Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 31, 2011
TEXT: Jerry Brown's State of the State address

Read the full prepared text of the State of the State address delivered by Gov. Jerry Brown after the jump.

January 31, 2011
Rapid Response Roundup: Jerry Brown's State of the State

Maybe the annual State of the State address "tends to be a benchmark that's more easily remembered over the years for historians and reporters," as Gov. Jerry Brown's adviser Steve Glazer told Bee colleague David Siders the other day.

But benchmark or not, lawmakers and stakeholders were paying close attention as Brown spoke for 14 minutes and 23 seconds today, comparing his quest for a June special election with the fight for democracy in Egypt and Tunisia and saying it was "unconscionable" to block a special election.

How did it play? What are they saying? Find out after the jump. Additional statements may be sent to mmassimino@sacbee.com. They will be added as they come in.

January 31, 2011
Brown calls it 'unconscionable' to block special election

Consider today's State of the State address the campaign kickoff for a June special election.

Gov. Jerry Brown made a hard sell to lawmakers and voters, calling it "unconscionable" to block an election that would ask voters to extend higher taxes on vehicles, sales and income for the next five years. Republican lawmakers have said they will not support his call for more taxes.

In his 14-minute, 23-second speech, Brown said, "In the ordinary course of things, matters of state concern are properly handled in Sacramento. But when the elected representatives find themselves bogged down by deep differences which divide them, the only way forward is to go back to the people and seek their guidance. It's time for a legislative check-in with the people of California."

After Democrats applauded, Brown chimed in, "And I want to see a few Republicans clapping on that, if you could. We'll build up ... or if you want to block the people's right to vote, stand up and say, 'Block that punt.'"

Brown is counting on voter approval for $11 billion in taxes through June 2012 to help balance the state's $25.4 billion deficit. Absent those tax dollars, Brown said the state would have to focus cuts on areas that lack federal protection. He ticked off his most specific list yet of programs facing the ax should lawmakers and voters reject additional taxes.

"Unfortunately, these will probably include elementary, middle and high schools," he said. "The University of California. The California State University system. Prisons and local public safety funding. And vital health programs."

January 31, 2011
Brown compares tax vote to fight for democracy in Egypt

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger compared California to Athens and Sparta in 2007.

Gov. Jerry Brown drew a parallel today between California and Egypt in his State of the State address.

In particular, the Democratic governor compared his quest for a June special election to extend tax hikes with the fight for democracy in Egypt and Tunisia.

GOP lawmakers have said they will not put taxes on the ballot, and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist has said voting to do so would violate their no-tax pledges with his organization, Americans for Tax Reform.

"When democratic ideals and calls for the right to vote are stirring the imagination of young people in Egypt and Tunisia and other parts of the world, we in California can't say now is the time to block a vote of the people," he told lawmakers gathered in the Assembly chambers.

"My plan to rebuild California requires a vote of the people, and frankly, I believe it would be irresponsible to exclude the people from this process," he said later. "They have a right to vote on this plan. This state belongs to all of us, not just those in this chamber. Given the unique nature of the crisis and the serious impact our decisions will have on millions of Californians, whether it's more cuts, extend taxes, the voters deserve to be heard."

January 31, 2011
Jerry Brown's State of the State address

Past Jerry Brown State of the State Addresses

January 31, 2011
Meg Whitman's grand total: a record $178.5 million spent

The books are closed on the most expensive non-presidential race in U.S. history, and defeated Republican candidate Meg Whitman's final tally is a record-breaking $178.5 million spent on her gubernatorial campaign.

That includes about $144 million of her own money, making her by far the biggest self-funding candidate in U.S. history. Despite the big bucks, the billionaire former CEO of online auction firm eBay lost to Democrat Jerry Brown by 13 percentage points.

Including the money she spent winning the Republican primary against Steve Poizner, Whitman spent about $43.25 for each of her 4,127,391 votes in the general election.

January 31, 2011
Jerry Brown campaign spent total of $36.66 million

Jerry Brown's victorious campaign for governor spent a total of $36.66 million, while receiving about $40 million, according to the campaign's final campaign finance statement filed today.

