News Panel: State Budget Deal, SCOTUS on Gene Patenting, San Onofre Closure
Gov. Jerry Brown and top Democrats in the legislature reached a $96.4 billion budget deal this week, putting them on track to meet the June 15 deadline. The compromise plan embraces the governor's cautious revenue outlook, and gives more money to schools with higher numbers of low income students and English learners. It also includes some additional spending on mental health and dental services for the poor, with a commitment to increased funding in the future for social services.
The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that companies cannot patent naturally-occurring human genes, sending ripples through the medical and biotechnology industries. With billions of dollars on the line, some companies might abandon work on genetic research if they are unable protect it through patents. But it could also encourage more research and competition, opening the door to new discoveries.
While California pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California is closing. Some environmentalists and policy makers who are concerned about global warming have come to embrace nuclear power, which, unlike natural gas or coal powered energy plants, does not emit carbon into the atmosphere. What will the end of nuclear power mean for growing energy demand and how will the state offset the increased pollution caused by fossil fuel generated power?
- Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee
- Lauren Sommer, KQED Science
- David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle
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.