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A sign stands in front of California Public Employees' Retirement System building July 21, 2009 in Sacramento, California. CalPERS, the state's public employees retirement fund, reported a loss of 23.4%, its largest annual loss.

The California Supreme Court is set to decide whether to loosen the state’s decades-old rule barring state and local governments from reducing public pension benefits. Under review is a 2016 appellate court decision that concluded a retirement benefit is not an “immutable entitlement” and allowed Marin County to cut employees’ expected pensions. A second pending case covering public employees in Contra Costa, Alameda and Merced counties raises similar issues. Legal experts expect the court to issue a consolidated ruling on both cases sometime this year. We discuss the potential impacts of these cases on public employees in California and nationally.

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A truck with the Cal Fire logo on the door.

A California wildfire has scorched over 23,000 acres and continues to spread in the mountains along the northern end of the Big Sur coast. The Soberanes fire has destroyed 20 homes and forced the evacuation of 300 people so far, according to CAL FIRE. We’ll get the latest on the blaze and check in with some experts on what’s being done to contain it.

More Information:

Smoke From Big Sur Fire Prompts 3rd Straight Spare the Air Alert (KQED News)

 

Aerial view of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California on March 17, 2011.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced Tuesday it will close Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear plant, in 2025, putting an end to the state’s nuclear era. As part of an agreement with several environmental groups, PG&E plans to replace Diablo Canyon with clean energy rather than fossil fuels. This plan has support from a variety of environmental groups — including Friends of the Earth and the Natural Resources Defense Council — but some have criticized shutting down such a large source of carbon-free power, questioning the feasibility of PG&E’s plan to replace Diablo with renewables. In this hour of Forum, we’ll discuss the plans for shutting down Diablo Canyon and how it might impact the state’s future energy needs.

Related Coverage

The End of An Era, California to Close Last Nuclear Power Plant (KQED Science)

sprinkler spraying water on sidewalk

California water officials say they are planning to get rid of the statewide mandatory water conservation targets put in place last year in response to the historic drought. At the same time, Jerry Brown issued an executive order that will make some water use prohibitions permanent, including the ban on hosing down sidewalks and excessive watering of lawns. The proposed rule changes come after El Nino has provided some drought relief to Northern California, while Southern California remains parched. Forum discusses the state of the drought and what the new plan means for water conservation in California.

TomDelBeccarocropped

Tom Del Beccaro, the former chair of the California Republican party, is the most conservative of the three Republicans running for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. Becarro’s platform includes instituting a  flat tax, repealing California’s high speed rail bond and recycling wastewater. As part of Forum’s Election 2016 coverage, Del Beccaro joins us in studio to discuss his candidacy and the issues he views as vital to California’s future.

Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom has lamented that his workaday life as California’s lieutenant governor is nothing like being the mayor of San Francisco. But the position has allowed Newsom to engage deeply with a range of state and national issues, including gun control, LGBT discrimination, marijuana legalization and higher education reform. Newsom joins us to talk about state politics, the presidential race and his bid to become California’s next Governor.

protests hold signs

On Thursday, with the support of Governor Jerry Brown, the California legislature voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. A labor-backed measure to raise the wage had been slated for the November ballot, but Brown stepped in and worked out a compromise that rapidly made its way through the legislature. Supporters of the increase would get their $15 an hour, but the wage would rise gradually over the next six years, going into full effect in 2022. While some believe the measure will lift workers out of poverty, others argue it will mean fewer jobs for lowincome Californians. Brown says he will sign the bill on Monday in Los Angeles.

An artist's rendering of California High-Speed Rail.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority says that it will shift gears by building the first section of the new bullet train from the Central Valley to San Jose rather than from Fresno to Burbank, as initially planned. The Authority says the change will speed construction and save money but rail supporters in Southern California, eager for the train to ease traffic, are upset that their region is neglected in the new plan. Ever since voters in 2008 approved nearly $10 billion in bonds for a high speed train linking the northern and southern parts of the state, the project has faced political opposition, mounting cost estimates, and is facing a construction delay of two years. We’ll get an update on the project and hear from critics.

The California capitol dome.

California Assemblymember Mike Gatto introduced legislation last week that would put a proposal on the November ballot to shut down the California Public Utilities Commission by 2018 and allocate its functions to other agencies. The Commission has come under increasing fire for oversight failures following the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion, the 2012 closure of the San Onofre nuclear plant and the ongoing natural gas leak at Porter Ranch. We look at this latest proposal and past attempts to reform the CPUC and what may change about the industries it regulates: electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, water and transportation.

The State Capitol building in Sacramento.

California Governor Jerry Brown released a proposed $122.6 billion budget on Thursday, including new funds for roads, schools, and healthcare plus $2 billion earmarked for the state’s rainy day fund. Some Democrats called on the governor to restore more funds cut from social services, but Brown urged fiscal caution. We’ll look at the numbers and the state’s financial future.

A woman cooks.

According to a national study, 1-in-5 foster care youth will become homeless after the age 18, and 1-in-4 will be involved in the justice system within two years of aging out of the child welfare system. Those numbers prompted California to extend the age foster youth receive benefits to 21. But some experts say there’s more to be done. We take a closer look at the challenges California’s foster youth face when they age out of the system and the resources available to them.

An offshore windfarm

The small coastal city of Morro Bay is considering a proposal that would put California’s first offshore wind farm about 15 miles from the city’s coast. The project would likely take years to pass the state’s permitting process, but the project is already raising concerns about its environmental impact. California may soon be debating many such projects as Governor Jerry Brown signed a law last month that requires state utilities to receive half of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.

shackles hanging from a hook

Last year California voters passed Proposition 47, which downgraded drug possession and five other non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. A new study finds that since the law went into effect about 13,000 fewer people have been incarcerated in California, saving the state more than $150 million. But critics in law enforcement say Prop. 47 took away their “felony hammer” to drive drug users into treatment and blame the law for a crime spike in some cities. Forum looks at Proposition 47, one year in.

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