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After five years of opening California’s governments to the public, developing data-driven policy analysis, and educating citizens about how California governments work, the California Common Sense team is proud to announce our nationwide expansion to United States Common Sense.

Our mission remains the same, but we are excited to now provide data, open government resources, and analysis relevant to all 50 states and their local governments.

In addition to our CACS work, you can find our newly-enhanced nationwide research and data products at UScommonsense.org.

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Author Archives: admin

TED: Why I’m teaching prisoners to code

What we learned about issues facing the prison system today was shocking: From 1972 to 2010, the number of people in prison in the US had increased 700 percent. 25% of the world’s incarcerated population is in the US. In California, we spend more on prisons than on higher education. It costs around $47,000 to keep one prisoner in jail in California for one year. More than 67% of the state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested within the next three years. http://ideas.ted.com/why-im-teaching-prisoners-to-code/

EdSource – ‘Destined for great things’: Low-income students ask educators to believe they can succeed

When asked to identify the top three resources needed to graduate and be prepared for college or a career, 80 percent of the students surveyed selected “quality teachers” as the most important. That choice was followed by tutoring and after-school programs, chosen by 48 percent of students, and “challenging classes,” chosen by 46 percent of students. But the report acknowledged that California teachers often don’t have the time they need to connect with students, in part because of high student-to-teacher ratios at schools. According to California Common Sense, a Mountain View-based nonprofit policy organization, in 2012-13, the most recent data available, California had a student-to-teacher ratio of 25 to 1, the highest in the nation and well above the 15-to-1 national average.

http://edsource.org/2015/destined-for-great-things-low-income-students-ask-educators-to-believe-they-can-succeed/90314

Reason – Stockton’s Pension Struggles Offer Lessons for California

Other cities will likewise find limited ability to raise new revenues as CalPERS continues its plan to ramp up its bill for cities that participate in its pension plan. Yet Sacramento officials act as if the pension problem is gone. There’s hardly an issue legislators didn’t try to address in the recently concluded legislative session, yet nothing of substance to deal with growing pension debts. The good-government group California Common Sense confirms that the state’s unfunded pension liabilities continue to show a pattern of steady increases. https://reason.com/archives/2015/10/02/stocktons-penson-struggles-offer-lessons

Fox & Hounds – Only Voters Can Solve California’s Pension Crisis

The State Controller also reports nearly $200 billion in unfunded liabilities for state and local pension obligations. California Common Sense calculates another $150 billion of unfunded liabilities for state and local retiree healthcare obligations. That’s $350 billion in unfunded legacy liabilities that are driving massive cost increases, again:
  • CalPERS has told its agencies to be prepared for increases in their contributions for 50% over 5 years.
  • CalSTRS has told school districts to prepare for increases of more than 100% over the next few years.
http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2015/07/only-voters-can-solve-californias-pension-crisis/

LA Weekly – State Officials Just Raised Your Utility Rates When You Weren’t Looking

In a statement, the five-member PUC called the new system “a more effective and cost-based structure, empowering consumers with more opportunities to conserve, and promoting resource optimization and grid reliability.” President Michael Picker: “The world has changed since 2001, when rates were frozen by the Legislature. Over time, with lower-tier rates being frozen, the five-tiered rate structure departed increasingly from any cost basis and imposed even greater inequities on large family households that were pushed into higher tiers in hot climate zones. Our decision helps align rates with the actual cost of service.” The world has changed, all right. The rich have gotten much, much richer. A report by California Common Sense found that while overall income increased in the Golden State two years after the Great Recession, “The bottom 99 percent’s combined income actually decreased.”

http://www.laweekly.com/news/state-officials-just-raised-your-utility-rates-when-you-werent-looking-5769638

Sacramento Bee – Budget deal brings major changes to University of California pension system

Any savings won’t be realized for decades, however. Until then, stabilizing the fund, and curbing how much it eats into the university’s multibillion-dollar annual operations, will largely depend on whether UC, and the state, remain committed to paying down the current debts. “Tackling the problem from both ends, it definitely does help the health of the system,” said Adam Tatum, who studies retirement systems for California Common Sense, a policy research organization. “In order for the UC to plan going forward, they need to know to what extent they can depend on the state.”

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article25517704.html

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