Tag Archives: California

77 California cities on ‘economically challenged’ list

And yet they consistently vote for democrats.

lauren bacall

This should come as a shock to no one: Nearly a third of Californians (approximately 12 million) live in 77 “economically challenged” cities that’s equal to the entire population of the state of Ohio — and a quarter of all challenged cities in the country are in California. “Economically challenged” cities have high levels of poverty, and low levels of income and employment. They are defined as those with unemployment rates of 9 percent or above, and/or with more than 20 percent of adults living in poverty.

And if that isn’t bad enough, the report from the National Resource Network says California’s distressed cities are more than a quarter of the 297 U.S. cities over 40,000 population that fall into that category. Nationally, about 30 percent of cities are classified as economically challenged, but in California it is 40 percent.

The five most populous California cities singled out in the report are Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Long Beach and Riverside. The 72 others are mostly in inland regions, with the small smallest being Coachella, near Palm Springs, home to low-wage farm and resort workers.

Three of the cities on the list – San Bernardino, Stockton and Vallejo – have declared bankruptcy in recent years.

No surprise here. Liberals in charge there don’t understand math. California, and local governments, are broke.

Public pensions are broke: Even as California taxpayers pay more for the pensions, it’s still not enough to cover costs.

And spending money you don’t have is apparently not an issue in California. Half of California’s illegal aliens– about 1.4 million — have incomes low enough to qualify for full Medi-Cal benefits should California legislative proposals to offer coverage to the undocumented ever be enacted.

And the Census Bureau reported in September that California’s official poverty rate for 2014 was 16.3 percent, somewhat higher than the national rate of 14.7 percent.



More California seniors work full-time into their late 60s and early 70s

Hope you have some money saved as I’m sure this is a trend that doesn’t affect just Californians.

walmart greeter

Sacramento Bee:  A growing proportion of Californian seniors are working full time, a sign that many have not saved enough for retirement, according to a Bee review of new census data. About 14.3 percent of Californians between 65 and 75 worked full-time, year-round in 2014, up from 7.5 percent in 2000.

As Baby Boomers become seniors, that translates into almost 440,000 senior citizens working full time last year in California, more than double the number from 2000.

A few things are likely behind the trend. First, the federal government has gradually raised the age when seniors can receive full Social Security benefits. It was 65 in 2000; it currently sits at 66; it will be 67 by the end of the next decade. (Even so, the number of Californians 67 and older working full-time has also doubled in the last 15 years.)

Economics likely plays a role. About 140,000 seniors working full-time earned $30,000 or less in 2014, the census figures show. And roughly 30 percent of U.S. households with members age 55 or older have zero retirement savings, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Others simply choose to keep working. About 95,000 senior citizens in California worked full-time and earned $100,000 or more last year, census figures show.

The most common jobs for working seniors last year were business manager, CEO, administrative assistant, lawyer and retail sales clerk, the data show.

The state’s largest urban areas are driving the trend. Portions of the Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego metros have the highest concentration of seniors continuing to work full time. In the Sacramento region, the areas with the highest proportion of working seniors are Citrus Heights, western Roseville, and central Sacramento.


California to register voters automatically at DMV

What could possibly go wrong?

california license

Sacramento Bee: In a bid to improve voter turnout in California elections, Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation to automatically register to vote anyone who has a driver’s license or state identification card. The measure was pushed by Democrats, whose candidates and causes typically benefit from higher turnout elections.

Assembly Bill 1461, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, will require the state to register adults to vote when they get or renew a driver’s license, unless they opt out. It will make California only the second state, after Oregon, to proactively register people to vote unless they decline.

 Secretary of State Alex Padilla

Secretary of State Alex Padilla

The California legislation was a priority of Secretary of State Alex Padilla and followed the state’s record-low turnout in last year’s elections. “In a free society, the right to vote is fundamental,” Padilla said in a statement after Brown announced signing the bill. “We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process. The right to vote should be no different.”

