Happy Equal Pay Day, California.

Today is the symbolic day depicting how far into the calendar women must work to catch up to men’s pay from the previous year. African-American women will have to work into August for their equal pay day. Latinas must work into November.

Kamala Harris back on friendly turf

Kamala Harris at a California Labor Federation dinner Monday night.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris returned to home turf Monday, was feted at a high-dollar fundraiser, and announced her early presidential campaign fundraising totals.

At a California Labor Federation dinner in Sacramento, she embraced unionizing childcare workers, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reported, and got several standing ovations.

Harris touted her plans to give $6,000 tax credits to families earning less than $100,000, and to raise teacher pay by $13,500 a year.

How would she pay for it?

“On Day One, we’re going to repeal that tax bill they passed,” a reference to the 2017 tax cut pushed by President Donald Trump. Which elicited a Standing O.

Harris will need labor’s support to win the California presidential primary 11 months away.

And she’ll need money. Enter Angelo Tsakopoulos, Sacramento developer.

Harris announced she raised $12 million in the first two-plus months of her campaign. Significantly, half of it came from small donors, and all of it was for the primary.

  • She can return to small donors repeatedly until she reaches the maximum federal donation of $2,700 per election, and ask for more if she becomes the Democratic nominee.

Comparisons are difficult, given the number of candidates. However, Barack Obama raised $25 million in the first quarter after he announced his presidential candidacy in 2007.

First Partner embraces gender pay equity

Jennifer Siebel Newsom speaks at a press conference Monday on pay equity.

California’s First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, on Monday called on business to provide equal pay to women for equal work, in what is her first major initiative since her husband became governor.

Siebel also endorsed an expansion of paid family leave, though as the L.A. Times’ Taryn Luna noted, Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t gone that far. Yet.

  • Siebel Newsom thanked several companies, including Airbnb, Apple, AT&T, SunRun, Zynga, Salesforce and Square, for taking California’s “Equal Pay Pledge,” and said she hopes to “inspire conscious capitalism.”

If women earn more, she said, men can play a bigger role in parenting: “It’s allowing men to be whole, just as it’s valuing women in our society.”

Siebel Newsom held the press conference in advance of  “equal pay day”—today—the symbolic date that women must work in order to match pay that men earned in the previous year.

  • Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara carried legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2015 to require gender pay equity. Details can be found here.
  • Labor Secretary Julie Su, appearing at the event, said voluntary compliance is the goal:

“You can stand by the First Partner and this administration in saying, ‘We are going to improve our workplace, we’re going to improve our culture, and we’re going to make sure women and men are the paid the same for substantially similar work.’ But if you don’t, you are now on notice, and employees have a right to file a complaint.”

Su’s hammer: State labor officials can investigate complaints and file suits. So can private attorneys.

Siebel Newsom embraces spotlight

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

As she leaned on gender pay equity Monday, Jennifer Siebel Newsom made clear once more that she will play an out-front role in Gavin Newsom’s administration.

  • Jerry Brown’s wife, Anne Gust Brown, is an accomplished attorney but rarely took a public stand, preferring to be Brown’s No. 1 policy adviser behind the scenes.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger’s then-wife, Maria Shriver, was active, but is a Democrat and did not advance views if they conflicted with Republican Schwarzenegger’s policies.

Siebel Newsom, a Stanford-educated film producer, and Gov. Newsom clearly are in political alignment.


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Huge surge in homeless patients

On an early March afternoon, a homeless man was asleep in downtown Sacramento.

Homeless patients made about 100,000 hospital visits in California in 2017, and more than a third of those visits were from people with a diagnosis of mental illness, according to Kaiser Health News’ California Healthline.

  • HIV and alcohol and drug abuse accounted for significant percentages of diagnoses, too.
  • The 100,000 visits represented a 28 percent rise from two years earlier, according to state discharge data provided by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
  • Not surprisingly, Los Angeles County saw the most discharges involving homeless patients, followed by San Diego, Sacramento, Orange and San Francisco counties, in 2017.

Kaiser Health News: “Health officials and homeless advocates attribute the trend to the surging number of people living homeless in California in recent years.”

The issue affects less urban counties, too:

  • Hospitals in Yolo, Santa Cruz and Humboldt counties had high numbers of discharges of homeless patients.

Meanwhile, the Kern County Board of Supervisors has earmarked $2.9 million for the nonprofit, Flood Ministries, to expand its outreach program to reach the county’s toughest homeless cases, The Bakersfield Californian reports.

  • Kern County has experienced a 50 percent increase in homelessness over the past year, the Californian reports.

A new push for voting holiday

Hoping to further reduce barriers to voting, Assemblyman Evan Low, a Silicon Valley Democrat, is proposing to make election day a state holiday, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports. 

  • California already allows voters to register online and on the same day that they vote and to vote by mail without postage costs. The state also automatically registers eligible voters when they visit the DMV. Only Oregon and Colorado make it easier to vote than California, according to one study.

Christopher: “It’s possible that state lawmakers have run out of obstacles to knock down between the California voter and the ballot box.”

The bill has been proposed at least three times before, including twice by Low. The latest iteration cleared its first committee on a party-line vote, with Democrats in the majority. It faces its next hearing Wednesday.

Oroville Dam's big test

A controlled release is planned today for the Oroville Dam spillway.

The California Department of Water Resource plans to use the Oroville Dam spillway today in a controlled release for the first time since taxpayers spent $1.1 billion to reconstruct it.

  • The spillway fractured in 2017 under the pressure from the release of 50,000 cubic feet per second.

The Sacramento BeeThe initial releases of water down the spillway will be relatively gentle, no more than 20,000 cubic feet per second.”

  • The release could increase to 60,000 cubic feet per second later this week as rain is expected to continue in Northern California.

Commentary at CALmatters

Jacob Katz, a senior scientist at CalTrout: Sacramento is among the cities in the country with the greatest risk of catastrophic flooding. The destructive power of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, Super-storm Sandy and the bomb cyclone that hit Nebraska in March are yet more evidence climate change is upon us. We must adapt. We must prepare.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: The California Teachers Association and other elements of the education establishment want to block charter schools, and last year’s elections will make it easier.

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See you tomorrow.