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Showing posts with label governor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label governor. Show all posts

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Faster Doctors

Class of 1960
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that allows students at accredited medical school programs in California to complete their education and become doctors in three years instead of four.  The goal of Assembly Bill 1838 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla from Concord is to churn quality doctors out faster with less student debt.
The bill comes at a time when demand for doctors is high due to federal health reform. AB 1838 was sponsored by the University of California — which operates six medical schools in the state — and the Medical Board of California, which regulates, licenses and disciplines doctors...
Now you know the answer to the question: 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sorry, wrong number (says governor)

The governor has announced that because property taxes did not exceed a target amount by an appropriate number of dollars, $100 million in extra state funding to be split 50-50 between UC and CSU will not be paid out.  Now you may ask what local property taxes have to do with the state budget for UC.  Under Prop 98, formulas determine funding from the state for K-14. However, local property taxes which go to schools are factored in.  So if there are more property tax dollars, the cost to the state treasury is reduced.

As part of an earlier budget deal, a contingency was inserted into the state budget based on property taxes which might have benefited UC (but now won't).  According to a news account, the legislature might (that's "might," which differs from "will") provide the money anyway.  Whether the governor would go along in that event is uncertain.

More details at http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/16/6561376/brown-property-taxes-not-high.html

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frack Talk

One more guess about what might come up in the public comments sessions of the upcoming Regents meetings: .  Prior posts have suggested that opposition to the new student regent nomination and, perhaps, the usual demands that the Regents fire President Napolitano might well come up.  To those topics, we might add fossil fuel divestment which is not on the official agenda while a committee studies the issue. 

The Contra Costa Times runs an article about a sculpture attacking what the artist sees as the pro-fracking stances of Gov. Brown and Lt. Gov. Newsom (and maybe Brown's dog Sutter in the lower right hand corner).

An El Dorado Hills artist who has a sort of personal history with Gov. Jerry Brown has once again immortalized him in sculpture – this time, taking him to task for letting oil and gas “fracking” proceed in the Golden State.  Laura Harling’s “Happy Fracking Day” sculpture won an Award of Merit in fine art at the California State Fair, where it’s on display...

Harling... worked way back in the day as a state janitor tasked with cleaning a much younger Gov. Jerry Brown’s apartment...

Full story at http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/2014/07/14/happy-fracking-day-with-brown-newsom/

Brown mumbled something about maybe divesting from coal (like Stanford).  You don't see a lot of coal mines in California.  You do see a lot of oil wells, however, a source of potential tax revenue when Prop 30 expires and, maybe, the economy suffers a slowdown or worse.  California is in fact a major oil producing state.  Here are the top 4 states' production in thousands of barrels per day in 2013:

Texas      2555
N. Dakota   858
California  546
Alaska      515

Source: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_crd_crpdn_adc_mbblpd_a.htm

But while California is a major producer, production in the state has fallen roughly in half since the mid-1980s.  That downward trend is likely not something the governor - an ex officio regent with his hand on the UC budget lever - would want to see exacerbated.  The lt. governor is also an ex officio regent with an eye on running to succeed Brown four years from now.  Both officials tend to stay away from public comment sessions (for obvious reasons).

Friday, June 20, 2014

No Major Changes in State Budget from Prior Post

Apart from some minor line-item vetoes, there is little change in the budget from our previous post.  Hence, the previous commentary remains as it was.  The earlier posting is at:

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2014/06/planned-state-budget-seems-to-do-about.html

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Planned State Budget Seems to Do an About Face: Surplus to Deficit

The planned budget for 2014-15, prior to any line-item vetoes by the governor, seems to be doing an about face from surplus to deficit according to the summary provided by the legislature.  You can find the summary at:
http://abgt.assembly.ca.gov/sites/abgt.assembly.ca.gov/files/Floor%20Report-June%2014%2C%202014%204%20PM%20Draft.pdf

In particular, take a look at page 3 or the table below from that page. The reserve in the general fund at the beginning of the current fiscal year (2013-14) was $2.429 billion.  By June 30, 2014, the projected reserve will be $3.903 billion.  So the general fund ran a surplus (inflow minus outflow) of $3.903 billion - $2.429 billion = +$1.474 billion. What happens in 2014-15?  Some money that would otherwise flow into the general fund reserve will instead be diverted into a rainy day fund which voters are supposed to approve in November. According to the figures provided in the official document, the reserve plus the new rainy day fund will drop to $3.010 billion.  ($1.404 billion in the regular reserve plus $1.606 in the rainy day fund.)  The two reserves fall by $0.893 billion ($3.903 billion - $3.010 billion) - which means that outflows exceed inflows, a deficit in common parlance, but not in Sacramento-speak.  The projected end-of-year 2014-15 reserve, about 3% of the general fund budget, isn't much of a cushion against hard times.

