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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget

New report finds California special districts lagging in spending transparency

A new report released by California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that special districts are failing to meet modern standards of spending transparency. The report looked at 79 special districts, including twelve in California, and graded them based on the accessibility of checkbook level spending data, budget information, and audited financial statements. 53 percent of all districts evaluated earned failing grades.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Governing in the Shadows

A review of 79 special districts’ online financial transparency shows that while a few districts are meeting the goals of “Transparency 2.0” – a standard of comprehensive, one-stop, oneclick budget accountability and accessibility – the vast majority do little to inform citizens about how they spend money.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Medical Debt Malpractice

Millions of Americans are contacted by debt collectors every year over debt related to medical expenses. This review of complaints submitted to the CFPB suggest that many consumers contacted about medical debt should not have been contacted in the first place, and that many contacts involve aggressive or inappropriate tactics.  

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News Release | CALPIRG | Consumer Protection

New report from leading consumer group shows millions are victims of aggressive tactics from medical debt collectors

The consumer group CALPIRG released the ninth in a series of reports that review complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  The latest report explores consumer complaints about medical debt, a major source of problems for consumers, since medical debt items on credit reports are often wrong or about the wrong consumer.  The report also demonstrates the need to defend the CFPB from partisan and special interest attacks.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

If It Looks Like a Chicken and Walks Like a Chicken | Steve Blackledge

Earlier this week, Tyson Foods announced another big step toward stopping the overuse of antibiotics on industrial farms. The announcement underscores a larger trend that’s been happening for a few years now; consumer pressure is helping to drive important public health changes in the marketplace. To be sure, there are laggards on the antibiotics front (see our recent blog on KFC), but perhaps no company has lagged as aggressively and proudly as Sanderson Farms. 

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See which airlines get the most and least complaints

Spirit Airlines generated the most complaints per 100,000 passengers and Southwest the least, according to a study released Thursday. The study, by the CALPIRG Education Fund, analyzed complaint data for 13 large domestic airlines lodged with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division from 2009 through 2013. It found that most complaints are about delayed or canceled flights.

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Media Hit | Budget

California gets an “F” for transparency of government spending

California receives an F when it comes to government spending transparency, according to a study by the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Spirit is Most Complained-About Airline

SACRAMENTO — Spirit Airlines passengers are most likely to complain about their experience, according to a report released today by the CALPIRG Education Fund. Among major airlines, Spirit generates the most complaints for its size and generates an increasing number of complaints each year. Other most-complained about firms include Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget

California Receives an “F” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

SACRAMENTO — California received an F when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. 

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Media Hit | Democracy

Reformers in California assail Supreme Court campaign-finance decision

“We’ve seen what’s happening in Sacramento right now with pay-to-play politics. With this decision, the Supreme Court is codifying pay-to-play politics,” said Austin Price, field director for CALPRIG, the California Public Interest Research Group.

The ruling will have no effect on state-level campaigns in California, as the state’s campaign finance law does not limit the aggregate amount any donor can contribute to candidates for state office. The state law, like the federal law, limits the amount donors can contribute to any one candidate, and the court’s decision allows those individual limits to remain in place.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Breaking Free With Fair Elections

Fair Elections – systems with full public financing of elections – would help improve the openness, honesty, and accountability of government. They would also free public officials to respond to the interests of voters without worrying about hurting their ability to raise money from deep-pocketed donors.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Honest Enforcement

Some argue that last year’s scandals, which led to the conviction of two congressmen and several top aides, are evidence that ethics enforcement in Congress works. The actual facts leading up to the convictions, however, are more an indictment of the current process than a testament to its success. A whistleblower who took his case to the media and the U.S. Department of Justice—not the House and Senate ethics committees—uncovered the dealings of lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Exposing The Textbook Industry

The cost of textbooks is not just a drop in the bucket of tuition and fees; the average student spends about $900 per year on textbooks, which is nearly 20% of tuition and fees at a four year public institution. Moreover, textbook prices are rising at about four times the rate of inflation.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Cutting Interest Rates, Lowering Student Debt

Students Would Save Thousands of Dollars with Lower Student Loan Interest Rates.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Slick Politics

In 1996 and again in 2000, CALPIRG Education Fund completed studies of the levels of money the oil industry spends on lobbying expenses and campaign contributions in California state politics. With consumer and environmental activists continuing to be frustrated in their attempts to enact meaningful petroleum diversity policies for California despite record high gas prices and stubborn pollution problems, we decided to examine once more the effects that money spent by the oil industry has on public policy.

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Blog Post

U.S. PIRG is calling on municipal, state and federal policymakers to mandate face masks in all indoor public spaces, as well as in outdoor locations where it’s hard for people to socially distance six feet apart.

News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund

SACRAMENTO- As California schools consider best practices for reopening in the fall, they must address the fact that too many have found unacceptable levels of lead in their drinking water. CALPIRG Education Fund released an updated interactive map with results reported from schools. More than 2,100 school drinking water fountains tested positive for lead at 1,300 schools in the state over the past three years, according to a new analysis by CALPIRG Education Fund.

News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund

“From early on in this pandemic, it’s been clear that we must listen to public health experts or suffer dire consequences,” said Emily Rusch, Executive Director of CALPIRG Education Fund.  “What we are seeing right now in our state is that while we’re doing some things right, we must act more comprehensively to protect the health and welfare of our citizens and beat this virus.”

Report | CALPIRG Education Fund

COVID Exit Strategy (www.covidexitstrategy.org), a nonpartisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards meeting the CDC recommended benchmarks states should reach before reopening their economies. As of the week ending on June 26th, only six states were meeting these metrics, earning a “Green” rating. Currently, California is failing half of the benchmarks, and is rated “Red” by COVID Exit Strategy.

Blog Post

Public health experts are starting to draw actionable lessons about the nature of how COVID-19 spreads. In addition to maintaining best practices –physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – it’s best to avoid extended, crowded indoor gatherings.

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CALPIRG Education Fund is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.