Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Why aren't California charity tax dollars getting spent?

Modesto residents look over tax forms and talk about a bill in the Legislature to establish a military family relief charitable checkoff on tax returns on Feb. 2, 2004.
Modesto residents look over tax forms and talk about a bill in the Legislature to establish a military family relief charitable checkoff on tax returns on Feb. 2, 2004. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Charitable checkoffs on tax forms afford Californians plenty of opportunities for altruism, with 20 different options generating about $5.2 million in contributions last year. Bills enacting new, tax-deductible opportunities to give tend to be politically popular and engender little opposition.

But an Associated Press investigation earlier this year revealed that millions of donated dollars sat unspent, with some of the money reverting into the General Fund, raising questions about the efficacy of the checkoffs (props to dearly departed colleague Fenit Nirappil).

Today the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance will explore how that happened, drawing on representatives from the state Franchise Tax Board, the state Controller’s Office and state departments responsible for administering the funds. The hearing kicks off at 10:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, but if you can’t make it down you can watch a livestream here.

THE DRILL: The El Niño preparations continue today as the Federal Emergency Management Agency conducts a joint drill with state and federal agencies for handling potentially “severe” fallout from the likely wet weather system. As a recent Senate hearing explained, consequences could include flooding, power outages, heightened fire risk and coastal communities getting slammed.

CRABBY: Cioppino lovers are continuing to suffer through a shutdown of Dungeness crab fishing spurred by spiked levels of hazardous domoic acid. Today the California Fish and Game Commission will provide an update on how long the crustacean embargo might last.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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