Santa Cruz County Signal Booster Articles

Image caption: A measure to roll back California's ban on affirmative action may appear the Nov. 2024 ballot.
Affirmative Action Comeback: California Voters May Decide

Though voters soundly rejected an effort to legalize affirmative action in California in 2020, state Democrats are trying again, proposing a limited version that would allow state agencies to consider race if academic research shows evidence those race-based programs could …

Image caption: Day care providers are often paid only 25 percent of what it costs them to care for children at their centers.
California Child Care Crisis Looms if Subsidies Remain Low

A California child care crisis could be coming if subsidies remain at current low levels in the state budget. Providers say home daycare businesses may need to close if increased help is not on the way.

Image caption: CalFresh beneficiaries may soon no longer be able to use their EBT cards at their local farmers' market.
CalFresh Farmers Market Benefits May Be Cut in Budget Deal

A popular program doubles CalFresh benefits to buy fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets. It is among the California food benefit programs on the table in the budget negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Newsom.

Image caption: Crisis pregnancy centers are set up to look like they provide help, but the real picture may be different.
California’s Next Abortion Battleground: ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’

California legislators have passed a slew of laws to protect abortion rights. But after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many fear attempting to regulate “crisis pregnancy centers” is legally risky.

Image caption: Renters face an uphill battle but have made at least legislative gains recently.
California Renters’ Rights: Tenant Advocates Make Some Advances

As groups representing landlords and real estate pour millions of dollars into political coffers to influence housing policy, tenant groups are celebrating recent victories.

Image caption: California's budget crunch may means lights out for new state spending, even on worker pay.
California Salaries Not Covering State Workers' Bills

State workers' say their lower salaries than the private sector were offset by pensions, better benefits, job security. Is the tradeoff still worth it?

Image caption: Kara Meyberg Guzman and Stephen Baxter discussing a graph showing homeless spending.
Santa Cruz Local's Deep Dive on Homelessness Spending

A local newsroom follows the local, state and federal money spent on homelessness in Santa Cruz County and examines how effectively it was spent.

Image caption: California's Employment Development Division was at the center of a widespread systematic breakdown.
How Did California’s COVID Unemployment Disaster Happen?

As congressional factions volley responsibility for pandemic breakdowns, Silicon Valley’s home state leads off a new book about “why government is failing in the digital age.”

Image caption: Food banks, meant as emergency aid, are now permanent food sources as many Californians face hunger.
California Food Banks Flooded by Families Needing Help

As extra pandemic benefits end, food banks say that they're becoming long-term supermarkets for Californians facing food insecurity. Several bills to boost CalFresh are before the Legislature, but the state budget deficit may get in the way.

Image caption: Sen. Aisha Wahab (D-Hayward) who introduced the caste discrimination ban bill.
Caste Discrimination: California Bill Ignites Controversy

A bill to ban caste discrimination in California brings a global conflict to the Legislature. While many South Asian groups support the measure, some say it could backfire.

Image caption: Gavin Newsom (l) has lashed out at Florida Gov. and GOP Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis (r).
Newsom Wants DeSantis Charged With Kidnapping Migrants

‘You small, pathetic man,’ Gavin Newsom wrote in a Twitter post suggesting he’d pursue criminal charges against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over recent migrant flights to Sacramento.

Image caption: In what appears to be a power play that worked, a developer proposed building 14 residential highrises with a combined 4,260 units in Santa Monica.
How California Developers Twist Affordable Housing Laws

A new interpretation of an old law gives homebuilders leverage over California cities and their zoning codes. They’re using it to push through thousands of new apartments around the state.

Image caption: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield voted to toughen welfare work requirements, while state lawmakers back home chose another tack.
CA May Loosen Welfare Work Rules as US Tightens Them

State lawmakers want to loosen CalWORKs job requirements so people keep cash benefits. Congress’ debt limit deal could curb that.

Image caption: Senate Bill 584 would hit short-term rentals with a new, 15 percent tax.
New Tax on Airbnb Could Fund CA Affordable Housing

A bill to tax Airbnb and other short-term rentals to fund affordable housing projects could be voted on by the Senate as soon as today. The proposal has revived the debate over Airbnb and its role in the housing crisis.

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What Happens to a Town When its Prison Closes?

California is unwinding the prison-building boom of the 1980s and 1990s. The cuts are falling on small towns that banked on government jobs to anchor their communities.

Image caption: Members of Teamsters, CSUEU, UAW 4123, and CFA faculty gathered to ask for fair wages outside the CSU Chancellor’s office in Long Beach on May 23.
Report: Cal State Has $1.5 Billion Funding Gap

A new analysis shows that the California State University system doesn’t make or receive enough money to cover its costs, even with state support. The report and lawmakers urge the system to increase tuition, but even that might not be …

Image caption: Gary Gragg examines buds on one of the mango plants he's growing in the Sacramento Valley.
Mangoes and Agave in the Central Valley?

The future of farming in California is changing as the planet warms, altering the rain and heat patterns that guide which crops are grown where. “We’re adjusting for survival,” one grower said.

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How Free Trips Lead to Bills

Members of the California Legislature took nearly $1 million worth of trips sponsored by interest groups in 2022. The California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy accounted for 40% of the travel spending. Over the years, some of its …

Image caption: Reparations task force members listen during the public comment portion of a December 14, 2022 meeting in Oakland.
Reparations Task Force to Recommend ‘Down Payments’

The reparations task force meets Saturday in Oakland. It may vote to recommend a state apology and payments to African Americans based on years living in state.

Image caption: New housing construction in the Crocker Village neighborhood in Sacramento on Feb. 10, 2022.
CEQA Must be Changed

By almost any measure, the balance between advancing projects critical to California's future and environmental protection under the California Environmental Quality Act has been lost. The failure to reform CEQA is not for a lack of knowing what the solutions …

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