Inland Action Issues
Sacramento Advocacy Trip 2012
- Position: Inland Action encourages all California legislators to SUPPORT Cal Grants and REJECT any attempt to reduce the amount available from a Cal Grant.
- Background: A Cal Grant is money for college which a student does not have to repay. Assuming a student is eligible, a student could receive up to $12,192 at a University of California campus, up to $9,708 at an independent college and up to $5,472 at a California State University campus. In addition, it is possible to obtain an additional $1,551 grant for living allowances.
Proposal To Reduce Cal Grants:
Governor Brown has proposed reducing the amount available in a Cal Grant by $4,236 per student at an independent college. This proposal targets ALL students, not just incoming students, but those who are already enrolled and have relied substantially on Cal Grant funds to attend college.
Impact Of Proposal, If Implemented:
Attached is an Inland Empire Fact Sheet as to the impact the proposed cut in Cal Grants would have on 10 independent, non-profit Universities principally located in the Inland Empire. Also attached is a letter to the Press-Enterprise written by the Presidents of those nonprofit Universities encourage all Legislators to reject Governor Brown’s attempt to reduce the amount available from a Cal Grant. Inland Empire Cal Grants Impact PE Cal Grant Op Ed 120318
- Position: Inland Action encourages all California legislators to SUPPORT AB 2275 (Achadjian).
- o AB 2275 is an urgency bill to extend CalSTRS earning limits for certain experienced retirees.
Background: Under current law, a retiree under CalSTRS is limited to earning $31,020 per year while receiving benefits from Cal STRS. However, because of the absence of a sufficient number of qualified leaders, there have been exemptions under limited circumstances for persons who can assistant districts that have emergency employment needs or are in fiscal crisis. The current exemption to enable such persons to be employed expires effective June 30, 2012.
Proposed Emergency Law:
AB 2275 would extend the current exemptions until June 30, 2014. This is “emergency legislation” which is critical to make sure those qualified persons can assist school districts to resolve their existing fiscal crisis.
- o SB 250 Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Delta Plan: Conveyance Facility
Position: Inland Action supports a bill that requires the delta plan to be released and completed by proposed set date.
- Background: Existing law imposes requirements on the Department of Water Resources in connection with the preparation of a Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 requires the Delta Stewardship Council to consider the BDCP for inclusion in a specified Delta Plan, and requires the incorporation of the BDCP into the Delta Plan if the BDCP meets certain requirements, including a requirement that the BDCP include a comprehensive review and analysis of a range of Delta conveyance alternatives, including through-Delta, dual conveyance, and isolated conveyance alternatives and capacity and design options of specified canals and pipelines.
- o This bill would require that the departments development of certain Delta conveyance facilities be completed on or before February 15, 2013, and would require that the construction of those facilities be completed by December 31, 2025.
- The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is necessary to ensure both state water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration.
Position: Inland Action strongly urges completion of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and a Delta Plan that creates a clear path for its success .
Background: As stated by the Southern California Water Committee “The sustainability of California’s economy, the eighth largest in the world, depends upon a reliable source of water. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta) is the hub of our state’s water delivery system and home to one of California’s most important ecosystems. Twenty-five million Californian’s –nearly two-thirds of the state’s population-and millions of acres of farmland rely on water that passes through the Delta.As the health of the Delta environment has deteriorated and fish populations declined, state and federal regulations have limited the Delta’s ability to convey an adequate supply of water to southern, central and northern California. And, aging Delta levees are crumbling and not able to withstand the impacts of catastrophic earthquakes, floods and rising sea levels. This and to achieve the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and growing crisis poses the threat of statewide economic and ecological disaster.” Immediate and continued action is necessary to contribute to the sustainability of the Delta Delta ecosystem restoration, as stated in the Delta Reform Act of 2009.
- · The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is a planning and environmental permitting process that will restore habitat for Delta fisheries in a way that reliably delivers water supplies to 25 million Californians. Federal and state agencies, environmental organizations, fishery agencies, water agencies, and other organizations are working together to develop the BDCP.
- · The BDCP will identify a set of water flow and habitat restoration actions to contribute to the recovery of endangered and sensitive species and their habitats in the Delta. The goal of the BDCP is to devise a 50-year plan of water system and ecosystem improvements, and environmental law compliance through adaptive management. BDCP is looking at creating new water diversion facilities in the northern Delta so that these water deliveries can be physically separated from the natural fluctuations of the tidal estuary.
