Connecting the Dots: Top news stories for May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012

(Rough and Tumble)//Even though the state budget deficit has ballooned to $16 billion, Capitol insiders expect Gov. Jerry Brown to unveil a revised May budget today which assumes voters will pass a November tax hike that would protect school and public safety funding from cuts. Insiders say that Proposition 98 will play a key role, that the per pupil grant base will increase, cost of living numbers will be adjusted and that the revision will require a pay-down of state debt to schools. However, the weighted pool may receive fewer funds.

(LA Times)//Federal unemployment benefits will end for close to 100,000 jobless Californians by the end of May. A federal extension, called FED-ED, which provided up to $450 a over an extended 20 week period to eligible long-term unemployed Californians will expire following a March drop in unemployment to 11%. In California, more than 1.1 million currently receive unemployment benefits.

(Mercury News)//More solo drivers are paying to use 237-Interstate 880 interchange carpool lanes. Depending on traffic conditions, solo drivers with FasTrak pay between $1.50 to $4.50 to use the carpool lane. 9,098 solo drivers used the toll lanes the week of April 16, an increase of almost 1500 drivers who used the option when the program launched in March. Revenue wise this means an increase from $11,800 to $14,300 in that same period. As a result, morning commute times for solo drivers shorter, but times are longer for carpoolers.

(Mercury News)//Tuesday is the deadline for Bay Area school districts to issue final layoff notices for the 2012-2013 school year. However, administrators are preparing for tomorrow’s final 2012-13 pink slip deadline by scaling back the number of layoffs. San Jose Unified’s 142 notices to top staff members were all rescinded. At Santa Clara Unified, layoffs moved from 37 to three. Alameda Unified layoffs reduced from 25 to eight. West Contra Costa school district reduced from 52 to 29. School officials will not know their working revenue numbers until the Legislature passes a state budget this summer.

(ABC News)//UC Berkeley police removed ten 'Occupy the Farm' protesters this morning from a tract of land in Albany owned by the university. On Sunday 20-30 protesters were removed. More were removed this morning. Protesters have now occupied the university-owned 10-acre Gill Tract in Albany for three weeks. Officials say they need to remove protesters in order to proceed with research crop planting this week.

(SF Chronicle)//Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America. Now, you can watch it live. This morning the nonprofit Yosemite Conservancy turned on their Yosemite Falls web cam. Visitors to can now view four live postcard views: Ahwahnee Meadow, Sentinel Dome, Turtleback Dome, Yosemite Falls. The first webcam went live six years ago. Since 2009, 400,000 have viewed the online webcams.

(KCBS)//It's worth it, if you are CHP. The California Highway Patrol celebrated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month last month by issuing 30,000 distracted driving citations statewide. In the Bay Area, 6,000 citations were issued. Last April, this total was over 52,000 citations. Citations will cost you at least $159 for the first violation, and $259 for the second.