Tag Archives: Jerry Brown

Senate panel votes to raise California gas tax 12 cents a gallon

arm and leg.jpg

Because 42.35 cents per gallon just isn’t enough for greedy lawmakers.

From Mercury News: State lawmakers on Wednesday took the first steps toward raising taxes and fees on motorists and further restricting Californians’ tobacco use as the Legislature convened special sessions aimed at solving the state’s transportation and health care funding crises.

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 annual vehicle registration fees $35 for most cars. Fees for all-electric vehicles would go up $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.

While significant, the party-line votes taken by the committees were merely an opening salvo in a battle between Democrats and Republicans that will play out over the next few weeks about the fairness of fixing California’s crumbling roads and improving health care for the poor by imposing new taxes.

“We don’t want to dump the cost of our horribly maintained infrastructure on the next generation — it will be too late to solve the problem if we delay,” said Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, whose transportation tax bill passed the committee 9-2, with all the yes votes coming from Democrats. The two no votes came from Republicans; two other Republicans abstained.

Because tax and fee increases require the support of two-thirds of lawmakers in both houses of the Legislature, Democrats seeking to raise taxes will need help from their GOP colleagues, some of whom have indicated they’re open to hiking the gas tax for the first time in more than two decades — as long as the money is restricted to transportation improvements.

Speaking Wednesday at a news conference at the seaport in Oakland, Gov. Jerry Brown urged bipartisan cooperation in repairing the state’s roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure — yet studiously avoided saying how he wants to do it.

He wouldn’t say whether he supports Democratic moves to raise gas taxes or vehicle registration fees. And he wouldn’t say whether he supports Republican moves to cut jobs from Caltrans or to siphon money from the state’s high-speed rail and cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction programs.

“My approach to bringing people together is not to prematurely close the door,” Brown said. “I’m not going to put all my cards on the table this morning. This is a big challenge. How we’re going to get to the end of it isn’t exactly clear this morning.

But he said he didn’t know how things would work out years ago when he delved into California’s water infrastructure bond or closing the state’s yawning budget deficit. Yet both ended up getting done with bipartisan support, he noted. “I’m staying above the fray here,” he said. “What you’re getting here is the opening chapter in a longer novel.”

Current revenue from California’s 42.35-cent gas tax covers only a fraction of the state’s annual highway repair needs.

Last week, business organizations such as the California Chamber of Commerce and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group said any deal should seek to raise at least $6 billion annually by raising gas and diesel taxes and increasing vehicle registration and license fees.

Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said the world envies this region’s thriving economy, but “we can’t take it for granted” because the momentum is being threatened by inadequate infrastructure and housing. Taxes are unpopular, he agreed, but the major companies that are his organization’s members support whatever measures are needed to play catch-up after years of deferred maintenance.

Wunderman’s group on Wednesday proposed indefinitely extending the quarter-cent sales tax portion of Proposition 30, the 2012 measure that Brown championed to pay for the state’s once-cash-strapped schools, and dedicating all the revenue to transportation needs. Reauthorizing the tax hike, now scheduled to expire in 2016, would provide about $1.5 billion a year for road repair.

Read the rest of the story here.

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California SEIU contract includes 9 to 19 percent raises for many workers

California Gov. Jerry Brown is surrounded by unidentified SEIU workers after signing a bill creating the highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

California Gov. Jerry Brown is surrounded by unidentified SEIU workers after signing a bill creating the highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

From Sacramento Bee: A proposed contract for state government’s largest union includes dozens of special pay raises for certain workers that could increase their salaries by as much as 19 percent next year, according to new details released this week by the bargaining units.

The biggest gains would go to financial experts working for departments like CalPERS, as well as workers with specialized training in competitive career fields.

Most actuaries next year would receive a 15 percent salary bump on top of the standard 4 percent raise that all workers represented by SEIU Local 1000 would gain. In general, they’re financial planners working for CalPERS who earn between $7,300 and $10,000 a month.

In total, the proposed SEIU contract would raise their salaries by 19 percent next year. Many vocational nurses would receive an 11.25 percent wage hike on top of the union’s 4 percent general salary increase.

Other job classifications, from tax auditors to environmental planners, would receive a 5 percent special salary hike next in addition to the general SEIU raise. Custodians, too, would gain 3 percent on top of the standard raise.

