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The California Teachers Association says it backs Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to change how the state distributes money to school districts. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that puts them at odds with legislative Democrats.

Brown’s plan includes giving more money to districts with a majority of low income and non-English speaking students. These “concentrations grants” are controversial among some legislators because they’d come at the expense of other districts.  

Andy Vidak

On Tuesday night Hanford Republican Andy Vidak scored what many are calling a surprise victory in the special election to replace former state senator Michael Rubio in the 16th senate district. Despite a sizable voter registration edge for Democrats, Vidak carried over 50 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a July runoff with the top Democrat, former Rubio staffer and current Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

As California budget talks head into their final weeks, supporters of programs suffering from years of cuts are asking for help.  Governor Jerry Brown opposes any new spending.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, Assembly and Senate Democrats have different programs in which they'd like to invest.

Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Reducing overcrowding at California prisons is not easy. Generally, inmates must either be released or given more space, which is expensive. But there is a third option. Inmates can be sent to fire camps.  That's a cornerstone of Governor Jerry Brown's plan to reduce prison overcrowding in response to a federal court order.  State Government Reporter Katie Orr takes a closer look at what these camps entail.  

Valley Public Radio

Environmental groups have begun a lobbying campaign to stop California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to divert money from the cap-and-trade program.

Environmentalists say money from the sale of carbon pollution permits is supposed to go to programs that help further reduce emissions. Brown wants to borrow $500 million for the general fund.

Vien Truong with the Greenlining Institute says environmental advocates are angry. She says that money could be used for clean air programs in low-income communities.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown is proposing drastic changes to California’s Enterprise Zone program in his latest budget. The zones are located in blighted areas and businesses operating within them can claim tax credits from the state.

Craig Johnson is President of the California Association of Enterprise Zones. He says Brown’s changes would essentially eliminate the state’s 40 Enterprise Zones. He says the state already has high taxes and high regulations and eliminating tax credits won’t help.

Democrats Pushing to Limit Prop 13

May 16, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Some Democrats at the Capitol are attempting to chip away at California’s fabled Prop 13. But supporters of the property tax limiting measure are digging in to fight back. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Proposition 13 limits property taxes in California. But it also requires a two-thirds vote of the public to increase any special taxes. Six Democratic sponsored bills making their way through the Senate would lower that voter requirement to 55 percent approval.

Lawmakers React to Brown's Budget Revision

May 14, 2013
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Republicans at the State Capitol are pleased Governor Jerry Brown is taking a more moderate approach to spending California’s budget surplus. But they still have some criticisms. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

No formal rainy day fund, no acknowledgement of possible union pay raises, high taxes that hurt business. State Republicans listed those as among their top concerns with the Governor’s May budget revision.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 California Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal shows clear intent for a state-based Medi-Cal expansion under the Affordable Care Act. January’s budget suggested a possible county-led expansion.  

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley says the budget also proposes a way the state will seek to capture money counties currently use to treat the uninsured.   

Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are considering a measure that would tax sugary drinks a penny per fluid ounce. The proposal is intended to cap soda consumption in order to reduce obesity rates. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has found a range of opinions on the soda tax.

It’s a hot afternoon in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. Teenagers are out of school for the day. Some have beverages in their hands. Kirk Allen is sixteen years old:

"What are you drinkin’?" "Tiki punch, Shasta."

Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

California’s highest court has come down on the side of cities and counties in the fight over the location, or even the existence, of medical marijuana dispensaries. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento. 

Pay Day Lending Battle Continues In California

Apr 16, 2013
Valley Public Radio

A bill being heard in the California Senate Banking Committee Wednesday would limit the number of payday loans consumers could take out and give them longer to pay the loans back. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Bill Would Phase Out Plastic Bags in California

Apr 16, 2013
Office of Alex Padilla

Plastic bags may not be an option much longer at California grocery stores. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the bags. Despite previous attempts, supporters believe this time the bill will pass. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

California retailers hand out more than 14 billion single use plastic bags every year. The state’s own figures show only 5 percent are recycled. Mark Murray is with Californians Against Waste.

Compassion Over Killing / http://www.cok.net/inv/central-valley-meat/

A number of states have recently passed laws that seek to restrict journalists and animal rights activists from filming inhumane practices inside slaughterhouses. These so-called “Ag-gag” laws have drawn harsh criticism from animal welfare groups. Now, a new bill from a Fresno lawmaker that aims to mandate the swift reporting of animal abuse has some crying foul. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports.

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What's Next for Governor Brown After Prison Court Ruling?

Apr 15, 2013
Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

California faces sanctions, fines and possible jail time for Governor Jerry Brown if the state continues to defy a federal court order to reduce its prison population.   That harsh ruling from a three-judge panel came last week in response to the governor’s motion to vacate a prison population cap those judges imposed seven years ago – when they found that overcrowding was the main reason inmates suffered and died from a lack of healthcare.  Now, they say overcrowding is still a problem.  KPCC’s Julie Small looks at what options are left for Governor Brown and the state.

http://www.dds.ca.gov/Porterville/Index.cfm

The steps to the State Capitol were crowded with people Thursday who wanted lawmakers to hear one message: Close down state-run residential centers for the disabled. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.   

People with disabilities shared stories about abuse at the state’s developmental centers. Their advocates said ‘institutionalization’ is outdated. Jaquie Dillard–Foss from the organization “StrategiesTo Empower People” has helped people make the transition from developmental centers back into communities.

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

College students wouldn’t face the threat of lenders garnishing their wages if they can’t repay private student loans under a bill passed by the California Assembly today.  Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

Unlike federal student loans, private student loans can’t be forgiven in bankruptcy and banks can garnish up to 25 percent of a student’s wages. Democratic Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski authored a bill he says would help under-employed, debt-saddled graduates. He says the bill would simply eliminate one way private lenders can collect repayment.

Valley Public Radio

California tax revenues ended the month of March about 7 percent above estimates in the Governor’s budget. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the state controller’s office says April’s numbers will reveal far more about California’s fiscal health. 

Revenues in March were $395 million  above the Governor’s budget estimates. That puts total revenues for the fiscal year more than 4-billion above estimates so far. But April will be key for the state as income tax deposits continue to roll in.  

Hospital-based skilled nursing care facilities say more Medi-Cal cuts will devastate patients and families. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, lawmakers from both parties support a bill that would exclude those facilities from budget cuts. 

A bill that would penalize the Boy Scouts of America for the group’s ban on gay membership has cleared its first hurdle in the California legislature.  As Capital Public Radio’s Marianne Russ reports, some groups could pay more taxes under the measure. 

The bill would remove sales and corporate tax exemptions from youth groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation.  Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara wrote the bill.

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