Tag: Affordable Care Act

The California Flap: February 22, 2013

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Carl WashingtonFormer California Assemblyman Carl Washington

The California Legislature is in session, but there are no floor sessions scheduled until Monday.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

An important deadline to remember for today:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • Carl Washington, a former assemblyman, to plead guilty to fraud – A top L.A. County Probation Department executive who once was a state assemblyman has agreed to plead guilty to federal bank fraud charges, admitting he bilked financial institutions out of nearly $200,000 by falsely claiming to be an identity theft victim. Carl Washington, a division chief of intergovernmental relations and legislative affairs, has agreed to plead guilty to three counts of bank fraud for causing losses of $193,661 to financial institutions, including Farmers and Merchants Bank, First City Credit Union and L.A. Financial Credit Union. Washington, 47, of Paramount, began in the summer of 2011 to run up large debts and file bogus police reports with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, blaming his debts on identity theft.
  • LAO has ‘serious concerns’ with governor’s Prop. 98 calculation – The State Legislative Analyst’s Office is calling into question the legality of Gov. Brown’s proposal to count new revenue from Proposition 39 toward funding for education. In a report released Thursday, the LAO warns that the governor’s plan for the initiative, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, violates the intent of the law. Proposition 39, which won with 61 percent vote last November, is projected to raise up to half a billion dollars in revenue this fiscal year and as much as a billion per year starting next year for clean energy projects. It does this by changing the tax formula for multistate corporations doing business in California to one used by most other states.
  • California faces rising bill for retiree healthcare – First the good news: The state controller says the cost of providing healthcare to retired public employees did not rise as fast as expected. Now the bad news: Over the next three decades, the bill is expected to be $63.84 billion more than Sacramento has set aside to pay for it, and state officials don’t have a clear plan to cover those costs. The updated figures were released Thursday by state Controller John Chiang. “The current pay-as-we-go model of funding retiree health benefits is shortsighted and a recipe for undermining the fiscal health of future generations of Californians,” Chiang said in a statement. “However, today’s challenge won’t necessarily become tomorrow’s crisis if policymakers can muster the fiscal discipline to invest now so that we can pay tens of billions of dollars less later.” The unfunded liability for retiree healthcare, considered one of the most troublesome threats to California’s financial health, was previously pegged at $62.1 billion.
  • Brown may forge alliance with GOP governors on health plan – When Gov. Jerry Brown meets with the nation’s other governors this weekend in Washington, D.C., he will find common ground with some unlikely counterparts on an unlikely issue: President Obama’s healthcare plan. Among the governors now moving nearly as aggressively as Brown to implement the federal healthcare law are conservatives who have long fought to unravel it. They are finding that they cannot afford to pass up Obama’s offer of billions of dollars in federal aid to cover expansion of their Medicaid programs for the poor. Arizona’s Jan Brewer, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez and Nevada’s Brian Sandoval — all Republicans — have bucked the GOP trend on the Obama law by opting to accept the new federal money. In Florida, where 20% of residents do not have health insurance, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he is joining the renegade group.
  • Field Poll: California voters want driver’s licenses, other privileges for illegal immigrants – Californians in record numbers want to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, not charge them extra for college, and offer a path to citizenship, a new Field Poll shows. Attitudes are changing fast: This marks the first time a majority of voters have turned thumbs-up on driver’s licenses since the Field Poll began asking the question in 2005. But voters indicated the welcome mat should extend only to immigrants already living in the state. “Voters are in favor of liberalizing some of the laws toward undocumented immigrants, but at the same time, they don’t want to diminish border control,” said Mark DiCamillo, Field Poll director.
  • Freer home sales market draws Californians to Texas – What draws working and middle class Californians to states like Texas is mostly a freer home sales market, which brings lower prices.  A zero state income tax rate and lower business tax rates that provide incentives for job creation also matter, but to a lesser extent. The Texas advantage occurs even though its property base tax rates are double or triple those in California. However, although the tax rates are higher, because home prices are lower, the rates are applied to the lower values. That is the conclusion of Jed Kolko, the chief economist for Trulia, an online home sales listing company.  Kolko found that net California out-migration (those leaving minus those coming in) is higher for the working and middle class than it is for the wealthy.  Kolko’s statistical analysis actually found that high-income households making $200,000 per year or more were holding steady in California.
  • Garcetti and Greuel have spent $6.6 million and it’s pretty even – Thursday’s latest filing of campaign finance reports in the mayoral race shows the top two candidates essentially as matched in fundraising as they are in positions on the issues. There’s no real news in the numbers, so to sum up: Total raised: Garcetti:$4,138,938 Greuel: $4,078,547 Total spent: Garcetti: $3,501,589 Greuel: $3,154,086 Cash left for final 12 days: Greuel: $1,668,319 Garcetti: $1,504,723
  • Kristin Olsen to move to smaller office after failed GOP move – Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen was ordered to move immediately into a much smaller office in the wake of a failed effort within the Assembly Republican Caucus to oust its leader, Connie Conway. The move was widely regarded as punishment for Olsen, R-Modesto, who had been touted by some Assembly Republicans as a potential successor to Conway. The caucus decided nearly unanimously Thursday to retain Conway, with only one person voting no, members said. “I don’t know the exact circumstances of the reason for the move, but I do know that Assembly member Olsen was not the vote to vacate the chair,” said Kim Nickols, Olsen’s spokeswoman. Nickols declined substantive comment about the caucus leadership turmoil, saying only that “I know that the only thing that’s important to her is that the party unifies, refines its message and implements winning strategies.”
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The California Flap: February 20, 2013

