Finally, a deal on tax rebates
Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature’s Democratic leaders have struck a budget deal — just in the nick of time.
After months of haggling, Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon on Sunday night unveiled their joint $300 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins Friday.
The centerpiece is a $17 billion inflation relief package that includes direct payments of as much as $1,050 to an estimated 23 million Californians, including individual filers making as much as $250,000 and joint filers making as much as $500,000, CalMatters’ Alexei Koseff reports. Lower- and middle-income taxpayers, as well as families with children, will receive more money than those with higher incomes. About $1.1 billion will go to elderly, blind or disabled Californians with low incomes and very low-income families enrolled in the state’s public assistance program.
- Newsom, Atkins and Rendon: “California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries.”
- But, while California will spend $439 million to suspend a portion of the diesel sales tax, lowering prices by about 23 cents per gallon, the excise gas tax — which is set to increase by nearly 3 cents per gallon on Friday — will remain in place.
- And Californians aren’t likely to start receiving rebates until October, Rendon said last week — incidentally, about a month before the statewide general election.
Many of the budget deal’s other details are ensconced in a series of “trailer bills” — measures drafted behind closed doors that can include major policy changes with little to no relationship to the budget — published over the weekend.
The Legislature is set to consider the bills — some of which are hundreds of pages long — in hearings starting this morning and will likely approve many of them before leaving for summer recess on Friday.
- Veteran lobbyist Chris Micheli asked me Sunday night: “How is less than 24 hours to review and analyze massive trailer bills good for public transparency and the ability to communicate with legislators?”
Here’s a rundown of other key deadlines this week:
- Lawmakers must pass by Thursday a proposed amendment to enshrine the right to abortion and contraception in California’s constitution in order for it to land on voters’ ballots in November. The amendment — which advocates say is all the more urgent following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Friday ruling striking down the federal constitutional right to an abortion — is set for a hearing today in the Assembly. If approved by two-thirds of lawmakers there — which is all but guaranteed — it will go before voters in November.
- Legislators are also racing to reach a deal by Thursday that could avoid a November ballot measure to reduce single-use plastics. The proposed workaround — initially spurned by the initiative’s proponents and some environmental justice groups for not going far enough to reduce plastic waste — was amended Friday night to address some of those concerns and could face legislative votes in key committees today.
- Friday is also the deadline for bills to clear key legislative policy committees — or die for the year. Among those that seem unlikely to make it through: a bill that would encourage schools to teach students about Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to state and national history and several proposals that would reduce barriers to placing severely mentally ill people in conservatorships.
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 9,312,854 confirmed cases (+0.5% from previous day) and 91,420 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
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1 Roe v. Wade ruling reverberates through California
The fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Friday ruling striking down the federal constitutional right to an abortion — ending the nationwide protections enshrined nearly 50 years ago in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and allowing each state to regulate the issue for itself — was both immediate and likely to ripple across California and the country for years to come. Here’s a breakdown of how the Golden State plans to respond to the ruling in both the short and long term:
- Expanding legal protections. Shortly after the watershed ruling, Newsom and the Democratic governors of Oregon and Washington unveiled a multi-state pact outlining their states’ “commitment to reproductive freedom.” Newsom also signed into law a bill — which takes effect immediately — shielding out-of-state patients who receive, aid or provide abortion care in California from civil lawsuits. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are considering a package of more than a dozen bills — including the proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion and contraception — that aim to expand abortion access by reducing cost and logistical barriers, strengthening legal protections for patients and providers, and growing the health care workforce.
- Preparing for an influx of patients. California has a multimillion-dollar plan to help out-of-state women seek reproductive care — but it doesn’t even know how many abortions are currently performed in the state, making it difficult to analyze trends, craft precise policy and track the effectiveness of its programs, CalMatters’ Kristen Hwang reports. The Golden State is one of just three states that doesn’t track abortion data and hasn’t done so since 1997. When Kristen asked why, the California Department of Public Health didn’t provide an answer.
- Galvanizing voters. Expect to hear a lot about abortion rights ahead of the November general election, as Democratic candidates flood the airwaves with ads warning of a bleak future for access if their Republican opponents win, CalMatters’ Alexei Koseff and Kristen Hwang report. Some Democrats, including Newsom, are warning that Republicans could pass a national abortion ban if they win control of Congress. “I’m very worried about it — and the only thing that’s gonna stop us is us,” Newsom said. If “people don’t wake up, we can be living in that reality.” California Republicans, however, are expected to focus on issues like inflation, homelessness and crime.
- Protecting rights that could be endangered in the future. Citing Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion suggesting the nation’s highest court should review decisions protecting the right to contraception and same-sex intimacy and marriage, Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, said advocacy groups are beginning to conduct legal analysis for a constitutional amendment enshrining LGTBQ rights that could go before California voters in 2024.
