Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday Must Read: Jerry Brown to Cut and Tax? Californians Want Cap-and-Trade

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 9:22 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Jerry Brown may be quietly developing a plan to drastically cut the state’s budget and then ask state voters to raise taxes in the June election, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing anonymous sources. Brown reportedly believes that the only way to gain Republican support for putting tax measures on the ballot is to severely slash state services first. The move would require that the Legislature approve a budget this spring, and it would give voters a stark choice: either agree to higher taxes or have state services cut dramatically. Yesterday, Brown hosted a budget summit in Sacramento, and said the state’s budget deficit could grow to $28 billion, but didn’t offer a plan for solving it, the Chron and CoCo Times report.

2. Californians overwhelmingly support a new cap-and-trade energy system that state regulators likely will enact next week, the Chron reports, citing a new poll. The poll by Next 10 showed that 64 percent of Californians favor cap-and-trade, a system that would make renewable energy companies more profitable by allowing them to sell carbon credits to fossil fuel polluters. Cap-and-trade failed to gain enough support in the US Congress, but it’s expected to be a boon for green energy in California. Next 10 also found that California’s plan will result in only marginally higher energy bills for consumers, the Sacramento Bee reports.

3. Oakland City Attorney John Russo filed court papers this week to disqualify the prominent local law firm Siegel and Yee from representing an alleged gang member in the city’s Fruitvale gang injunction case, the Trib reports. Russo contends that Siegel and Yee has conflicts of interest because city council President Jane Brunner works for the firm and because Dan Siegel is serving as a member of Mayor-elect Jean Quan’s transition team. But Siegel, whose firm contends that the gang injunction is unlawful, says that Brunner is not involved in the case and that he has no conflict because he’s not a paid employee of the city.

4. US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed a vote to rescind the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in an effort to gain Republican support, AP reports. Reid is working to get the backing of Maine Senator Susan Collins, who says she’ll vote to kill DADT, but only if there’s plenty of time for debate and only if the Senate first approves President Obama’s tax compromise with the GOP. Collins’ demands, however, could derail the DADT proposal because they may not be possible to meet before the end of year, and Republicans in the House likely will kill the plan when they takeover in January. AP also reports that the Dream Act likely will die in the Senate.

5. Americans will be facing higher health insurance premiums across the nation on January 1 in part because some popular provisions in the new health-reform law have gone into effect, the Chron reports. The provisions include the elimination of lifetime and some annual coverage limits, allowing children to stay on their parents’ health policies until the age of 26, and prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing health conditions.

6. An Oakland-based nonprofit is attempting to block $3 billion in federal funds earmarked for California’s high-speed rail system, contending that minority contractors have been shut out of the project in violation of federal civil rights law, the San Mateo County Times reports.

7. The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is ahead of schedule and should be completed by the end of 2013, the Chron reports.

8. And is Twitter mostly just hype? The Pew Research Center reports that only 8 percent of American adult Internet users use Twitter, and of those, 41 percent say they almost never do, according to the Chron.

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