Good morning, California.

It might be tough to get an Uber or a Lyft today. Drivers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere plan to mount a demonstration in support of better pay, basic worker benefits and clear policies, ahead of Uber’s initial public offering later this week. That no doubt will raise many billions.

There are, however, cabs.

Expanded aid for women, parents

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

From a $1,000 tax credit for low-income parents to tax-free diapers, Gov. Gavin Newsom made clear Tuesday that he intends to use some of California’s $20-billion-plus surplus to support kids and parents, and to contrast with Jerry Brown’s policies, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports.

Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, parents of four young children, brought seven women lawmakers who advocated for such changes to his office to announce that his revised budget, to be released Thursday, will end sales taxes on:

  • Diapers, saving parents $35 million a year,
  • Menstrual products, saving women $20 million a year.

Brown faced significant backlash when he vetoed those two tax cuts in 2016, contending they and other proposed tax cuts would have cost the state too much.

Newsom also promised to:

  • Expand child care for low-income parents.
  • Provide two additional weeks paid family leave for each parent of a newborn, on top of the current six weeks. It’s funded by a payroll tax on all workers
  • Significantly increase the earned income tax credit, a program started under Brown to help low-income workers, particularly parents. Low-income parents of kids under age 6 would qualify for $1,000 a year.

Newsom: “There is nothing more important we can do than support parents. It’s part of a larger agenda you’re going to hear a lot more from us about.”

Brown entered office in 2011 facing a $27 billion deficit and warned about impending economic downturns. Newsom has the good fortune of an expanding economy and rising tax revenue.


Money must come from somewhere

Counties could lose money to combat infectious diseases.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to provide health coverage to low-income undocumented immigrants up to age 26 would siphon public health money used by counties to combat infectious diseases, Kaiser Health News reported Tuesday.

Kaiser’s Samantha Young writes: Public health officials describe the proposed reallocation of state dollars as a well-meaning initiative that nonetheless would have “dire consequences” to core public health services.

  • The state’s cost to to provide health coverage to undocumented immigrants ages 19 to 25 in 2019-20: $260 million.
  • To help pay for it, the administration proposes taking $63 million from 39 counties.

Department of Finance analyst Jenny Nguyen explained at a recent budget committee hearing:

“As the state takes on responsibility for providing health care to undocumented adults, counties’ costs and responsibilities on indigent health care are expected to decrease.”

That didn’t mollify counties or their legislative allies. Counties use the money to combat sexually transmitted disease and outbreaks, including measles.

  • The cuts would hit at least four counties especially hard: Placer,  Santa Barbara, Stanislaus and Sacramento.  Sacramento County has reported a 300 percent increase in syphilis cases in the past four years.
  • Bottom line: An aide to Newsom said Tuesday the administration was working to protect counties. But the money has to come from somewhere.


Lead jewelry warning

Attorney General Xavier Becerra

As settlements by the state go, $83,000 is a pittance. But Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday he was especially proud of his deputies’ work.

  • The reason: Five companies imported inexpensive jewelry primarily from China that contained toxic levels of lead and cadmium, and sold them to small retailers in Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties, and probably elsewhere.
  • The companies agreed to cease purchasing such products and do what they can to get the necklaces, hair clips and trinkets off the market.

Becerra contrasted the lead case with the $150 million settlement he announced last month against one of the world’s largest banks, Morgan Stanley, for knowingly selling bad investments to California’s public employee pension fund in the years leading up to the 2008 crash.

Becerra: “$83,000 may not sound like a lot. But what we do to get rid of this type of jewelry is priceless.”

Lead is especially toxic for children, causing brain damage, behavioral issues and loss of intelligence. Cadmium, a replacement for lead, is used to make jewelry shiny.

  • Legislation: Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat, meanwhile, is carrying Senate Bill 647 to update and toughen the state’s standard for lead and cadmium levels in children’s jewelry.

Suicide barrier for another bridge

The San Diego-Coronado Bridge averages as many as 19 suicides in a year.

Californians know  well that the Golden Gate Bridge attracts people intent on suicide. Less well known: The San Diego-Coronado Bridge is the state’s second most frequently used bridge for suicides, with as many as 19 in a year, a legislative staff report notes.

  • CalTrans completed a study of solutions in 2018 that include physical barriers at a cost of $100 million.

San Diego Democratic Sen. Ben Hueso is carrying Senate Bill 656 to require CalTrans to establish an eight-member advisory committee to help shape the decision. The advisory panel would include local leaders, law enforcement,  suicide prevention and mental health care experts and a resident of Barrio Logan.

The Senate Transportation Committee approved the bill Tuesday. 

  • After decades of discussion, Golden Gate Bridge directors agreed to spend $211 million on a suicide barrier being constructed now. More than 1,700 people have died by jumping from the Golden Gate since it opened in 1937.


Commentary at CALmatters

Vanessa Carlisle, alumna (‘16) of USC’s graduate creative writing program: Dr. George Tyndall was the only gynecologist available to women at USC. Now, survivors finally do have a choice: Accept a settlement offered by USC, or, if the Legislature approves a bill by Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, file a separate suit. Legislators should approve the bill.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Gov. Gavin Newsom is scaling back a statewide bullet train and twin water tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But both still face high hurdles.

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See you tomorrow.