Now a budget is just a plan based on a forecast of revenues and spending.  It could be wrong.  Indeed, it will be wrong since no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy.*  But if you were to ask former Governor Gray Davis about the wisdom of running a budget deficit (outflows > inflows) in good times, he might say that he learned that if bad times come along during deficit budgets, really terrible things could happen to the budget (and the governor) as revenues drop. When you are at the top of a mountain, the only way to fall is down.  You can't fall up from the peak.  Even if there is a little extra money now, UC administrators might also keep that earlier Gray Davis lesson in mind when they plan future university budgets.** 

-------
*There is also the question - raised in past blog posts - about the discrepancy between the state controller's cash statement and the accrual accounting of the governor and legislature and the lack of any official reconciliation of the two.  We won't have the controller's final statement for 2013-14 until July.

**From page 21:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

You Can Help UC by Buying a House

We noted yesterday that while the media were featuring leaks about the new state budget deal between the governor and legislative leaders, the various items mentioned did not seem to include UC.

However, later news reports mention that UC might get $50 million beyond what the governor had originally proposed, depending on whether property taxes were above what was forecast.  Now the property tax is a local tax so it may seem surprising that it figures in what UC gets.  However, under Prop 98, K-14 gets state funding under various formulas.  But what the school districts get from the local property tax figures into the total obligation.  So if there is more property tax, there will be less of a burden on the state.  Yours truly assumes this linkage is what the deal for UC (CSU gets the same) is all about.

Of course, it may seem odd to base the UC budget on the vagaries of the real estate market.  But that would not be the only odd thing about the state budget.

Even if the $50 million arrives, it would be less than half of what the Regents requested beyond the governor's proposal for ongoing UC expenses.  However, there is also reported to be an extra $100 million for "deferred maintenance" which probably goes into the capital budget.  Again, you should keep in mind that these are news reports, not actual budget language.  In the official media release, higher ed spending is not mentioned: http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=18557 The legislature has until Sunday midnight to enact the actual budget bill.  The governor has a line item veto so he could chop out the UC increment, whatever it is.

You can find mentions of the UC budget increment at:
http://www.dailynews.com/government-and-politics/20140613/10-things-to-know-about-the-california-budget
http://dailybruin.com/2014/06/13/uc-to-receive-50m-more-in-funding-if-tax-revenue-exceeds-expectations/
http://www.sacbee.com/2014/06/12/6480411/budget-deal-spends-cap-and-trade.html

A radio interview with senate president Steinberg on the budget deal is at:

Monday, June 9, 2014

State Budget Deadline

The legislature faces a deadline of June 15 to pass a deadline.  If a budget is not passed by then, legislators are not paid for each day without a budget that passes.  In the past, there was some contention about what passing a budget meant.  The state controller - who is now running for Treasurer - ruled that a true budget that met all the formulas and technical requirements had not been passed and withheld pay.  The governor vetoed that budget but the constitution doesn't require that a budget go into effect.  It only requires that the legislature pass one. 

Subsequent litigation produced court rulings that the controller - who writes most state paychecks (other than UC's) - was not entitled to rule on what a budget was.  It is up to the legislature to determine what constitutes a budget.  Whether the matter is 100% determined is a bit uncertain.

Nonetheless, it is likely that the legislature will pass something by June 15.  News articles are appearing about disputes between the governor - who likes to be the voice of fiscal prudence - as to what the level of spending will be and what assumptions are appropriate on which to base a budget.  Could UC be in line for more money than the governor has proposed in some compromise between the governor and legislative leaders?  All we can say is that the news articles say nothing about higher ed.  They focus on the governor's proposed high-speed rail project, social programs, and "lower" ed (particularly preschool).  If higher ed is on the table, the news media either haven't found out or just aren't reporting on it.