Democrats said the measure would increase the ranks of people – particularly the young, poor and non-white – engaged in the political process. Republicans mostly opposed the measure. They warned it risked allowing people eligible to get driver licenses, but who are non-citizens and ineligible to vote, to register and cast fraudulent ballots.

Democratic lawmakers countered that the bill included protections to prevent that from happening.


In November, only 42.2 percent of voters showed up, the lowest participation in a general election since World War II, according to a committee analysis of the measure. The turnout rate reflected just 31 percent of the state population eligible to vote, including an estimated 7 million Californians not registered.

“Our democracy depends on the true participation of the populace,” state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, said during a floor debate last month.

The measure sought to build upon the federal Motor Voter Law, which required voter registration forms to be available at motor vehicle agencies. More than 20 years later, though, experts said the paper-based law’s impact has been spotty, with few states able to detail how their agencies are helping people register to vote or update their registrations.

In Oregon, an automatic registration law took effect earlier this year, with full implementation due in January. Election officials automatically register people to vote when the state’s motor vehicle agency relays information that the people are eligible. People can apply to opt out.

“I just think we’re getting the cart before the horse,” state Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, said last month.

Under the law, automatic voter registration would not take place until the state’s long-awaited voter database, VoteCal, is up and running; there is a system in place to protect the transfer of non-citizen information; and money has been appropriated by the Legislature.


California state scientists reject Jerry Brown’s contract offer

If these scientists really don’t like their pay, they are quite free to negotiate a 5 percent-plus raise for the next three years with a private employer.

kick the can down the road

Sacramento Bee: California’s state scientists have resoundingly rejected a new contract with Gov. Jerry Brown that would have given them a total 15 percent in salary increases over three years but included a new requirement that they begin contributing toward retiree health benefits.

Nearly three-quarters of ballots cast voted against ratifying the deal, according to the union. The results frustrated, at least for the moment, the administration’s attempt to implement Brown’s plan to begin saving for future retirees’ medical care, a debt currently pegged at roughly $71 billion.

math is hard

The vote also underscored the dissatisfaction of scientists who have long complained about earning 70 percent of what those holding similar governments jobs are paid.

Patty Velez, who chairs the bargaining team for the California Association of Professional Scientists, said in a press statement that the contract “was far short of what is needed to bring an equitable and satisfactory conclusion to these negotiations.” California Department of Human Resources spokesman Jim Zamora said that the Brown administration’s bargaining arm would have no comment.

A centerpiece of the now-rejected contract would have put the union’s 3,000 members into a pension-style fund to offset retiree health-care costs. Employee contributions to the fund, which the state would have matched, would have incrementally increased to a total 2.8 percent of salary by mid-2019.

The terms also required 25 years of service to become fully vested in the retiree health-care program, five years longer than current employees must wait. And the amount of the state’s health-care subsidy for those future employees in retirement would have been substantially reduced.

Brown wants to build similar terms into all the contracts covering the state’s 180,000 or so unionized state employees. The administration can impose those conditions on its non-union employees. The changes to retiree health benefits and requiring employee contributions for them are key elements of the governor’s plan to begin whittling down obligations for retiree medical costs that, unlike pensions, are not offset by investments.

Union leaders knew that they had a hard sell when they announced the tentative agreement last month. Their members last year had rejected one contract and then accepted another less-lucrative, short-term deal, believing that once Brown won re-election in November he would spend more freely on salaries.

But as talks dragged on past that contract’s expiration date a few months ago, it became apparent that money was again snagging the negotiations. During the final week of talks, about 100 scientists staged an unsanctioned march at CalHR’s Sacramento headquarters. A few days later, Velez announced the new tentative agreement with a near-apology, acknowledging the deal “still falls well short of closing the huge salary gap between scientists and their engineering counterparts at the state, as well as scientists at the local level and in the private sector.”

