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Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Rejects Governor’s Cuts to Child Care and Early Education Programs

SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D - Sacramento), Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance led a bipartisan effort today to reject Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to reduce support for state child care and preschool programs and voted to restore $527 million in critical child care and preschool funding.

California families are typically eligible for subsidized child care if their household income is below 70 percent of the 2007-08 State Median Income (about $42,000 for a family of three), if the parents have a need for care related to work, training, or education, and if the children are under 13 years-old. The 2016-17 budget agreement included a multi-year investment in early childhood education programs, including increased provider reimbursement rates and additional slots for the California State Preschool Program. Governor Brown’s 2017-18 proposed budget would cut over half a billion dollars from that multi-year commitment.

“California’s successful child care and preschool programs help parents get to work, reduces poverty, closes the K-12 achievement gap and fights crime in our communities,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “I am proud of today’s bipartisan work by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee to reject the Governor’s cuts to critical child care and preschool programs and reaffirm our commitment to make early childhood education a priority in California.”

The California Constitution requires the Legislature to approve the Budget Act by June 15th.

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More Than One Million Defective Airbag Inflators Remain Unrepaired In Southern California

Airbags in certain Hondas and Acuras pose up to a 50 percent chance of exploding upon deployment, prompting community leaders to call for immediate consumer action in response to the largest auto safety recall in U.S. history

LOS ANGELES – March 27, 2017 – Hundreds of thousands of Southern California residents are driving recalled vehicles with defective airbag inflators that could blast shrapnel into the passenger compartment upon deployment. In response, dozens of civic and community leaders have joined together in an urgent, region-wide effort to encourage affected Southern California drivers to get a free repair.

While the recall affects as many as 42 million vehicles and 19 different automakers, the airbag inflators in certain 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras pose the most urgent threat, with up to a 50 percent chance of exploding upon deployment. These models include the 2001 and 2002 Honda Civic, the 2001 and 2002 Honda Accord, the 2002 and 2003 Acura TL, the 2002 Honda Odyssey, the 2002 Honda CR-V, the 2003 Acura CL and the 2003 Honda Pilot. Owners of these vehicles should schedule their free repair immediately by calling Honda at 1-888-234-2138.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “With as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous air bag inflator rupture in a crash, these vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately.”[1] Any Honda or Acura dealership will provide free towing service to the dealership and perform the free repair.

At least 11 Americans – including three Californians – have been killed by defective airbag inflators, and approximately 180 Americans have suffered serious injuries, including cuts or lacerations to the face or neck, broken or fractured facial bones, loss of eyesight and broken teeth. The victims from California were each driving an older, higher-risk Honda or Acura. In these and nearly all other similar cases in the United States, the fatal airbag explosion was triggered by a minor collision that the driver should have been able to walk away from. Thousands of these higher-risk vehicles are still on the road in Southern California, but have yet to be repaired.

Southern California leads the nation in fatalities caused by defective airbags. The risk for serious injury or death is particularly acute in Southern California due to high temperatures that exacerbate the defect in the airbag inflator. A new community mobilization effort called Airbag Recall: Southern California is educating communities across the region about the magnitude of the recall and helping affected drivers schedule life-saving, free repairs with local dealerships, where replacements parts are available for higher-risk vehicles.

In addition, as part of ongoing efforts to address this recall, on Dec. 9, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a new repair prioritization plan designed to accelerate the availability of replacement parts for vehicles impacted by the recall. Nationwide, as many as 70 million inflators in 42 million vehicles are or will be under recall by 2020.

Residents can find out whether their vehicle has a defective airbag inflator at www.AirbagRecall.com. If impacted by the recall, they can contact any of their automaker’s nearby dealerships to schedule a free repair. Southern California residents who may be waiting for replacement parts for their vehicle, or who are not affected by the current recall, are also encouraged to call their local dealer to confirm that their contact information is up to date so they receive recall-related updates going forward.

Quotes:

"Airbags save lives, but defective ones are a hazard that puts our loved ones at risk. We have to give people the information they need to protect themselves and their families. The coalition behind 'Airbag Recall: Southern California' is standing up to make sure that everyone — especially communities of color and low-income Angelenos who face the greatest danger — is aware of free resources that can help keep them safe." – Eric Garcetti, Mayor, City of Los Angeles

“The ongoing airbag recall demands immediate attention from residents across Southern California. The defect in these recalled airbags is potentially lethal. It doesn’t mean an airbag will somehow fail to inflate. It means instead of simply inflating on impact, it will explode like a grenade. I urge all drivers to check their vehicles at AirbagRecall.com. This simple action could make a life-saving difference for you and your family. Once you’ve checked your vehicle, consider paying it forward by helping an elderly relative, neighbor or friend do the same. They may be driving one of these ticking time-bombs and be totally unaware of the life-threatening danger they face.” – Aja Brown, Mayor, City of Compton

