It has long been a refrain among California students struggling to pay for housing, food and textbooks: There’s more to the high cost of college than tuition. Early this year, as state lawmakers convened, hopes were high that finally, California was listening.
Moved by reports of homelessness, food insecurity and consumer ripoffs on campus — and encouraged by a budget surplus and a new governor who’d talked often about the cost of education — legislators introduced a volley of proposals to help feed, house and protect students. At least two would have massively expanded state coverage of students’ costs of living.
“It’s been 20 years since we’ve had real change in the Cal Grant,” Assemblymember Jose Medina, the sponsor of one of the measures, said at the time, referring to the state’s financial aid program, and calling an expansion “overdue.”
But as the legislative session wound down and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a last flurry of bills this past weekend, Medina’s proposal and most others designed to tackle the cost of college had stalled.
Of the 11 bills that CalMatters collaborated with student journalists to follow in our college affordability legislative tracker, only two were passed, signed and enacted — one to gather data on gainful employment among graduates of for-profit colleges, the other to modestly expand “free” community college.Read More
Polls suggest Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris is no longer the front runner in her home state. But year-to-date, she remains the preferred candidate by that other major metric of campaign success: money.
Yet even in the race for cash, her share of itemized California contributions has plummeted from a high of 60% in January to a low of 8% in September.
Last month, the single candidate taking the largest portion of those California contributions was President Donald Trump, with 30%. But that doesn't mean the "Resistance State" has suddenly gone all Trumpy — keep in mind, 70% of contributions went to the array of contenders aiming to oust him.
Another caveat: This data doesn't capture small donors. Most people don't give money to presidential campaigns, and even fewer give enough to show up on federal campaign finance databases. Contributions only have to be "itemized," with the name and zip code of the donor made public, if that presidential donor’s contributions amount to at least $200 a year.
The latest round of campaign finance totals just published by the Federal Election Commission show Harris raised $11.5 million in itemized contributions from California in the first nine months of 2019. That’s more than any other candidate.Read More
Updated Oct. 18, 2019
In 2020, California voters will be asked to weigh in on some of the most contentious and consequential issues facing the state — criminal justice reform, rent control, school construction funding and inequality. For those hoping to make sense of the deluge of political polls and they’re likely to see over the next year, consider this a handy user guide.
A new CalMatters analysis of survey data from the Public Policy Institute of California found, if history is a guide, that voters and other poll watchers can expect a few things.
Our number-crunching was motivated by a simple question: When is a good poll still bad news?
For years, a fairly consistent majority of Californians polled by the institute has backed hiking property taxes on longtime commercial landowners.Read More
Maybe you know him as the sandy haired man in a blue sweater telling Congress to impeach President Trump. Or you remember him standing against a New York skyline asking President Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Or maybe you just know him as that fantastically rich guy from San Francisco — if you know Tom Steyer at all.
For decades, Steyer has played at the edges of electoral politics as money man and activist. Having amassed a fortune in finance, he’s plowed more cash into the political system than nearly any other American while launching his own crusades, which have alternately aided and frustrated Democrats.
Now California’s largest mega-donor is running for elected office — the highest one. His wealth may make him an imperfect candidate to fight the corrupting influence of money in politics. Or maybe he’s the ideal one. A “progressive answer to the Koch brothers,” a billionaire businessman without elected experience hoping to take on Trump, the “fight fire with fire” candidate.
With the help of a massive ad budget — and a stated willingness to spend “at least $100 million” — Steyer has met the Democratic National Committee’s polling and individual donor qualifications for the next televised debate on Oct. 15. Nonetheless, in his home state, a recent poll put him at 1% among Democratically-inclined voters.Read More
Californians are increasingly pessimistic about the future of the state and are more worried about housing and homelessness than ever before.
And at least according to one major poll, they’re beginning to take it out on Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic state Legislature.
In new survey results released today, the Public Policy Institute of California found that more likely voters now disapprove of Newsom’s job performance than approve.
But the new round of numbers are in sharp contrast to a survey released on Monday by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, which found likely voters approving of Newsom by a margin of nearly 20 percentage points.
The PPIC poll also found that 1 in 4 Californians now point to housing and homelessness as the “most important issue facing people in California today.” Of the 1,700 adults surveyed, 15% listed “homelessness” as a top concern and 11% named housing.Read More
It was a busy day for GOP-affiliated courtroom battles against the state of California.
