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.
Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill Monday, making it the ninth state to replace the pension with a "hybrid" retirement plan. It goes into effect in 2019.
The new plan combines elements of a traditional pension and a 401(k)-style account.
Overall, new workers will contribute more of their salary, work longer, and likely receive a smaller payout in retirement than under the current system, according to a report from the state's Independent Fiscal Office.
But Pennsylvania's pension system is currently one of the most underfunded in the country and is in need of reform. The bill had bipartisan support.
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.”