Those totals include money spent and collected by Brown's attorney general re-election campaign as of the start of 2009. That fund started 2009 with $4.13 million in the bank.

The highest-paid members of Brown's campaign were campaign manager Steven Glazer, who received $250,000 and media consultant Joe Trippi, who received $125,000 in campaign consulting compensation.

January 31, 2011
Florida judge strikes down health care reform law

From the Associated Press:

PENSACOLA, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida says the Obama administration's health
overhaul is unconstitutional, siding with 26 states that had sued to block it.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson on Monday accepted without trial the states' argument
that the new law violates people's rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.

Attorneys for the administration had argued that the states did not have standing to
challenge the law and that the case should be dismissed.

The case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other federal judges have
upheld the insurance requirement, but a federal judge in Virginia also ruled the insurance requirement unconstitutional.

Here is the link to the AP story that will be updated.

Vinson's ruling has already garnered attention for his conclusion that "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void."

POLITICO has posted the full decision at this link.

January 31, 2011
With no replacements named, Schnur, Hodson remain at FPPC

ha_schnur7656.JPGFair Political Practices Commission Chairman Dan Schnur isn't stepping down just yet.

The terms of Schnur, who was appointed to the post by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in June, and commission Vice Chairman Tim Hodson, also a Schwarzenegger appointee, expire today. But both have agreed to stay on board until Gov. Jerry Brown names their replacements on the five-member panel.

"While Tim and I have been told that the governor is progressing expeditiously on the appointments, we have both indicated to him and his staff that we would be pleased to continue serving as much time as he desires," Schnur said at Friday's meeting.

That could be a while, warned one former Brown appointee attending the meeting.

"If past, represented by his earlier terms as governor, are prologue to what we can expect in his present term, your prediction that you will not be the longest serving chairman is one that I would not want to invest much money in," said UCLA law professor and attorney Daniel Lowenstein, whom Brown appointed as the commission's first chairman in 1975.

Schnur, who has resumed teaching at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, acknowledged that the slow trickle of appointment announcements during the transition caused him to wonder how long he would be asked to stay on board.

"I did some math and realized at that rate I will be chair of the FPPC until the year 2073," Schnur joked, adding that he and Hodson "have been assured that these are appointments that the governor takes very seriously."

Lowenstein suggested that could be part of what's prolonged the process.

"The more seriously he takes them, the longer it will take," Lowenstein quipped.

PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Schnur, of the FPPC talks about his plans while in the office during a meeting at The Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau on Wednesday, September 8, 2010. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.

January 31, 2011
Brian Nestande: Don't cut in-home care; manage it privately

HJA_8328 rally.JPGThree Republicans emerged publicly last week as the unlikely allies of unionized in-home caregivers and recipients who oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to slash subsidized in-home care.

One of them -- Assemblyman Brian Nestande -- says he believes private agency management could contain the costs.

Nestande told the Bee that he's working on ideas he would like to introduce to a budget committee or present directly to Brown as alternatives to cuts in hours and tighter eligibility requirements.

Nestande, of Palm Desert, was one of three GOP legislators who spoke at a Capitol rally Thursday against the Democratic governor's proposed cuts to In-Home Supportive Services.

"I want to see what other states are doing with IHSS programs," Nestande said Friday in an interview. "I want to find the best way. It may be an agency-based model."

January 31, 2011
AM Alert: Jerry Brown makes his case

Today's main attraction: Gov. Jerry Brown's speech on the state of the state.

Brown said last week that, yes, he'll be talking about the budget, as David Siders writes in today's Bee.

"But we have to have some optimism, too," Brown said, "about how great everything is and how rich California is and how we're going to create all these jobs, and have enough water, and fix our schools, and deal with, you know, curriculum."

Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton and Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway will be releasing pre-taped video responses and written responses after Brown's speech.

Meanwhile, Aaron McLear -- who used to work for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- is teaming up with Democratic consultant Steve Maviglio to dissect Brown's speech for KOVR/CBS13.