Of the ballots cast, 72 percent rejected the agreement, according to the union. By state law, the scientists will continue to work under the terms of their expired contract. Velez said negotiators plan to return to the bargaining table. A date to resume talks has not been set.


I bet the majority of these scientists believe in global warming yet a $71 BILLION debt doesn’t scare them.

See also:


California economic portrait not pretty

Apparently Californians don’t know the definition of insanity.

lauren bacall

Sacramento Bee: Federal officials released three major economic reports this month and together, they paint a dark picture of California.

Superficially, the monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was good news. California added 36,300 jobs in August, 470,000 in one year and more than 2 million since the recovery began. The unemployment rate, which had topped 12 percent during the recession, dropped to 6.1 percent in August.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau reported that California’s official poverty rate for 2014 was 16.3 percent, somewhat higher than the national rate of 14.7 percent.

Finally, a Bureau of Economic Analysis report on regional economies revealed that outside the red-hot San Francisco Bay Area, California’s economy trailed national expansion last year, and several rural areas actually saw declines.

Taken together, the voluminous data dumps reveal that those on the upper rungs of the economic ladder, and the communities in which they cluster, particularly in the Bay Area, are doing well. However, very large portions of the state, both geographically and sociologically, are struggling.

Take that 6.1 percent jobless rate. As low as that may seem, it’s still the ninth-highest among the states, a full percentage point higher than the national average and 50 percent higher than Texas’ 4.1 percent. Among the nation’s 387 Bureau of Labor Statistics “metropolitan statistical areas,” nine of the 10 with the highest unemployment rates are in California, topped by 24.2 percent in Imperial County.

Among the nation’s 51 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), the Riverside-San Bernardino region is dead last at 7.1 percent, yet environmental groups want to block a proposed new warehouse complex (and its jobs) in Riverside County.

California fares even worse by a truer measure of underemployment, called U-6, which counts not only workers who are officially unemployed, but those “marginally attached” to the labor force and those involuntarily working part-time. Our U-6 rate is 14 percent, down a bit from the recession but still the nation’s second-highest, topped only by Nevada’s 15.2 percent.

Finally, the true employment picture is affected by the “labor force participation rate,” the percentage of those in the prime working age group (16-64) working or seeking work. Ours is 62.3 percent, the lowest level in 40 years. When more than a third of potential workers sit on the sidelines, the official unemployment rate, or even U-6, look much better than they truly are. The true underemployment rate may be closer to 20 percent.

Back to the poverty rate. It’s not only higher than the national rate, but as the California Budget and Policy Center points out, the data indicate that 22.7 percent of the state’s children are living in poverty, and they are nearly a third of all officially impoverished Californians. As dark as that situation may sound, it’s actually worse. By the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure, which uses broader factors including the cost of living – especially housing – 23.4 percent of Californians are impoverished.

Those data are bolstered by two other factoids. Nearly a third of California’s 39 million residents are enrolled in Medi-Cal, the federal-state health care program for the poor, and nearly 60 percent of K-12 students qualify for reduced-price or free lunches due to low family incomes.

This is not a pretty picture.


More than 500K driver’s licenses issued to illegal immigrants in California

Of course California is proud of this.


Fox News: California has issued more than half a million driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally under a program that began nine months ago.

Armando Botello, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, said Friday that the milestone was reached last week. “For us, the DMV, it is a source of great pride to have reached half a million this soon. We thought we would issue half a million applications per year and we did it in 9 months. This means the DMV work is paying off and that all drivers will be safer now,” said Botello.

The state started providing special permits in January, when a law took effect allowing unauthorized illegal immigrants to obtain it with an identification document, proof of residence, and after passing a written and a driving exam. Because the agency does not ask about race or ethnicity, it is not known how many of the five hundred thousand applicants are Latino. However, Botello said most are Hispanic.

