Tag Archive: California Healthcare

Jan 31 2013

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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Jan 02 2013

The California Flap: January 2, 2013

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Mission San Diego

These are my links for December 28th through January 2nd:

  • California Primary Care Doctors Growing Scarce -Roughly 4 million additional Californians are expected to obtain health insurance by 2014 through the federal health law, an expansion that will likely exacerbate the state’s doctor shortage and could even squeeze primary care access in the Bay Area, experts say.Even without the Affordable Care Act, a worsening doctor shortage had been forecast as the state’s and nation’s population ages and grows, and as a generation of older doctors retires. But by mandating that individuals have insurance and expanding Medicaid, the law will extend coverage to an additional 30 million Americans and place a greater strain on the physician workforce, especially for primary care.Tags:

  • California gets federal approval to close Healthy Families -California will begin moving 860,000 lower-income children from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal next month after receiving last-minute federal approval today, state health officials said.The shift comes despite a request from Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to postpone the switch because he fears too many children will lose access to their medical providers.Many health care advocates fought the shift in June and felt that Healthy Families had served its beneficiaries better than Medi-Cal could. But Gov. Jerry Brown asked lawmakers to end Healthy Families as the state prepares for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in 2014, saying it would be more efficient and ultimately save money.

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  • 10 stories to watch in California politics for 2013 -Tags:
  • Brown plans extensive changes for school funding in 2013 -Gov. Jerry Brown will push this year to upend the way schools are funded in California, hoping to shift more money to poorer districts and end requirements that billions of dollars be spent on particular programs.Brown said he wants more of the state’s dollars to benefit low-income and non-English-speaking students, who typically are more expensive to educate.”The reality is, in some places students don’t enjoy the same opportunities that people have in other places,” the governor said in an interview. “This is a way to balance some of life’s chances.”

    He would also scale back — and possibly eliminate — dozens of rules that districts must abide by to receive billions in state dollars. Some of those requirements, such as a mandate to limit class size, have been suspended amid Sacramento’s recurrent budget problems but are set to resume by 2015.

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  • California Democrats signal they want to reform Proposition 13 -The third rail of California politics may not be as deadly as once thought.Three and a half decades after the passage of Proposition 13 shook the political landscape in California and sparked a taxpayer revolt across America, voters appear to be warming up to the idea of reforming the initiative as long as protections for homeowners stay intact.And the apparent sea change in public attitudes, combined with the two-thirds majorities Democrats now hold in both chambers of the Legislature, has emboldened some politicians to take aim at the iconic measure.

    “It is time for a fix, because Proposition 13 is broken,” said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who plans to introduce a bill next year aimed at forcing businesses to pay higher property taxes.

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  • Lawmakers in VIP loan program violated no rules, House panel says -The House Ethics Committee has found no rules violations by lawmakers who used a VIP loan program from Countrywide Financial Corp.The committee’s leaders said its investigation largely led to the same conclusions as the Senate Ethics Committee, which determined in 2009 that there was “no substantial credible evidence” that two of its members had broken rules by accepting loans through the special program.Although the House Ethics Committee likewise cleared members of that body, committee Chairwoman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and top Democrat Linda T. Sanchez of Lakewood said in a statement that there were serious concerns about some allegations against House staffers.

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  • New year means changes for California taxes, driving, light bulbs -State lawmakers laid down hundreds of new laws that will change how millions of Californians drive, shop and do business in 2013, but perhaps the most sweeping was imposed by voters themselves.Voters in November passed a state sales tax increase starting Jan. 1 and also retroactively hiked income taxes for upper-income earners to avoid deep cuts to education.Also, starting Jan. 1 Californians will pay more at the cash register for lumber products, cities will get limits on new red light cameras, gun owners will no longer be allowed to carry unloaded rifles and shotguns in public view and unauthorized immigrants will move a step closer to being able to obtain a driver’s license.

    Moreover, motorists will be able to drive and text using new voice-recognition technology, boat owners will have to chip in more to fight the invasive quagga mussel, and the CHP will issue “Silver Alerts” about missing senior citizen

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  • New California law: Texting on hands-free devices while driving will be legal Jan. 1 -The new California law prohibits texting while driving unless it’s done on an “electronic wireless communications device (that) is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication.” That appears to mean texting with the iPhone’s Siri or Android’s Google Now is OK, because the law allows drivers to touch a device to activate or deactivate it or to enter a telephone number.”This clarifies some of the gray areas in previous laws,” said spokesman Chris Cochran of the state Office of Traffic Safety. But he said it’s preferable not to use cellphones while driving at all, as “research has shown that the conversation itself is dangerous due to inattention blindness and the brain’s tendency to move functions needed for driving over to the conversation.”Tags:

  • House Ethics Committee closes book on Countrywide loans -Closing the book a story that had caused some embarrassment for two local members of the Congress, the House Ethics Committee has concluded that no violations of law or standards of ethical conduct were violated by members who received so-called “Friends of Angelo” mortgages from Countrywide during the time Angelo Mozilo was chairman of the now-defunct lending institution.Retiring Rep. Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon of Santa Clarita, who now represents Simi Valley, were among the recipients of those loans. Both asserted that they not only did not receive special treatment, but were unaware that their loans were part of any special program initiated by Countrywide.The Ethics Committee’s report substantiates those assertions.