- · In late 2010, considerable technical efforts focused on the potential construction of two tunnels, as an alternative to a surface canal, as a method to transport the water. Tunnels and intake facilities are currently estimated to cost approx-imately $12.7 billion, and are the preferred option because of the reduced facility footprint. Inland Action also supports a Delta Plan that creates a clear path for BDCP implementation, focuses on the complete array of Delta stressors, coordinates Delta agencies and their efforts and advances the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration. The Delta Plan was not intended to narrowly focus on flow criteria, nor was it intended to position the Delta Stewardship Council to review the water management strategies of local agencies or become another regulatory body.
- Preserve funds in the State budget meant for disproportionate-share hospitals (DSH)
Background: The fiscal year (FY) 2012 – 13 proposed state budget contains significant reductions in health and human services. One such item proposes to redirect hospital stabilization funds that have not yet been paid to private and non-designated public hospitals that are disproportionate-share hospitals. This funding was intended to help these hospitals cover the costs of providing services going back to FYs 2007 – 08 through 2009 – 10 as part of the 2005 hospital financing waiver agreement. This proposal would redirect $43 million to the state’s General Fund, which would mean those hospitals would see $86 million less in stabilization funds, due to the loss of the federal match, for services provided from 2007 through 2010. Those dollars would be taken to fill budget shortfalls within the general fund. 12 facilities in the Inland Empire (including Community Hospital of San Bernardino and Loma Linda) would be impacted by those cuts.
Position: Oppose the redirection of hospital stabilization funds amounting to a reduction of $86 million to certain disproportionate-share hospitals.
- Dual Eligible Demonstration Project
Background: An estimated 1.1 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries are “dual eligibles”— low-income seniors and younger people with disabilities who are enrolled in both the Medi-Cal and Medicare programs. Dual eligibles are among the sickest and poorest individuals covered by either the Medi-Cal or Medicare programs. They comprise only 15 percent of the total Medi-Cal enrollment, yet represent 27 percent of annual Medi-Cal spending ($2.4 billion General Fund). Dual eligibles in California represent more than $20 billion in combined federal and state spending for Medi-Cal and Medicare services. Medicare primarily pays for acute and hospital care and prescription drugs, while Medi-Cal generally helps to pay for long-term care and other services not covered by Medicare. Within the Inland Empire, there are projected to be 107,038 “duals” (55,326 in San Bernardino County and 51,712 in Riverside County). In addition, it is estimated that 18% of Medicare enrollees in Riverside County are “duals” and 25% in San Bernardino County are “duals”.
Position: Inland Action supports improved care coordination for dual eligibles. Improved care coordination can reduce potentially preventable admissions, resulting in overall health care cost savings. In addition, dual eligible are Medicare enrollees first and foremost; therefore, Medicare services should be reimbursed at full Medicare rates to providers.
- Oppose SB 1285 (Hernandez)
What the bill will do: Would require a hospital with an out-of-network emergency utilization rate of 50 percent or more to adjust its billed charges for emergency services provided to a patient prior to stabilization to an amount no greater than the hospital could expect to receive from Medicare, or–if the Medicare payment amount is not sufficient to cover its costs–to an amount no greater than a good faith and reasonable estimate of the actual cost of providing the services.
Background: Hospitals and health plans often enter into contracts to ensure patients have access to health care at agreed-upon rates. While most health plan enrollees receive health care services at in-network hospitals, they may receive care from an out-of-network hospital in an emergency. Existing law establishes a detailed process for determining how non-contracted hospitals are reimbursed and how patients may be transferred to an in-network hospital after they have been stabilized. This bill would set a complicated default reimbursement rate for hospital emergency services that could serve as a disincentive to contracting and limit access to health care.
Position: Oppose SB 1285 (Hernandez), which would establish a default reimbursement rate for emergency services provided by hospitals that have an out-of-network emergency utilization rate of 50 percent or greater. Default rates based on Medicare and costs serve as a disincentive to contracting because in many cases they will become the starting point for one-sided negotiations, making it difficult for hospitals to negotiate adequate contracts. Fair reimbursement for emergency services provided by non-contracted hospitals should be protected.