Media types got a long list of procedures to follow for security sweeps and positions in the press bay:

"Electronic communication devices (such as cell phones) must be turned off or placed on 'silent' mode upon entering the Assembly Chambers," the memo says. "No 'golf whispers' will be permitted during session. Dress code (business attire) will be strictly enforced."

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Final numbers on donations and spending on last year's campaigns -- Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown and more -- are due today by midnight at the Fair Political Practices Commission.

SCHOOLS: The Davenport Institute releases a study of how money was spent and allocated in California K-12 public school districts from mid-2003 to mid-2009. That news conference starts at 11 a.m. at the CalChamber office in Sacramento at 1215 K St., Suite 1400.

January 28, 2011
FPPC targets slate mailers

The Fair Political Practices Commission today adopted new rules to strengthen disclosure requirements for slate mailers.

The mass-produced mail pieces, often labeled as "voter guides," urge support or opposition for a series of candidates or issues on the ballot, many of whom pay to be included on the slate.

The adopted regulations seek to ensure disclaimers designating paid placement and disclosing that the slate mailer organizations are not tied to official political parties are clearly identifiable and easy-to-read.

Center for Governmental Studies President Bob Stern, co-chair of an FPPC-created task force that recommended the changes, said seeing a politically involved colleague mistakenly believe a slate she received was showcasing official party-endorsed candidates reinforced in his mind the need for the changes.

"If somebody as aware as that is not aware of the fact that these slate mailers are not necessarily Democratic- or Republican-endorsed candidates, then we have a problem," said Stern, who helped craft the original Political Reform Act. "There are some people who are clearly misled by slate mailers."

Under the new rules, disclaimers must be written in the same language as the content of the mail piece and printed in colors that are legible in a color contrasting a plain background. The new rules, which would also apply to slate mailers distributed electronically, extend disclosure requirements for slate placements purchased on behalf of a candidate or ballot measure.

Commissioners also adopted several other regulation changes addressing electronic filing deadlines, committee terminations and language for disclosures on paid political advertisements.

Stern and political attorney Chuck Bell, co-chairman of the Chairman's Advisory Task Force on the Political Reform Act, outlined a series of additional recommendations for updating the 1974 Political Reform Act. Those proposals, which would require action by the Legislature, include giving the FPPC jurisdiction to regulate political robocalls, creating a statewide electronic filing system for campaign finance reports and extending to staff restrictions barring elected officials from lobbying their former office for a period after leaving office.

Assemblymen Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, have agreed to take the lead in advancing legislation based on the task force proposals, staff said.

"Our primary goal and the goal of our members is really to restore public confidence overall," Huffman senior consultant Andi Liebenbaum told the commission.

FPPC Chairman Dan Schnur, who created the task force last year, applauded the work of the task force members and commission staff.

"Most of the changes that were adopted today are not the stuff of headlines but they are a critical components both to disclosure and to making it easier, rather than harder, for Californians to participate in the political process," he said.

Speaking at what could be the final meeting of his tenure as chair, Schnur said he believed the task force recommendations and the commissions' actions regarding online political communications and issue amounted to "very, very important steps" to increase transparency and participation in the state political process.

January 28, 2011
Jerry Brown orders reduction of state vehicle fleet

Gov. Jerry Brown this afternoon ordered state agencies to stop buying new cars and to return any that aren't essential, a measure he said could cut the state's passenger vehicle fleet in half.

Cars that aren't needed will be sold, the governor's office said.

"There is a lot of wasteful spending on cars that aren't even driven," Brown said in a written statement. "And we can't afford to spend taxpayer money on new cars while California faces such a massive deficit."

Brown, who previously issued an executive order recalling thousands of state-issued cell phones, said in the written statement, "Fifty percent is a starting point. If we find more waste, we'll make more cuts."

The governor's office estimated there are 11,000 state passenger cars and trucks that are not used for health or public safety jobs, and about 4,500 permits allowing employees to use cars for their daily commutes.

Brown ordered departments to submit a plan for reducing vehicle fleets, requiring unnecessary cars to be sold or transferred within four months of a plan's approval.