In the morning, conservatives sued the state claiming it was failing to “ensure that non-citizens are never placed on the voter rolls.” In the afternoon, they scored an early, anticipated victory to block a new state law that would require presidential candidates to publish their tax returns in order to appear on the March primary ballot.
First, the "illegal votes" complaint.
The plaintiffs are three registered Republicans: two naturalized citizens and Corrin Rankin, who ran for state party vice-chair last year. According to the filing, each believes that their "legitimate vote is being diluted by the illegal votes of non-citizens."
"California refuses to use the data in its possession to determine citizenship eligibility," said Harmeet Dhillon, the attorney who filed the suit, said at a San Francisco press conference.Read More
Like most college students, Bianca Rojas has a lot to balance — classes, papers, exams, research. Unlike most of her peers, though, the 25-year-old Cal State Long Beach sociology major also has two extracurricular obligations: Jasper and Adeline, her toddlers.
Each semester, she said, she carefully budgets her financial aid, calculating the credits she can afford, given the needs of her family. It’s stressful: Last semester, she and her partner, a student at Cal Poly Pomona, had to take turns skipping classes, if necessary, to tend the children.
“I had to seek counseling because I was just overwhelmed,” Rojas said. “It was a really difficult time because it was just not enough resources available. You find out too late, like, ‘Oh there's not going to be childcare for you at this time.’ It's like then what do you do? Not go to school?”
Students such as Rojas were who Gov. Gavin Newsom had in mind this year when he injected millions of dollars into the state higher education budget to increase financial aid for young parents attending the University of California, California State University and the California Community Colleges.
More than 300,000 California students are supported by the state’s main financial aid program, known as Cal Grant; last year, about 32,000 of them were also parents. Newsom’s budget, among other things, increased awards to up $6,000 for UC, Cal State and community college students with children, promising “real relief to our parents who are getting an education at the same time.”Read More
As the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment washed across the country last year, it hit especially hard in the California Capitol.
Three lawmakers resigned amid serious allegations of sexual misconduct. The Legislature spent months crafting a new procedure for handling complaints from its employees. And by the end of the legislative session, dozens of bills had been passed to prevent future harassment or help victims seek justice in workplaces across the state.
Then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed many. But in Brown’s typical fashion — what he called paddling left and paddling right — he vetoed other measures, arguing they were unnecessary, hasty or in conflict with federal law.
Now, there’s a new governor in town, and with him, high hopes that Gov. Gavin Newsom will reward the persistence of those whose harassment bills were rejected by Brown.
Among the roughly 700 bills on Newsom’s desk are several inspired by the #MeToo movement, including many repeats of bills Brown vetoed last year. Others are new ideas or rehashes of measures that stalled last year before reaching the governor’s desk — such as a bill prohibiting settlements that say an employer will never again hire an aggrieved worker.Read More
The San Francisco advocate who spearheaded California's landmark law protecting the privacy of consumers' online data is planning to propose a new initiative on Wednesday to create and enforce a data privacy bill of rights.
It's not clear all privacy advocates will be on board with Alastair Mactaggart, a developer who, alarmed at the diminution of privacy in this digital age, proposed a far-reaching initiative in 2018, only to abandon it when the Legislature approved the California Consumer Privacy Act, which takes effect Jan. 1.
Privacy advocates such as the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation did not support Mactaggart’s proposal last year, and that organization was not consulted in the crafting of this new ballot measure.
However Mactaggart says the new initiative, an expanded version of that law, is necessary to buttress existing protections. “The power of the industry is extraordinary,” he said in an interview with CalMatters. “They just keep coming.”
The new measure would be on the November 2020 ballot as a 51-page state constitutional amendment known as the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2020.Read More
As the name implies, “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” is never short on problems to discuss.
The two hosts, Matt Levin of CalMatters and Liam Dillon of The Los Angeles Times, offer a regular take on the many (many, many) housing woes that bedevil California: Why is homelessness such an intractable problem in California’s biggest cities? What can state lawmakers do to rein in rising rents? And what exactly is the best term for an accessory dwelling unit?
This afternoon, at the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco, the two reporters tried to find some answers.
Their guests were Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Dr. Margot Kushel, director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, and Candice Gonzalez, a Silicon Valley housing developer, and the event was billed as an effort to “solve the California housing crisis.”
Or, at the very least, have a really interesting discussion. You can watch the whole thing here.Read More