<b>Grass-roots effort keeps parks open</b>
Today marks the first anniversary for many of the foundations and hastily formed citizens groups that assumed responsibility for 70 state parks that had been marked for closure. Some of those parks, including Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa, which was taken over by Sonoma County's parks department, are returning to state control. The rest, a list that includes Jack London, Sugarloaf Ridge, Austin Creek and Petaluma Adobe state parks in Sonoma County, will remain under the care of volunteers.
Here's a thumbs up to the volunteers for the dedication.
<b>Double-dipping at the top</b>
Isn't a pension retirement income? For about 100 members of Congress, it isn't. They collect a public pension, sometimes more than one, on top of their $174,000 salary, according to a report in the National Journal.
Topping the list is Rep. Joyce Beatty, an Ohio Democrat who collects a $253,000 pension in addition to her congressional salary. The list includes 18 members of California's delegation, including Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Rep. John Garamendi, whose district inlcudes much of Lake County.
Asked about his two state pensions, Sacramento-area Rep. Tom McClintock, who has long warned about a looming pension crisis, courageously told the Journal, "You'd have to take up that question with Mrs. McClintock."
<b>Federal budget talks on standby</b>
Whether they're collecting one paycheck or two or even more, here's something members of Congress aren't working on: a federal budget.
After making an issue, and a legitimate issue at that, of the Senate's failure to pass a budget for four years, the House is now stalling. Speaker John Boehner is refusing to appoint Republican members for a two-house conference committee to work out the differences in budgets passed by the GOP-controlled House and the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority.
The delays put off any discussion of the sequester cuts though they could set up yet another debt-ceiling crisis, with the accompanying political theater. But that date has been pushed back by a shrinking deficit. Perhaps it's time to talk about a budget.
<b>Sun sets on enterprise zones </b>
Less than a week after an overhaul of the state's ineffective enterprise zone program appeared to be stalled, a reform measure cleared the Legislature and landed on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. He's expected to sign it.
The enterprise zones were supposed to generate economic growth by offering tax breaks for hiring workers. Study after study found that reality doesn't reflect the theory.
The bill on Brown's desk is a compromise. The existing zones will remain in place with much tigher rules for tax credits. The savings, estimated to be about $750 million, will be redirected to statewide incentives for new business, including a sales tax credit for or manufacturing and bioresearch companies and funds to reward businesses that relocate to California.