Behold! Wednesday afternoon the Joint Legislative Committee on Rules held a hearing on the plans for the $1.2 billion renovation of the State Capitol. Because as the Capitol Annex Project team says, “California’s new Capitol Annex should convey to visitors California’s positive and hope-filled outlook, founded upon the deliberative Democracy which unfolds there, by welcoming all Californians, engaging all Californians and safeguarding the future of all Californians. It should demonstrate healthful, accessible, and sustainable designs, while preserving the beauty and vistas of California’s legacy Capitol Park and inviting all its guests to explore and take pride in the most energy efficient Capitol in the nation.”
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) in an interview with the Globe. “The issues we should be holding hearings on aren’t happening. But the Legislature can spruce up its own digs.”
Kiley lamented the many oversight hearings he requested the Assembly hold, and was denied:
- Reopening schools – “We should evaluate the evidence used to keep them closed,” Kiley said.
- Oversight hearing on the data glitch which led to the resignation of the California Public Health Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell. A major glitch that caused a lag in reporting COVID-19 information in her department, including thousands of unreported cases.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest color-coded tiered level re-opening scheme. “We should ask questions about this latest system, and why he threw out the last one,” Kiley said.
The State Capitol Annex Project entails a great deal, and it should for $1.2 billion. According to CEQA:
“The project would demolish and reconstruct the existing 325,000 square foot existing Capitol Annex building with a new approximately 525,000 square foot building. The project would address numerous deficiencies in the existing building, including: life safety/building code deficiencies, non-compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, overcrowding, aging and failing infrastructure, and insufficient public and working space. A new underground visitors/welcome center would be located between 10th Street and the west steps of the Capitol. Existing basement parking under the Annex would be abandoned and replaced with new underground parking (approx. 200 spaces) on the south side of the Capitol.”
As Kiley Tweeted: “This afternoon there’s a hearing to plan for the $1.2 billion renovation of the State Capitol. The hearings I’ve requested on opening schools, reviewing the new color-coded tier scheme, and investigating the disastrous COVID data glitch are apparently less important.”
This afternoon there's a hearing to plan for the $1.2 billion renovation of the State Capitol. The hearings I've requested on opening schools, reviewing the new color-coded tier scheme, and investigating the disastrous COVID data glitch are apparently less important.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) September 9, 2020
California has a few more glaring issues to address right now than the renovation project of the Capitol Annex building, starting with Public education and the refusal of teachers unions in the state to go back to work in the classroom. However, teachers are still receiving full paychecks, and schools are receiving Average Daily Attendance funding from the federal government. Perhaps the Trump Department of Education can withhold this funding until all of California’s public schools are back open and children are being taught in the classroom.
California requires school districts to track the average daily attendance (ADA) of their students. We wonder how they are currently doing this with “distance learning” and Zoom classrooms.
The California economy is in the tank with Governor Gavin Newsom’s ordering all “non-essential” businesses closed until he chooses to lifts the order. This has caused at minimum a $54 billion deficit. California also has 8 million unemployment claims, which the Employment Development Department is having a difficult time processing.
Last year, Gov. Newsom claimed the state was in sound financial shape with a budget surplus, and was the world’s fifth largest economy. However, California’s public pension obligations continue to exceed all projected revenue collections to the tune of $1 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities alone, Patrick Gleason reported at Forbes. The California policy Center reported in 2017, “We estimate that California state and local governments owe $1.3 trillion as of June 30, 2015.”
“This massive unfunded pension liability, which California taxpayers are on the hook for, is something that state legislators in Sacramento continue to ignore, acting as though the problem will go away on its own (or, more likely, that the federal government will bail them out at the end of the day),” Gleason reported.
The state is on fire with CalFire reporting 2,277,922 Acres Burned so far. People are dying, homes and businesses are burning down, livestock and crops are killed and destroyed. As California Globe reported, these wildfires were preventable.
California has also been going through a nasty heat wave, and the state’s Independent System Operator and utilities are imposing rolling blackouts during record temperatures. While the Los Angeles region had temperatures as high as 121 degrees, the Globe reported Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Tweeted a message out telling residents, “Time to turn off major appliances, set the thermostat to 78 degrees (or use a fan instead), turn off excess lights and unplug any appliances you’re not using. We need every Californian to help conserve energy. Please do your part. #FlexAlert.”
But members of the Legislature thought Wednesday was a good time to meet at the Capitol and discuss the plans for renovating the Capitol Annex building.