The state and its unions regularly conduct salary surveys, and special salary adjustments are intended to keep certain careers competitive with the private sector. A 2014 state salary survey showed that many SEIU workers had fallen behind their peers outside of state government.

Since then, the union and the state have studied how to offer better incentives for those high-demand workers.

SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado

SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado

“A lot of this came out of the state’s inability to recruit or retain” for competitive career fields, said SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado. “The work they do is really good quality work. As soon as (other employers) find out, (the workers) are getting a lot more money” and job offers.

SEIU Local 1000 members will vote on the contract between Jan. 4 and Jan. 17. It published the tentative agreement this week, and it has been hosting meetings for its members to learn more about it. The union’s advisory commission endorsed it last weekend.

SEIU Local 1000 was on the brink of a strike over the contract two weeks ago, arguing that its members deserved better than Gov. Jerry Brown’s initial contract offer. Brown had proposed a series of four annual raises of about 3 percent each, offset by rising employee contributions for retiree health care.

In broad terms, SEIU’s tentative contract looks similar to Brown’s proposal, although it delays and reduces the retiree health care contributions. It provides a $2,500 bonus this year, a 4 percent raise in 2017, a 4 percent raise in 2018 and a 3.5 percent raise in 2019.

Some of its members were angered when they saw that outline. One state worker even created a contract calculator online where SEIU members could compare Brown’s offer to the one SEIU negotiated.

But the new details reveal that thousands of SEIU members across a broad range of careers stand to gain significantly more money than the initial outline suggested. Maldonado characterized the base wage increase of 11.5 percent over four years as the floor of the agreement, with some workers gaining as much as 27 percent through 2019.

The California Department of Human Resources and the Legislative Analyst’s Office have not yet released an estimate regarding the contract’s total cost.

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Not from The Onion: California is cracking down on cow farts

cow-fart3

Via Yahoo: California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. The nation’s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.

Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills.

Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

cow-fart

“If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, a science advisor for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.

Livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report.

Since the passage of its landmark global warming law in 2006, California has been reducing carbon emissions from cars, trucks, homes and factories, while boosting production of renewable energy.

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In the nation’s largest milk-producing state, the new law requires dairies and other livestock operations to reduce methane emissions 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. State officials are developing the regulations, which take effect in 2024.

“We expect that this package … and everything we’re doing on climate, does show an effective model forward for others,” McCarthy said.

But dairy farmers say the new regulations will drive up costs when they’re already struggling with five years of drought, low milk prices and rising labor costs. They’re also concerned about a newly signed law that will boost overtime pay for farmworkers.

“It just makes it more challenging. We’re continuing to lose dairies. Dairies are moving out of state to places where these costs don’t exist,” said Paul Sousa, director of environmental services for Western United Dairymen.

The dairy industry could be forced to move production to states and countries with fewer regulations, leading to higher emissions globally, Sousa said.

“We think it’s very foolish for the state of California to be taking this position,” said Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager for the Milk Producers Council. “A single state like California is not going to make a meaningful impact on the climate.”

Regulators are looking for ways to reduce so-called enteric emissions — methane from the bodily functions of cows. That could eventually require changes to what cattle eat.

udderly-ridiculous

But the biggest target is dairy manure, which accounts for about a quarter of the state’s methane emissions. State regulators want more farmers to reduce emissions with methane digesters, which capture methane from manure in large storage tanks and convert the gas into electricity.

The state has set aside $50 million to help dairies set up digesters, but farmers say that’s not nearly enough to equip the state’s roughly 1,500 dairies.

New Hope Dairy, which has 1,500 cows in Sacramento County, installed a $4 million methane digester in 2013, thanks to state grants and a partnership with the local utility, which operates the system to generate renewable power for the grid.

But co-owner Arlin Van Groningen, a third-generation farmer, says he couldn’t afford one if he had to buy and run it himself. “The bottom line is it’s going to negatively impact the economics of the California dairy industry,” Van Groningen said of the new law. “In the dairy business, the margins are so slim that something like this will force us out of state.”

State officials say they’re committed to making sure the new regulations work for farmers and the environment. “There’s a real opportunity here to get very significant emissions reductions at fairly low cost, and actually in a way that can bring economic benefits to farmers,” Ryan said.

government solve all problems

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California State government’s largest union is edging closer to a strike

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)

From Sacramento Bee: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has called for a strike vote of the union’s 95,000 members beginning next week, according to a statement on the union website.