- o Support UCR School of Medicine
- ADA Abuse Bill must be passed to protect small business owners from unintentional violations of Americans with Disabilities Act.
Position: Support SB1186 (Dutton) which would give property owners time to fix violations before they can be sued.
Background: Unscrupulous plaintiffs/lawyers continue to coerce small business owners into paying settlements by threatening potentially costlier lawsuits targeting minor violations under the state’s access and civil rights laws. It appears these suits and demand letters are driven by a unique California law, that unlike the federal (American with Disabilities Act), permits the recovery of damages for non-compliance. Senator Dutton along with other legislators have introduced bills aimed at curbing disability lawsuits by giving property owners time to fix violations before they can be sued.
- Post Redevelopment Legislation must be passed to obtain necessary changes to the redevelopment dissolution process and to work on new economic development tools for local agencies to bring some order to the meltdown surrounding RDA’s across the state. RDA’s have been eliminated and the end result is completely disjointed.
- Position: Inland Action supports the formation of a Bipartisan Joint Task Force to work with the Senate Governance and Finance Committee to discuss the various post-redevelopment bills and attempt to achieve consensus on what should be moved forward. SB 986 (Dutton), SB 115 (Steinberg), SB 1156 (Stenberg) are options, all of which would provide some degree of clarity on the use of bond proceeds and the type of entity needed to continue community development work.
Background: The Governor has eliminated Redevelopment Agencies and the dissolution process is in complete disarray. The league of California Cities has come out in support of the formation of a Joint Task Force to work at resolving differences of various bills they feel have merit.
The League testified in support of SB 986 (Dutton), which would provide much needed clarity on the handling of unexpended bond proceeds. Amendments made on April 11 narrowed the bill significantly. Under the revised bill, oversight boards may approve the expenditure of bond proceeds, provided that: (1) the bonds were issued before Dec. 31, 2010, and (2) the obligation is required to meet a federal or state matching fund requirement, meet the expenditure requirements for a local, or is require to complete “critical public infrastructure.”
The bill contains a listing of types of projects not considered to be “critical public infrastructure.” Technical amendments were made to the bill and it was passed out of committee. The bill is now headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Also during the committee, Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) presented his SB1151 and SB1156. Both measures are works in progress. An initial summary of these measure prepared by the League is available on the League’s website.
SB1151 would establish a trust fund for cities and counties that adopt a joint powers agreement (JPA) so that the JPA would retain former redevelopment agency assets and funds. The JPA must complete a long term asset management plan that must be approved by the Department of Finance by Dec. 31. The plan must include a strategy for maximizing the long term assets for the purpose of creating high wage, high skill jobs and affordable housing.
SB1156 would authorize cities and counties to create a Community Development and Housing JPA to carry out the provisions of Community Development Law. The JPA could adopt a 30-year redevelopment plan without making a determination of blight, although project areas would be limited. Tax increment could be used so long as the entity with land use authority (the city) mitigates the losses to schools and public safety services with other revenue. A 20 percent inclusionary housing element and a strict sustainable parking ordinance would also be required in project areas.
- Pension Reform: Skyrocketing public pension and benefits are probably the largest single contributor to our state and local governments deficit. We can no longer ignore the fact that California is the only state in the nation that allows pension benefits to be negotiated at the bargaining table. Something must be done now.
- Position: Inland Action, at a minimum, supports the Governor’s twelve point pension reform plan.
- Background: The majority of California public pension plans are defined benefit plans that compensate retirees based on what they need to live in the future rather than what they have contributed to retirement. In addition, retirees are eligible for health benefits after retirement. Often the employee contributes monthly to retirement.
Further complicating the matter for voters is the fact that California is the only state in the nation that allows pension benefits to be negotiated at the bargaining table. It’s also the only state with constitutionally-protected public pensions and benefits, which makes it exceedingly difficult to make progress in reform.
