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California

California Governor Downplays Parks Scandal

Jul 25, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown is downplaying the state parks scandal in his first public statement on the issue.

Last week, the Brown administration revealed that the Parks department had failed to report 54 million dollars in two funds for the last 12 years. State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned as a result.

But the governor says it’s better to find money than to discover money missing.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new $23.7 billion proposal that would build a twin tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta over to the southern part of the state.

Water in Southern California has become an intractable problem. The frustration was evident at the press conference, when Brown dropped a four-letter expletive.

The Sacramento Bee reports:

California Health Leaders Call for "Culture of Coverage"

Jul 25, 2012

Key players in implementing the federal health overhaul in California say the public should be part of building a ‘culture of coverage.’

Kim Belshe is on the board of the California Health Benefit Exchange, an online marketplace where people will soon be able to buy coverage. She says in order for the federal health law to serve its purpose, schools, labor, faith and community organizations need to be on board.

Many cities around the country are faced with growing costs and shrinking revenue. Despite making sweeping cuts, Stockton, California recently became the largest city to file for bankruptcy. Host Michel Martin talks with Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston about how she's managing a city that's operating in the red.

State Park Scrambles as It Faces Two Week Deadline

Jul 17, 2012
Capitol Public Radio

It's been a rollercoaster ride for California state parks. A year ago, the Department of Parks and Recreation selected 70 parks to close on July 1st as a result of budget cuts. But operating agreements with private partners have kept 40 of the parks open.

Now it appears all but a handful will stay open, but nobody knows for how long. In the first of a two-part series looking at the state of California's state parks reporter Kathleen Masterson visited one still struggling to stay open.

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Adult day health care patients face change

Jul 16, 2012

Adult day health care in California is feeling the pinch of the state’s budget crisis. The state has been working to scale back the publicly-funded program that helps elderly and fragile adults. Meanwhile, centers are struggling to keep their services going. Pauline Bartolone visited one center in Sacramento that serves as a community space for Eastern European immigrants.

Every weekday at Altamedix adult day health center in North Sacramento, over a hundred Russian speaking immigrants follow a tight schedule of health education and exercise.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Reduced enrollment or a mid-year tuition increase. That’s the choice the California State University could face if voters reject Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax measure.

You’ve heard of trigger cuts. Now, there’s a "trigger on a trigger" – a $150 per semester tuition increase to meet a potential 250 million dollar cut. That’s one proposal CSU Trustees are looking at. The other would reduce enrollment by three percent, or about 6-thousand students. Robert Turnage is with the CSU Chancellor’s office:

State budget suspends Brown Act provisions

Jul 16, 2012

Local government boards in California are no longer required to post agendas or disclose decisions made in closed sessions. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the legislature suspended those provisions of the state’s public meeting law in the budget passed last month.

CalPERS barely earned any money at all during the fiscal year that ended June 30th. The nation’s largest public pension fund announced a one-percent return on investment today.

The California Public Employees Retirement System’s one percent return is nowhere near its projection of seven-and-a-half percent. It’s even below the California State Teachers Retirement System, which earned a one-point-eight percent return.

The city of Oakland, Calif. has long been associated with crime, poverty, urban decay and, more recently, violent protests tied to the Occupy movement.

So it may have been a surprise to New York Times readers when the newspaper listed Oakland as No. 5 among its top "places to go" in 2012.

As the nation waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a historic ruling on the constitutionality of President Obama’s overhaul of federal health care, California is not waiting to make changes. As Pauline Bartolone reports, state health planners say even if the high court overturns the federal mandate to buy insurance, their effort will move forward.

A new survey sheds light on what small businesses in California want out of the new health insurance market starting in 2014. 

Only a little more than a third of California small businesses currently provide some health benefits in their workplace. But that number could go up to 44 percent when a new health marketplace is up and running.

That’s according to a poll commissioned by the Small Business Majority and Kaiser Permanente.

John Arensmeyer of the Small Business Majority says the poll shows small companies want the same health options big ones have.

This week on Valley Edition, we look at the changing demographics of California, which is now a net exporter of people to other states. How did the California dream turn out to be a nightmare for so many? We talk to some residents who've left, and also to experts who are using the newly revised population estimates to plan the state's future. We also talk about the role of kids on family farms, and learn about the California Reads program taking place in Kern County.

Valley Edition for May 1, 2012:

Fresno Veterans Home Hits Roadblock

Jan 17, 2012

There's been a battle going on in Fresno for the last decade. A battle that has both Republicans and Democrats fighting on the same side, all in hopes of opening the doors to a veterans' home in Fresno that is on track to be finished in Spring.

The construction will be completed on time, but in trying to close California's huge budget gap, Governor Brown cut the $14.5 million needed to operate the facility from his proposed budget. Earlier this month, the governor spoke about some of the other proposed cuts.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

At the start of 2012 California had over 5,000 local governments, from counties and cities to school and fire districts. But this February, over 400 of those governments are slated to disappear, almost overnight, as the state officially closes the book on local redevelopment agencies.

It’s the latest move in the effort by Sacramento lawmakers to find a new way to balance the state’s budget, and shift $1.7 billion from community redevelopment agencies (or RDAs as they’re often known) to the state’s general fund.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the recent resurgence of an old idea, splitting up the Golden State, with the authors of a new book called "California Crackup." We'll also talk about the continuing effort to revitalize downtown Fresno.

One hundred years ago this month, California’s experiment in direct democracy was born with the introduction of the ballot initiative and referendum process. Now, a century later, Californians are again looking at new ideas to fix what many feel is a broken system in Sacramento. So what might the next 100 years have in store?

CA Citizens Redistricting Commission Redraws the Lines

Jul 22, 2011

While it doesn't get nearly as much attention as the state's on-going budget debate, behind the scenes, work is underway on a set of maps that could dramatically alter California politics for a decade to come. The State's 14 member Citizens Redistricting Commission is currently at work on redrawing the lines of the state's assembly, state senate and congressional districts. And in a state where major decisions such as the budget and big social issues often are decided by just one or two votes, the stakes for all those involved are high.

Last month, when California lawmakers passed a new state budget, they also passed a bill prohibiting local school districts from laying off teachers. Backers, including the California Teachers Association, say that the law protects students from class size increases and will save teacher jobs. School districts say it ties their hands, especially with the prospect of a midyear $1.5 billion funding cut if revenues fall short of projections.

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