Source: Sacramento Bee
Nov. 15, 2017

The LAO’s outlook shows the state would finish its 2018-19 budget year with more than $19 billion in reserves – assuming lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown don’t make any more spending commitments. About $11 billion is obligated for the state’s rainy day fund.

Lawmakers could spend about $7.5 billion of the surplus, although analysts recommend that they save it to prepare for a recession.

Nov. 14, 2017

One of Gov. Jerry Brown’s green-building directives drives up the cost of state construction projects while delivering an uncertain environmental benefit, according to a new study by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The study assessed Brown’s 2012 executive order directing that all state departments design new buildings in such a way that they entirely offset their energy use.

Those so-called “zero net energy” projects tend to include features that limit energy use as well as others that generate power, such as solar panels.

The analysis found that the zero net energy decree adds 17 to 29 percent to the projected cost of some new buildings.

Nov. 6, 2017

he Sacramento City Unified School District and the teachers union have reached an agreement on a new contract that gives teachers up to an 11 percent raise over the three-year contract and averts a strike for the 43,000-student district. . . . The new deal will give teachers a 2.5 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2016 and another 2.5 percent raise retroactive to July 1 of this year. A third 2.5 percent raise will be given July 1, 2018.

The contract includes another 3.5 percent adjustment to the teacher salary schedule that will take effect in the third year of the contract, starting July 1, 2018.

Oct. 23, 2017

It takes a lot of juice to grow pot indoors, so Sacramento’s major electric utility is gearing up for the heavy demands of recreational marijuana growers come January.

That’s when growing cannabis for non-medical purposes becomes legal in California, though cities and counties retain some control.

Sacramento city officials have moved quickly to welcome the new industry by accepting dozens of applications and issuing permits for pot farms in warehouses citywide.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is getting ready, too, by doing research it hopes will conserve energy and reduce the load on aging infrastructure. SMUD researchers are testing LED lighting and air-conditioning systems in cooperation with the city’s current crop of legal, medical pot producers.

Oct. 12, 2017

The Sacramento region’s largest local governments will see pension costs go up by an estimated 14 percent next fiscal year, starting a series of annual increases that many city officials say are “unsustainable” and will force service cuts or tax hikes.

The increases come after CalPERS in December reduced the expected rate of return from investments, forcing local governments and other participants in the state’s retirement plan to pay more to cover the cost of pensions.

. . . Leyne Milstein, the city of Sacramento’s finance director, said the city’s pension costs will double in seven years. While city revenues have also increased in recent years, thanks in part to a strong real-estate market, they have not increased as much as pension costs in actual dollars.

“It’s not sustainable,” Milstein said. “These costs are going to make things incredibly challenging.”

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Nov. 17, 2017 / Andrew Khouri

Nov. 17, 2017 / The Editorial Board