Brown’s budget reflects improving California economy

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Governor Jerry Brown is unveiling a budget proposal this morning that reflects California’s improving fiscal picture, with more money targeted for schools healthcare and social services. The governor also wants to increase the pace of paying down the state’s debt and stash money away in a rainy day fund. Brown’s $155 billion blueprint would increase general fund spending by eight percent, repay $11 billion in debts, and commit more than $1.5 billion to a reserve fund. Majority Democrats are already signaling their support for the governor’s budget – but there could be disagreements about how much money the state should hold in reserve after years of budget trimming…A new state earthquake map shows that a fault runs right through the heart of Hollywood, and close to the proposed dual skyscraper Hollywood Millennium development. The California Geological Survey map also shows a segment of the 10-mile Hollywood Fault system runs right under the nearby Capitol Records building. Critics are seizing on the report to call for city officials to nix the Millennium project, which they also oppose because of concerns about increased traffic and blocked views. The developer says it will conduct additional studies…cougarThe birth of three mountain lion kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains last month should have been a cause for celebration. Instead, the event is serving as a sobering reminder that the wild cats need more room to roam. The L.A. Times reports the litter is third out of six recently studied litters that appear to come from inbreeding. That’s a dangerous development for the local mountain lion population. Scientists say it underscores the need to create a wildlife corridor between lands now separated by the 101 Freeway near the L.A.-Ventura County line…California exports are booming, with companies shipping goods at levels not seen since before the beginning of the Great Recession six years ago, according to a new analysis. In just one month, November, businesses in the state exported more than $15 billion worth of products. That’s a 14% increase over the same month in 2012. Mexico was California’s single biggest export market, followed by Canada, China and Japan…MATTINGLYAnd finally, Don Mattingly has the contract extension he wanted. The Dodgers skipper was already under contract for next year, but the team ripped up that deal and gave him a new, three-year contract, with a pay raise. Mattingly was almost fired last year after the Dodgers sputtered out of the gate, but they turned it around and made the playoffs. Mattingly had complained that a lack of long-term job security made it difficult to manage a roster filled with high-priced talent.