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May 17, 2013

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News Panel: Gov. Brown's May Revise Budget, New Inquiries into Bay Bridge Bolts, and Veteran Benefits Untapped

Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget is $1.3 billion leaner than his original budget released in January. With a surge in state tax revenue and no deficit for the first time in years, Republicans cheered the governor's caution against spending. Democrats were less enthused. Schools appear to be the big winner with $2.9 billion in additional funding, but there are no increases for severely cut social safety net programs or for prison population reduction. Gov. Brown cited federal sequestration cuts, falling wages and higher Social Security payroll taxes as obstacles to the state's economic recovery, warning "It's a call for prudence, not exuberance."

A state Senate committee grilled Caltrans officials Tuesday over the 2,300 galvanized steel rods on the new $6.4 billion eastern span of the Bay Bridge, whose installation and safety is now questionable. The hearing came a day after the Federal Highway Administration agreed to investigate Caltrans' decision making process and the $10 million fix for the 32 rods that have already failed.

Veterans returning from war find there are yet other battles to wage at home: from weathering the long-term effects of trauma to finding stable jobs and housing. In California, a state program to help veterans buy homes remains largely unspent: last year, only 83 loans totaling $10.5 million were originated, despite over $1 billion in available funds. Democratic Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has taken aim at the program, adding to the clamor of voices demanding that veterans get more help, and in a more timely fashion.

Guests:

  • Josh Richman, Bay Area News Group
  • Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Aaron Glantz, Center for Investigative Reporting
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Anna Deavere Smith Pitches Empathy

It's not a word often heard in politics and on the news, but "empathy" is something that today's leaders might want to cultivate -- at least, so says performer and playwright Anna Deavere Smith. In an upcoming workshop in San Francisco, Smith aims to teach the art of empathy, and it's not just for actors. "Who is that boss that you're gonna go in and talk to if you would like a raise?" said Smith. "Who is that person you're about to fire?" Scott Shafer talks with Smith about how empathy can be a useful tool in many of life's arenas.

 

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