California

Government & Politics
2:42 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Fewer Californians Like High Speed Rail or New Pension Law

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

A new survey shows that two critical issues in California – pension reform and high speed rail– are not sitting well with voters.

The survey shows that more Californians are opposed to high speed rail and think the recently-signed pension legislation doesn’t do enough to address unfunded costs.

The survey was conducted by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University. It showed that only 39 percent of voters support high speed rail. 43 percent oppose it.

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Jobs
2:45 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Report: State Unemployment Will Fall Below 10 Percent In Mid 2013

An economic forecast out today says California’s unemployment rate will drop to single digits this time next year – sooner than originally predicted. Right now, California’s jobless rate is 10.7%. It peaked at 12.5% in 2010. The rate’s been inching down ever since.

Economist Jeff Michael is with the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton. “We see [the] unemployment rate going into single digits in mid-2013 and in the past we’ve been saying the end of 2013.”

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Government & Politics
11:00 am
Tue August 21, 2012

California Lawmakers Chipping Away at Hundreds of Bills

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California lawmakers chipped away at the more than 500 pieces of legislation they need to vote on before the session ends this month.

California Senators debated one controversial bill for more than an hour. It would give juveniles sentenced to life without parole a second chance at sentencing. The bill, authored by Democratic Senator Leland Yee, squeaked by in the Senate. Yee, a child psychologist, argued teenagers brains aren’t totally developed so they make bad decisions.

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Health
6:30 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

California Voters' 'Strong Support' for Federal Health Law Grows, Field Poll Suggests

California health leaders say they’re ‘heartened’ with a new Field Poll that suggests state voter support for the federal health law is getting stronger.

More than half of California voters polled said they support the health overhaul. More showed ‘strong support’ for the law than in the past two years. Thirty-seven percent of Californians oppose the law.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley says she was struck by the partisan nature of the findings.

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Government & Politics
5:00 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Juveniles Could Get Shot at Parole After Key Legislative Vote

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

A controversial bill that’s been stuck for more than a year has squeaked out of the California Assembly. The measure would give juveniles sentenced to life without parole the chance to request a parole hearing.

Six Democrats joined every Republican in opposing the bill, including GOP Assemblyman Donald Wagner. “This is breaking faith with every relative of a murdered victim who was told, don’t worry, the killer will never see the light of day again.

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Government & Politics
11:07 am
Thu August 16, 2012

California Governor Kicks Off Campaign to Raise Taxes

Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown says Californians have two choices; vote yes on Proposition 30 in November, or see schools and higher education lose billions of dollars. The Governor kicked off the campaign for his tax initiative in front of a Sacramento high school.

Governor Brown says his tax initiative is needed to stave off deep budget cuts, which could include shortening the school year by three weeks. The November ballot measure would increase sales taxes by a quarter cent for four years and increase taxes for seven years on those who make more than $250,000 dollars annually.

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In Sacramento
6:05 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

California Revenues Fall $475 Million Short

California's State Capitol
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California State Controller John Chiang released his monthly revenue report today. Revenues fell way below projections for July, but state finance officials say it’s not so bad.

The controller says July revenues were $475 million short. The State ended the last fiscal year with a cash deficit of $9.6 billion. As of July 31, that cash deficit totaled $18 billion, and is being covered with temporary loans from special funds. State Controller John Chiang called the collections “disappointing.” Republican Senator Tom Harman says he’s concerned the state will run out of cash soon.

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Government & Politics
10:45 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Judge Rules In Favor of Current Death Penalty Ballot Language

California voters won’t see much change in the language of Proposition 34. A judge sided with those who want to repeal the death penalty that the November ballot language is not misleading.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley upheld his previous decisions on the death penalty ballot measure. He ruled that the ballot’s title and summary written by the state’s attorney general is not misleading. But he did order one slight change in the ballot’s arguments about savings that would result from eliminating the death penalty.

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Energy
12:49 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Cal ISO Calls Statewide Flex Alert For This Weekend

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

People use more energy when it’s hot, and California’s power grid operator has issued a Flex Alert because of the current heat wave.

Cal-ISO is the state’s Independent System Operator. When the forecast for demand gets close to the state’s power generating capacity, the operator calls a Flex Alert. Stephanie McCorkle with Cal-ISO says it’s most important to conserve during the peak usage hours between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

"Electricity is not something you can bottle up and store on a shelf. It is basically consumed the instant it is produced.”

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Government & Politics
6:25 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

California Lawmakers Hold First Special Funds Hearing

The Chair of a California Assembly committee looking into the state’s special funds accounts called the parks department scandal “shameful” today. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, lawmakers asked finance officials for assurances that there are no more hidden assets.