Some news articles:
http://www.dailynews.com/government-and-politics/20140608/california-lawmakers-push-for-restoring-benefits-preschool

http://www.sbsun.com/article/20140608/NEWS/140609521

http://www.sacbee.com/2014/06/09/6467759/gov-jerry-brown-democrats-still.html

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Maybe It's Not Such a Riddle

As you are likely to know, under the top-2 primary system of yesterday's election, in the fall Jerry Brown - who will certainly win - will face Republican Neel Kashkari.  There was considerable interest in whether Kashkari or Tim Donnelly - a tea party candidate - would take the number two slot.  The GOP business establishment felt that Donnelly would be such an embarrassment that he would hurt Republican candidates in California and even outside the state. 

In the San Francisco Chronicle, political columnist
asks why Gov. Brown did not put resources into "selecting" his November opponent.  The article references the strategy of then-Governor Davis in 2002 who put money into TV ads in the GOP primary aimed at weakening former LA Mayor Richard Riordan.  The column treats Brown's seeming agnosticism about the fate of GOP candidates as a kind of riddle.  Of course, Brown, unlike Davis, knows he will trounce his opponent in November.  But he might care about legislative candidates.  Democrats had a 2/3 majority in the legislature on and off until various scandals brought down three state senators.  Wouldn't the governor like to have 2/3 again?  Wouldn't he like to have Donnelly turn away enough votes for GOP legislative candidates so that the 2/3 would again be achieved?

The answer to the riddle may be that the governor is happier with a strong Democratic majority but one that falls short of 2/3.  Absent 2/3, the legislature can't pass taxes or put constitutional amendments on the ballot - including those which the governor may not like (without GOP support).  Democrats can't override a gubernatorial veto (without GOP support).  On the other hand, budgets can be passed by a simple majority.  Basically, a less-than-2/3 Democratic majority in the legislature tilts authority toward the governor and away from legislative leaders.  Maybe there is no riddle.

The Chronicle's column is at http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2014/06/03/mystery-why-was-ca-dem-party-hands-off-in-combative-gop-govs-race/


Thursday, May 29, 2014

What the headline could be

The Sacramento Bee headline reads: "Fracking moratorium dies in state Senate."  It could alternatively read, "Legislature concurs with governor: Divesting the UC portfolio from coal is fine but don't touch oil."  Of course, there is no coal in California - and the article doesn't mention it.  So there is no local coal industry or group of workers to protest coal divestment by the Regents at UC.  On the other hand, California is a major oil producer so there would be protests and push-back for a state fracking ban.  Even with the much-diminished estimates of economically-feasible fracking production in the state, the oil industry remains significant here.  Oil could be a source of extraction tax revenue - not in the current election year - but in the future when the temporary Prop 30 taxes expire and when the next economic downturn occurs.  Anyway, being against coal is a costless way for California politicos to defend themselves from complaints by environmentalists concerning fracking.  Et tu, governor?

[The article in the Bee is at http://m.sacbee.com/sacramento/db_98822/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=QltJjPUy.]

Hypocrisy is not new to Sacramento.  The Regents can't entirely keep politics away from UC.  After all, some Regents, the ex-officio politicos on the Board, are politicians.  But it will be interesting to see what the Regents do with the coal vs. all-fossil-fuel issue.

In the meantime, we can all get another day older and deeper in debt:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Game Change

If you have followed posts on this blog, you know that the governor seems to have responded to recent calls for UC to divest from fossil fuels by indicating he would favor just divesting from coal.  Part of the reason is that Stanford announced a coal-only response.  But there is another set of issues related to the state budget (which, of course, is reflected in the UC budget).  Note first that California isn't a coal mining state so there is no local industry to offend.  On the other hand, California is a major oil producer.

The governor has been polishing his eco-credentials lately by speaking about global warming.  On the other hand, environmentalists have been critical of his stance on allowing fracking.  Until recently, there has been an assumption that if California did permit fracking big time, there would be an oil boom in the state.  An oil boom suggests that oil could be taxed and possibly replace the temporary Prop 30 taxes when they expire.  So the governor has not endorsed any of the current oil tax proposals that are floating around but that doesn't mean that after the election he might look more favorably at them IF there is a boom.

