Government & Politics

Government & Politics
10:02 am
Thu June 28, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Budget

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a roughly $90 billion spending plan into law for the fiscal year that starts on Sunday. It’s designed to close the state’s $16 billion deficit. The Governor’s signature came just hours before a midnight deadline to sign the main budget bill Democratic lawmakers sent him earlier this month.

It came with little fanfare, and his office did not release any details about his line-item vetoes. The spending plan includes cuts to welfare, social services and more. It also assumes voters will approve Brown’s tax hike on the November ballot.

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The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

City Of Stockton's Looming Bankruptcy: Pictures Tell The Story

Among the projects that have helped put Stockton in the red: this downtown multiplex, which opened in 2003 and cost $15 million in public and private money.
Ian Hill KQED

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 7:19 am

Stockton, Calif., is on the verge of becoming the largest city in the nation to declare bankruptcy after its city council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve a spending plan that's essentially "a day-to-day survival budget," as the Los Angeles Times puts it.

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Immigration
4:02 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Fresno Immigration Activist Welcomes New Obama Policy

President Obama's announcement today on immigration reform is receiving a warm welcome from local immigrant rights advocates.

Pedro Ramirez, the former student body president of Fresno State who gained national notoriety in 2010 because of his status as an undocumented immigrant, says this is a step in the right direction that will make a profound difference for hispanic students in the valley.

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Government & Politics
3:00 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Pension math spurs calls for reform

When you look up the origins of word “pension” in the dictionary, you’ll see that it comes from the Latin verb, pendo, which means to pay or value, and to weigh or hang. It’s actually the same root that gives us nouns like pendant. And back here in the 21st century, the costs of providing a defined benefit retirement programs are increasingly weighing down budget across the state.

According to some estimates, California's three largest statewide pension systems, CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC Retirement System could have a combined shortfall of as much as $500 billion.

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Government & Politics
11:56 am
Thu May 31, 2012

With Realignment, Fresno County Jail Floor Likely to Reopen

Since 2010, the second and third floors the Fresno County Jail in Downtown Fresno have been empty. Budget cuts resulted in the layoffs of around 70 officers who worked in the jail, forcing Sheriff Margaret Mims to close the floors, and begin the early release of prisoners.

"Right now our capacity is at about 2,300 inmates and we run at 100 percent capacity almost all of the time," said Mims.

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Government & Politics
9:57 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Prop 28 Would Change Term Limits

Currently, California lawmakers can serve a total of fourteen years: six in the Assembly, and eight in the Senate. Nick Schroeder from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says Prop 28 would allow a legislator to serve up to twelve years.

“Fundamentally, what this measure does is it allows a person to serve more years in one house, either in the Assembly or Senate but fewer total years in the legislature…”

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Government & Politics
8:20 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

California residents leaving the Golden State

Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

From the days of the gold rush to the state's early agricultural pioneers, California’s history is one of emigration. In more recent years industries from motion pictures to aerospace and computer technology drew hundreds of thousands of people to the state, to search out a new life.

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Valley Public Radio News
9:45 am
Tue April 17, 2012

High speed rail chair promises compensation, better communication for the Valley

California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard addresses an audience in Fresno on April 3, 2012.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

After years of criticism and skyrocketing cost estimates, California’s plan for high speed rail took a detour earlier this month, with the release of the project’s new business plan. Supporters say the proposal is “better, faster and cheaper” and could save $30 billion when compared to previous cost estimates for the project.

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Government & Politics
5:33 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Fresno Veterans Home Hits Roadblock

An artist's rendering of the California Veterans Home currently under construction at California Avenue and Marks Avenue in Fresno. Governor Brown's proposed 2012 State Budget eliminates the funding necessary to open the nearly completed facility.

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.

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Government & Politics
11:16 am
Tue January 10, 2012

Closure of redevelopment agencies hits Valley cities

The Iron Bird Lofts complex, a new mixed-use retail and residential development in Downtown Fresno's "Mural District" is one of the most visible examples of revitalization projects funded in part by Fresno's Redevelopment Agency.
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.

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Government & Politics
9:32 am
Tue October 18, 2011

Political gridlock creates backlog at federal courthouse

The US courthouse and federal building in downtown Fresno
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Even before the recent retirement of Justice Oliver Wanger, the Fresno division of the US District Court’s Eastern District of California faced big case backlogs. The district is home to over 6.7 million residents, and 19 of California’s 33 state and federal prisons, but the Fresno division is home to just two judges, and the nation’s heaviest caseloads.

Government & Politics
8:31 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Era of reform a century ago inspires new proposals for California

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?

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Government & Politics
7:24 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Scandal rocks Maricopa, leaving uncertain future

Bob Archibald, owner of the Shell gas station in Maricopa, has been an outspoken critic of the Maricopa Police Department's aggressive traffic enforcement and vehicle impoundment.
Shellie Branco Valley Public Radio

Travelers are stocking up on snacks inside the convenience store at the Shell gas station in Maricopa on a hot Saturday afternoon. This is a town of about 1,200 residents in the oil-rich foothills of western Kern County. Bob Archibald’s Shell station sits on the intersection of two highways, and his business counts on travelers heading to the Central Coast.

So last year, Archibald took notice when the Maricopa Police Department began an aggressive campaign to pull over drivers for minor traffic violations and to impound cars.

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Government & Politics
6:43 pm
Fri July 22, 2011

CA Citizens Redistricting Commission Redraws the Lines

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.

Government & Politics
6:36 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Chowchilla Faces Financial Crisis

California's cities have been hit hard in recent years. The housing bust, the economic downturn, and perennial state budget crises are just a few of the factors that have helped batter the balance sheets of municipalities up and down the Golden state. Valley cities are no exception, especially given the region’s perennially high levels of unemployment, even in so called "good" times. Many large cities, like Fresno have been forced to make drastic cuts to city services, and have been forced to lay off hundreds of employees.

Government & Politics
5:45 pm
Tue March 1, 2011

Prop 13 casts a long shadow on state, local government

Thirty three years ago, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 13 into law, ushering in a new era of California politics and forever changing state and local government. Not only did the constitutional amendment cut property taxes nearly in half, its implementation also ushered in a major change in the way government services are provided, in the Golden State, centralizing more power in Sacramento. It also helped spark a wave of so called "ballot box budgeting" with citizens taking control of the power of the purse, in both setting tax rates and spending priorities.

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