Meanwhile, Californians of all backgrounds and beliefs are making their voices heard. Thousands of people rallied in cities across the state over the weekend to protest the court striking down Roe v. Wade, while many religious leaders, conservative lawmakers and anti-abortion advocates applauded the ruling. And at weekend Pride parades in San Francisco, Orange County and elsewhere, Californians celebrated the LGBTQ community even as many voiced fears their rights could soon be rolled back.
2 Changes to math framework likely delayed
It looks as though the fierce debate over California’s plan to overhaul its framework for teaching math in public schools — via a non-binding series of recommendations some critics have denounced as “woke math” — is going to continue a while longer. Although the State Board of Education had been poised to approve a revised version of the framework in July after reviewing public comments, the California Department of Education announced Friday that due to “the current amount of feedback received on the latest draft,” staff are now recommending the board postpone its decision until the “winter of 2022-23.” More than 900 public comments about the second draft were submitted between March and May, according to the education department.
- The department said in a statement: “Updating state guidance for teachers on best practices for aligning instruction to California’s math standards remains a priority. However, rushing the development of the math curriculum framework runs counter to California’s commitment to a transparent process that follows a flexible schedule established at the discretion of the State Board of Education. The adaptable nature of the schedule allows for broad public participation and careful consideration of all potential impacts.”
- The proposed math framework — which aims to make math more relatable, incorporate social justice concepts and close achievement gaps for Black and Latino students — has proved divisive among educators and experts, with some describing it as “a crime against fundamental logic” and others arguing the “status quo” isn’t “good enough for the 21st century.”
3 Can California decarbonize its cement industry?
As California considers adopting a controversial new climate plan, the cement industry is facing a state mandate to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 — a tall order, considering the Golden State’s eight cement plants accounted for about 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. Although the plants managed to slash carbon emissions by 20% between 2000 and 2015 due to improved energy efficiency and increased use of lower-carbon fuels, getting to net zero would require a “significant shift” industrywide, Guarav Sant, director of UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management, told CalMatters’ Nadia Lopez. “Fundamentally,” he added, “we need to think about technological innovations.”
Some plants are already trying new technologies: A facility in Redding is partnering with a Silicon Valley-based company to convert the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions into a mineral, which could then used to improve the strength and durability of cement, Nadia reports. But experts say sizable state and federal investments are also necessary.
- State Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat: “If we don’t assist the cement industry in California to become less carbon intensive or emit less greenhouse gases, then, in fact, we’ll be driving the industry out of our state. Then we’ll be dependent on cement from elsewhere and that cement will have far more carbon content.”
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A recession could wreck California’s spending plans.
Only safety standards will prod Big Tech into protecting children: California — the birthplace of many of these technologies — should take the lead in passing legislation to require companies to create “seat belts” for our kids on social media, argues Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager and an advocate for social media accountability.
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California has a quarter of U.S. abortion clinics, but they’re still outnumbered by anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. // San Francisco Chronicle
‘Her blood is on their hands.’ Bay Area social workers were repeatedly told Sophia was abused. They failed to stop the child’s death. // Mercury News
California imprisoned her for killing the abusive father of her unborn son. Now free, she fights for change. // Sacramento Bee
Jury awards $21 million to family of pregnant teen shot by undercover Fremont police officers. // San Francisco Chronicle
Mysterious Bay Area criminal organization had nationwide reach, law enforcement imposter, ties to freeway shootings and notorious murder, feds say. // Mercury News
How Disney, a mayor and a ‘cabal’ gained power over Anaheim. // Los Angeles Times
John Eastman: From California lawyer to Trump true believer. // Los Angeles Times
California GOP Rep. Valadao advances in U.S. House district after voting to impeach Trump. // Associated Press
Inside the effort to recall Los Angeles D.A. George Gascón. // Los Angeles Times
Alameda County lifts indoor masking requirement — again. // Mercury News
California may require labels on pot products to warn of mental health risks. // California Healthline
California single-family home prices set record high in May. // Sacramento Bee
California lawsuit leads Biden Education Department to erase $6 billion in debt for 200,000. // Sacramento Bee
Early signs indicate Southern California finally using less water. But big test lies ahead. // Los Angeles Times
As Tule Lake vanishes, so do lives and livelihoods. // Siskiyou Daily News
PG&E fined $1.27 million over corrosion protection in pipelines. // Mercury News
Chevron to sell San Ramon property, move some employees to Houston. // San Francisco Chronicle
A California gold mine’s toxic legacy: Inside the fight over reopening a treasure trove. // Los Angeles Times
California could get a new national park honoring César Chávez. // San Francisco Chronicle
Vast swaths of privately owned forestland will close to public on July 1 because of wildfire risk, drought. // San Francisco Chronicle
California’s ferret advocate makes one last legalization push. // Los Angeles Times
His simple solution to staying young: Swimming across Lake Tahoe. // Wall Street Journal