Now the problem is that there may not be a boom, even if fracking is allowed:

Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California's vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national "black gold mine" of petroleum.  Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.  The new estimate, expected to be released publicly next month, is a blow to the nation's oil future and to projections that an oil boom would bring as many as 2.8 million new jobs to California and boost tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-oil-20140521-story.html

In short, the game has been changed - along with the longer term state budget outlook.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Listen to the Regents Afternoon Meeting of May 14, 2014

We continue our preservation of audios of the Regents meetings, this one from the afternoon of May 14.  This one involved routine audits of the University - not too exciting - and the Committee on Grounds and Buildings.  Grounds and Buildings, as we have noted numerous times, is where the money is - but where the governor (who is always making a fuss about efficiency and cost savings) never seems to be.  As we have also noted, the Regents - absent an independent capacity to scrutinize capital budget requests and results - end up rubber stamping whatever is brought forward.  Did they really look carefully at the very lengthy environmental review brought forward by UCLA.  Was that review really just about moving some campus zone boundaries with no further hidden agenda?  Who knows?  Not the Regents, in any case.

You can hear this meeting at:


Friday, May 16, 2014

Listen to Regents Morning Meeting of May 14, 2014

The meeting opened with public comments.  The UC-Berkeley-owned Gill Tract farm – an issue that seemed to peak in 2012 – seems to be back on the agenda, at least during public comments.  Our prior posts on this topic are at:

 
Other topics were fossil fuel divestment, sexual assault, Israel divestment, impact of the planned Richmond Bay Campus of the Lawrence Berkeley lab (http://richmondbaycampus.lbl.gov/), and worker safety.  A demonstration by the fossil fuel folks stopped the meeting and eventually it was agreed to add 10 minutes to the comment period.  In the extended period, in addition to the earlier topics, subjects were tuition and affordable student housing vs. other development at Davis.
Regents were randomly assigned to visit two campuses, one north and one south.   

President Napolitano gave a report and devoted time to sexual assault on campus.  She also made two student awards and referred to a UC-Mexico initiative.  Faculty rep Bill Jacob spoke in defense of the Master Plan in response to the U of Penn grad student report which said it was failing.  (We have previously blogged about that report which got far more attention than deserved.)

The Committee on Educational Policy discussed sexual assault issues but mainly was devoted to transfers from community colleges to UC.  Gov. Brown said he wanted the idea to be studied because it was a way of cutting costs (students go to cheaper community colleges for 2 of their 4 years) and would increase diversity.  However, Regent Blum raised concerns about differing admission standards for those entering in the freshman year and those transferring from community colleges.

Finally, the Committee on Oversight of the Dept. of Energy labs heard a report about bio-manufacturing. 

You can hear the full morning session at the link below:
Brown’s remarks on community college transfers can be heard at the link below:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The governor's obsession

Was he wearing this?
We noted yesterday in a posting analyzing the May Revise budget submitted by the governor that the governor seemed to have the university on his mind.

When asked a question about the funding of the court system, he lumped higher ed with the courts in his response although the question was just on the courts. Seems like a gubernatorial obsession with the university.  Thereafter, a reporter did raise a higher ed question - about the U of Penn grad student report about which we have also blogged - and the governor continued.

You can hear his response at the link below.  It runs from minute 14:30 to minute 19:46.



Despite the governor's May Revise and remarks, a UC spokesperson is quoted in the Daily Bruin saying that UC hopes to get more from the legislature than the governor is proposing.  See:
http://dailybruin.com/2014/05/13/uc-will-not-receive-additional-funds-under-state-budget-revision/

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The May Revise

The bottom line for UC in the May Revise – as far as one can tell from the official document and the governor’s news conference earlier today – is that there is no significant change since the January proposal (which is less than the Regents are requesting).  Although the governor spent some time discussing his plans for CalSTRS (teacher pensions), there was no sign of any change in approach with regard to the UC pension.  Thus, the Regents’ point that the state funds CSU pensions via CalPERS but seems to disown the UC pension remains unanswered. [Page 67 of the May Revise document - see link below - lists various state pension payments but explicitly excludes UC in a footnote.]

The May Revise includes the governor’s “rainy day” fund plan (which requires voter approval in November once the legislature puts it on the ballot).  That plan complicates budget accounting methodology since the payments into the fund are treated as an expenditure.  I have reworked the figures somewhat in the table below (scroll all the way down to the bottom of this posting).  Note that when we aggregate the rainy day fund and the “regular” reserve in the General Fund, the combined reserve falls during 2014-15.  A fall in the combined reserve suggests a deficit – which is not the general public impression in this election year.  

