Government & Politics

News about government and politics

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.

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.

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.

Prop 28 Would Change Term Limits

May 7, 2012

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…”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

Scandal rocks Maricopa, leaving uncertain future

Aug 30, 2011
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.

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.

Chowchilla Faces Financial Crisis

Mar 22, 2011

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.

Prop 13 casts a long shadow on state, local government

Mar 1, 2011

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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