By Megan Burks
House Transportation Bill Would Strip Funding for Transit, Bikes
The House of Representatives passed a transportation bill last week that would significantly reduce funding for transit authorities and safe streets programs. The bill proposes directing all revenue from a federal gasoline tax to highways; currently, 2.86 cents of the 18.4-cents-a-gallon tax go to mass transit.
Local leaders met in City Heights Wednesday to protest the bill. Transit advocates are urging residents to call on their representatives to stop the bill.
The bill would significantly impact transit service locally. Limited service and high fares necessitated by low state funding levels already face scrutiny from transit-dependent residents.
Metropolitan Transit System took a huge blow in 2009 when then Gov. Schwarzenegger eliminated State Transit Assistance funding, which accounted for $30 million of the local transit budget. Gov. Brown reinstated the funding, but like all public programs, transit has been significantly impacted by budget cuts.
Keep up on actions that affect safe streets by following Walk San Diego @WalkSanDiego1.
House Proposes to Increase Costs for Undocumented Immigrants Who Pay Taxes
Here’s another bill to keep a close eye on: the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011. According to KPBS reporter Jill Replogle, Congress in considering paying for a payroll tax cut extension by eliminating a tax credit for those who file taxes without a social security number—usually undocumented immigrants.
|Under the proposal, people who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to file their taxes, rather than a social security number, would be ineligible to receive the child tax credit.
This would mostly affect taxpayers who are illegal immigrants, adding an estimated $1,800 to a family’s yearly federal tax bill.
Follow Jill Replogle @jillrep.
Education Gap Between Rich and Poor Grows
Recent analyses of data from the 1960s to 2007 show the achievement gap is now primarily a function of income. While the gap between black and white students has narrowed, the gap between rich and poor students has continued to widen—by about 50 percent since the 1980s, according to the New York Times.
Researchers suggest the gap has widened because wealthier parents can spend more time and money developing their children before they’re school-aged, and in extracurricular activities. According to one study, affluent parents were spending five times more per child than low-income parents in 1972. By 2007, they were spending double that amount, while spending by low-income parents had grown just 20 percent.
Another study shows affluent children spend 1,300 more hours outside of the home—in museums, daycare, and preschool—before the age of six than poor children. They spend 400 more hours in literacy programs.
The New York Times reports the problem has likely worsened because of the recession. Those interviewed by the publication said the prevalence of single-parent households in low-income communities is one of the biggest challenges in closing the gap.
Follow New York Times’ Southern California reporter Jennifer Medina @jennymedina.
Los Angeles to Consider Less Punitive Measures for Truant Youth
The Los Angeles City Council will consider changing its daytime curfew policy next week, according to iWatch News. Current truancy rules allow police officers to cuff students and fine them $250. The proposed changes would set limits on enforcement by police and end fines in favor of counseling for truant youth.
The proposed changes come after Latino and African-American students complained they were more likely to be on the receiving end of truancy tickets. Students reported rough treatment by officers and overly aggressive enforcement—students said they were ticketed en route to school for being minutes late.
What do youth think of truancy and curfew sweeps in City Heights? Is enforcement fair and equal? Is the punishment too punitive for youth? Tell us about local truancy and curfew enforcement in a comment below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow iWatch News @iWatch.