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California ran up against a slate of important deadlines Thursday that could affect the state’s fiscal, political and environmental landscape for decades to come. Here’s a breakdown of what’s at stake:
—Federal stimulus. Thursday came and went, and the federal government did not pass another coronavirus relief package — dashing California’s hope of reversing $11 billion in cuts to state employee salaries, courts and higher education. Without an influx of federal funding, California will stare down a projected $8.7 billion budget deficit next year, forcing lawmakers to choose between raising taxes and slashing services that mainly benefit the poor.
- Chris Hoene of the California Budget and Policy Center: “Our state leaders must take action to provide greater state support and produce the revenues needed to make significant public investment in California’s future.”
—Census count. Thursday was also the final day of the U.S. Census, determining not only how much federal funding cash-strapped California will receive for the next decade but also the number of seats it will hold in the U.S. House of Representatives. Around 69.4% of California households responded to the census, compared to 68.2% in 2010. Still, officials fear communities may have been undercounted in the nation’s hardest-to-count state, especially after the Trump administration shortened the census period.
—Exide bankruptcy. Whether Exide will get to walk away from its shuttered battery-recycling plant in Los Angeles — the site of the largest toxic contamination in California history — and leave taxpayers to shoulder millions of dollars in cleanup costs and health problems hinges on hearings in federal bankruptcy court that began Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice is backing Exide’s plan, which state lawmakers have condemned.
- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon: “If the proposed settlement is approved, it will be evidence to other industries around the country that they will not be held accountable for damage they cause to public health and the environment, despite our federal and state laws.”
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