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The Nooner for Sunday, May 17, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
SEEN ON SUNDAY TEEVEE:
Happy Sunday! It was great to wake up this morning to the sound of rain! For the Prince & the Revolution fans, a live Purple Rain concert shot on March 30, 1985 is free on YouTube this weekend, as a partnership between the Prince Estate and Warner Brothers as a fundraiser for COVID-19 relief. You can also order Prince-themed face masks in the online Prince store, with a "buy one, give one" deal. So, if you're tired of watching old sporting events, there's that.
Yes, I had purple jeans bought at the OC Swap Meet back in the day...I cringe.
Thank you for your patience last week. As budget details came out (leaks through the week), it was heartbreaking for those of us who are longtime budget lobbyists and saw many things we spent years building to see all torn down, including for my beloved community colleges that face a $593 million (~10%) cut in the general per student funding formula. UC and CSU also face 10% cuts in General Fund resources. The January budget proposal had been for a 5% general increase for both segments.
Anyway, I'm back at it and will be doing my best to cover the Legislature's budget committee work over the next two weeks leading up to budget passage by June 15. I have spent this weekend poring over budget details. We'll likely be doing more in August and possibly September in a special session following the July 15 delayed personal income tax deadline and possibly state and local federal assistance.
COVID-19: In the MercNews, Leonardo Castañda reports that, as reopening continues, California recorded its second biggest day of COVID-19 deaths and 2,000 new cases. The state now has 78,818 cases (+1,853 yesterday) and 3,208 deaths (+52 yesterday). Of yesterday's increase in number of deaths, 40 were reported by Los Angeles County.
REOPENING: An LAT team reports on the slow reopening:
More hiking trails and recreation areas reopened Saturday as California continued to ease into the recovery phase of its fight against the novel coronavirus.
The Angeles National Forest on Saturday reopened 23 popular trails, four trailheads and 19 roads in the San Gabriel Mountains. Forest officials also will begin gradually reopening campgrounds, picnic areas and other “developed recreation” sites that have been off-limits since early April.
That was preceded by the reopening of Los Angeles city and county trails May 9, followed by L.A. County beaches Wednesday.
Erin Allday reports in the Chron that the six Bay Area counties that issued stay-at-home orders together on May 16 are no longer in lockstep.
Suddenly the three North Bay counties that have been less dramatically affected by the virus than their southern siblings are straining to push ahead toward reopening. And the remaining six counties — the ones that collectively issued the first shelter-in-place orders in the United States on March 16 — are lagging behind. And they too are starting to diverge, though less strikingly so.
“The health officers across the Bay Area, we are still working in very close coordination. We communicate on a daily basis, even over the weekends,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the Contra Costa County health officer. “It does make sense that rural counties should be able to open up at a faster pace and urban counties need to go slower. We just have to be really careful and really watch our numbers. We’re all trying to figure out how to open up and do it in a safe way.”
Meanwhile, the Central Valley city of Atwater has declared itself a "santcuary city," but not for immigration but rather a faster reopening of businesses and churches, reports Rita Beamish for the Chron:
The City Council heard from a parade of business owners, pastors and residents on Friday who described pandemic-related hardships. Many insisted they could be responsible and keep the community safe by following safe practices like wearing face masks and keeping social distance.
“If they don’t open up, they’re going to be in a really bad state, and we’re going to have bankruptcies and foreclosures and we’re just going to have families that are decimated financially,” said Chamber of Commerce president Don Borgwardt, who is also a local pastor and made a plea for people to be allowed back inside houses of worship.
PROTESTS: In the SDUT, Morgan Cook and Karen Pearlman report on protests in San Diego amidst growing economic distress:
The largest, which drew about 500 people to the county administration building in downtown San Diego, demanded leaders lift public health orders that have shut down churches and businesses since mid-March. The rally echoed similar gatherings recently that have accused state and local governments of overreaching their authority, infringing upon constitutional rights and inflicting lasting economic damage.
A separate, much smaller demonstration with different organizers called for a contrasting solution Saturday. A parade of six or seven cars circled government buildings in downtown San Diego, demanding Congress provide the American people with recurring, monthly cash relief during the pandemic.
...while Lauren Herrnández reports for the Chron on a protest in Livermore:
Dozens of people rallied Saturday in downtown Livermore, calling on the city to reopen for business.