Click here to read Brown's press release and executive order.

January 28, 2011
Replacement picked for redistricting panel

California's new redistricting commission was made whole Friday when Angelo Ancheta was chosen from six other Democratic candidates to replace a member who resigned earlier this month.

Ancheta, a San Francisco resident, is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. He has taught classes and conducted research in constitutional rights, voting rights and election law.

Ancheta will fill a seat left vacant by Democrat Elaine Kuo, who resigned Jan. 14, citing "personal issues" that arose recently and unexpectedly. The Mountain View resident did not elaborate.

The 14-member redistricting commission, approved by passage of Proposition 11 in 2008, is responsible for drawing legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts by Aug. 15.

The panel must consist of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independent or minor-party voters.

With Ancheta's selection, the panel now consists of four Asian Americans, three Caucasians, three Hispanic or Latino members, two African Americans, one Pacific Islander, and one from the category of American Indian or Alaska native.

Ancheta is the second commissioner from San Francisco County. Four commissioners are from Los Angeles and one apiece are from Yolo, San Joaquin, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Alameda, Ventura and Santa Cruz counties.

January 28, 2011
AM Alert: Slates and robocalls

Today's another red-letter day for political junkies.

The Fair Political Practices Commission is considering proposals that range from enlarging slate mailer disclaimers to developing a single, statewide electronic filing system for all state and local campaign disclosures.

An advisory task force is also recommending that the commission coordinate with the Public Utilities Commission to get FPPC authority to regulate political robocalls.

"The current federal and state laws and regulations do not achieve any other result other than driving political 'robocalls' out of state," its memo says.

Another item on the commission's wide-ranging agenda would set new recordkeeping rules for slate mailer organizations.

New Sen. Michael Rubio of East Bakersfield also faces an administrative penalty of $3,500 for not reporting his wife's income back in 2006 and for approving a contract between Kern County and his wife's employer while he was county supervisor.

And staff members are recommending regulatory changes that add "placement agents" to the definition of "lobbyist" in order to comply with last year's Assembly Bill 1743 banning placement agents -- intermediaries hired by private equity firms to secure investments from CalPERS and other public pension systems -- from collecting contingency fees.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. at 428 J St., Suite 800. Check out the commission's full agenda here.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, turns 50 on Saturday.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Michael Rubio as an assemblyman. The Bee regrets the error.

January 27, 2011
Jerry Brown names Appelsmith senior adviser, head of ABC

Gov. Jerry Brown today named Jacob Appelsmith, 47, senior adviser to the governor and director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Appelsmith, of Oakland, previously worked in the attorney general's office - where Brown was attorney general - including as a special assistant to the attorney general.

Craig McNamara, 60, of Winters, was appointed to the State Board of Food and Agriculture, where he has been a member since 2002. McNamara, president of Sierra Orchards, is son of the late Robert McNamara, the former secretary of defense.

Appelsmith's directorship of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control requires Senate confirmation. The pay is $150,112 a year. The position of senior adviser to the governor does not include any additional pay and does not require Senate confirmation.

McNamara's appointment does not require Senate confirmation. The compensation is a $100 per diem.

January 27, 2011
Court says Legislature can't write own ballot language

A state appeals court today ruled that the state Legislature did not have authority to draft its own ballot language for the successful high-speed rail bond measure lawmakers placed on the 2008 ballot.

State law tasks the state attorney general with writing an impartial ballot title, label and official summary for "measures to be voted on throughout the State," though the Legislature has in the past drafted language for measures it places on the ballot with a two-thirds vote.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association had challenged the ballot language for Proposition 1A, arguing the Legislature used its pen to "lavish praise on its measure in language that virtually mirrored the argument in favor of the proposition."

The appeals court sided with HJTA, ruling in a 23-page decision published today.

"Simply stated, the Legislature cannot dictate the ballot label, title and official summary for a statewide measure unless the Legislature obtains approval of the electorate to do so prior to placement of the measure on the ballot," the decision reads.

