Month: March 2011

Despite experience, Brown still flummoxed by Legislature

When Jerry Brown was running for governor last year, he vowed to break the partisan deadlock that had prevented legislators from fixing California’s yearslong budget mess. With his decades of experience in politics, including two previous terms as governor, Brown said he had the savvy it took to bring Republicans and Democrats together to find a solution.

But while candidate Brown warned that his opponent – political novice and former eBay executive Meg Whitman – would require “on the job training,” all of his experience has yet to produce the results he promised. This week Brown announced in frustration that he had abandoned negotiations with Republicans aimed at calling a special election in June to ask voters to extend $11 billion in temporary taxes for another five years.

Green homes planned for homeless vets

A long line of drenched men huddled together outside a Fresno shelter, hoping to get a warm meal and bed in the middle of a winter storm on a recent evening. It was a typical night for Ed Sanders, 57, a homeless veteran. Green Hope Veterans, a nonprofit organization in Fresno, plans to help local vets like Sanders by providing them with affordable green housing.

New organic farmers face big challenges

Thirty-eight farmers-in-training currently till the land at ALBA, growing everything from typical local crops like radishes and kale to traditional Mexican herbs and cactus pears. The majority are farm workers—mostly Latino immigrants—seeking their own businesses. Others are career changers or organic food enthusiasts hoping to capitalize on a growing market for locally grown produce.

Beloved Community Medicine

A prior edition of documented a worrisome trend of rising income inequality within our state, a trend which runs in tandem with the statistics for the country as a whole. The latest research findings show just how worrisome this trend is.

University of California economics professor Emmanuel Saez has analyzed tax returns dating back to World War I. What he found was amazing and startling. We are more unequal now that at any time in the last one hundred years and significantly so. The last time we were this unequal, the stock market crashed and ushered in The Great Depression.

Would a more equal California be a healthier California? The answer appears to be a resounding yes.

California job growth soars

California’s economy sprung back to life in February, adding 96,500 jobs to far outpace the rest of the nation, according to the latest figures from the Employment Development Department. The unemployment rate fell from 12.4 percent to 12.2 percent.

Brown signs bill cutting $1.5 billion in health spending

One of the budget bills Gov. Jerry Brown sign3evThursday seeks to make more than $1.5 billion in cuts to state spending on health care for the poor, mostly in Medi-Cal and the Healthy Families insurance program. Most of the cuts will be achieved by reducing by 10 percent the reimbursement for doctors, hospitals and other providers that care for the poor. The bill will also increase premiums in the Healthy Families program, implement co-payments in Medi-Cal and limit doctor visits and the reimbursement for over-the-counter medications.

Auditors offer ideas for saving state money

By Michael Gardner

While the state may be short of money, there is no drought of cash-saving ideas.

But many cannot pan out politically, legally or logistically.

Nonetheless, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers have in their hands a pair of promising far-reaching sets of recommendations developed by independent state investigators.

These separate proposals by the state Auditor and Little Hoover Commission have been overshadowed by the more immediate debate over spending cuts and tax extensions now playing out in the Capitol.

Helping Central Valley Cities Reduce Greenhouse Gasses

California cities face a daunting deadline. Within nine years they must make a significant reduction in the pollutants that create the state’s carbon footprint. The target of 2020 to make a 15 percent cut in greenhouse emissions may seem a long way off. Yet the Great Valley Center, a Modesto-based not-for-profit, wants to help cities take action now.

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