Will California subsidize rural police departments? – CalMatters

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California, explained
California has a police problem.
In some parts of the state, particularly rural areas, there aren’t enough of them. Tehama County, population 65,000, made national headlines last month when the sheriff announced he would be ending daytime patrols due to the agency’s “catastrophic staffing shortage.”
But the two main challenges facing Tehama County are also plaguing law enforcement agencies across California and the country, CalMatters’ Nigel Duara reports: First, there aren’t enough qualified new recruits to fill open positions. Second, small, rural sheriff departments often can’t afford to pay their deputies enough to keep them on the job for long.
The conundrum could result in some counterintuitive bills coming out of the state Legislature, whose Democratic supermajority has in recent years strengthened oversight of police and policing — a move that some argue has contributed to the decline in prospective law enforcement applicants.
In the meantime, the California Highway Patrol will respond to 911 calls from Tehama County residents — but it has just 14 officers for a 15-county region that includes Tehama, leaving many locals to protect themselves.
In other criminal justice news: The FBI on Monday released its 2021 annual report on hate crimes — but some experts have questioned whether it should have been published, given that just 63% of the country’s law enforcement agencies voluntarily reported their data. In California, only 15 of 740 law enforcement agencies submitted their data for a total of 73 hate crimes.
Yet in its own hate crime report, California tallied 1,763 bias incidents in 2021, a nearly 33% increase from the year before. Federal officials attributed the discrepancy to the FBI’s new crime data reporting system, to which all law enforcement agencies have not yet transitioned. Indeed, California released its 2021 crime report late this year as departments upgraded their record management systems.
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Well, that was confusing: On Tuesday, the same day Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office was defending before a California appeals court the constitutionality of Proposition 22 — a voter-approved measure exempting Uber, Lyft and other gig-economy companies from a state labor law requiring them to classify their workers as employees instead of independent contractors — Bonta joined 17 attorneys general in urging the federal government to advance a rule requiring companies to classify more of their workers as employees instead of independent contractors. The reason for the apparent contradiction: Bonta’s office was tasked with defending Prop. 22 after voters approved it in 2020, even though Bonta himself personally opposes the law.
California’s system for funding adult education is “fundamentally flawed and at odds with the state’s program goals” and should be completely redesigned, according to a pack-no-punches Tuesday report from the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal advisor. And, the Legislative Analyst’s Office argues, there’s no time like the present to overhaul the California Adult Education Program, which receives annual funding of nearly $600 million: Not only are Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers currently crafting their budget proposals for the next fiscal year, but education programs are also swimming in surplus pandemic cash even as enrollment has dropped — making it “an opportune time to implement the new model, as the impact likely will be less disruptive” than it might have been otherwise.
Among the “drawbacks” the Legislative Analyst’s Office identified in the state’s current funding system for adult education, which helps adult Californians learn to speak English, pass U.S. citizenship exams, receive job training, earn high school diplomas and prepare to enter college, among other things:
In a positive sign for Californians struggling with high costs of living, it looks as though inflationary pressures are easing: Consumer prices increased by 7.1% in November compared to the same point last year, according to a Tuesday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number may not seem very promising, but it marks the fifth straight month of decline and the smallest 12-month increase since the yearlong period ending December 2021. And, although the Federal Reserve is expected to once again hike interest rates today — a move that could cool California’s already slowing housing market — the increase will likely be smaller than anticipated, according to the Associated Press.
You’ve also undoubtedly noticed lower prices at the gas pump. California’s average cost of a gallon of regular was $4.51 on Tuesday, down from $5.44 last month and $4.68 at the same time last year, according to AAA. And California’s gas prices could fall below $4 per gallon by the end of the month and hit $3.50 early next year, Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, told the Sacramento Bee.
If gas prices continue to rapidly decline, Newsom’s proposal to enact a price gouging penalty on oil companies — which state lawmakers have been hesitant to embrace — could face even tougher political odds.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A new online tool allows California parents and voters to gauge whether their local school districts are prepared to improve academic achievement.
California is embracing the wrong carbon sequestration strategy: As the California Air Resources Board finalizes its scoping plan, it’s turning to flawed carbon capture technology favored by the fossil fuel industry instead of more effective and sustainable forms of sequestration, such as algae, argues Eyal Harel, CEO of BlueGreen Water Technologies.
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