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California Cap and Trade

The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • Mistake in First California Carbon Auction Raises Questions About Secrecy – California’s cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse gases resumed this week with its second auction of carbon allowances to industrial polluters. The market is being closely watched around the world, and billions of dollars are at stake. But some nagging questions are lingering from the first auction. The state’s first-ever carbon auction last November was a very exclusive online event, open only to bidders and regulators at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Four days later, Mary Nichols, who heads the board, declared it a resounding success, saying the auction came off “without a hitch.”
  • Second cap and trade California auction needs big bucks – In a private and somewhat secret event on Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget inched a little more towards balance… or further towards a multi-million dollar hole created by what’s turned out to be relatively low demand for greenhouse gas pollution credits. It was the second of three initial auctions of carbon dioxide credits, and the first since November’s offering came up significantly short in revenues available to the state. Net proceeds won’t be revealed by the California Air Resources Board until Friday.  The first auction brought in $55.8 million, less than a third of the $200 million expected in the governor’s budget through the end of June.
  • We predicted there was no California tax ‘windfall’ – The bottom line is that people react to tax increases. When he was plumping for the $6 billion Proposition 30 tax increase last fall, Gov. Jerry Brown touted a study by two Stanford sociologists that rich people supposedly don’t leave to avoid paying higher taxes. I debunked that study here and here. Wayne Lusvardi did so here. In about two months we’ll know much more about how Prop. 30 — and the federal Obamacare and fiscal cliff — tax increases have affected tax receipts and employment.
  • CalPERS to sell all its stock in two gun manufacturers – The nation’s biggest public pension fund is taking a stand against gun violence by voting to sell all its investments in two firearms manufacturers: Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm, Ruger & Co. On Tuesday, the Investment Committee of the California Public Employees’ retirement System voted to sell about $5 million worth of the gun makers’ stock and other securities. Some of the two companies’ products — particularly assault weapons and cheap handguns, known as Saturday night specials — are illegal in California. They “present a significant danger to the health, safety and lives of California residents, including our members, no matter where such weapons are sold or trafficked in the United States,” read the motion approved by the CalPERS board’s Investment Committee in a 9 to 3 vote. Representatives of Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger did not respond to requests for comment on the CalPERS vote.
  • California Insurance commissioner touts new plan for CA health-care regions – Saying the Legislature’s existing proposal could exacerbate rate shock, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones unveiled his own proposal Tuesday for dividing California into geographic regions for implementing federal health-care reform. Jones vowed to appear Wednesday before Senate and Assembly health committees to push his 18-region plan instead of existing legislative proposals for six regions in 2014 and 13 regions in 2015. “I believe very strongly that we should draw regions in a way that minimizes rate increases,” Jones said. Because costs of providing health care differ among communities, residents could find themselves paying higher or lower premiums based on the extent to which regions drawn by the state differ from those currently used by health insurance firms.
  • A Mighty Wind – California Flatulence Jokes
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The California Flap: January 31, 2013