Photos showed demonstrators, organized by a Facebook group called Save Our Town — Livermore, waving U.S. flags, carrying signs with messages like “Reopen and Save Downtown,” or “Small business is essential” and “Open Our Town.”
The gathering prompted a stern rebuke from Livermore Mayor John Marchand, who said organizers did not communicate with city officials ahead of time, and many were not wearing face coverings or following social distancing guidelines.
BUDGET: For CalMatters, Dan Walters asks just how big the state's budget problem really is:
There’s no doubt that the recession is serious. Our unemployment rate, which topped out at just over 12% during the Great Recession a decade ago, could easily reach twice that level. The state, indeed, faces a very serious budget problem but how serious is by no means a settled fact.
It now falls to legislative leaders to either go along with Newsom’s seemingly inflated deficit number or take the advice of their own budget experts that the real deficit may only be a third as large and deal with it accordingly.
...while Matt Levin writes that funds for housing and homelessness were largely spared in the budget.
[U]nlike some of the more severe pandemic-induced rollbacks Newsom outlined in areas like education and climate change, affordable housing and homelessnesss dollars were mostly spared from the administration’s fiscal cleaver.
Given an assist from the federal government’s March stimulus package, Newsom is proposing $750 million to buy hotels and motels currently used for emergency homeless housing, hoping to turn the properties into more permanent solutions. Another $500 million in tax credits for building low-income housing was preserved from Newsom’s pre-pandemic budget plans — a major win for affordable housing developers as they try to fill the state’s shortage of 1.3 million low-income homes.
I noticed this morning that three Sacramento state building project are being "paused," providing savings of $730.6 million. They are:
Additionally, $754.2 million earmarked for the Capitol Annex project was transferred back to the General Fund. It is unclear if the "swing space" project on O Street will be completed, but the summary suggests lease-revenue bonds will be used instead of cash, thus stretching out General Fund costs..
It's a huge blow to Sacramento's economy, as construction was one area of the economy still functioning as essential operations.
And, Melissa Etehad reports on how governors in other states are dealing with the budget crises.
[G]overnors across the nation, including those in California, Colorado, Michigan and New York, are now having to figure out which services to cut or scale back as a result of skyrocketing deficits.
From education and health services to infrastructure spending, the ripple effect is likely to affect millions of people who have come to lean on such public services.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The Legislative Analyst's Office looks at the state's weekly jobless claims for May 3-9, writing:
Weekly Claims Continue to Slow But Remain High. California had 214,028 initial claims between May 3 and May 9. Claims have trended down consistently over the last several weeks after peaking at about 1 million during the week of March 22 to March 28. Nonetheless, the claims total for last week still is well above the record high prior to the COVID-19 outbreak of 115,462 in January 2010.
Continued Claims Increased Last Week But at a Slower Rate. As of May 9, California had about 3.6 million workers receiving unemployment benefits. This includes about 3.2 million receiving traditional unemployment benefits and a little under 400,000 receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance—a new program created to expand eligibility for unemployment insurance to self-employed workers and others not typically eligible for the traditional program. Continued claims increased by about 300,000 last week, about half of the increase seen two weeks ago. For the sake of accurate historical comparison, the graph below shows only the traditional unemployment claims.
more after the jump...
WESTERN STATES PACT OR NOT REALLY? In the Chron, Alexei Koseff reports that the hyped pact among Western states doesn't mean they are following the same process of reopening.
David McCuan, a professor of political science at Sonoma State University, said the pact was primarily an arrangement of political convenience. It gave the Western states a stamp of authority to direct their coronavirus response, while also providing their Democratic governors a boost in national profile by contrasting their approach with that of the Trump administration.
As the next phase of the crisis turns inward — governors are facing down decimated budgets and regions of their states are in rebellion against stay-at-home orders — the coordination could help them maintain the balance of power and provide cover for difficult or unpopular decisions.
“It’s a political necessity to keep the focus on themselves and to keep it there for a long as possible,” McCuan said. “What you’re going to see is some protection in numbers or protection with like-mindedness.”
STATE EMPLOYEES: In the Bee, Wes Venteicher writes up the possible suspension of $2,600 in retiree health benefit deduction payments for state employees to partially offset the 10% reduction in pay proposed by Governor Newsom.
Most state employees pay roughly $2,600 per year toward the benefit, although the amount varies by salary and bargaining unit, according to a State Controller’s Office report. Public safety workers, who typically retire earlier than other employees, pay much more.