“As a Los Angeles native and in my capacity as a city councilmember, I am deeply invested in the safety and security of our community. I join so many other community leaders today in lending my voice and support to ensuring all members of our community, including diverse, low-income and under-served populations, are educated about the gravity and magnitude of the airbag recall and how to get their defective airbags repaired for free.” – Curren Price Jr., Los Angeles City Councilmember, District 9

“In Southern California, many of us drive or ride in a car every day, several times a day. If your vehicle contains a defective airbag, this part of your daily life could threaten your life. To confront this issue head-on, the Valley Economic Alliance has partnered with auto-body shops throughout the area to check drivers’ vehicles for outstanding recalls and to educate them on how to get their airbags replaced free of charge at a local dealership. Our organization is committed to supporting outreach efforts throughout Southern California and to helping prevent another deadly accident caused by a defective airbag inflator.” – Kenn Phillips, President & CEO, Valley Economic Alliance

“It is critical that information about the airbag recall reaches all residents of the greater Los Angeles area, regardless of the neighborhood they live in or the language they speak. We must work together with local organizations to educate drivers about the airbag recall and to assure them that their privacy will be protected throughout the airbag repair process. Regardless of your immigration status or what type of vehicle you drive, visit AirbagRecall.com today. If your vehicle is impacted by the airbag recall, a dealership will fix it for free – no questions asked.” – Gil Dyer, Board Director, Latin Business Association

“Our call to action for drivers across Southern California is simple: fix it, don’t risk it. Even a minor fender bender can be fatal. It’s too easy to fix and too dangerous to ignore. Check your VIN today at www.AirbagRecall.com.” – John D. Buretta, Independent Monitor of Takata and the Coordinated Remedy Program

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Southern California Ronald McDONALD Houses® RALLY COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES WITH CRITICALLY ILL CHILDREN AS WALK FOR KIDS RETURNS THIS MONTH

Celebrating 40 Years of Keeping Families Close throughout Southern California

LOS ANGELES (March 1, 2017) – Starting March 25, Southland communities and businesses are lacing up to support the annual 2017 Walk for Kids, which helps raise awareness and funds for the life-changing services and programs provided to critically ill children and their families by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California (RMHCSC). Now celebrating 40 years of service, Southern California Ronald McDonald Houses keep families together by providing a “home away from home” while their children undergo treatment at nearby hospitals and medical facilities. With a fundraising goal of $2.1 million, RMHCSC dedicates 100 percent of the money raised during the family-friendly 5k (3.1 miles) pledge event towards serving families in and throughout Southern California. Supporters are encouraged to register by starting or joining a team for $25 by visiting www.walkforkids.org.

“Over the years, Walk for Kids has become an annual testament to the overwhelming love, support and compassion that exists in our Southern California community for children and families in need,” said Vince Bryson, chief executive officer, RMHCSC. “The funds raised from the thousands of supporters who turn out every year provide a lifeline for the families we have the privilege to serve and who make the Ronald McDonald House a home.”

2017 Ronald McDonald House Walk for Kids Schedule:

· Coachella Valley (Inland Empire) – Saturday, March 25 (Civic Center Park, La Quinta)

· Inland Empire – Sunday, April 2 (Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario)

· Los Angeles / Camp Ronald McDonald For Good Times® – Sunday, April 2 (Exposition Park)

· Pasadena – Sunday, April 2 (Central Park)

· Orange County – Sunday, April 9 (Honda Center, Anaheim)

· Long Beach – Sunday, April 23 (Shoreline Park)

From March 20 to April 7, Southern California McDonald’s customers can also support Walk for Kids by visiting a participating McDonald’s restaurant and purchasing a “Shoe” for $1. The shoes will then be displayed with the donor’s name in a designated area of the restaurant. In 2016, area McDonald’s restaurants generated more than $418,000 from shoe sales alone. 100 percent of the proceeds from the shoe sales will directly benefit RMHCSC programs.

Additionally, Southern California McDonald’s will donate $.25 from each McCafé Shamrock Chocolate beverage purchased to RMHC during the week of March 11-17. The iconic Shamrock Shake has been a key part of fundraising for RMHC since 1974 when the first Ronald McDonald House was opened.