The record number of licenses issued came as a surprise to the agency, which expected to reach the half a million mark by the end of the year, said Botello. According to DMV estimates, there is a total of 1.4 million potential applicants in the state of California.

“We thought we would issue half a million in one year and we did it in nine months. I think it will be difficult that we reach one million in the next nine months because there are fewer people coming to the office,” the spokesman said.

The new licenses initially generated huge interest, with long lines at DMV offices in January and February.


California students produce low scores in first round of Common Core tests

I’m sure this means the schools need more money.

california teacher association

Sacramento Bee: California released scores for new Common Core-based standardized tests today with performance as expected – much lower than in past years.

Most students in the Sacramento region and statewide failed to meet English or math standards under the more rigorous California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, which replaces the former STAR tests.

About 41 percent of Sacramento County students met or exceeded English-Language Arts standards, compared to 44 percent of students statewide. Roughly 33 percent of Sacramento County students met or exceeded math standards, similar to the statewide rate.

Education leaders warned that the new results cannot be compared to past performance given the dramatic difference in how Common Core-based testing is conducted. But under the old tests, 54 percent of Sacramento County students scored at or above proficient on English-Language Arts STAR tests in 2013 and about 59 percent of the county’s students scored at or above proficient on math STAR tests.

The math and English tests, administered to 3.2 million California students in third through eighth grades and 11th grade, will serve as a baseline to measure progress in future years and should not be compared to results from the state’s previous STAR tests, said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a statement.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson

“California’s new standards and tests are challenging for schools to teach and for students to learn, so I am encouraged that many students are at or near achievement standards,” he said. “However, just as we expected, many students need to make more progress. Our job is to support students, teachers and schools as they do.”

Students in Placer and El Dorado counties fared better than those in Sacramento County, with a small majority meeting or exceeding English standards. None of the region’s four counties, which also includes Yolo, saw a majority of students meet math standards, though Placer and El Dorado students came close.

At the district level, Roseville Joint Union High School District posted the best English scores as 78 percent of its students met or exceeded standards. The lowest English scores were at the Robla Elementary School District, where 25 percent of students met English standards.

Sacramento-area school districts have been preparing parents for lower test scores for some time. San Juan Unified posted a letter to parents on its website and in a newsletter warning about lower test scores.

“Everybody from the school district to the state is trying to message that it will take some time,” said Kim Minugh, San Juan Unified spokeswoman. “We are asking a lot from our students that we haven’t in the past. The scores aren’t going to reflect that immediately. We do need some time.”

She said the district is using the data from the state assessment as well as its own tests to adjust instruction. “We need to do better and we think we already are starting that journey,” she said.

Other states also have experienced a significant performance decline in the first year of the new test. In 2013, the percentage of New York students that scored at a proficient level fell from 55 percent to 31 percent in English and language arts and from nearly 65 percent to 31 percent in math.

The potential for that kind of drop put parents and educators on edge. California education leaders have decided not to use this year’s test to determine each school’s Academic Performance Index, a compilation of student test scores that in past years allowed for school comparisons across the state.

Parents will see big differences when they get individual student scores in the coming weeks. Gone are the “advanced,” “proficient,” “basic,” “below basic” or “far below basic” performance levels of the previous Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results for English and math. In their place are “standard not met,” “standard nearly met,” “standard met” and “standard exceeded.”

Eric Heins

Eric Heins

California Teachers Association President Eric Heins issued this statement today about the state’s release of student test scores from the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP):

“Educators and parents know that a statewide test score is just one component of measuring student progress. Any true assessment of student achievement always includes multiple measures, including classroom assignments and assessments by local teachers. 

Our students will always be more than a test score. We need to allow all students time for exploration, discovery and awe. We need to let them experience the wonder of learning. With the state’s school funding formula and more community control over targeting resources, students, parents, educators and administrators are working together in exciting ways. It’s a work in progress, but it’s also a work about real progress that’s being made by educators, parents and communities coming together to help all students fulfill their dreams.”