CMA Capitol Insight is a biweekly column by veteran journalist Greg Lucas, reporting on the inner workings of the state Legislature.
California can’t seem to escape dire financial straits. State revenues will be $3.7 billion less than expected, triggering $2 billion in cuts – more than half to public schools – according to an economic forecast issued by the Legislative Analyst last week. But wait, there’s more. Some $325 million in cuts will fall on Medi-Cal programs operated by the Department of Developmental Services and In-Home Supportive Services. And the state will end the current fiscal year next June 30 with a $3 billion deficit. And it must find an additional $10 billion in the following fiscal year in order to meet its spending commitments. But the analyst said that if lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown hadn’t done the painful cutting that was part of this year’s budget, future annual shortfalls would be in the $20 billion range instead of the $8 to $9 billion they’re predicted to be now. Says the Democratic governor: "California’s budget gap is the result of a decade of poor fiscal choices and a global recession. This year, we cut the problem in half. Next year, we’ll continue to make the tough choices necessary until the problem is solved."
There’s always lots of it. Too often, too much. So Capitol Insight sought a few morsels of advice from the deliciously named professor and researcher Linda Bacon, author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight. Bacon tells Capitol Insight: “The holidays are a time of celebration and food is a great way to join in the fun. Best advice? Be mindful. Remember, this is a time of celebration. If you mindlessly keep dipping into that nut bowl while navigating a party, you’ll end up overeating and feeling bad. And that’s no way to enjoy a party! Instead, make sure your food is delicious and helps you feel good. Eat those treats and savor them and when you start to feel full, that’s a great time to stop so that you can continue to feel good and enjoy the party. Holidays are a great opportunity to practice appreciating food so it doesn’t feel like you are out of control around it. Resist the temptation to feel bad about enjoying food. There’s nothing wrong with apple pie. Sure, it becomes a problem when you scarf down the whole pie, or if all you are eating is sugar. But if you are eating mindfully and enjoying it, it can take its place as a source of pleasure.”
Bummer For You, Tom
Statistics from 2010 by the National Turkey Federation say Tom and 46 million of his buddies got gobbled last Thanksgiving. That’s a few million less than the 50 million pumpkin pies created and a little more than the 40 million green bean casseroles brought to the table. Average caloric intake of a Thanksgiving meal: about 3,000. A lot of miles will need to be logged on the treadmill to work that off.
Non-Itchy Trigger Finger
About the last thing Gov. Brown wants to do is cut public schools by close to $1.5 billion, which is what the Legislative Analyst says he must do because revenue estimates from June turned out to be $3.7 billion too rosy. The cuts to public schools take place in the current school year and would likely eliminate five days of instruction. That’s not popular at any time, but certainly not in an even-numbered, presidential election year in the midst of a lousy economy. Under the budget deal, Brown’s administration will do their own financial prognostications, and if they think more revenue will come in than the analyst, fewer of the cuts will take place. To avoid touching public schools at all, Brown needs to issue a revenue forecast that says the state will collect $1.7 billion more than the Legislative Analyst says. In a $120 billion spending blueprint, that’s walking-around money. Of course, not touching schools still means some $600 million worth of cuts will occur, $200 million of them falling on the University of California and the state university system. Brown has until December 15 to announce the extent of the reductions. “Some level of trigger cuts will likely occur, but the exact amount will be known in December,” says Ana Matosantos, Brown’s finance director.
Things Have Changed a Little
This month, 163 years ago, the Boston Female Medical College was opened by Dr. Samuel Gregory and Dr. Israel Tilsdale Talbot. It was the first medical school for women in the world. The first class of 12 women graduated in 1850. With a name change to the New England Female Medical College that same year, the school’s mission expanded beyond midwifery to offer a full medical curriculum with 17 weeks of classes and 30 hours of instruction each week. Professors taught obstetrics, anatomy, physiology, surgery and, proof some things never change, medical jurisprudence. After 26 years of operation, the school merged with the Boston University School of Medicine, creating one of the world’s first coed medical schools. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, women received more than 48 percent of the 16,838 degrees awarded by U.S. medical schools in the 2009-2010 school year.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. She graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864, the college’s only African-American graduate. Much of the information about her life comes from her Book of Medical Discourses, published in 1883. It’s one of the first books about medicine by a black author. She practiced in Boston and, after the Civil War, treated freed slaves in Richmond, Virginia. Of her experiences there, she writes that it provided “ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children. The last quarter of the year 1866, I was enabled…to have access each day to a very large number of the indigent, and others of different classes, in a population of over 30,000 colored."
Yet Another First
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from medical school. She grew up in Cincinnati, studied medicine on her own and began searching for a medical college that would accept her in 1847. Harvard and several other schools rejected her. Upon receipt for her application, administrators at Geneva Medical College in New York state allowed students to vote on whether to admit Blackwell. Supposedly the students thought it a practical joke and endorsed her admission. When they learned Blackwell was serious, they initially ostracized her. She was prevented from viewing medical demonstrations “inappropriate” for a woman. But in 1849, Blackwell graduated first in her class. New York hospitals and dispensaries wouldn’t employ her. Landlords wouldn’t rent her space to start a private practice. She bought a house and treated women and children in her home. In 1853, she opened a dispensary in the slums of New York City. Later, her sister Emily, who also earned a medical degree, joined her at the dispensary. A number of the city’s male doctors were consulting physicians to the clinic. Fifteen years later, the Blackwell sisters opened the Women's Medical College at the infirmary, which operated for 31 years.