By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday stepped up his efforts to enshrine a rainy day fund in the state's constitution, stealing some thunder from Republicans backing a similar measure as he seeks an unprecedented fourth term. Brown, a Democrat who has followed a path of fiscal restraint since returning as governor in 2011 from two previous terms of office in the 1970s and '80s, is widely credited with restoring stability to California's battered budget after years of multibillion-dollar deficits. "We simply must prevent the massive deficits of the last decade, and we can only do that by paying down our debts and creating a solid rainy day fund," Brown said. On Wednesday, he called a special session of the Legislature for next week to discuss his plan for requiring the state to set aside money earned from volatile investments such as those in the stock market in flush years for use later during lean times.
The board of Detroit's General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit's effort to exit bankruptcy by October. The city also has reached a tentative pact with the city's other pension fund, the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, whose board is expected to vote later this week. Together, the two pension funds represent some 23,000 active members and retirees. The settlements were incorporated into a new draft of the city's bankruptcy plan, filed with the federal bankruptcy court late Wednesday, hours before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes was scheduled to hear objections to the proposed restructuring.
The United States warned Wednesday it was "actively preparing" new sanctions to hit Russia if critical Ukraine talks do not produce concessions from Moscow. US officials privately signaled they had little hope that the Geneva talks between Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and Washington would make significant progress. They also revealed that the toughest available sanctions -- those targeting key sectors of the Russian economy -- would only come into force in the event of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.