Stories you shouldn’t miss:1. Governor Jerry Brown is proposing to shred California’s social safety net — even if voters approve his tax proposal in November, HealthyCal.org reports. If voters turn down his tax plan, then the state will have to dramatically slash funding to K-12 education as well. The governor is proposing deep cuts to welfare, MediCal, and home-based services for the disabled that would be enacted regardless of whether his tax plan passes or not. As a result, Brown’s proposed budget raises questions as to whether his tax-the-rich proposal goes far enough. Other tax tax-the-rich plans for the November ballot would raise more funds than Brown’s and likely would result in fewer service cuts for the poor.
2. Brown also is proposing to overhaul K-12 education funding in the state in an effort to simplify it and make it fairer, TOP-Ed reports (h/t Rough & Tumble). The governor’s plan would eliminate most mandated programs for education and shift more responsibility to local school districts. The plan also would provide extra funding for schools with students from low-income families. However, the California teacher’s union may oppose part of the plan because it could result in larger class sizes in many schools.
3. Oakland officials shut down City Hall for a time yesterday in an effort to block Occupy protesters plans to occupy Mayor Jean Quan’s office, the Chron reports. The demonstrators were upset about a police raid Wednesday night that resulted in numerous arrests. Police said some occupiers were sleeping again in front of City Hall in violation of a city permit. Eventually, a small group from the Interfaith Council, including ex-Councilman Wilson Riles Jr., met with city officials, and urged the release of protesters who were still in custody from Wednesday night’s raid.
4. Air pollution in California has been particularly bad this winter because the high pressure system parked over the state is keeping the air stagnant, the Chron reports. That same high-pressure system is pushing normal winter storms and rain away from the state, raising concerns about another possible drought. The worst air pollution day was Christmas — caused by residents lighting fires in their fireplaces, officials said.
5. And a well-known marine biologist in Monterey has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly feeding killer whales and lying to investigators, the Chron and Mercury News report. But the lawyer for Nancy Black, who has been featured on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, says she’s been wrongly accused.