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Roundtable: City Budget, Climate Change Politics, Vets And Painkillers



Mark Sauer


Claire Trageser, KPBS News

Susan White, InsideClimate News

Rick Rogers, Rick Rogers Media


San Diego's Budget Increases

Newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed $3 billion budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 on Monday.

In a somewhat unusual show of bipartisanship, the budget was praised by both Republican and Democratic council members. And there was plenty to be happy about.

The plan includes more money for infrastructure repairs and maintenance, homeless services and libraries. The police are happy too. More than $3 million has been set aside for the SDPD to pay for recruiting and some new hires. There is also money for raises, as retention of officers has been a problem.

The city has about $34 million more than expected in funds not already earmarked for specific projects or departments. In November, interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s five-year financial outlook put San Diego in a $19 million hole this year.

UN: Action On Climate Change Urgent

A new report says the U.S. needs to act now to avoid catastrophic impacts of global warming.

The report suggests implementing a major climate change law, such as a tax on carbon pollution. But in spite of efforts in Washington in 1993 and 2010, the passage of such laws has been thwarted, led by climate change deniers, those who’ve pledged not to raise taxes and some who depend on funding from energy industries.

Several states, including California, have enacted their own carbon reduction plans. Will this piecemeal approach be enough and will other states follow suit?

The report says climate change is already exacerbating drought, raising sea levels and causing higher storm surges. What are we looking at in the future if policies don’t change?

Vets And Prescription Painkillers

Abuse of prescription pain medications among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is one of America’s fastest growing drug problems.

More than half the vets treated by the Veterans Administration complain of pain. Last year, the San Diego VA began a program to address the problem of addiction, which was adopted by VA centers nationally in February. Addiction centers around such opioids as hydrocodone, methadone, morphine and oxycodone.

In September, the Center for Investigative Reporting found that opioid prescriptions at most VA medical centers increased nearly 300 percent in the past 10 years. Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress or depression are particularly vulnerable to addiction, and the VA is finding other ways to deal with pain management, including physical therapy, behavioral therapy and exercise.

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