The union is trying to get a bigger raise than the 2.96 percent pay hike Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is offering. Brown’s proposal would raise SEIU salaries by 12 percent over four years, but also require its members to begin paying a contribution toward their retiree health care costs.  “We still believe the state can do better,” Walker wrote in a message to SEIU members.

SEIU represents workers in nine different bargaining units. Its contracts for nurses, administrative employees and information technology workers are among the 14 state labor agreements that expired this summer.

SEIU's best buddy...

SEIU’s best buddy…

Walker wrote to union members that SEIU has been in negotiations with the state for the past six months. In July, union leadership voted to authorize a strike vote. The next step toward a strike would be a vote by union members. A vote to strike would not necessarily lead to workers walking off the job.

Before workers strike, the union likely would have to declare an impasse in negotiations and participate in mediation with the state. That process could take months. But surveying members on their willingness to strike could strengthen SEIU’s position at the bargaining table.

Last year, the California State University sweetened a contract offer for the union that represents its faculty after professors voted to strike. As a result, professors received a 10.5 percent pay raise over three years rather than 2 percent raises the state university had been offering.

The Brown administration has been offering raises of about 3 percent a year to most unions. The state’s correctional officers accepted that agreement. Other unions representing attorneys, engineers and scientists are getting bigger raises this year.

All of the new contracts call on state workers to begin to making contributions toward retiree health care. So far, most employees with new contracts are paying about 1.3 percent of their salaries toward retiree health care, with the portion rising to greater than 3 percent over time.

Walker has led the union since 2008. Her union and several others without contracts argue that they sacrificed during the recession to help the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations resolve budget gaps.

With a better economy, they contend, the state should reward its workforce. “Now that the state’s coffers have significantly improved, we strongly feel that state employees deserve a robust improvement from pre-recession cuts. But the situation has turned bleak and sluggish in contract negotiations,” four union leaders wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. Those unions include two AFSCME bargaining units, a group that represents operating engineers and one more that represents psychiatric technicians.

SEIU conducted a series of surveys recently that showed its members are worried about the rising costs of housing and child care. The union says 39 percent of its members could not afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment in their communities.

CalHR spokesman Joe DeAnda said the Brown administration looks “forward to continued negotiations with SEIU, and hopes to secure an agreement that both reflects the contributions of our hard-working state employees and maintains the integrity of the state’s current budget stability.”

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California petitions to become first state to offer ObamaCare to illegal immigrants

Shocker, not.

obamacare

From Fox News: California’s health care exchange is requesting that it be allowed a waiver from ObamaCare regulations in order to allow illegal immigrants to buy insurance on the exchange – which would make California the first state to extend ObamaCare to illegal immigrants.

Peter Lee, Director of Covered California

Peter Lee, Director of Covered California

In a Sept. 30 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee said that the Affordable Care Act has been “tremendously successful” in the state and has cut the rate of uninsured in half.

“While millions of Californians have benefitted from coverage purchased through the Covered California marketplace, certain individuals are prohibited from buying insurance through our state marketplace due to their immigration status,” Lee wrote, before requesting the waiver.

The Affordable Care Act technically bars illegal immigrants from insurance exchanges, but in June Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that allowed the state to apply for a federal waiver to open Covered California to illegal immigrants living in California. The bill’s sponsor said such a waiver would allow 390,000 illegal immigrants to receive health insurance.

However, even if the Obama administration green-lights the waiver, the insurance plans that would be offered – California Qualified Health Plans – would not be subsidized.

yeah right

The Department for Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment from FoxNews.com.

Critics have objected to the plan, saying it is the latest sign the federal government misrepresented the purpose of the law.

“This is the first step in another misrepresentation of the Affordable Care Act,” Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform told US News & World Report in June. “It was sold to the American people on the fact that you wouldn’t have to subsidize health care for illegal immigrants.”

The issue of whether ObamaCare would be available to illegal immigrants was highly contentious in the debate building up to the law’s passage in 2010. In an address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, the president said ObamaCare would not apply to illegal immigrants, to which Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. shouted “You lie!” Obama immediately responded, “That’s not true. That’s not true.”

