By Steve Mikulan
Late Monday afternoon California Attorney General Kamala Harris released the state’s official title and summary for the ballot initiative promoted by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and others to reduce the retirement benefits of state and municipal workers. Harris’ wording had been anxiously awaited by Reed and his colleagues. In 2012 a different group of pension-cutters abandoned their measure, according to the Sacramento Bee, after they tested Harris’ summary and found it would make their measure radioactive at the polls.
By Dan Bacher
On January 7 nine California legislators sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown asking that he issue an executive order to prohibit the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) within the Department of Conservation from allowing fracking in the state until health and environmental concerns are addressed.
By Robert Cruickshank
News that Governor Jerry Brown is planning to spend $250 million this year on high speed rail from cap-and-trade funds, presumably the floor for an annual amount of funding from that source, should be welcomed by California environmentalists and everyone concerned about climate change. But there are some strange criticisms being made:
By Richard Eskow
What’s the economic issue we should focus on – jobs, or inequality? An increasing number of people, including the President and New York’s new mayor, have suggested that inequality of wealth and opportunity is the defining issue of our time.
But some of the folks at the Washington Post’s “WonkBlog” are having none of it. First editor Ezra Klein declared that unemployment, not inequality, should be the left’s defining issue. That drew responses from the likes of Paul Krugman and Jared Bernstein (and yours truly, here).
By Brian Goldstein
Center for Juvenile & Criminal Justice
2013 proved to be a significant year for criminal and juvenile justice reform in California. Landmark legislation was passed in SB 260 (Hancock), allowing individuals to petition for a resentencing hearing after serving at least 15 years of a life sentence for an offense committed while a youth. The state also passed AB 218 (Dickinson) that addressed employment discrimination for justice-involved individuals. This policy provides formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance at success during reentry. With the beginning of 2014 just around the corner, it is important to reflect on these successes and the need for continued work in the New Year.
By Dan Bacher
The total cost of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels could be as high as $67 billion, according to new figures revealed at a Westlands Water District board meeting last month by a Westlands staff member and a Citigroup bond consultant.
This new figure, with construction bond costs included in the total, counters the claims by Brown administration officials over the past two years that the plan would cost $24.5 billion during its 50-year implementation period.
In Paul Rogers' article in the San Jose Mercury News on December 26, Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, confirmed the estimates are accurate.
By Jeff Bryant
The good news coming from the U.S. Department of Education recently is the effort to put tougher restrictions on for-profit scam colleges that rip off students, families and the taxpayers.
The bad news is that not all Democrats are behind this effort and pushing for the tighter restrictions.
Think Progress last week passed along a report from The Wall Street Journal that Big Ed has drafted a rewrite of regulations to rein in “for-profit schools whose students end up deep in debt or default on their student loans at exceptionally high rates.”
By Joel Harrison, PhD, MPH
In November, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to decide whether for-profit companies can be forced to provide full contraceptive coverage for their employees despite religious objections from their owners. Many people believe that health insurance is something offered by employers, a sort of bonus. In fact, it is part of what I have known as ones “wage package.” Wikipedia calls it “Salary Packaging: a term used to refer to the inclusion of employee benefits (also called fringe benefits) in an employee remuneration package in exchange for giving up part of monetary salary. Such arrangements are entered into most commonly if there are tax or other benefits to be derived by the employer or employee from the arrangement.”
By Dan Bacher
Jerry Meral, Deputy Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency and Jerry Brown's point man for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, announced his retirement from "state service," effective December 31.
The resignation was announced the day after over 400 people, including fishermen, Tribal leaders, farmers, Southern California water ratepayers, environmentalists and elected officials, rallied at the State Capitol in Sacramento against the proposed water export tunnels.
By Randy Shaw
Post- presidential re-election years are rarely memorable, but 2013 was an exception. Nationally, fast food, Walmart and other low-wage workers engaged in their most powerful strikes and protests in decades. President Obama was spurred to call growing inequality the defining issue of our times, reaffirming the Occupy movement's chief message. Immigrant rights activists battled all year for immigration reform, winning Senate passage and putting House Republicans on the defensive.