There is some prepayment of Schwarzenegger’s Economic Recovery Bonds which, if subtracted from “revenue and transfers” would turn the modest deficit into a modest surplus.  You can argue about how it should be treated since once you prepay, you can’t get it back.  In any event, there is the discrepancy between the state controller’s cash statements (which show a negative reserve starting the current 2013-14 fiscal year) and the governor’s accrual number (which shows a positive figure).  In an earlier post on this blog, we noted that the General Fund through April 2014 (the big tax receipt month), had a negative reserve of $10 billion which means that a lot of revenue relative to spending would have to come in during May and June 2014 to produce a positive number at the end of June.

At the news conference, when asked about court funding, the governor lumped both court funding and university funding together and gave his usual sermon about doing more with less, coming up with innovations such as online courses, etc.  Below in italics is the relevant text from the May Revise on higher ed.  You can find the May Revise document at http://www.dof.ca.gov/documents/2014-15_May_Revision.pdf
 
Multi‑Year Stable Funding Plan: University of California and California State University

As proposed in the Governor’s Budget, the May Revision continues the commitment to a multi‑year stable funding plan for higher education.  The plan prioritizes higher education by providing new funds to continue reinvesting in the public universities, with the expectation that the universities will improve the quality, performance, and cost effectiveness of the educational systems. The plan is rooted in the belief that higher education should be affordable and student success can be improved without dramatic increases in costs to the state or to students.

Funding Stability
The plan provides each segment up to a 20 percent increase in General Fund appropriations over a four‑year period (2013‑14 through 2016‑17), representing about a 10 percent increase in total operating funds (including tuition and fee revenues).

Affordability
The plan assumes a freeze on UC and CSU resident tuition from 2013‑14 through 2016‑17 to avoid contributing to higher student debt and tuition levels.

Student Success
The plan expects UC and CSU to decrease the time it takes students to complete a degree, increase the number of students who complete programs, and improve the rate of transfer of community college students to four‑year colleges and universities.

Innovation
In addition to efforts by the UC, CSU, and CCC to meet student success goals, the Governor’s Budget includes $50 million to promote innovative models of higher education at the campus level that result in more bachelor’s degrees, improved four‑year completion rates, and more effective transfers between the community colleges and the universities.

The multi‑year plan directs the universities to prepare three‑year sustainability plans that set targets for key measures adopted in statute in 2013

May Revise $billions           2013-14     2014-15
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reserve at start of year          $2.4        $3.9
Revenue & transfers*             102.2       105.3
Expenditures                     100.7       106.2
Surplus/deficit                   +1.5        -0.8
Reserve at end of year             3.9         3.1**
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
*Transfers include -$1.6 billion in prepayment of Economic Recovery Bonds each year.

**$1.5 billion in regular reserve; $1.6 billion in rainy day fund.

Coming Attractions

Soon to be unveiled by the governor - in fact this morning - is the May Revise budget.  We will present some analysis after the unveiling.  It should be available on the web live on the calchannel.  (But despite the governor's fascination with all things techy when it comes to higher ed, sometimes the web connection has proved shaky.)

Tomorrow and Thursday, the Regents will meet.  One of the topics will undoubtedly be the governor's May Revise.  Will the governor be there during the discussion?  Who knows?  If he is, you already know much of what he will say about the budget as it affects UC. Frugality. Everyone can't have everything.  Etc.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wait a Minute

The cash report for the California state general fund has been released by the state controller.  It covers the period through April - a big tax receipt month.  Compared to last year at this time, receipts (mainly taxes) are up a measly 0.5%, less than inflation.  [$80.1 billion for the first 10 months of the fiscal year compared to $79.7 billion last year.]  That's not something to break out the champagne bottles about. You will see headlines about more revenue than expected relative to what the governor forecast in January.  But Brown likes to make conservative forecasts in an effort to a) appear frugal and b) discourage legislative spending.  However, spending in the first 10 months is up a lot compared to last year.  Now there can be accidents of timing, particularly regarding when the state disburses funds to local governments.  The state's reserve at the moment is minus $10 billion, just where it was last year at this time.  So a lot of revenue relative to spending is going to be needed in the last 2 months of the fiscal year to get the reserve into positive territory.  Meanwhile, UC is hoping to get more from the legislature than the governor has so far proposed (in January).  We should be seeing the governor's May Revise budget shortly.