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Planned Parenthood-backed bill faces ACLU, media backlash in California

The truth shall not be exposed...

The truth shall not be exposed…

From Fox News: California lawmakers have OK’d a Planned Parenthood-backed bill that creates new penalties for distributing secret recordings of discussions with health providers – but civil rights and media advocates say the measure goes too far. 

The bill, which passed Friday and now goes to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, targets activists such as the Center for Medical Progress — which last year released secretly recorded videos purportedly showing activists discussing the purchase of aborted fetal body parts with Planned Parenthood representatives.

Truth hurts...

Truth hurts…

The videos, while criticized for selective editing, sparked significant outrage among Republicans who called for the organization to be defunded.

Recording and distributing a “confidential communication” without consent already is a crime under California law. However, the new bill adds an additional layer of penalties — including additional fines and up to a year in prison — specifically for recording a conversation with a health care provider.

Planned Parenthood supported the bill and said that in light of the videos, it had seen a nine-fold increase in violence against its facilities. “With the Internet and the tremendous wildfire nature in which news can be spread now through social media, we need to have a crime against distribution by those in particular who did the illegal recording,” Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, told the Los Angeles Times.

The bill passed on a party-line vote. However, some voices often allied with Democrats were unhappy with the bill.

“We know of no legitimate governmental reason for singling-out disclosure of all health care provider communications for special criminal sanctions, making the bill vulnerable not only on First Amendment grounds but also on equal protection grounds,” the American Civil Liberties Union argued in opposition to the bill in June.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the measure initially stalled in the state Senate due to opposition from media advocates that it could prevent lawyers and journalists from doing their jobs. However, it passed after language was added that restricted who could be prosecuted under the law — which proponents said would prevent it being used against news organizations reporting on such videos.

“It is narrowly tailored to address the growing threat to health care providers,” Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson told the Bee. (Jackson has been honored by the Planned Parenthood Action FUND for her courageous efforts to support reproductive rights.)

hannah-beth-jackson

It did not appear, though, that those changes specifically addressed the ACLU’s complaints. The ACLU did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FoxNews.com on Tuesday.

Even after the amendments, The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board on Aug. 31 called the move to give health care providers special protection “mystifying” and accused the lawmakers behind the bill of pandering to special interests.

“But make no mistake, this measure would heap more criminal and civil penalties on making a secret recording — an act that’s already prohibited by state law, even when done in the public interest — simply to satisfy an interest group popular among Sacramento Democrats,” the board said.

The editorial board warned that the bill could disincentivize potential whistle-blowers from recording abuses such as a patient who sees a doctor handing out opioid prescriptions too liberally. “The potential for unanticipated and unwelcome consequences is huge,” the board said.

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Concealed-gun fees in CA could increase under bill headed to Brown

It’s not like they’ll be getting any additional revenue from the gangbangers to help them balance their budgets.

Governor Brown

Governor Brown

From Sacramento Bee: Concealed carry permits could get more expensive under a bill the California Assembly sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

The prevalence of such permits varies widely across California, depending largely on the stance of local sheriffs. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones has been among the state’s most prolific, granting thousands.

Kevin McCarty

Kevin McCarty

One of the lawmakers whose district falls under Jones’ jurisdiction, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, introduced a pair of bills intended to more tightly regulate those permits.

He has since abandoned a bill requiring people to show they face imminent danger to get a permit, which would limit how often they’re granted. But a companion bill allowing cities and counties to boost the cost of permits beyond its current $100 floor passed the Assembly Tuesday on a 41-29 vote. McCarty called it a way to help local governments balance their budgets.

“It simply requires that the fees charged by a sheriff or police chief cover the cost to obtain or enforce these permits,” McCarty said, adding that for former local officials now in the Legislature, “an issue we know all about is cost recovery.”

But critics called that misleading, arguing McCarty simply opposes the notion of concealed weapons.

“That’s what this is about – pricing people out of their constitutional right to have a concealed carry permit,” said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore.

In addition to McCarty, Assembly members Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, and Bill Dodd, D-Napa, voted for the bill. Sacramento-area members Jim Frazier, D-Oakley and Beth Gaines, R-El Dorado HIlls voted no. James Gallagher, R-Plumas Lake, and Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, did not vote.

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