Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Oakland Tax Revenues $30 Million Higher Than Expected; Lawmakers Shelve Plan to Insure Undocumented Immigrants

By Robert Gammon
Tue, May 27, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Fueled by the real estate boom, the City of Oakland’s tax revenues are about $30 million higher than expected, the Trib$ reports. Mayor Jean Quan is proposing to use the extra funds to pay for two more police academies in the next year in an effort to boost the size of the city’s police force to more than 700 officers. Quan also is proposing to pay for sewer projects, a jobs resource center, and technology improvements — and she wants to increase the city's rainy-day reserve.

2. The state Senate has shelved a plan that sought to provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants in California, the LA Times$ reports. Lawmakers balked at the estimated $400 million pricetag of implementing SB 1005. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible to enroll in Obamacare, and represent the last large section of the population that remains uncovered by health insurance. Undocumented immigrants, as a result, typically end up in emergency rooms when they’re injured or seriously ill.

3. Lift Up Oakland, a union-backed initiative, turned in a petition with more than 33,000 signatures to raise the minimum wage in the city to $12.25 an hour next year via a November ballot measure, the Trib$ reports.

4. The state Senate also tabled legislation that sought to enact a tax on oil extraction in California, the LA Times$ reports. California is the only state in the nation that does not tax oil pumped from the ground — both Texas and Alaska, GOP-dominated states, have such a tax. The tax would have financed education and parks programs.

5. The legislature also scaled back plans by Governor Jerry Brown to pay down pension liabilities for public teachers’ retirement plans, the SacBee$ reports. School districts from throughout the state complained that the governor’s plan would have cost them too much next year. So under the new proposal, school districts and the state would gradually increase funding for the teachers’ pension program by 2020.

6. Narconon, a discredited drug-prevention program connected to the Church of Scientology, has quietly returned to California public schools after being ousted a decade ago, the Chron reports. The program is based on church teachings that have been rejected by the medical science community.

7. And antiquated rules governing California’s water usage means that about 4,000 companies, farms, and consumers are able to use as much water as the want for free — and can even sell that water — despite the fact that the state is in a serious drought, the AP reports.

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