Defenders of California High-Speed Rail often respond to critics by touting how the project provides high-paying jobs in the construction industry for disadvantaged residents of the San Joaquin Valley. It’s one thing to proclaim intentions, but another to achieve them. . . .But these programs and jobs have restrictions. The California High-Speed Rail Authority and other regional and local governments have policies (such as a Project Labor Agreement, aka “Community Benefits Agreement”) to ensure construction unions get a monopoly on recruitment, training, and dispatch of workers to high-speed rail jobs. Allegedly this would provide job opportunities for disadvantaged residents who would otherwise remain in poverty. Public records just obtained from the Fresno-based State Center Community College District reveal that unions did not offer apprenticeship opportunities to most of the 69 people who completed a union-affiliated pre-apprenticeship program funded by a state grant. Performance results for this program suggest that unions are reserving high-speed rail jobs for more favored individuals. Ironically, a few workers ended up getting jobs from local non-union contractors.
Still, critics of the program say the coverage that was brought back in California is sorely inadequate. Today, adult Medi-Cal patients can get a root canal on a front tooth, but not a back tooth. They can get full dentures, but not partial dentures.
“It’s either you should kill it or fund it,” said Paul Downey, chairman of the California Commission on Aging. “Now it’s in a limbo where it’s not useless, but it’s close to useless.”
The cost of imprisoning each of California's 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year, enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer.
The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation's highest and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard. For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.
California will contribute about $1.3 billion to its Medi-Cal expansion this year, a new expenditure that will further strain an already burdened health care budget.
This year marks the first time states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will have to pitch in to help fund their expansion of the program. Their share of the overall price tag compared with federal contributions is small – 5 percent of the cost to cover newly eligible enrollees – but that still equates to real money in the Golden State.
That’s because the expansion of Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program for low-income residents, has added nearly 4 million additional enrollees, according to the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Most other states don’t have that many enrollees in their entire Medicaid programs.
With questions mounting about the legal justification for omitting some $22 billion in expenses from California's long-standing spending cap, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration dropped the plan Thursday while promising to work on the issue again later this year.