HJTA President Jon Coupal applauded the decision, saying "no longer can the California Legislature use the ballot pamphlet as a biased advertising for its own pet ballot measures."

The decision does not invalidate the passage of the high-speed rail act, which was approved with roughly 52 percent of the vote. It is unclear how it will impact the water bond and "rainy day fund" measures already approved for future ballots.

Read the full decision here.

January 27, 2011
On FPPC probe, Norby says marital spat spurred homeless study

ha_CHRIS_NORBY 8198.JPGA Fair Political Practices Commission investigation into whether one Republican lawmaker improperly used campaign funds for personal benefit has produced a somewhat unusual explanation to justify use of the account.

The Los Angeles Times sums up the case involving Fullerton Assemblyman Chris Norby this way:

The director of the state Fair Political Practices Commission has accused Norby of using $340 in campaign funds for personal benefit when he stayed in a Fullerton motel in 2007 during a dispute with his wife, according to the lawmaker.

Norby vows to fight the accusation. He said he did leave his home for a resident motel on Orangethorpe Avenue after a quarrel with his wife. They have since divorced.

But he said he decided to use the cooling-off time away from home to study the use of the motel to shelter homeless people. At the time, he was a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

"I was doing a homeless study," Norby said this week. "We have a lot of homeless people in motels. I think I learned a lot from it. I will stand by it."

Norby's attempt to turn lemons into lemonade could have a sour outcome. If found in violation of the law, Norby could face a fine of up to $5,000.

Click here to read the full story.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this file photo, Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, is sworn in by Assembly Republican leader Martin Garrick, R-Solana Beach as he is accompanied by wife Martha Norby on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. Norby replaced Mike Duvall, who abandoned the seat the previous September after his private boasts of sexual conquest were captured on audiotape at a public meeting. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

January 27, 2011
Bill would ban pardons in final days of governor's term

A Southern California lawmaker proposed legislation this week to prohibit any California governor from pardoning an offender or commuting a prison sentence in the final 30 days of the officeholder's term.

The measure comes three weeks after outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used executive power on his final day in office to reduce the sentence of Esteban Núñez, son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, from 16 to seven years in prison.

Esteban Núñez had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon for his involvement in a 2008 San Diego fight that led to the fatal stabbing of college student Luis Dos Santos.

Voters would need to approve Assembly Constitutional Amendment 14 by Assemblyman Jim Silva, R-Huntington Beach. It would void any pardon or commutation made in the final days of the governor's term.

Another GOP Assemblyman, Allan Mansoor of Costa Mesa, previously announced that he would propose a constitutional amendment that would require the governor's office to give 30 days' notice to any victims or prosecutors affected before granting a pardon or sentence commutation. He formally introduced it today as ACA 15.

The family of Dos Santos is suing Schwarzenegger, arguing that his failure to notify them of his plan to reduce Núñez's sentence violated their constitutional rights.

January 27, 2011
Snarky video takes aim at lack of women on IGS panels

Team Whitman wasn't the only thing missing from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies look back at the 2010 gubernatorial race, according to some attendees and observers of last week's confab.

The scarcity of women sitting on the panels at the annual day of campaign analysis raised eyebrows and inspired a bipartisan group of women working in California politics to produce a punchy video to air their complaints.

"Our goal is to put together something satirical to get our point across," explained Democratic communications consultant Robin Swanson, who was involved in the video.

The three-minute video, which stars a Ph.D.-holding female professional who quips "Is it 1960? Perhaps I should spend more time cooking meatloaf and baking cookies than studying cross-tabs," started popping up on Twitter and Facebook feeds yesterday afternoon, racking up more than 1,000 views overnight.

Swanson said the IGS line-up was the "final straw" in what she and others saw as a string of panels and conferences that excluded women political professionals from the discussion. But she called the Berkeley conference line-up -- which featured women in two out of 26 scheduled panelist spots -- "particularly egregious because there were so many women in leadership roles across California in 2010."

"As a woman who works in politics, I see other women doing work all the time and so when the conferences and these panels don't reflect that, it's just bizarre to me," Swanson said.