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The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

Around the Capitol today:

Lawmakers are holding a press conference pledging their support for a federal immigration overhaul. Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will be joined by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres; Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens; Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella; Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo; Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento; and Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo. Starting at 10:30 a.m. in room 317 of the State Capitol.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Controversial school bonds create ‘debt for the next generation’ – The Napa Valley Unified School District had a quandary: The district needed a new high school in American Canyon, but taxpayers appeared unwilling to take the financial hit required to build it.So in 2009, the district took out an unusual loan – $22 million with no payments due for 21 years. By 2049, when the debt is paid, it will have cost taxpayers $154 million – seven times the amount borrowed.School board member Jose Hurtado said he stands by the deal. But if it were a mortgage, he acknowledged, “we would run.”Napa is one of at least 1,350 school districts and government agencies across the nation that have turned to a controversial form of borrowing called capital appreciation bonds to finance major projects, a California Watch analysis shows. Relying on these bonds has allowed districts to borrow billions of dollars while postponing payments in some cases for decades.
  • California taxes surge in January, report says – California was flooded with tax dollars in January, according to a new report, and the state received $5 billion more revenue this month than Gov. Jerry Brown had anticipated.The Wednesday report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office shows a stark reversal for the state budget. At the end of November, tax revenue had fallen almost $1 billion short in the current fiscal year, according to figures from Brown’s Department of Finance.Now the state appears to be $5 billion ahead, which could provide further evidence for the governor’s declaration that California has emerged from its financial crisis.The analyst’s office floated three possible causes for the surge in tax revenue. The most positive theory is also the simplest — the economy has improved and there’s more income to tax.The others are less optimistic. It’s possible that wealthy residents, fearful that federal budget negotiations would increase their taxes, decided to cash out investments early. If so, that means the s…
  • PPIC Poll: Californians fear shootings, support citizenship – A new statewide poll finds Californians fearful of mass shootings and strongly in favor of more gun control, while also supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.The poll from the Public Policy Institute of California released Wednesday night also finds more optimism about the state’s economy than at anytime since 2007.”Still,” says PPIC pollster and president Mark Baldassare, “many Californians are expressing concerns about the direction of the economy and the state budget situation.”But it’s the California reaction to recent news headlines that offers an early view on what could become potent political issues during the 2013 legislative season in Sacramento and next year’s statewide elections.65 percent of those polled say the government is not doing enough to regulate access to guns, and an equal number support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic style assault weapons.
  • PPIC Poll: Californians upbeat over future, budget plan – Californians are more optimistic about the future of the state than at any time since before the recession and are giving high marks to Gov. Jerry Brown’s budgeting approach after voters approved higher taxes to help balance the state budget, according to a poll released Wednesday.The Democratic governor’s job approval rating reached a record high 51 percent in the latest poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, with even a slim majority of Republicans giving a thumbs-up to his recent budget proposal.The poll also found broad support for increased gun controls and changes to current immigration laws that would allow a path to citizenship. A majority support the federal health care overhaul that already is under way in California.The percentage of adults who said the state is headed in the right direction was 51 percent, the first time a majority of people said that since January 2007.
