, says the move, “provides more options to California businesses and lays the groundwork for other partners to join with us.”
"Most other potential partners maintain only a paper presence in the so-called Western Climate Initiative, a regional carbon trading pact that was designed to create a regional carbon market. Nichols, who’s on record saying that California would not “go it alone” in cap-and-trade, can breathe a small sigh of relief today. But Quebec is a relatively tiny partner, with economy one-sixth the size of California’s."
The May Revision, the governor's rewritten budget that reflects the latest tax revenues, is going to include cuts in the state's payroll -- no surprise given thestate's difficult fiscal condition. That budget will be unveiled Monday and few people are going to be happy, starting with the state work force.
From the LA Times' Chris Megerian: "Brown, who has been in discussions with labor unions, is expected to release an updated budget proposal on Monday. The sources were not authorized to speak publicly before the governor's announcement."
"The possibility of cuts to state employees is a symptom of lagging tax revenue. California has collected $3.5 billion less taxes than expected in the current fiscal year, according to the controller, and the budget gap will be larger than the $9.2 billion estimated in January."
"Brown spared state employees when he released his preliminary budget proposal earlier this year, but sources said he will now ask them to shoulder cuts as the red ink piles up."
Trustees of the California State University, despite intense criticism from students, approved a policy that allows CSU to hire a new campus president at up to 10 percent more in salary than the person being replaced -- as long as the money comes from non-public foundation sources.
From Nanette Asimov in the Chronicle: "The decision comes as six of the 23 campuses prepare to change hands, with two new presidents to be named Thursday at San Francisco State and Cal State San Bernardino."
"Meeting in Long Beach, the trustees heard criticism from students and staff about providing any executive raises - regardless of the source - and about issues from low student representation on the board, to skyrocketing tuition and fees. The price for a year of undergraduate education rises again this fall, by 9 percent to $7,017."
"Among those who spoke were four students who said they've been on a hunger strike for eight days to protest conditions at CSU."
Fewer Californians are attending their own state's universities, a trend that the PPIC says has been developing over time and aggravated by budget issues.
From the Contra Costa Times' Matt Krupnick: "From 2007 to 2010, the percentage of graduates attending University of California or California State University campuses fell by 20 percent, according to figures released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. The trend developed amid deepening budget problems that dramatically lifted university tuitions and forced schools to turn away qualified students."
"UC and CSU are increasingly unable to accommodate the demand by students," said Hans Johnson, the report's author."
"Fewer than 18 percent of California high school graduates ended up at a Cal State or UC campus in 2010, down from 22 percent in 2007. And 55 percent of the most highly prepared students enroll there, down from 67 percent."
Speaking of education, California is replete with "diploma mills" -- those schools that issue graduation certificates that aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Some believe it's time to crack down.
From the Bay Citizen's Jennifer Gollan: "California has more diploma mills than any other state in the nation, but it is not doing enough to protect students from the unaccredited colleges and vocational schools that issue worthless degrees, state lawmakers said at hearing Wednesday."
“The increasingly diverse array of substandard education robs students of their time and money,” said Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, chair of the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review. “The most serious consequences occur when people are hired for positions for which they are not qualified. The challenge for the Legislature is to establish an oversight structure that prevents predatory practices."
"Among the measures Dickinson will press legislators to consider: providing state regulators with additional resources to undertake more investigations, requiring more thorough reviews to identify diploma mills, and encouraging California's Attorney General and local district attorneys to prosecute more diploma mills."
Meanwhyile, UC Berkeley is going to court to fight Occupy protesters who planted crops on university soil.
From Demian Bulwa in the Chronicle: "The University of California Board of Regents filed a lawsuit Wednesday against 14 protesters, claiming they and others conspired to cut through chains that secured gates and trespass onto the Gill Tract, a patch of land along bustling San Pablo Avenue in Albany."
The activists, who call themselves Occupy the Farm, moved onto the tract April 22. They are pressuring the university to preserve part of the tract, which has been the subject of development debates for years, for agricultural study and urban farming."
"The protesters tilled 2 acres on a site used by the College of Natural Resources for research. They planted vegetables, set up a drip system and pitched tents. Ever since, the two sides have been trading demands."
President Obama's comments that he supports gay marriage came as welcome news to many Democrats and pro-gay rights activists, but it remained uncertain how his position ultimately will resonate throughout California.
From John Myers at KXTV Channel 10: "But even so, gay marriage advocates in California remain unready to test the issue again at the polls. There were some who wanted to push the issue back to the ballot this year -- an electoral undoing of Prop 8 -- but they were convinced to stand down, waiting instead for court actions to play out."
"The Obama statement played well with Democratic leaders in the state, but gay marriage opponents think it won't sell -- either the president's change or the idea of a do-over."
"You don't have the voters in any state that has voted on marriage that agree with Barack Obama," said activist Randy Thomasson in a TV interview Wednesday."
One supporter of the president's position is San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican who earlier risked his political career by supporting gay marriage.
From the LAT's Tony Perry: "As someone whose position has also evolved, I know this is an issue of equality and basic human rights," Sanders said. "Two people who love each other should be able to get married. It's really as simple as that. History will judge President Obama kindly for his decision."
"Sanders said he's prepared to talk to Mitt Romney, the apparent GOP nominee for president, about the issue of same-sex marriage the next time Romney comes to San Diego for a political event or to visit his home in La Jolla."
"Absolutely," Sanders said, "it's an important issue. I think history will judge all of us on how we've treated this minority group." Romney opposes same-sex marriage."
And from our "Happy Pharmacy" file comes word that Americans consume the overwhelming majority of the world's painkiller drugs. Naturally, the question is why?
"Americans consume 80% of opiate painkillers produced in the world, according to congressional testimony by the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. And addicts are not the only ones impacted by the crisis."
"Howard Levine runs a pharmacy on Long Island that was twice robbed by an addict desperate for painkillers. He no longer provides most prescription painkillers."
"Unlike drugs like heroin or cocaine, painkiller drugs are legal. Many are now asking whether over-prescription by doctors is making the epidemic worse."