These are my links for April 28th from 16:25 to 16:35:
- California Pensions: Public hospital president’s retirement pay highlights issue of ‘supplemental’ pensions – When he turned 65 two years ago, Samuel Downing received a $3-million retirement payment from a public hospital district in Salinas, Calif., where he serves as president and chief executive.
But Downing continued working at his $668,000-a-year job for another two years, and after he retires this week, he will receive another payment of nearly $900,000. That comes on top of his regular pension of $150,000 a year.
The payments amount to one of the more generous pension packages granted to a public official in California and come amid growing debate about "supplemental" pensions that some officials receive on top of their basic retirement benefits.
Though Downing's case is extreme, it follows the disclosure of extra pension benefits received by employees in municipalities including Bell and San Diego. Earlier this year, a state watchdog group called for stricter pension rules, saying California's retirement plans are "dangerously underfunded, the result of overly generous benefit promises, wishful thinking and an unwillingness to plan prudently." Seventy percent of Californians support a cap on pensions for current and future government workers, according to a recent Los Angeles Times/USC Poll.
There needs to be a cap and reform NOW.
- California Water agencies would be taxed under state bill – Retail water districts would pay a new tax under proposed state legislation to fund water-related supply, environmental and recreation projects. The size of the tax has yet to be calculated, but it would be significant.
A hearing is scheduled May 4 for the bill, Senate Bill 34, in the California Senate's Governance and Finance committee. Since the bill would impose a tax, it requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature.
SB 34 was introduced in the Natural Resources and Water committee by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. The influential legislator is perhaps best known as the author of California's hands-free cellphone law. The water tax bill was approved April 12 by the committee on a 5-3 vote.
Simitian is offering SB 34 as an alternative to an $11.4 billion water bond measure the Legislature recently placed on the ballot for November 2012. The bill doesn't specify the level of taxes but is expected to be revised later to do so.
Backers say the bill pays for necessary upgrades to California's water infrastructure, especially in the Sacramento River delta, which showed its inadequacy during the state's recently ended drought.
Opponents say SB 34 doesn't give specifics about where the money will be spent. They include water districts around the state and the Association of California Water Agencies, a statewide organization of water agencies.
"It would force water agencies to pay a steep new water tax with no direct benefit to those who pay," said Phil Rosentrater, spokesman for Western Municipal Water District in Riverside County. The district covers 850,000 people concentrated along the Interstate 15 corridor, including Lake Elsinore, Wildomar and parts of Murrieta and Temecula.
The San Diego County Water Authority, a wholesaler whose member retail agencies are subject to paying the tax, is scheduled to vote Thursday on a recommendation to oppose the bill.
Read it all
There is NO guarantee that the money would go to improve the Sacramento Delta and improve water delivery to Southern California.
So, this is an easy no for the Cal GOP.
The bill requires a two-thirds vote in the affirmative and I doubt one vote from a Republican.
- California Legislature seeking to halt DMV notices to buy time on budget – To buy negotiating time for Gov. Jerry Brown's tax extensions, lawmakers are seeking to halt Department of Motor Vehicles notices for drivers whose vehicle registration expires in July and later.
Under current law, DMV must send notices at least 60 days before a renewal due date. That means the department is required to notify motorists by May 2 if their vehicle registrations are up for renewal on July 1.
Because lawmakers haven't agreed to extend the 2009 vehicle license fee increase, drivers are poised to receive a 0.5 percentage point reduction in their VLF starting July 1. The fee is currently a 1.15 percent tax on the estimated value of a vehicle. On a $15,000 car, the difference in rates would be $75.
Democrats still hope to persuade Republicans to extend the higher VLF rate beyond June. But they don't want drivers to receive renewal notices quoting lower VLF rates now, only to have DMV ask them for more money later this year. That would frustrate drivers and likely undermine support for Brown's tax plan.
So the Assembly approved a bill Thursday that directs DMV to delay sending renewal notices starting with drivers whose registrations are due July 1. That buys at least another month of time for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans on maintaining higher VLF rates. Democrats say the money is needed to avoid deep cuts in local law enforcement programs.
Political machinations to capture more tax revenue.