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Jan 11, 2014

Lawmaker seeks to halt bond sales for California high-speed rail

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 10 (Reuters) – A Republican California
lawmaker proposed on Friday to put a measure before voters to
stop bond sales for the state’s planned high-speed rail system,
in the latest bid by critics to derail the ambitious project.

The rail system, a priority of Governor Jerry Brown, would
send passengers hurtling through the state’s fertile San Joaquin
Valley as they travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Lines
would eventually extend to San Diego and Sacramento.

Jan 9, 2014

Despite recovery, fiscal restraint urged in California budget plan

By Jim Christie and Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) – California Governor Jerry Brown continued his message of fiscal restraint in his state budget plan, which would increase funding for education but not restore many recession-era cuts, including healthcare services for the poor.

Brown’s plan, which was leaked on Wednesday night and posted online, proposes spending $106.8 billion from the state’s general fund, and sets up a $1.6 billion rainy day fund, according to a copy posted on the Internet by the Sacramento Bee and confirmed to Reuters by an aide to a top Democratic lawmaker.

Jan 8, 2014

California pension reformer disputes write-up of initiative

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A controversial campaign to reform California’s public pensions faces an uncertain future after the state attorney general chose what the measure’s backers consider to be unfriendly language for their proposed ballot initiative.

Chuck Reed, the mayor of San Jose and the driving force behind the proposal, told Reuters on Tuesday he will confer with supporters on whether to press ahead with trying to get the overhaul before voters later this year, and he might sue over Attorney General Kamala Harris’ wording for the ballot. A decision should be made by the end of January, Reed said.

Dec 20, 2013

California’s Gov. Brown to take cautious tack on budget

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 20 (Reuters) – California Governor Jerry
Brown is being peppered with requests from fellow Democrats in
the legislature as he prepares his state budget plan, but they
should not expect he will embark on a spending spree despite the
state being flush with cash.

Brown may eventually support some spending increases, but
the plan he will unveil no later than January 10 will take a
cautious view of the state’s improved revenue and emphasize
using it to pay down debt and build reserves, said H.D. Palmer,
his spokesman on fiscal matters.

Dec 13, 2013

California high-speed rail grinds on as troubles mount

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Dan Richard is determined
to keep California’s plan for building an 800-mile (1,300-km)
high-speed rail system on track despite two recent court rulings
against it and rising criticism of the effort.

“It’s nowhere near as dire as the opponents are making it,”
said Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail
Authority, the agency in charge of plans for building the
system, which at an estimated cost of $68 billion would be the
state’s most expensive infrastructure project.

Dec 3, 2013

California unions brace for showdown over pension reform

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – For California’s public-sector unions, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s proposed statewide ballot measure for pension reform is a call to arms – and they’re bringing out the big guns.

Reed, a Democrat, has taken only preliminary steps in his quest to amend the state constitution to allow changes in future pension benefits for current public employees, a move to help local governments control soaring retirement-related spending. Courts have interpreted the constitution as now barring changes to a public employee’s pension after he or she was hired.

Nov 26, 2013

California bond sale for high-speed rail project blocked by judge

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A California judge ruled on Monday against the state’s plan to issue more than $8 billion in bonds to help build an 800-mile high-speed train system and rescinded the project’s funding plan, which estimates the system’s cost at $68 billion.

Judge Michael Kenny of Sacramento County Superior Court said in a written ruling that there was too little information to support the decision by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to move forward with the debt sale.

Nov 6, 2013

Tax vote puts bankrupt California city on track for solvency

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Voters in Stockton, California approved a tax hike on Tuesday, putting a city that had been regarded as a test case of pension spending in U.S. municipal bankruptcies closer to regaining solvency.

Until Detroit filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, the city of roughly 300,000 residents in California’s Central Valley had been the biggest U.S. city to file for legal protection from its creditors.

Nov 4, 2013

Stockton sales tax plan set to end bankruptcy, pensions spared

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 4 (Reuters) – When Stockton, California,
filed for bankruptcy last year, the stage was set for a
precedent-setting battle with Wall Street over whether
bondholders or retired public employees should pay the price
when a local government goes broke.

But under the terms of recent settlements, bond insurers
who are backing about $240 million in city debt will accept a
“haircut” of as much as 50 percent on some bonds. Retirees will
keep their full pensions, though 1,100 of them will lose their
retiree health insurance.

Oct 16, 2013

San Jose, Calif. mayor launches pension reform initiative

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 15 (Reuters) – The mayor of California’s
third largest city offered a plan on Tuesday to help the state
rein in spending on public pensions, drawing rebukes from a
group representing public employees as well as the state’s
pension fund for public-sector workers.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said his measure, which he hopes
to qualify for the November 2014 ballot, would urge voters to
amend California’s constitution to allow local governments to
reduce pension expenses associated with their current employees.

    • About Jim

      "Jim Christie covers financial, economic and public debt matters of Western U.S. states along with general news. He previously covered network equipment manufacturers and venture capital, and prior to joining Reuters in late 2000 he covered dot-com start-ups for RedHerring.com and the U.S. economy for Investors Business Daily."
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