04/23/2018

News

Borenstein: BART bought off well-paid workers despite large deficit

But that lacks context. BART officials gave away the store in 2013. The new extension, to 2021, layers onto the earlier deal, further inflating salaries without paring back sweetheart benefits. . . BART negotiators gave up any hope of saving money by insisting workers contribute their fair share to their pensions.

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Daniel Borenstein: Plan to Shore Up CalSTRS Doesn’t Work as Billed

It could shift a greater-than-expected portion of the burden for paying off the debt to school districts; makes the state share highly vulnerable to market volatility; and leaves a good chance that the state will pay no more than it would have before the deal was struck. . . Moreover, in the long term, the plan does not ensure that the debt will be paid off by 2046, or ever.

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California Tax Measures Loom Like El Nino Deluge

Tax propositions might rain down on Bay Area residents like an El Niño downpour this year as cities, counties, school districts and agencies try to persuade voters to pay for improved transit, smoother roads, school repairs, city building rehab, and bay water and wildlife conservation.

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California Teacher Shortage Could Get Worse, Report Warns

The teacher shortage in the K-12 system has become so critical that a local school district is offering a $10,000 signing bonus for its next math and science teachers.

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California Retirement Liabilities Remain Despite Surplus

“We can see from where the numbers are going how it’s going to crowd out education and all the other California services, and it’s ultimately unsustainable,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable. “The governor has to address it now, and he’s been clear that he’s going to try to do that.”

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Poll: Californians Don’t Share Some of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Top Priorities

While respondents gave the governor high marks for his handling of the state budget — which was drowning in red ink when he took office in early 2011 — the survey shows that slightly more than half of residents are ready to bag the $68 billion rail line and that tackling the state’s water woes, not global warming, should be California’s top priority.

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Altamont Pass: Controversial Wind Turbine Company Blamed for Bird Deaths Shutting Down

The company is one of four that operate in the Altamont Pass Wind Farm, which was one of the first wind farms in the country when commissioned in the early 1980s and currently has about 3,000 turbines.

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Falling Highways: California Roads Crumble as Tax Fight Wears On

With gas-tax revenues drying up as more fuel-efficient cars take over the roads in California and across the nation, the race to repair critical highway infrastructure before tragedy strikes is becoming more pressing. Two people were hospitalized in the Oct. 20 collapse.

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Daniel Borenstein: CalPERS’ Protracted Plan for Reducing Investment Risk Leaves Pension System Vulnerable

CalPERS officials know they have a serious problem: The nation’s largest pension system holds too many risky investments to adequately withstand the next big economic downturn. Yet the only proposal under consideration to shore up the system would take decades to properly rebalance CalPERS’ portfolio. If the next major recession comes before that, the retirement system will have to sock state and local governments with devastating rate increases at a time when they can least afford it.

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Thomas Peele: California’s Bad Public Records Laws Can Shock Outsiders

“If you live here and think California’s public record laws — the public records act, the rules of court, the legislative records act — aren’t twisted knots that let bureaucrats and elected officials keep whatever secrets they want, then you’re not paying attention. “

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California Legislature: Green Tech Gets Green Light

Despite a testy and drawn-out political battle, the new green mandates just approved by state lawmakers — higher efficiency standards for buildings, more reliance on renewable energy — signal good news for the state’s clean-energy industry.

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Senate Panel Votes to Raise California Gas Tax 12 Cents a Gallon

Members of a Senate committee tackling a huge backlog of roadway maintenance endorsed legislation that would generate $4 billion annually for repairs by increasing the gas tax 12 cents a gallon and boosting vehicle registration fees up to $100. Another panel approved bills to hike the legal smoking age to 21, regulate e-cigarettes and allow counties to place local tobacco taxes on the ballot.

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Dwindling UC Admissions for Californians Feeds Overparenting and College Panic

Enticed by the fat fees generated by foreign and out-of-state students, who pay supplemental tuition ($24,700 for the 2015-16 school year), the UC system has begun to prioritize cash flow over local connections. More and more parents feel like Cal and others have slammed the door in the face of their children. Just look at the statistics for entering freshman: 45 percent of offers at UC Berkeley went to out-of-state and foreign students; the number was 42 percent at UCLA, 39 percent at UC San Diego and 35 percent at UC Davis.

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Gas Prices Could Fall to Under $2.50 a Gallon in California

The U.S. average was $2.67 Friday, while California was still much higher at $3.79. The AAA estimates a huge drop could save drivers $500 by the end of the year.

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Cynical Labor Bill Seeks to Keep Public in Dark About Negotiations

The bill actually aims to keep the public in the dark about public-employee negotiations, ensuring taxpayers never learn the costs of collective bargaining agreements until they’re done deals.

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