Your Tax Dollars At Work

News Item: State of California Faces $28 billion Revenue Shortfall Absent Corrective Action, Legislative Analyst reports. 

Lawmakers came to Sacramento December 4, took their oaths of office, followed by celebratory lunches or gatherings then blew town. 

But they did take action: They introduced 90-some bills, resolutions and constitutional amendments. 

In the Senate, it’s new leader, Darrell Steinberg, placed the first measure across the desk of the upper house’s 2009-2010 session: A spot bill declaring the Legislature’s intent to offer universal health care for California’s kids. 

Estimates are generally in agreement that doing so would cost $400 million, which the state doesn’t have. 

None of the legislation would do anything to help close the $28 billion chasm between existing spending commitments and expected cash. A few would worsen teh state’s fiscal health.

An Assembly Republican placed a constitutional amendment across the desk to require every piece of legislation with a price tag of over $150,000 to be voted on by a two-thirds vote. Having already been in the Legislature for two years one would think he might be aware of the suspense file in his house’s Appropriations Committee. 

The second constitutional amendment in the Assembly would let persons who are 17 but will be 18 by the time an election comes around to be able to vote. 

Another Assembly constitutional amendment authored by a Republican – that means it will have a very short legislative life – would require any initiative that authorize the sale of more than $1 billion in bonds to either raise taxes or fees or cut state programs to cover the new costs. 

There’s a resolution proposing that Californians vote on whether to call constitutional convention.

The third Assembly bill would require the Public Utilities Commission to create by January 1, 2011 a Renewable Energy Workforce Readiness Program “to ensure green collar career placement and advancement opportunities with California’s renewable energy manufacturing, construction, installation, maintenance and operation sectors that is targeted towards specific populations.” 

And then send along a report to the Legislature how well it works by January 1 2012. 

The fifth Assembly bill would tell a person how to obtain discovery – in the legal sense – of electronically stored information, as defined. Based on the measure’s length it appears to a retread of something the GOP vetoed last year. 

The sixth Assembly bill declares the Legislature’s intent to have paid petition gatherers register as lobbyists. 

Allow cities and counties to impound for not more than 30 days a vehicle involved in prostitution. 

Authorize a city council to leave a seat on the council vacant for up to one year or until the next general election, whichever comes first, if the other remaining city council members can’t agree on whom to appoint to the empty seat. 

Assembly Bill 19 is the Carbon Labeling Act of 2009. The state air board would be required to “develop and implement a program for the voluntary assessment, verification and standardized labeling of the carbon footprint, as defined, of consumer products sold in California.  

Restrict the use of methyl bromide says AB 21. Increase the amount of damage required to make a person guilty of aggravated arson from $5.65 million asks AB 27. 

Confer honorary degrees on persons who didn’t graduate from CSU, UC or community college because they were sent to internment camps in World War II. 

AB 42 requires Pacific Gas & electric to use the state Energy Commission to conduct a “three dimensional imaging survey to map the fault characteristics in the vicinity of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant that could potentially disrupt the reliable operation of the electrical grid and impact consumer rates as a result of a seismic event.” 

AB 43 would double from 25 to 50 the civil service employees the California Earthquake Authority can hire. 

There’s a tax credit proposed in AB 47 that would boost the credit for adoption expenses from 50 percent of up to $2,500 to 75 percent of $5,000 if the child is over age 12 or living in a group home when adopted. 

Reduce urban per capita water use by 20 percent by the end of 2020, says AB 49. 

That’s just the Assembly on just December 1. 

The second Senate bill introduced extends the life of the Pierce’s Disease Control Program in the Department of Food and Agriculture from March 1, 2016.

SB 4 nixes smoking on state beaches or in state parks.  SB 5 would “expressly include officers of the Monterey Peninsula Airport District among those reserve officers who are considered peace officers.” 

Senate Constitutional Amendment 2 requires the Legislature, starting in 2010, to deal with only the budget in odd-numbered years and introduce other legislation in even-numbered years. It’s carried by a Republican. 

SB 13 would reduce, starting in January, reduce all marginal tax rates and eliminate the tax on taxable income for tax years beginning with 2013. Another GOP bill. 

State Highway 680, between the Benicia Bridge in Contra Costa County and the State Highway 24 interchange would be named after former state Sen. Dan Boatwright under Senate Concurrent Resolution 4. 

SB 21 would require the Department of Fish and Game and the Ocean protection Council to recommend to the Fish and Game Commission by January 1, 2011 “sustainable funding sources” for a “program for the prevention of the loss of fishing gear and for the recovery of derelict fishing gear, as defined.”  

Like the signs next to freeway construction say: “Your tax dollars at work.” 



Filed under: Budget and Economy


  1. Our “best and brightest” appear to be in a state of denial.

    Comment by Gus Turdlock — 12.05.2008 @ 10:55 am

  2. Hey Greg L, How you? No GF dollars in Steinberg’s bill. Cheers, Jre
    Editorial: How to make children’s health care a priority in California

    Mercury News Editorial
    Posted: 12/06/2008 10:56:38 PM PST

    California’s new Senate leader, Darrell Steinberg, wants to prove in his first 120 days in office that the California Legislature actually can accomplish something, despite recent evidence to the contrary. Scoring a breakthrough on children’s health insurance by the end of April would be a huge step in the right direction and a great down payment on Steinberg’s leadership record.

    Of the state’s 10 million kids, 800,000 now are uninsured.

    Basic health care for every child should be considered as essential as public education. It won’t be easy to accomplish, given the state’s huge budget shortfall, immigration issues and the resistance of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who essentially has held children’s coverage hostage to his broader goal of comprehensive health care reform. But Steinberg’s strategy has the best chance of any that have been tried since Schwarzenegger took office.

    A key selling point is that Steinberg is not trying tap the state’s general fund, which would be a nonstarter, given an $11 billion deficit. Instead, the Sacramento Democrat hopes to induce the California Children and Families Commission, also known as First 5, and two or three foundations to contribute $50 million each to jump-start the program. First 5 controls tobacco tax money from Proposition 10 in 1998.

    This wouldn’t be enough to cover every uninsured child, but it would be major progress. Every dollar the state invests in children’s health care,
    including the First 5 and foundation dollars, can be matched by $2 in federal funds. Coupled with President-elect Barack Obama’s strong desire to insure more children, California could insure hundreds of thousands in the next year.

    We’re hearing that Steinberg has been in talks with the governor, who always has championed preventive medicine programs for Californians of all ages to reduce long-term costs. Perhaps including these kinds of reforms will tip the scales for Schwarzenegger to support children’s health insurance.

    Some Californians don’t want to pay for this program because they believe that most uninsured children are here illegally. But studies show that 80 percent of the uninsured are legal residents. And regardless of immigration status, the public ends up paying the bill when children are taken to hospital emergency rooms for problems that a family doctor could have treated for a tenth of the cost. In addition, kids’ performance in school drops significantly when they don’t have regular checkups by doctors and dentists — another public cost.

    Steinberg’s bill, SB 1, co-authored by Senate Health Committee Chair Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, isn’t the ultimate solution. That will require comprehensive reforms, which are most likely to come from Washington. But it’s wrong to make vulnerable children wait for the perfect answer when California can do something now. Let’s hope Steinberg can make it happen.

    Comment by Jim Evans — 12.07.2008 @ 9:41 am

  3. Lawmakers taking oaths is comedy. No one keeps their promise in office there are so many people doing unspeakable things. You wouldn’t even want your grandmother hearing about it, it’s awful.

    Comment by Ronald Spellman — 12.15.2008 @ 12:00 pm

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