The AGC of California sent out a bulletin reporting that it thinks the state budget will get passed by Friday because that’s the day the legislature is scheduled to recess for its month-long summer break. Makes sense, in a warped reality sort of way. The association adds that many legislators and possibly the governor planned some vacation time with their families as a respite from the Sacramento heat – both temperature and political.
The same bulletin says that State Controller John Chiang has just closed the books on the 2008-09 fiscal year and that during the past year, the state received $85.2 billion in general fund revenue -- including $43.7 billion in personal income taxes, $23.7 billion in sales taxes and $12.3 billion in corporate income taxes -- and spent $98.2 billion. That $85.2 billion is $11.2 billion less than the state received from those same sources in 2008-09, thanks to the recession, with personal income taxes accounting for virtually all of the net decline. That, along with the fact that the state has a budget in the $100 billion range, is the reason for perpetual deficits unless some major cuts are made. It seems simple enough.
An unlikely delegation assembled in the nation’s capital to lobby for greater protections for sharks. The group of nine shark attack survivors, including two from California, is calling on Congress to pass the Shark Conservation Act. Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation for the Pew Environmental Group, says that even though many of the survivors lost arms and legs, they don’t hold grudges against the sharks that bit them. (I don’t know why I included this item at first, but then I immediately thought of Goldman Sachs and AIG.)
President Obama spoke at a community college in Michigan and outlined his American Graduation Initiative, which includes funding for modernization of community college facilities. He’s proposing a new $2.5 billion fund to catalyze $10 billion in community college facility investments that will expand the colleges’ ability to meet employer and student needs. The resources could be used to pay the interest on bonds or other debt, seed capital campaigns, or create state revolving loan funds. Good news all around there.
The Associated Press reports that Texas is “mulling” a project called the “Ike Dike,” a 55-mi, 17-ft-high barrier along the Texas Gulf Coast to protect against devastating flooding like what occurred last year by Hurricane Ike. Now that’s what I call a Texas-size stimulus project, even though it would cost in the neighborhood of $4 billion.
Good news from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission: It approved a landmark water system improvements project to upgrade major distribution pipelines and bore a new tunnel under San Francisco Bay to carry Hetch Hetchy water to the region’s 2.5 million customers. The Bay Division Pipeline Reliability Upgrade Project is among the largest of the Water System Improvement Program projects to seismically upgrade, repair and replace the aging Hetch Hetchy water system. The $597 million project will include 7 mi of new, 72-in diameter welded steel pipeline in the East Bay, and 9 mi of 60-in diameter pipeline on the Peninsula, joined by a 5-mi tunnel underneath San Francisco Bay. The project will be divided into three separate contracts, including the East Bay Pipeline, Bay Tunnel, and West Bay (Peninsula) Pipeline. The $98 million East Bay Pipeline contract will be advertised for bid on July 20; followed by the $260 million Bay Tunnel contract on July 31. The $78 million Peninsula Pipeline contract will advertise on Aug. 17. The three contracts are estimated to bring nearly 1.4 million craft hours in heavy equipment operations, welding, carpentry, and other skills. Work will take place in Fremont, Newark, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Redwood City, and unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.