Author Archives: Tyche Hendricks

State Worker Pay To Come Under Gov. Brown’s Budget Ax

Flickr/Clinton Steeds

As Gov. Jerry Brown prepares to release the “May revise” of his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, sources in his administration are letting it be known that the governor will be asking public employees to take a hit.

Tax revenues are $3.5 billion less than expected, further widening the budget gap, and Brown needs to find the money somewhere. Here’s more from Sacramento Bee reporter Jon Ortiz:

Officials representing Gov. Jerry Brown met with state employee union leaders last week and delivered the news: A budget revision he’ll release Monday includes a new proposal to cut payroll costs in the upcoming fiscal year.

The decision to take a bite out of state workers’ pay comes amid a deepening California budget deficit that Brown pegged in January at $9.2 billion through 2012-13 but now is thought to be considerably more.

The sources, who declined to talk on the record because the administration asked all involved to keep the budget discussions secret, said Brown’s representatives didn’t outline specific cuts. They said the governor wants to cut payroll costs by at least 5 percent, and asked union leaders to come up with ways to make the reductions.

Brown has the authority to lay off workers, but any other reductions – a pay cut or furloughs, for example – require bargaining or legislation.

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For state employees, the news is a reminder of the furloughs and layoffs of the Schwarzenegger years.

For Republicans, it suggests a ploy to win favor for the governor’s tax increase measure moving toward the November ballot.

The details will be revealed Monday when Brown unveils his budget revision plan.

Five Surprising Facts About California’s Millennials

Flickr/Patrick Giblin

The non-partisan government reform group California Forward is taking the pulse of the state’s “millennial” generation, namely young adults aged 18-29, and finding them surprisingly upbeat, considering the dismal state of the economy, the increasing crunch to get into (and pay for) college and the pervasive frustration expressed by their elders.

Here’s what the survey found about millennials:

1. They are optimistic about California and their own future prospects (67 percent say the state offers great opportunities for young people, versus 44 percent of baby boomers who say so).

2. They believe California has excellent schools and universities (74 percent of millennials say so, versus 54 percent of baby boomers).

3. They are more likely to trust the government (69 percent say they trust state government officials to make good decisions some of most of the time, versus 46 percent of everyone surveyed).

4. They are less partisan (37 percent of millennials call themselves independents, versus 27 percent overall).

5. Half of all millennials surveyed participate in volunteer activities (more than any other age group) but just 39 percent say they always vote (far less than any other age group).

It all raises a few questions: Are young people more upbeat because they’re still wet behind the ears and don’t know what headaches and heartbreak await them? Or is their optimism about California based on experiences that bode well for our future as a state? And how will their lack of partisanship and consistent voting play out for California’s political landscape in coming years?

The survey, released Tuesday, was conducted in February and polled 1,257 adults, including 600 millennials. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Presidential Campaign Ads Fly but Californians Irked by Partisanship

We’re six months out and the 2012 presidential race is gearing up. President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney are moving into general election mode. And the Super PACs that support them — and can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money — are charging into the race.

The cash is flowing. The ads are flying. But what will voters take from it all?

The Obama campaign announced it would spend $25 million on ads just in the month of May. The first salvo is a strictly positive ad, touting the president’s hard work to dig the country out of the recession he inherited.

Meanwhile Americans For Prosperity, the conservative Super PAC, has unleashed its own anti-Obama ads, complete with allegations that American tax dollars meant for green job stimulus have been spent overseas.

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Launching New Biz in Tough ‘Hood: Is It Government’s Job?

Eskender Aseged of Radio Africa & Kitchen

What’s Government For? That’s the subtext to KQED’s election coverage this year.The question seems to be cropping up everywhere — from the Tea Party’s tax revolt to Occupy Wall Street rallying for the 99 percent. What do we want? What are we willing to pay for? When do we want government to butt out?

They’re questions that can crop up in the most unlikely of places… such as a radio story about an Ethiopian chef’s new restaurant in San Francisco’s Bayview District. Reporter Rachael Myrow describes the way the city of San Francisco helped Chef Eskender Aseged shift from hosting “pop up” food events to opening the doors of his own place, Radio Africa and Kitchen.

Among the funding sources the city used, were redevelopment funds… making this project perhaps the last of its kind, since Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature last year ended California’s redevelopment agencies in order to use those funds for other local government needs.

Do you agree with city consultant Andrea Baker, who Myrow quotes below, that cultivating small businesses like Radio Africa and Kitchen is precisely what government is for?