Built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal, or where they will lay their head at night to rest – RMHCSC helps families with critically-ill children stay together, connecting them with others facing similar challenges through its six Ronald McDonald Houses in Bakersfield, Inland Empire (Loma Linda), Long Beach, Los Angeles, Orange and Pasadena, and two Ronald McDonald Family Rooms. The Chapter also operates the cost-free, medically supervised Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, helping ill children and their siblings rediscover childhood and develop the self-esteem and self-efficacy often lost as a result of the disease.

To learn more about Walk for Kids, donate directly or register by starting or joining a team for $25, visit www.walkforkids.org or follow the conversation on social media using #WalkforKids.

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Covered California Releases Analysis of Support Provided to Consumers Under the Affordable Care Act and an Early Look at Consumer Impact of Changes Proposed in the American Health Care Act

Covered California enrollees benefited from $4.2 billion in subsidies to help them purchase health coverage and get care in 2016.

·County data shows how tax credits help individuals throughout California purchase health insurance.

· The average subsidy in 2016 was worth $5,300 per household and $3,500 per individual, but sizeable numbers of enrollees received more — with 12 percent of households receiving more than $10,000 per year to help them pay for coverage.

· Initial review of proposed changes under the current American Health Care Act indicates big impacts, especially to older Californians and those who live in higher-cost areas.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California released a new comprehensive analysis on Tuesday detailing the financial assistance available through the Affordable Care Act as well as a preliminary analysis of how changes proposed in federal law would affect enrollees.

The studies come one day after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that 24 million consumers could lose coverage under the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 6.

“We are deeply troubled by the CBO’s finding that the amount of support provided for consumers to buy health insurance in 2020 under proposed legislation would be only 60 percent of what is provided under current law,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “While we are still doing an analysis of the aggregate effects of this law on our consumers, the likely effect of basing subsidies on age alone — rather than considering income and where an individual lives — is that it will make coverage unaffordable and in many cases, put coverage out of reach.”

Covered California released two documents on Tuesday: “Bringing Health Care Coverage Within Reach,” an in-depth analysis of Covered California enrollees and the subsidies they receive in 2016; and “Preliminary Analysis of Impacts to Consumers from Changes in Premium Subsidies and Cost Sharing Reductions Available Under the Proposed American Health Care Act.”

The first analysis shows Covered California households received an average of $5,300 per year in tax credits to help pay for the cost of their coverage in 2016. Additionally, 12 percent of Covered California households receive more than $10,000 per year and 16 percent of individuals receive more than $6,000 per year to help bring health care coverage within reach.

Approximately half of Covered California consumers are enrolled in “Enhanced Silver” plans, which give them the additional benefit of cost-sharing reductions that reduce their out-of-pocket expenses by an average of $1,500 per year.

“Health insurance can be expensive, and the financial assistance provided through Covered California helps consumers save money and brings that coverage within reach of millions,” Lee said. “As policy makers in Washington consider changes to our health care system, it is important that the impact on real individuals informs the debate in Washington, D.C. because we are seeing that many will be priced out of needed coverage.”

While the average effects are relatively clear and consistent with the CBO’s assessment that “the average subsidy under the legislation would be about 60 percent of the average subsidy under current law,” the effect on individuals in California and nationally will vary greatly.

The examples below compare the financial help that consumers receive now through the Affordable Care Act — which considers a consumer’s age, income, family size and where they live — to the newly proposed age-based-only subsidies of the AHCA. For example, under the age-based subsidy structure, consumers purchasing the second-lowest Silver plan would fare very differently depending on whether they live in Los Angeles or San Francisco:

In Los Angeles, a 27-year-old earning $17,000 a year would see similar net premiums: $55 per month under the proposed law compared to $52 per month under the current law. However, if that same individual lived in San Francisco, his or her new net premium would be four times higher — $199 per month — compared to $52 per month under the current law.

In Los Angeles, a 62-year-old earning $30,000 a year would see his or her net premium increase from $207 per month under the current law to $275 per month under the proposed law. If that person lived in San Francisco, his or her net premium would jump threefold from $209 per month to $668 per month.

“As many independent studies have shown, moving to age-based tax credits will hurt many of our consumers, particularly those older and lower- to middle-income consumers, and price them out of the market,” Lee said. “This would damage our risk mix and lead to higher premiums for everyone in the individual market, even those who do not purchase their insurance through Covered California.”

Covered California plans to conduct further analysis of the overall impact of proposed changes including all provisions contained in the American Health Care Act.

The county data used to prepare today’s analysis can be found here: http://hbex.coveredca.com/data-research/library/County_APTC_CSR_data.pdf.

This is the latest analysis performed by Covered California that details how consumers are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act. Previous analyses include “Consumer and Market Implications of Affordable Care Act Repeal Without a Viable Replacement” and “Covered California Brings Health Care Within Reach and Shows How Consumers Can Save by Shopping.”

