Good morning, California.

Today, California news organizations are partnering to cover the vexing issue of homelessness. With charts and graphs, CALmatters data intern Victoria Cabales explains the statewide numbers. You can find stories from the participating news organizations by searching #SFHomelessProject and #USHomelessProject on Twitter.

Jerry Brown’s gift for his successor

California budget, told in two minutes.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who arrived in 2011 facing a $27 billion deficit, signed his final budget on Wednesday that will leave his successor with a $14 billion reserve for when the next recession hits.

CALmatters videographer Byrhonda Lyons explains the $201 billion spending plan in this two-minute video. Reporter Antoinette Siu delves into the health care spending for the 2018-19 fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Long story short: A third of Californians, 13.3 million adults and children, will get health coverage through Medi-Cal. Health care advocates wanted more.

A few notable items:

  • Hollywood will get a five-year extension of a $330 million annual film tax credit, intended to ensure California remains the center of movie and television productions.
  • Voters will decide in November whether to spend $2 billion to house mentally ill people.
  • There is $78 billion for public schools, or $11,640 per student, a $4,600 increase since Brown took office.
  • There is $79 million for legal services for immigrants, including legal defense, naturalization services and help for children who came to this country with their undocumented parents.

Bottom line: Budgets are economic indicators. Brown held the line on some spending in the past eight years, and had the good fortune of presiding over one of the longest periods of economic growth in U.S. history. Voters helped by raising income taxes on the wealthiest Californians in 2012 and 2016. High-earners pay 13.3 percent on earnings of $1 million or more, the highest rate of any state in the union.


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Tech companies prepare to swallow privacy bill

Alastair Mactaggart testified Wednesday before an Assembly committee in support of a compromise to his privacy initiative.

Legislators will vote today on fast-tracked legislation to avert a ballot initiative and give consumers greater control over their personal information and expand the right to sue over data breaches.

Jog my memory: San Francisco developer Alastair Mactaggart spent $3.5 million to qualify the privacy initiative. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat, and Assemblyman Ed Chau, a Monterey Park Democrat, spent hours with Mactaggart and others fashioning a compromise.

Businesses dislike the compromise, but California chamber lobbyist Sarah Boot said: “The privacy initiative is much worse.”

Mactaggart told me after testifying for the bill: “As a citizen, I think the legislature is the right place for this. The problem is an initiative is a totally blunt instrument. You can’t change it.”

Truce: Tech companies were motivated to compromise, knowing a campaign would have cost tens of millions and placed them in the uncomfortable position of arguing against consumer privacy.

Mactaggart, on the chance the compromise would pass without the threat of an initiative: “Zero, zero, zero.”

What’s next: By law, the legislature must vote on the bill and Brown must sign it today, or else the initiative will appear on the November ballot. The bill won’t take effect until 2020, giving legislators time to refine it.

Justices hit labor. How hard remains unknown

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday issued a landmark decision that will weaken public employee unions.

The decision: The justices ruled 5-4 that Illinois social worker Mark Janus has a First Amendment right not to pay dues to the union that represented him, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees.

In California, public employees need not pay dues that fund unions’ political activity. But until Wednesday’s decision, they were required to pay their share of costs related to union business such as contract negotiations.

President Donald Trump got the point: “Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”

California Federation of Labor leader Art Pulaski told me the ruling shows the high court has become “the lapdog of conservative billionaires” who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to weaken organized labor.

“The economy is rigged against workers. … The only way for workers to protect themselves is by standing together.”

Labor’s fear: The website Unionstats.com shows that in 2010, the year Scott Walker became Wisconsin governor and began an assault on public employee unions, 187,000 workers were covered by public employee unions. That number had fallen to 78,310 in 2017. California’s numbers remained steady at 1.4 million covered public employees.

What’s next: In California, organized labor has been preparing for the Supreme Court decision by pushing legislation intended to help them organize by giving them ready access to new hires. We’ll know in the coming years whether that worked.

O Canada, why are you leaving us

The Canadian province of Ontario, once a partner in California’s carbon trading market, is about to bail out. That leaves California and Quebec to carry on with a diminished carbon market.

What now? CALmatters’ Julie Cart reports that, like most of cap and trade, it’s complicated.

Why are they leaving? Doug Ford, a blustery conservative politician sometimes called the Donald Trump of Canada, promised during his campaign that his first action in office would be to pull Ontario out of the carbon market, saying it was raising gasoline prices. The premier-elect is delivering on his promise.

How can they do this? There doesn’t seem to be a clear process for leaving the market, nor information to companies holding emissions credits they purchased at auction. It’s being worked out now.

What happens to the market and auctions? All is calm, so far. Experts predict the carbon market will be fine. And Ontario will not participate in the next auction, scheduled for August. At least Quebec still likes us.

Walters: Free speech is not always popular

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters praises the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a state law aimed at requiring anti-abortion advocates in crisis pregnancy clinics to provide clients with information about state-funded abortion services.

Walters: “It’s easy to be for free speech when people are saying things with which you agree. The test comes when you dislike what is being advocated.”

 

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See you tomorrow.