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.
- Josh Richman, Bay Area News Group
- Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle
- Aaron Glantz, Center for Investigative Reporting
Also on KQED.org this week ...
Drought Watch 2015: Record-Low Sierra Snowpack
The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which typically supplies nearly a third of California's water, is showing the lowest water content on record: 6 percent of the long-term average for April 1. That shatters last year's low-water mark of 25 percent (tied with 1977).
"Boomtown" History of the San Francisco Bay Area
KQED's "Boomtown" series will seek to identify what is happening in real time in the current boom, and also draw out the causes and possible solutions to the conflicts and pressures between the old and the new.