Now that open enrollment has ended, Covered California is focused on its special-enrollment period. Consumers are eligible to sign up now if they experience changes in their life circumstances, such as losing their health care coverage, getting married, having a child or moving.

For more information on special-enrollment rules, visit: www.CoveredCA.com/individuals-and-families/getting-covered/special-enrollment.

Consumers who qualify for Medi-Cal may enroll through Covered California year round.

For more information, consumers should visit CoveredCA.com, where they can enroll online or get information about obtaining free, confidential in-person assistance in a variety of languages. They can find a certified enroller at a storefront in their area or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature.

Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

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State AGs ask Education Secretary DeVos to protect federal student financial aid

An old adage teaches, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ In recent months, the troubled Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) tried and lost two legal attempts to recover eligibility for federal education funds.

But don’t be surprised if a third ACICS effort soon makes its way to the desk of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Secretary DeVos brings to her position a long record of support for private education. The vast majority of schools formerly accredited by ACICS were private, for-profit colleges.

If ACICS sounds familiar to readers, there’s a reason. In December 2016, then-Education Secretary John B. King ruled that the educational accreditor would no longer be recognized by the department. That action also meant that none of ACICS’ 240 institutions would have access to federal funds – including the 17 institutions that have been sued by either state or federal officials for defrauding students and other deceptive practices.

Last year, shortly before Christmas and on December 21, ACICS’ request for a temporary restraining order was denied. Then in late February, DC’s U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton refused to rescind the Education Department’s ruling.

So what would make ACICS and its institutions so determined to have federal funding restored?

The answer is money. Each year, $129 billion is spent on federal student aid. In just one year – 2015 – ACICS schools received nearly $5 billion in taxpayer dollars. It is also legal for up to 90 percent of for-profit college revenues to come from Title IV federal aid. If veterans’ financial aid is added to that of Title IV, taxpayer dollars can subsidize even more than 90 percent of for-profit revenues.

These and other concerns have now led to attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia sharing their collective concerns directly with Secretary DeVos. Among those signing the communique were Attorneys General (AGs) representing largely populated states such as Illinois, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Noting their support to protect students and taxpayers, the AGs letter alerted the new Secretary to three specific and major concerns:

1. How for-profit schools have harmed student borrowers;

2. Why vigorous oversight of accreditors is in the best interests of taxpayers and students; and

3. The importance of preserving two departmental rules – the Gainful Employment Rule and the Borrower Defense to Repayment rule set to go into effect at mid-year.

“We are deeply concerned that rollbacks of these protections would again signal ‘open season’ on students for the worst actors among for-profit post-secondary schools,” wrote the AGs. “Over the past 15 years, millions of students have been defrauded by unscrupulous for-profit post-secondary schools. With accreditors asleep at the wheel, State Attorneys General Offices have stepped in to stop some of the worst abuses.”

“Many schools inflated job placement numbers and/or promised career services resources that did not exist,” continued the AGs. “Many students were placed in loans that the schools knew from experience their graduates could not pay…In short, the entire for-profit education system was failing students and taxpayers.”

The Gainful Employment Rule is designed to ensure that programs equip graduates with skills and employment opportunities that enable them to successfully repay their student loans. Should annual loan payments be more than 30 percent of discretionary income or 12 percent of earnings in two out of three consecutive years, the educational program loses access to Title IV federal student loans and grants.

Similarly, the Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule, set to take effect on July 1, provides legal recourse for students who were harmed by for-profit colleges.

Many of the issues raised in the 7-page letter to Secretary DeVos were noted in an earlier report prepared and released last fall by the Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“[T]his taxpayer investment is wasted when student aid funds are funneled to sham colleges – many of which operate as for-profit entities that use federal student aid dollars to enrich top executives. Meanwhile, students are left with a shoddy education and a staggering debt load, unable to rely on their education to secure a job that will help them responsibly repay their loans,” states the report.

“The title of a recent Century Foundation report characterizes the situation we find ourselves in perfectly: The For-Profit College Story: Scandal, Regulate, Forget, Repeat,” said Robin Howarth, a senior researcher with the Center for Responsible Lending specializing in student loans and related debt. “We now have the opportunity to break this vicious cycle that is so costly to students and taxpayers. It’s imperative that we keep the pressure on for-profit colleges through prudent regulation and oversight thus avoiding a repeat of past abuses.”

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CA Controller Reports State Revenues Fell Short of February Projections

SACRAMENTO—California revenues of $6.52 billion for February fell short of projections in the governor’s proposed 2017-18 budget by $772.7 million, or 10.6 percent, State Controller Betty T. Yee reported today.

