Should taxpayers underwrite special benefits to attract new teachers, such as affordable housing, expanded maternity leave and tax breaks? California lawmakers have put forward a raft of proposals offering extra perks for teachers this session, prompted by what supporters say is an urgent need to do more to encourage people to get into the profession or stay there. “Due to the extreme shortage of teachers in the state, many school districts must seek opportunities to attract qualified teachers,” Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, said of his bill meant to increase the supply of affordable housing for teachers. Available data, though, doesn’t back up such dire assessments of the state’s overall teacher supply. Data shows that, as state finances have improved, so have the number of teachers in public schools.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority promises to “achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in construction” and is committed to operate the system on “100% renewable energy” by contracting for “400 to 600 megawatts of renewable power”. These promises may please environmentalists, but they cannot be kept.
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.