Well, here we are at the end of the third month and the 89th day of 2013, with property taxes due in 11 days and Uncle Sam expecting his share of your 2012 income five days after that.
You might have guessed: We have some numbers for this Saturday morning.
$159 That's the minimum you'll pay if you're cited for texting or operating a hand-held cell phone. If you've been caught at it before, the second ticket will cost at least $279. That prospect doesn't seem to be enough discouragement, however, and you seldom have to go more than a block without seeing someone talking on their phone. It's against the law and, more important, it's dangerous.
Modesto Police will be cracking down on texters and cell phone users Wednesday through April 16, as part of the Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign. We applaud the crackdown. Though they don't realize it, distracted drivers are almost as dangerous as drunk drivers. Proof of that an estimated 3,331 died across the country in 2011 in collisions that involved at least one distracted driver.
58 percent of normal. That's the gloomy report on the snowpack in the central Sierra. Farmers will get less water this year; urban residents need to conserve as well. Watering restrictions in Modesto and most communities are year round.
6th highest. That's where California ranked in the Tax Foundation's new report on state-local per capita tax burdens. In our state, that portion of the tax load adds up to about $4,934 per person compared with the U.S. average of $4,112. In other areas, California ranked:
13th highest for total state-local revenues from taxes, fees, licenses, etc.
7th highest for personal income taxes
5th highest for corporate income taxes
10th highest for the revenue collected from state and local sales taxes.
33rd highest in terms of the average property tax on an owner-occupied home as a percentage of the home value.
45th highest in excise tax collections.
57 percent of American workers say they have saved $25,000 or less for retirement, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Society of Actuaries. Only 50 percent said they could come up with $2,000 in a month to meet an unexpected expense. The other gloomy news: 1 out of 3 reporters have borrowed from their 401(k) plans to pay current expenses, further suggesting there will be hard times ahead for many retirees.
99,000 concrete blocks were used, roughly, in the new Stanislaus County juvenile commitment facility that will open in June next to juvenile hall off Blue Gum Avenue in west Modesto. A more important number: the 60 beds that will be available to house and try to help young people who have gotten into serious trouble. We'll be writing more about the new facility next week.
$379 million was spent in 2011 by the four million people who visited Yosemite National Park in 2011, according to a study of the benefits to surrounding communities. The report figures that tourist money supported 5,057 jobs. If you want to delve into more numbers, the report is available at www.nature.nps.gov.
1 in 10 workers in California is an undocumented immigrant, according to a study released last month by the Public Policy Institute of California. They tend to work in farming, construction, production, services and transportation/materials moving, the report says. The largest numbers of undocumented or illegal residents live in, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Santa Clara counties. For more: www.ppic.org.
49th or second to last is the ranking given to California in "Freedom in the 50 States, An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom" done by two researchers at George Mason University in Arlington, Va. We quote from the summary: "In essence, this index attempts to measure the extent to which state and local public policies conform to this ideal regime of maximum, equal individual freedom." Find the full report at http://freedominthe50states.org.
We hope you will feel free to have a great weekend.
SETTING IT STRAIGHT
The Western States Petroleum Association provided part of the funding for the study "Powering California: The Monterey Shale & California's Economic Future," completed recently by USC's Schools of Engineering and Public Policy. The RAND Corp. was not involved in the funding. Incorrect information appeared in the commentary "Dangers of fracking outweigh short-term gains" on Page A-9 on Tuesday.