A $214.8 billion budget approved Thursday by California lawmakers would upgrade the state's aging 911 system following the most devastating wildfire season in state history and help middle class families pay their monthly health insurance premiums.
To fund those changes, however, lawmakers want to impose a new monthly fee on phone bills and tax people who refuse to buy private health insurance, even though the state has a projected $21.5 billion surplus, the largest in at least 20 years.
Republican Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said it's "unconscionable" to ask taxpayers to fund the 911 upgrades when there is such a large surplus.
Democrats, who have super majorities in both houses of the Legislature, counter that they don't want to use the surplus to pay for ongoing expenses, something previous Legislatures were eager to do and led to multi-billion dollar budget deficits when the economy soured.
KNSD-TV NBC San Diego
One person is dead and was treated following a hazmat spill in the Los Banos area.
It happened around noon in the area of Monroe Avenue and China Camp Road.
Crews have not yet given details about the chemical that was spilled in the accident.
A total of nine people, including responding deputies and medical personnel, were also treated for exposure.
Investigators were on scene for hours, and while deputies aren't releasing the chemical involved just yet, they say it's agriculture related.
Joe Gutierrez saw the street near his home blocked off when he came home from work... later learning the news of his neighbor that lives down the road.
"It's horrible for the family. The community feels bad. Our thoughts and prayers go to the family," he said.
Gutierrez identified the man who died as John Menezes, though deputies have not confirmed that information at this time.
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Fresno
Placer County residents have voted to strengthen fire services in Foresthill and Placer Hills.
At the county’s special elections on May 7, voters approved two ballot measures aimed at improving local fire services by establishing a new $185 annual special tax for Placer Hills Fire District and $240 for the Foresthill Fire District, according to Kirk Kushen, fire chief for Placer Hills, Foresthill and Newcastle.
Placer Hills will now have access to $925,000 of yearly additional revenue, and Foresthill will have $760,000, Kushen said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee. The additional revenue is essential to the viability of these two fire districts, Kushen said.
“We’re in the foothills of the wild-urban interface, which is an area where forested foothills have communities residing within them,” Kushen said. “We have grass, brush and timber within our communities. We have a very, very high fire danger rating.”
After a 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with a blazing inferno on the Hermosa Beach Strand that damaged five homes in all, police released the original suspect and arrested a different man Friday.
Michael Christopher Kotva, 27, who was initially arrested on suspicion of arson, was released with no charges, Hermosa Beach police said. Kotva's mother told NBCLA Thursday after his arrest that he was just in the wrong place and the wrong time, and happened to be walking by when the fire broke out at 2 a.m.
After further investigation, Keith Yessner, 50, of La Quinta, California, was then taken into custody after police reviewed surveillance footage from the home.
Yessner has apparently had other run-ins with Hermosa Beach police, and officers said they recognized him on the video. Neighbors awoke at 2 a.m. Thursday to the 150-foot tall flames swallowing a home under construction in the 800 block of The Strand, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.
NBC Los Angeles
With a nod to the past and an eye to the future, the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians officially opened its new fire station east of the Soboba Casino Resort June 7. Speakers and a ribbon-cutting ceremony preceded facility tours and lunch. The paved area behind the station displayed the department's three vehicles: Engine 1, a brush engine and a tractor-driven truck, also known as a tiller truck.
Master of ceremonies and Tribal Administrator Michael Castello welcomed invited guests inside the three-bay area with polished concrete that was filled with tables and chairs to accommodate about 300 people of all ages that came to share in the occasion.
"We've been working on this for more than a decade and are very proud and honored to showcase it with all of you today," he said.
Temecula Valley News