Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California Public Utilities Commission gets budget review

Members of the California Public Utilities Commission listen to Lyn Harris Hicks of San Clemente a 2012 meeting in Irvine.
Members of the California Public Utilities Commission listen to Lyn Harris Hicks of San Clemente a 2012 meeting in Irvine. AP/The Orange County Register

As we await next month’s release of Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised spending plan, which will kick California budget talks into the final stages, legislative subcommittees continue their reviews of the governor’s January proposal and state programs.

Subcommittee #1 on Education, which meets at the adjournment of the Senate’s morning floor session in Room 3191 of the Capitol, is set to discuss California State University’s graduation rates. Systemwide, only about 51 percent of freshman complete their degrees within six years, though the university has committed itself to raising the rate to 60 percent over the next decade, as part of an initiative to produce an additional 100,000 graduates.

Subcommittee #2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation, which meets following session in Room 211, is looking at how to fix the troubled California Public Utilities Commission, which is currently under investigation for back-channel communications and failed safety measures. “Is the commission too big to succeed?” committee staff wrote in the hearing agenda. “Change is very necessary at the CPUC.” Among their recommendations are a $5 million reduction to the PUC’s budget and requiring legislative approval if the commission directs any ratepayer funds toward outside programs.

Subcommittee #5 on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary, which meets after session in Room 113, will examine the treatment of mentally ill inmates in state prisons. Last year, a federal judge in Sacramento declared that conditions were “horrific,” and California corrections officials have since been working on new policies that will house the inmates in specially designed units, increase treatment options and provide them more time outside their cells.

VOX POPULI: What do Californians think of the big changes sweeping through the state’s school system, including a new funding formula, new curriculum standards and a new standardized test? The Public Policy Institute of California unveils the findings of its latest statewide education survey, noon at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building on Capitol Mall.

MAGNUS DECUS: The state will present the Medal of Valor, the highest honor it bestows on public servants, to 52 government employees during a ceremony at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento at 1 p.m. Nancy McFadden, Brown’s chief aide, will present the award to members of eight state agencies, including the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Department of Transportation. See a full list of recipients here.

IN CIVITAS SANITAS: UCLA community health sciences Professor May Wang will showcase her research evaluating the effectiveness of community efforts to combat childhood obesity, which used data collected through Los Angeles’ WIC family food benefits program, noon at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street.

SENEX AMARE: Arguing that California nursing homes have insufficient staff to provide quality care, SEIU United Long Term Care Workers will rally for SB 779, which requires nursing homes to raise their staff-to-patient ratio, 11 a.m. outside the Villa Maria Elena Care Center in Compton.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, who turns 38 today, and to Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who is 50.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.