As I explained in a report for KQED News, Aseged couldn’t afford to launch a brick and mortar restaurant on his own, but he could put down about 35 grand. The city, through a variety of agencies, brought roughly $710,000 to the table and built the restaurant from scratch. It’s a street-level commercial anchor to a new condo complex .

Two months in, Aseged is still in a state of shock over his good fortune. This is a man used to making dinner for about 100 people off of two hot plates.

“We have 12 burners, a grill, griddle, salamander, two ovens. It’s kind of like, overkill over here,” he says.

Aseged is expected to source some of his labor locally. The restaurant is serving dinner now, but soon it will open for lunch, featuring a new crop of young line cooks. They’re being trained nearby at the non-profit Old Skool Café, which works with troubled youth.

Even though the five-year-old Muni T has made this stretch of Third easily accessible, the street intimidates pedestrians, much like Geary and mid-Market do.

“It doesn’t feel walkable,” says Andrea Baker, a consultant for San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “And therein lies the difficulty. Because small businesses tend to rely on foot traffic.”

While sipping a large cappuccino from the Road House Coffee Company at Third and Thomas, Baker says the city might help launch a bakery next – or something Indian. (These days, there are more Asian Americans in Bayview than African Americans.)

“Why is it government’s job? Why isn’t it, I would say!” She laughs. “In our system, people pay taxes in the hope that if we all put a little something into it we can create big things.”

Read more about Radio Africa and Kitchen and the Bayview’s foodie rebirth on KQED’s News Fix blog.

Death and Taxes: Heading to the November Ballot

It’s an old adage: Nothing is certain but death and taxes. And Gov. Jerry Brown revived it today as he made some remarks about measures making their way to the November ballot.

A measure that would abolish the death penalty in California and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole qualified for the ballot yesterday. Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified that the initiative petition had garnered the necessary half million valid signatures so California voters will get to weigh in on Nov. 6. One key backer is former director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Jeanne Woodford. As warden at San Quentin Prison she oversaw several executions, but has become a vocal opponent of capital punishment. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has emerged as a strong voice against the ballot measure and in favor of the death penalty.

Brown wouldn’t take a stand on the ballot measure just now, but he vetoed death penalty legislation back in 1977, and today said it was a “good thing” Californians will get to vote on it this year.

Brown is also pushing his measure to raise taxes — sales taxes on all of us and income taxes on the wealthy — to generate more revenue for the state budget. The campaign to qualify that measure is in high gear, in a race to collect more than 800,000 signatures next month.

On death and taxes, Stephen Colbert gets the last word.

Test Your Political IQ

Street signs

The Pew Research Center has devised a quiz to let you test your political knowledge. Photo: Getty Images

What makes a Democrat a Democrat? A Republican a Republican? And what do you know about the political stances of the two major parties?

The Pew Research Center has devised a quiz to let you test your knowledge. Check it out.

Which party wants to reduce the size of government? Which party wants to raise taxes on the rich? What’s Nancy Pelosi’s party? John Boehner’s?

If you get all the answers right, you’ll be in good company with … a whopping 8 percent of the American public. The Pew center recently issued a report, “What the Public Knows about the Political Parties,” based on a national survey.

The report found that Republicans scored better than Democrats (Independents fared worst). Why? Older and better educated people scored better (no big surprise) and, nationwide, Republicans tend to be older and more affluent, thus likely to have more education. Continue reading

What Would Jesus Do… About America’s Struggling Economy?

An illustration of Jesus

Would Jesus be in favor of big government? Photo: Getty Images

What’s the role of government in helping people cope with a difficult economy? This election year, conservative and liberal Christians are debating… should Americans, through our government, take care of “the least of these”… or does the Bible suggest we should cut taxes and get government out of the way?

What would Jesus do? What (in short) is government for, in the eyes of Christian voters? NPR’s Barbara Bradley Haggerty explored the question on Morning Edition.

What would Jesus do with the U.S. economy?

That’s a matter of fierce debate among Christians — with conservatives promoting a small-government Jesus and liberals seeing Jesus as an advocate for the poor.

After the House passed its budget last month, liberal religious leaders said the Republican plan, which lowered taxes and cut services to the poor, was an affront to the Gospel — and particularly Jesus’ command to care for the poor.

Not so, says Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee. He told Christian Broadcasting Network last week that it was his Catholic faith that helped shape the budget plan. In his view, the Catholic principle of subsidiarity suggests the government should have little role in helping the poor.

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