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  • Chevron moving 800 Bay Area jobs to Texas -Chevron Corp. will move up to 800 jobs – about a quarter of its current headquarters staff – from the Bay Area to Houston over the next two years but will remain based in San Ramon, the oil company told employees Thursday.The jobs – generally, technical positions dealing with information and advanced energy technologies – are all tied to Chevron’s worldwide oil exploration and production business, much of which is based in Houston. The company reported the shift in an e-mail to its employees Thursday.San Ramon will remain Chevron’s corporate headquarters, the company said. About 3,500 people work at Chevron’s office park on Bollinger Canyon Road. Another 3,000 Chevron employees work elsewhere in the Bay Area, most of them at the company’s refinery and technology center in Richmond.

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  • Some county judges change sentencing patterns -California’s new felon imprisonment law, which requires low-level offenders to serve their time in county jail rather than state prison, is beginning to reshape how some county judges hand down those sentences.A study by the Chief Probation Officers of California finds an increasing number of judges using split sentences, requiring offenders to spend part of their time in jail and the other part in a community program or under probation. Without a split sentence, the entire term is spent in jail and when offenders are released, there is no followup.From the time the new prison law took effect in October 2011 to June 2012, the probation officers group reports, 23% of all local prison sentences were split. That means an increase in the responsibilities of county probation offices, but a lighter load on jails.

    However, the organization says there is an inconsistent use of the sentencing tool among the state’s 58 counties. Judges in 18 counties deliver split sentences to more than half their felons, including Contra Costa and San Joaquin. On the other hand, only 5% of Los Angeles County felons, for example, are given split sentences.

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  • California health exchanges – ‘Mo Money’ -The Obama administration has a lot riding on California’s implementation of Obamacare, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. How the state implements the new insurance exchanges, and whether or not it is done successfully, will be an important test of nationalized health care.But a state-run health exchange puts the burden onto the state and the expense ultimately on the taxpayers. The state loses the authority and flexibility needed to best meet the needs of its people… Which is why more than 30 states have told the Obama government that they will not create state-run health exchanges, leaving the Obama administration to build and operate online health insurance markets for more than 30 states. This is an unexpected problem, unanticipated by the federal government when Obamacare was passed in 2010.But this isn’t a problem for Democratically controlled California government, which will do just about anything for a federal grant.

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  • Tough Year Ahead for California Taxpayers and Wealth Producers -California’s Democratic leaders are giddy about the future now that they have gained everything they wanted in the last election—voter-approved tax increases and a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, thus rendering Republicans little more than an annoying irrelevancy that can no longer block tax hikes.Will Democrats just ramp up the taxing and spending spree or will some semblance of a “moderate” Democratic caucus emerge to offer a limited check on those tendencies? Either way, it’s hard to find good news for taxpayers or business owners, although the state’s public-sector unions ought to be stocking up on champagne.Given that backdrop, I offer some subdued predictions for the New Year.

    Prediction 1: Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislative leadership will continue to argue that the state government is on a bare-bones diet, and therefore continue to look for additional revenue to fund it regardless of mounting evidence of waste and excess.

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  • Murder and theft up in LA, but overall crime down again -With a few days left in the year, the number of murders in the city of Los Angeles has crept up and will likely surpass 300 for the first time since 2009. It’s not a big increase — so far LA’s homicide toll for 2012 is just three over last year’s — but it may reflect that overall crime numbers across the country are starting to tick back up after a decade of declining crime reports. Los Angeles crime as reported by the LAPD will be down about two percent, the tenth year of decline, the LA Times says. “The fact that Los Angeles has continued to decline, especially when several factors haven’t been as good as they could be — it’s remarkable, frankly,” said Charis Kubrin, a criminologist at UC Irvine. “I’m puzzled.”Tags:

  • Simi Valley businessman returns disputed $70,000 grant -A Simi Valley businessman has returned a $70,000 redevelopment grant to the city after months of speculation by a local Tea Party leader and others that it might have been improperly authorized.Used-car dealer Kelly Kolarek, who said he used the 2010 grant to renovate the site of his K&J Auto Exchange at 2430 Tapo St., gave a check to the city Wednesday, according to a news release he issued and an email from City Manager Laura Behjan to city officials.Denying there was anything improper about the grant, Kolarek said in the release that he returned the money primarily because “these funds will cause me huge adverse tax implications” with the approval of Proposition 30 in November. The measure raises taxes on those who make more than $250,000 annually, to help fund education.

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