Stocks open lower: Market in search of direction amid so-so earnings results. Dow is down 50 points.
Gas prices still falling: But the daily drops have been getting smaller - an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.235, according to the Auto Club, down about four cents from last week.
Pay divide widens: Between the end of the recession in mid-2009 and the first quarter of 2012, earnings for the wealthiest Americans rose 7 percent. For those at the bottom, earnings rose 2.5 percent. From the WSJ:
Wages at the top have been growing more rapidly than those at the bottom for decades. Among the explanations offered by academic economists are globalization and the rise of technology. Globalization has shifted many of America's low-skilled, high-paid manufacturing jobs overseas, while technology has made U.S. firms more productive but rendered some jobs obsolete. The result: America's labor market increasingly looks divided between jobs that require high education and those that don't.
Mayor to push for permanent tax increase: In his State of the City Address tonight, Villaraigosa will ask county voters to extend Measure R, the half-cent sales tax. From the Daily News:
Extending the life of Measure R also makes it easier for Metro to issue bonds against future earnings to help accelerate projects, and bolsters Villaraigosa's America's Fast Forward plan, which is currently stalled in Congress. That proposal seeks to accelerate the funding to complete a dozen projects in 10 years. "Mayor Villaraigosa wants Angelenos to know it's time for some common sense for the common good," Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders said. "By continuing Measure R, we will be creating jobs, relieving highway congestion and completing light rail and subway projects in one decade."Brown says state budget gap could grow: The governor expects the deficit to be at least $1 billion larger than the $9.2 billion previously estimated. Brown will release revised budget projections in May. (Capitol Alert)
Warning on bullet train: The state's Legislative Analyst's Office is urging lawmakers not to proceed with the $68-billion high-speed rail project because it relies on "highly speculative" funding sources. From the Mercury News:
The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office is especially significant as the state Senate and Assembly on Wednesday begin a debate on whether to start building the high-speed rail line, a decision officials revealed Tuesday will likely be delayed into the summer. The report could give a divided Legislature the political cover it needs to halt the biggest public works project in California history; otherwise, lawmakers would have to go against the advice of their own experts. It is the latest in a series of stinging critiques of the project by independent watchdog groups.