The deduction shows up as “CERBT” on state worker pay checks, which stands for California Employers’ Retiree Benefit Trust Fund.
It’s a fairly new deduction for most California state workers. California Highway Patrol officers began paying it in 2009.
PRISONS: An LAT team reports on the early releases from state prisons and county jails to reduce crowding during the pandemic.
State data show California’s prisons have released about 3,500 inmates while the daily jail population across 58 counties is down by 20,000 from late February.
The exodus is having a profound and still-evolving effect: Those leaving custody enter a vastly different world in which a collapsed economy, scant job opportunities and the closure of many government offices have compounded the challenges of getting lives back on track.
more after the jump...
DOCTORS: In the Chron, Mallory Moench reports on the struggle facing doctors in private practice:
More than a third of primary care doctors in California surveyed this month by an Oakland foundation worried they will be forced to close their practice or clinic because of financial impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
The survey of 350 physicians across the state, released Friday, found that 37%, about 130, said they were “very” or “somewhat” worried that they will have to permanently close their doors. Doctors at practices with fewer than five physicians were especially concerned. More than half of those doctors, 63, said they fear they will have to shut their clinic for good.
RESTAURANTS: For the OCR, Anne Valdespino looks at changes coming to reopening restaurants:
According to Newsom’s 12-page document of new rules, restaurants must “Discontinue tableside food preparation and presentation such as food item selection carts and conveyor belts, guacamole preparation, etc.”
That means it could be an uphill battle for eateries whose concepts are founded on sharing food and social interaction. When restaurants are allowed to reopen, a night at Benihana might never be the same. Teppanyaki tables with food prepared right in front of guests won’t cut it.
Shabu shabu restaurants, in which diners choose ingredients from a buffet and then prepare their own food in a hot pot at the table will also have adjustments to make. Those offering takeout have already changed gears.
Meanwhile for the Bee, Benjy Egel looks at Brookfields Restaurant in Roseville, one of the first to reopen while Janelle Becker writes in the Chron about the dire situation among restaurateurs in one of the nation's top food cities.
SPECIALTY'S CAFE AND BAKERY CLOSING: After 33 years in business and locations at 500 Capitol Mall ans in Rancho Cordova, Pleasanton-based Specialty's Cafe is closing all locations. The last day of business is Tuesday.
CASINOS: In the SDUT, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña writes that Governor Newsom is leaning on Southern California tribes to delay the reopening of casinos.
In a letter sent Friday to tribal leaders, Newsom acknowledged the coronavirus’s economic toll, saying he was “aware even a partial reopening of tribal casinos is crucial to your ability to raise governmental revenues to provide for the well-being of your communities.”
But, he added, “I cannot stress enough that the risk of COVID-19 transmission remains a serious threat to all Californians.”
The tribes voluntarily shuttered their operations on March 20 to combat the spread of the deadly coronovirus. On Saturday, tribal leaders either declined to comment or refused to say whether they would reassess their positions. At least one tribe said it would not reverse its decision and indicated the nine tribes with gaming operations would release a joint statement.
DRIVE-INS: For the SDUT, John Wilkens looks at the possible resurgance of drive-in theaters amidst concerns with the close proximity of theaters under the roof.
Briefly shuttered by the pandemic, San Diego County’s two remaining drive-ins have opened again in recent days, sporting new social-distancing rules telling people to stay in their vehicles and bring their own food because the snack bars are closed.
With indoor theaters and other venues still shuttered, this is the only public entertainment game in town, which helps explain why more than a dozen vehicles were in line at the South Bay Drive-In Wednesday night at 7 p.m. — 90 minutes before the movies started.
VEEPSTAKES: For Politico, Marc Caputo writes that the stock of Florida congressmember Val Demings has risen.
“She is one of a group of close to a dozen really qualified and talented women who are on the list,” Biden said in a May 7 interview with an Orlando television news station. “She's a very competent, very capable person.”
First elected to the House in 2016, Demings is half of a political power couple that hails from the heart of the swing state’s swing region, the Interstate 4 Corridor, where her husband is Orange County mayor and had previously been elected sheriff.
Demings is African-American — giving her an edge in the eyes of some activists and Biden backers — strong on television, and speaks in biblically laced cadences that can bring a black church to its feet and add a potential dose of energy to a campaign that lacks it, according to polls.
cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assembly member Dr. Joaquin Arambula, Aria Ghafari, David Kersten, David Kim, and Anthony Wright!