  • For millionaire athletes, states with highest tax rates may not make the cut – Is Lefty’s stance on California’s tax hikes a sign of things to come for millionaire athletes?The Golden State’s new 13.3 percent income tax on top earners prompted golfer Phil Mickelson to say earlier this month he was considering a move, and according to the accountants who advise millionaire athletes, he was just saying what a lot of jocks were already thinking. Federal taxes on the top income bracket just rose by roughly 5 percent, and, while there’s nothing rich athletes can do about that, they are paying attention to which states dip into their game checks — and how much they take.“They’re going to have an exodus of people,” said John Karaffa, president of ProSport CPA, a Virginia-based firm that represents nearly 300 professional athletes, primarily in basketball and football. “I think they’ll see some [leave California] for sure. They were already a very high tax state and it’s getting to a point where folks have to make a business decision as well as a lifestyle decision.”
  • Legislation proposed to help California launch healthcare overhaul – The state Legislature gaveled in a special session on healthcare Monday, pushing forward with sweeping proposals to help California implement President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.The measures, including a major expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s public insurance program for the poor, would cement the state’s status as the nation’s earliest and most aggressive adopter of the federal Affordable Care Act. Beginning in January 2014, the law requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.Gov. Jerry Brown called the special session so healthcare bills that he signs can take effect within 90 days rather than next year.
  • Counties express concerns about Medi-Cal expansion – As state lawmakers propose a major expansion of Medi-Cal to help California implement President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, county officials are raising concerns that the proposal could siphon critical dollars from their safety-net programs.On Monday, legislative leaders in both houses sponsored bills that would dramatically expand the state’s public insurance program. Under the proposals, individuals earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level — or $15,415 a year — would be covered, potentially adding more than 1 million Californians to the Medi-Cal rolls.The federal government would subsidize costs for the first three years, phasing down to 90% afterward.Currently, counties receive state funding to care for the uninsured. But Gov. Jerry Brown has said that if the state were to administer the Medi-Cal expansion it may reduce the roughly $2 billion it gives to counties each year to cover the new costs. In his proposed budget, the governor said the state might also shift…
  • State ordered to pay back districts $1 billion for 20-year-old mandate – A state commission has ruled that the state must reimburse school districts about $1 billion in mandated special education costs dating back 20 years. But like many protracted mandate cases, the victory is largely one of principle. Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to include a small payback in next year’s budget, and the dollars will come from funding within Proposition 98, so it will essentially involve shifting education dollars around.The unreimbursed expenses are for intervention plans for special education students identified with behavior problems. In the early 1990s the State Board of Education, under orders from the Legislature, prescribed interventions that teachers should incorporate into individual education plans, known as IEPs, according to Paul Golaszewski, an analyst with the Legislative Analyst’s Office who has followed the case.
  • L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretary – L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretaryThe departure of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood raised new questions over what Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would do if he is offered the job – either now or after July 1, when his term as mayor expires. | Also: Doug McIntyre on the mayor’s next moveVillaraigosa was in South Korea for the Special Olympics and is not expected to return until Thursday.
  • Phil Mickelson’s net state income tax increase: 83.6%!!!!! – Richard Rider, the dean of the small-government/low-tax movement in San Diego County, has come up with some stunning number-crunching on his blog:“Here’s the fact that EVERYONE (including me) initially undervalued concerning [Rancho Santa Fe pro golfer Phil] Mickelson and CA state income taxes. Starting in 2013, Mickelson’s NET state income tax has jumped 83.6%! And yes, this huge increase hits most Californians making more than $2 million income.“Here’s why. Until 2013, state income taxes were deductible for federalincome tax purposes. Starting in 2013, for the really rich, this deductibility largely goes away (as does deducting property taxes and many other deductions). For people with over $2 million of income, they lose 80% of such deductions.“With Proposition 30 passed in November, CA has raised its income tax on the wealthy by 29%. The combined tax increase is breathtaking. Do the math, and you find that in 2011 the net CA income tax for Mickelson was 6.7% In 2013 his net CA income tax is 12.3% — an increase of 83.6%.”This is mind-boggling. No wonder Phil said he was contemplating “drastic changes.”
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