Recent month-to-month fluctuations have not developed a clear pattern. January revenues beat projections by 6.2 percent. The variance can often be as simple as one large payment due on the first of the month being recorded on the last day of the prior month.

Personal income taxes (PIT), corporation taxes, and retail sales and use taxes all fell short of January’s revised budget estimates for February, and only corporation taxes—the smallest of the three—topped fiscal year-to-date projections in the governor’s proposed 2017-2018 budget.

For the first eight months of the 2016-17 fiscal year that began in July, total revenues of $73.28 billion are $663.9 million below last summer’s budget estimates, and $888.1 million short of January’s revised fiscal year-to-date predictions.

February PIT of $3.12 billion was shy of projections in the governor’s proposed budget by $5.3 million, or 0.2 percent. In the current fiscal year, California has collected total PIT receipts of $50.97 billion, or 0.9 percent less than January’s revised estimate.

Corporation tax receipts of $168.2 million for February were 35.0 percent short of assumptions in the proposed 2017-18 budget. Fiscal year-to-date corporation tax receipts of $3.82 billion are 3.3 percent above projections in the proposed budget.

February sales tax receipts of $3.06 billion missed expectations in the governor’s proposed 2017-18 budget by $710.2 million, or 18.8 percent. For the fiscal year to date, sales tax receipts of $16.29 billion are $613.5 million below the revised estimates released in January, or 3.6 percent.

The state ended February with unused borrowable resources of $27.44 billion, which was $3.27 billion more than predicted in the governor’s proposed budget. Outstanding loans of $13.53 billion were $628.3 million higher than projected in early January. This loan balance consists of borrowing from the state’s internal special funds.

For more details, read the monthly cash report and this month’s edition of the Controller’s California Fiscal Focus newsletter, which delves into transportation infrastructure funding and the state’s New Employment Credit.

As the chief fiscal officer of California, Controller Yee is responsible for accountability and disbursement of the state’s financial resources. The Controller also safeguards many types of property until claimed by the rightful owners, and has independent auditing authority over government agencies that spend state funds. She is a member of numerous financing authorities, and fiscal and financial oversight entities including the Franchise Tax Board. She also serves on the boards for the nation’s two largest public pension funds. Elected in 2014, Controller Yee is the tenth woman elected to a statewide office in California’s history. Follow the Controller on Twitter at @CAController and on Facebook at California State Controller’s Office.

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California’s Educators and State Law Support Transgender Students Despite New Federal Actions

BURLINGAME — CTA President Eric Heins issued the following statement concerning new actions by the Trump administration revoking the Obama administration’s May 2016 guidelines that protected the rights of transgender students by allowing them access to the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity – rights they still have under California law:

“California’s educators believe all students deserve to feel safe and supported in their neighborhood public school. This is why the Trump administration’s first education action, to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is disheartening. To take back basic rights of transgender students at public schools nationwide sends a clear message: This administration does not care about all students. At CTA, we do. We have led the way in providing safe learning environments for transgender and all students, and we are not about to stop now. The 2013 legislation signed into law by Governor Brown provided transgender students access to the restrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with their chosen gender identity. This is still the law in California, and we will make sure our students know that.

“To send a message against the divisive new federal actions by Trump, CTA is inviting Californians to sign our online pledge to protect all students and make schools a safe haven from bullying and discrimination. The pledge and other social justice resources are at www.cta.org/ForAllStudents. This pledge declares, among other urgent goals, that public education must ensure that all students can succeed, regardless of their gender or gender identity, their immigration status, their ZIP code, the color of their skin, their religion, or who they love. When our students are free to reach their full potential, our communities are as well.”

(The new CTA call-to-action pledge is part of a social justice campaign to provide and protect the public education all of California’s students deserve. It integrates CTA’s student-centered advocacy agenda. The California Department of Education provides more information about the state’s landmark 2013 legislation, AB 1266, which provides strong protections for transgender students.)

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Safest cities in California announced

The National Council for Home Safety and Security is happy to announce their annual Safest Cities in California Report for 2017. Below you’ll find all the information you need to cover the story:

What? The National Council for Home Safety and Security announces their Safest Cities in California for 2017. Imperial, Los Altos Hills, Rancho Santa Margarita, Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Woods are the Top 5.

Where? https://www.alarms.org/the-safest-cities-in-california-2017/

When/How? The council combined data from the most recent FBI Crime Reports, population data, and their own research to create their rankings. The report was formally released on February 23, 2017.

Who? The National Council for Home Safety and Security is a trade association comprised of home security professionals across the United States. The council advocates for safe communities and home safety with a strong focus on community involvement.

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