At issue is how $54 million in surplus Parks department funds could remain hidden for 12 years. An audit last week also found discrepancies in other state special funds accounts. Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield chairs the oversight committee.

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Health
6:18 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

California Lawmakers Call for Audit of Mental Health Services Act

Some California lawmakers are calling for a closer look into a state fund for county mental health programs.

The Mental Health Services Act has brought in more than $8 billion since it was enacted in 2004. Republican State Assemblyman Dan Logue says he requested an audit of the funds after he heard reports of money spent on activities not clearly connected to mental health.

“If the basics are being sacrificed for programs that have proven and have shown no benefit whatsoever, then there needs to be a reevaluation of where these funds go.”

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Government & Politics
4:11 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Study Shows California Tribal Gaming Casinos Have Big Economic Impact

A new study shows that tribal gaming casinos have a $7.5 billion impact on California’s economy.

The report comes as Governor Jerry Brown considers whether to approve two new tribal casinos that would add to the 60 already in the state.

Beacon Economics conducted the study. It shows tribal gaming has helped create 52-thousand jobs in industries throughout the state.

Steve Stallings is with the California Nations Indian Gaming Association which commissioned the study. He says the report also shows their casinos generate significant tax revenue.

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Pension Reform
7:14 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

California Democratic Leaders Say It's Time for Pension Reform

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has decided that now is not the time to change California’s newly-approved process for cities and counties to enter into bankruptcy.

He’s decided to kill the legislation authored by a Democratic Assembly member. The bill would have loosened deadlines on negotiations with creditors and labor groups. But Steinberg says it’s time now for the legislature to focus elsewhere.

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November Election
7:09 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

California Ballot Measures Committees Raise $84 Million

A new analysis shows that campaign committees already are spending millions of dollars on propositions for California’s November’s ballot. The analysis, by the Fair Political Practices Commission, shows by the end of June, committees had raised more than $84 million to fight or support the 11 ballot measures.

The Commission’s report looked at donors who gave $10,000 or more. While the state limits what an individual donor can give state candidates, there are no limits on the amount of money committees can contribute to ballot measures.

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Environment
6:57 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

California Air Resources Board Maps Air Polluters

A screenshot of the new greenhouse gas emissions Google map from the California Air Resources Board
California Air Resources Board

The California Air Resources Board has created a map that shows the state’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. It is a significant step in the development of California’s Cap and Trade program.

On the new Google Earth map are 625 facilities that each produce more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. The map breaks down facilities by industry, zip code and emissions. But, Stanley Young with the Air Resources Board says state-to-state comparisons aren’t yet available.

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Agriculture
3:31 pm
Sun August 5, 2012

California Leads Nation in Farmer's Markets

Fruit from Valley farms makes for a colorful scene at a farmer's market in downtown Fresno.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The number of farmer’s markets in California has risen substantially. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, there are about 830 markets in the state. That’s up almost a hundred from last year.

Kathleen Merrigan with the USDA says the economy and the demand for fresh, healthy food have caused a 10 percent increase in markets nationwide.

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Health
3:04 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Health Insurance Premium Rebates Headed to Californians

Nearly two million Californians should receive a health insurance premium rebate this week. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the rebates are the result of the federal Affordable Care Act.

The federal law requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their premium money on actual health costs, rather than marketing and other non-medical expenses. Insurers who don’t meet that percentage are required to issue refunds. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says premium rebates total about $74 million, or about $65 per family.

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Health
3:00 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Federal Health Law Will Improve Health in Black Communities, California Leaders Say

California leaders say the federal health care overhaul will help African Americans get better access to health services. Democratic State Senator Curren Price says over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act could mean more primary and quality care for more than two million black Californians.

“It’s going to help level the playing field, and ultimately eliminate some of the nagging health disparities.”

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Government & Politics
3:36 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

California Governor's Tax Initiative Campaign Raises $6 Million

California’s Proposition 30 campaign released its fundraising numbers for the first half of the year today. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the campaign for Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative has raised more than six million dollars so far.

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Government & Politics
9:44 am
Tue July 31, 2012

California's Budget On Hook For Wildfires

The wildfires blazing across California this fire season aren’t just burning through trees, grasses and homes, they’re burning through the state budget as well.  

Fifteen helicopters. Seven bulldozers. 46 fire engines. And 900 people. It took all that to fight a single California wildfire this summer – the Robbers fire in Placer County. It’s paid for with a special state emergency fund. If that runs out, says H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance.

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