Under the law, passed late in the Barack Obama presidency but now enforced by Donald Trump’s regime, the state is supposed to tell Washington how it will spend $2.5 billion in federal funds to improve outcomes for poor kids who make up the majority of California’s six-plus million public school students. The plan being readied for adoption by the school board would give the feds minimal information, basically just filling in the blanks as required but offering little detail. State officials say they are wary of giving more specifics because they don’t know yet how Trump’s Department of Education will enforce the new law. . . . It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the underlying issue. Roughly 60 percent of California’s K-12 public school students are considered at risk, and it goes as high as 100 percent in some districts. Those 3.5-plus million kids are our future and if they are not adequately educated we all will pay the price in crime, social dislocation and economic stagnation. Brown and those he appoints seem unwilling to make sure that the extra money he championed is actually spent on those kids, and in a manner that does improve their academic outcomes. Therefore, it falls on the education reform and civil rights organizations to stand up for them.
A constant tenet of Marin County’s guiding ethos is resistance to growth, manifesting itself in a kind of environmental apartheid. Under the guise of preserving a serene environment, Marin County’s residents and politicians use every means possible to avoid building new housing that would allow more population growth, particularly low- or moderate-income dwellings. They’ve been remarkably successful. Between 1969 and 2015, while California’s population was doubling, Marin County’s grew by just 28.4 percent. . . . When California’s housing shortfall became acute and the state government started getting serious about the housing quotas it had been assigning to communities, Marin County’s assemblyman, Democrat Marc Levine, carried a 2014 bill to exempt it from quotas until 2023, arguing that Marin needed more time to get it right. However, without waiting for a scheduled report on the county’s progress on meeting its housing quotas, Levine persuaded legislative leaders last month to insert into a budget “trailer bill” (Senate Bill 106) a brief passage that extends Marin County’s exemption from quotas for an additional five years, until 2028.
Under “workers’ compensation,” enacted in 1914, workers would give up their right to sue employers for injuries and in return, employers would be obligated to pay for medical care and provide cash benefits while disabled employees recuperated. Today, work comp, as it’s dubbed, is a huge program – well over $20 billion a year – whose operating rules are a source of perennial political jousting. . . . However, it still left California employers with – by far – the nation’s highest work comp burden. The 2016 annual survey of costs by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services kept California in the No. 1 spot with an average cost of 3.24 percent of payroll for work comp insurance, 76 percent above the national average. Obviously, working in California is not inherently more dangerous than in other states, and cash benefits to disabled California workers are not out of line, so the enormous cost differential must be rooted in the system itself, which explains why its rules are the subject of constant political infighting. One factor in those costs is what officials say is an enormous amount of fraud, concentrated in Southern California. Last year, the Center for Investigative Reporting reviewed work comp fraud cases that had been prosecuted and reported that they totaled more than $1 billion. But authorities believe that prosecutions merely are the tip of the iceberg.
Those words—contained within a decision affirming the constitutionality of California’s policy of charging polluters—are causing a stir among some state budget experts, who wonder if the ruling could be used to could pry loose constitutional constraints that have long restricted lawmakers’ ability to increase taxes.