You can find the cash statement through April at http://sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/fy1314_may.pdf

So we don't know yet that we are going to get nothing more than the governor proposed for UC back in January.  But if the Dept. of Finance is looking at the new figures through April, Brown may not feel especially generous.
video

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Saving for a Rainy Day

As blog readers will know, Gov. Brown is currently pushing for a rainy day fund proposition to go on the November ballot.  It would replace a proposition that the legislature put on the ballot as part of a Schwarzenegger-era budget deal.  We have noted in a prior post that the state already has a reserve in its General Fund.  That reserve grows if spending is kept below revenue.  So you can accumulate a rainy day fund without the complicated formulas which the Brown proposal or the alternative entail.  The Legislative Analyst has now pointed this simple fact out in a new publication.

One thing about rainy day funds with complicated formulas that are supposed to lock up money.  They leak.  It is doubtful, however, that UC would be the recipient of the leakage.  But we are unlikely to avoid having one of the two rainy day funds on the ballot since, if the legislative does nothing, the original one will appear.  Probably, the best outcome would be that one of the two appears in November and is defeated.  But the more likely outcome is that the governor's proposal will appear (enough Republicans seem favorably inclined to his version to get it on the ballot) and then - because saving for a rainy day is such an appealing idea - it is approved by voters.

You can read the Leg Analyst's report at http://www.lao.ca.gov/handouts/state_admin/2014/Budget-Reserve-Proposals-042814.pdf

And let's hope it doesn't rain anytime soon in the budgetary sense:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Wasn't Said About Fossil Fuel Divestment

Venice Beach Back in the Day
Yesterday, KCRW's Which Way LA? aired a segment on the student campaign to divest from fossil fuel companies in its endowment and pension fund.  Pretty much, everyone said what you would expect.  It came down to students wanting to save the planet vs. a finance type who said that constraining investment choice could produce suboptimal returns.  What wasn't discussed was the politics of investing in someone's pet project or divesting from someone's disfavored project.  UC has sometimes gone in that direction so it is already on a slippery slope.  But the more it goes towards a social-political portfolio, the more it invites such departures from standard investing.  The pension plan in particular is underfunded and UC is trying to get the state to recognized its liability for the plan.  Regents are the trustees of the pension fund on behalf of retirees and future retirees.  Moves that invite thinking that the funding of the plan is someone's political toy are not helpful in persuading the state to take responsibility.  Moreover, exactly where the governor stands is unclear.  Brown is taking heat from environmentalists who think he is too friendly to fracking.  However, Brown sees that states with lots of fossil fuel production are benefiting from the revenues and economic stimulus that come, or could come from a production boom.  He is worried about future revenues for the state when Prop 30 expires.  He is looking for funding for his high-speed rail plan.  Remarkably, none of this was mentioned in the broadcast. 

You can find a link to the broadcast below.  Slide to around the 5 minute mark to hear the fossil fuel segment.

More Online Than Brown

As blog readers will know, Gov. Jerry Brown has been big on online courses in public higher ed.  Now one of his GOP rivals in the upcoming November election is outdoing Brown.  As part of an education platform (mainly dealing with K-12), Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has a higher ed proposal:

From the LA Times:

He would... require the University of California and California State University systems to place 20% of their courses online within four years, though he offers no details about how he would force them to do so. The governor and Legislature have limited control over the public universities, particularly the UC system...

 Full story at http://touch.latimes.com/#section/1780/article/p2p-79977599/

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Help Wanted (Thanks to the Errant 3)

You may have seen headlines about Gov. Brown calling for a special session of the legislature to consider placing a constitutional amendment regarding a "rainy-day" fund on the ballot.  Actually, such a proposition is already slated for the ballot, thanks to a deal that goes back to the Schwarzenegger era.  So what Brown wants to do is substitute his version for the earlier one.  When the Dems had a supermajority (2/3 in both houses of the legislature), he could have ignored the GOP.  But thanks to the errant 3 suspended senators (including our favorite Leland Yee), he will need the help of a few GOP votes. If he gets such help (a big IF), there will be a price to be paid.See http://touch.latimes.com/#section/602/video/p2p-79935319/.

Yours truly is skeptical about mandated rainy day funds, no matter how they are written.  The idea of building a reserve in Good Times for cushioning the budget in Bad Times is fine.  But it can be done simply by spending less than incoming revenue.  The General Fund has a reserve as part of its standard accounting and the governor and legislature can accumulate as much as they are willing.  Partitioning the reserve into categories by itself doesn't do much and such efforts at locking up money can be evaded in creative ways.  Then the question is what areas of the budget get the "benefit" of the evasion.  I'm willing to guess it won't be UC.

We'll see what happens when the governor seeks help from the legislative Republicans.