Governor’s Pension Reform Proposal:
- Eliminate Purchase of Airtime. Would eliminate the opportunity, for all current and future employee members of all state and local retirement systems, to purchase additional retirement service credit. (RN 14777) (Note Walters, SB 522, would eliminate Air Time)
- Prohibit Pension Holidays. All California public agencies would be prohibited from suspending employer and/or employee contributions necessary to fund the normal cost of pension benefits. (RN 14777)
- Prohibit Employers from Making Employee Pension Contributions. All California public agencies would be prohibited from making employee contributions that fund the normal cost of employee retirement benefits in whole or in part. (RN 14777)
- Prohibit Retroactive Pension Increases. All California public agencies would be prohibited from granting any retroactive pension benefit increases, such as benefit formula improvements that credit prior service (RN 14777)
- Prohibit Pension Spiking: three Year Final Compensation. Final compensation for new employees would be defined as the highest average annual compensation during a consecutive 36 month period. (RN 14777)
- Prohibit Pension Spiking: Define Compensation as Only Regular, Non-recurring Pay. Compensation means normal rate of pay or base pay. (RN 14777) (Note Simitian, SB 27, would exclude from defined benefit changes in compensation principally for the purpose of enhancing benefits; would place stricter limits on creditable compensation)
- Felony Convictions. Prohibits payment of pension benefits to those who commits a felony related to their employment. (RN 14777) (*Note Strickland, SB 115, similar prohibition)
PROPOSALS UNDER DEVELOPMENT
Impose Pension Benefit Cap.
Improve Retirement Board Governance
Limit Post-Retirement Public Employment
Address CalSTRS Unfunded Liability
While a number of these proposals such as limited post retirement public employment would have a negative impact on education, something has to be done now.
- Adoption of a State container fee similar to that proposed by Senator Alan Lowenthal – Inland Action, a coalition of business leaders, believes that transportation projects drive jobs and jobs drive the local economy. A state container fee would generate a dedicated source of funding for needed transportation investments in moving cargo through the state with dedicated truck and rail lanes significantly improving freeway traffic and significantly reducing related emissions. There needs to be a dedicated California funding source based on volume in order to optimize needed transportation investments in California. There are fears that California would NOT receive its fair share of funding from a National goods movement bill. Although there could be a moderate reduction in freight volume caused by competing ports outside of California, most experts believe that California would still retain the vast majority of volume primarily because it is a large consumer state. Additionally, significant transportation investments would speed up delivery adding further value to the system.
- Extend expedited CEQA process to large transportation projects – The New state law (AB 900 Buchanan) provides for an expedited CEQA process for large projects exceeding $100 million that create jobs and maintain or reduce greenhouse gasses. Inland Actions proposes that this process be extended for publically financed transportation projects that meet the same criteria.
- California needs to adopt and expand the use of toll roads as another source of funding needed transportation projects for improving traffic flows – California’s roads and expressways are crowded and in disrepair. Investments are needed that enhance the state’s neglected transportation infrastructure, and tolling offers the state and its residences a fair and ideal way of funding these projects.
- Continue to prioritize proposition 1B transportation bonds in upcoming bond sales – Job creating infrastructure projects throughout California are nearing readiness for construction and require continued successful bond sales to fund these projects. Inland Action urges the Administration, Treasurer, and Legislature to continue to fulfill the will of the voters who approved 1B by prioritizing the sale of bonds to fund important self-ready state transportation infrastructure projects. The Legislature must maintain a budget that is based on realistic assumptions allowing the Treasurer to move forward with a successful bond sale.
- Move the Ontario Airport to local control and/or make landing fees the same as LAX – Airport traffic is down by 47% since 2007 and the number of destinations available to into has been cut by nearly 60%. This reduction in flights has resulted in an upward cost spiral for airlines serving Ontario due to over-staffing and administration fees imposed by LAWA. Likewise, airline fees at Ontario are significantly higher than other regional airports including the fees charges at LAX, also under the control of LAWA. Based on this inconsistent pricing, LA’s control of both airports could be considered a conflict of interest. Under LAWA’s management, there has been an estimated loss of 8,000 airport related jobs and $400 million in annual business activity.
- Support the Gold Line Extension Bill AB 1600 (Torres) which would allow the line to cross San Bernardino County.
- Status of funding for SANBAG shovel ready projects – There are four San Bernardino projects that SANGAB is requesting allocations from CMIA savings:
- I-10/Tippecanoe Phase 1: asking $10 million.
- I-215/Newport Avenue bridge replacement: asking $3.4 million.
- I-15/Ranchero Road: asking $21.5 million.
- I-15/Duncan Canyon: asking $12 million.