Two changes to the contract – added without bidding – swelled the deal to $8 million within a year. Then, the Employment Development Department submitted a request to add another $2 million worth of work to the arrangement without soliciting new bids from other companies. That project is one of nine that State Auditor Elaine Howle highlighted in a new report released on Tuesday that urges California government to be more cautious in awarding high-value contracts without seeking competitive bids.
Before the budget change, a family of three that exceeded $3,518 in monthly income or $42,216 a year would no longer be eligible. This figure was calculated based on the current income limit for a family of three, which cannot exceed 70 percent of the 2005 state median income. The new state law still requires that a family’s income be 70 percent of the state median or less to be eligible for the subsidy. However, more families will be able to qualify, since the overall income limit will be higher when calculated using the most current state median income information. The new budget also states that families will be allowed “ongoing eligibility” as long as their income is not more than 85 percent of the state median income. This means families would not have to re-apply for services because of increases in income that didn’t exceed that level and more families will remain eligible.
Apart from being impractical, since four of our nation’s Fortune 500 companies are in the energy industry, divesting from fossil fuels would be a stunningly poor investment strategy, according to a new report conducted by Professor Daniel Fischel of the University of Chicago Law School and economists Christopher Fiore and Todd Kendall. The report found that for eleven of the country’s largest public pension funds, combined losses would be in the trillions of dollars.
New California government workers will hear from union representatives almost as soon as they start their jobs under a state budget provision bolstering labor groups as they prepare for court decisions that may cut into their membership and revenue. Unions would gain mandatory access to new employee orientation sessions in schools, cities and in state government through one of two labor-friendly provisions that lawmakers inserted into the state budget last week without much debate. The second provision bans public agencies from releasing the personal email addresses of government workers, creating a new exemption in the California Public Records Act. Those email addresses are basic information that could be used in anti-union campaigns.
How to spend the more than $1 billion in tobacco taxes was among the final hold ups of the spending agreement. The tobacco money came under heavy lobbying as Brown and lawmakers worked toward a resolution. Under the deal, doctors, dentists and other health professionals who provide publicly funded care could receive $465 million in higher payments.
A summary of the agreement released by the governor also highlights expansion of the state’s earned-income tax credit as a way to fight poverty. It makes the credit available to more than 1 million more households after nearly 400,000 households claimed the credit in 2015. It puts $1.8 billion toward the state’s rainy day reserve and grows by $3.1 billion school funding over the revised 2016-17 budget, to $74.5 billion in 2017-18.