California Roundup: Professors Can't Do Math

* Another day, another multi-billion-dollar explosion in government employee pension costs. The University of California system is on the hook for $20 billion thanks to a 20-year-old decision to stop paying into the retirement system (in the belief that it was overfunded). Aside from demonstrating the limits of college-level math skills, this screwup adds more complexity to California's public sector pension crisis, as UC system employees are outside the purview of the governor and thus are not part of the big pension rollback Gov. Schwarzenegger is trying to get.

* Speaking of stalled pension rollbacks, Dan Walters checks on the health of Assembly Bill 1987, which started out as an anti-pension-spiking law, got amended to the point that it became a pro-spiking law, and now has been re-amended into what may be a "marginal improvement."

* HAMPellujah! Latest hardworking American who has been helped to stay in her home after a mortgage default: Real housewife of Orange County Alexis Bellino.

* Public Policy Institute of California says, "California loses very few jobs to other states," and argues that the state's low scores on business climate rankings result from "a definition of 'business climate' that's far too limited." John Seiler at CalWatchdog does an extensive coulda-fooled-me in response.

* Don't blame us! California turns out to be near the bottom of states in per-capita federal spending.

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  • Almanian||

    Thanks again for the helping of schadenfreude. I love me some news from Cali, baby!

    PS Nice, concise alt text - well done, as always, Mr. C.

  • ||

    You know what "reality" show I'd like to see? "Real Housewives, Dressed in Furs, Being Fed To Lions."

  • robc||

    For the 49 millionth time, defined contribution not defined benefit.

  • Paul||

    The man in that picture is aggressively unattractive. Aggressively...

  • Shannon Love||

    I imagine one of the causes of California's low per capita federal spending is their "don't build anything, anywhere" policy. A lot of federal money goes to infrastructure projects and if you don't build any infrastructure, you don't get the money.

    That would be doubly true of the "stimulus" spending most of which went to already planned or existing ("shovel ready") infrastructure projects.

    I thin California simply doesn't get dough for building things because they don't build anything.

  • Paul||

    California is a shovel-ready project.

  • ||

    At one point, during the rush...2005-2006 or so. I remember seeing a statistic that almost half the construction in the United States was happening in Southern California.

    It isn't about the construction.

    There are a lot of things that could account for that--a lack of construction isn't one of them. And California's labyrinth of regulation to build anything mostly serves as a barrier to entry more than anything else.

    It takes a long time to get projects started--but there's no shortage of projects. It's more expensive to build there because of the complexity and time involved in EIRs and mitigation, but that wasn't stopping anybody when the economy was rolling.

    I'd look to other factors. The defense industry moving out makes sense. Only getting federal funds based on legal residents (but having to pay out in services regardless) is probably another contributing factor. There are lots of reasons--a lack of infrastructure projects isn't one of them.

  • Ron L||

    You just wait until the high-speed pork train starts!

  • justj||

    Shannon,

    CA is a big state, there is plenty of public construction going on here. Some of it is funded by CRA and the rest is bonds.

    The bridge in Ventura County that connects Oxnard to Ventura is six lanes wide now, up from two about 10 years ago. Seven lanes, if you count the bicycle path. This solved what was called the "strawberry jam".

    Santa Barbara County is engaged in massive construction project to expand the 101 freeway between Santa Barbara and Montecito.

    The 101/405 interchange traffic jam in Los Angeles County will be solved shortly after Jesus returns from heaven on a bullet train.

  • Chad||

    Shannon, infrastructure is a drop in the spending bucket. CA's low "per capita spending" has everything to do with their retiree to child ratio.

    Immigrants have lots of babies, and babies don't cost the feds much. It really is that simple.

  • ||

    "...as UC system employees are outside the purview of the governor and thus are not part of the big pension rollback Gov. Schwarzenegger is trying to get."

    Just like Darryl Gates was out of the purview of the council.

    ...except, it would probably take a lot more than a riot to get rid of the UC system.

    If ever there were an elitist institution that was supported on the backs of average working people--it's the UC system, especially Berkeley and UCLA.

    There is no reason why they can't exist independently like Stanford and USC. The people wouldn't be any worse off if UC Davis, UC Irvine and UCSD had to go the way of Stanford and USC either.

    This is disgusting. This is pathetic. And there is absolutely nothing that will be done about it.

    This is worse than the disgrace in Bell in terms of its magnitude! ...but in Bell, something could at least be done to stop it. Not this.

    And it's not like students are about to organize against anything like this--half of them are hoping to get a ticket onto the gravy train!

  • Paul||

    Daryl Gates had his own video game. Take that UC system!

  • justj||

    I don't understand why the University of California donated $1.6 million to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. That's not a political Obama vs. McCain puzzle. I just find it odd that their charter would allow *any* political campaign contributions. Anyway that's where some of their money went, instead of funding pension liabilities.

  • proud libitard||

    again, the most important question is being ignored! Would you hit it?!?

    Yes, over and over...

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