The video is posted below. Conference organizers have yet to respond to a request for comment on the line-up.

January 27, 2011
AM Alert: Regulation debate

As the argument over whether California is over-regulated rages on, a state oversight agency is looking at how regulations wind up on the books in the first place.

The Little Hoover Commission hearing, which starts at 9 a.m. in Room 437, is part of the commission's ongoing study into improving how the state goes about approving new regulations and evaluating the effect of existing rules. That includes assessing the economic impact of various regulations -- a much debated topic.

Commissioners are scheduled to hear from an economics professor, a business owner and representatives from the Office of Administrative Law, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.

Little Hoover, of course, isn't the only Capitol force attempting to shine a light on the state's regulatory climate. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg pledged last week to push to purge regulations deemed duplicative or overly burdensome for business.

BUDGET: Four Senate budget subcommittees are scheduled to meet this morning. The Assembly budget subcommittee on health and human services meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 4203.

RALLY: Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, and others join Doug Moore, the executive director of UDW Homecare Providers, at 11 a.m. on the Capitol's north steps to push alternatives to the proposed cuts to In-Home Supportive Services, which are among the items before the Assembly budget subcommittee today. Advocates have also scheduled a march at 10 a.m. starting at 10th and L streets and a rally starting at noon.

PPIC: The Public Policy Institute of California released a poll last night showing voters' approval ratings of Gov. Jerry Brown and sentiments on a possible special election to extend temporary taxes. Read the results at this link.

REPORT: The California Breastfeeding Coalition will hold an 11:45 a.m. news conference at the Radisson on Leisure Lane to highlight the results of a recent report on hospitals' breastfeeding policies.

January 26, 2011
PPIC poll finds support for Brown's budget plan

Most Californians are favorably disposed toward Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to close the state budget deficit with a mixture of spending cuts and taxes, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll has found.

And while a majority said they would support Brown's tax extension plan on the ballot, majorities opposed actual increases to sales, income and vehicle taxes.

That somewhat contradictory finding underscores the political complications of Brown's budget plan, which he wants the Legislature to approve by early March so that the taxes can be placed before voters at a special election in June.

Mark Baldassare, PPIC's president and survey director, said the poll, which covered dozens of specific issues and questions, generally found that Californians, despite the state's stubborn recession and budgetary problems, are more optimistic than PPIC found in a similar poll last fall.

"Californians are beginning to feel more hopeful -- that the economy is improving, that the governor and Legislature can get something done," Baldassare said in a statement. "But that hope is fragile and could dissolve quickly. The challenge for Brown is to convince Californians that his complex budget plan is a real solution to the state's fiscal troubles."

That notwithstanding, Democrat Brown -- a former governor who won a landslide election last fall against billionaire Republican Meg Whitman -- gets only so-so ratings from Californians in the PPIC survey. Just 41 percent of those polled approve of his performance to date, while 19 percent disapprove and 32 percent haven't formed an opinion yet.

As usual, the Legislature's approval rating is even lower, 26 percent, but that's 10 points higher than it was last October. And nearly 60 percent of respondents said they expect Brown and legislators to work together well during the next year.

The PPIC poll found the same somewhat contradictory attitudes on spending and taxes that it and other polls have found in the past. While very strong majorities oppose spending cuts in K-12 and higher education and health and welfare services and say they're willing to pay higher taxes to keep them intact, equally strong majorities oppose raising taxes on income, sales and vehicles. Instead, they favor raising taxes on business -- which Brown is not proposing.

When asked specifically about Brown's plan to extend 2009 tax increases on sales, income and vehicles, however, 54 percent said they supported the plan.

That leads to this conclusion by the PPIC pollsters: "Most Californians' views about the budget are not based on an understanding of where the money comes from and where it goes." That conclusion was based on a series of detailed questions about the budget.

The full survey can be found here.

January 26, 2011
Jerry Brown says bid for budget deal 'on track'

20110126_HA_brown1745.jpg

Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that his bid to reach a budget deal by March is "on track."

"So far, in meeting with both Democratic and Republican leaders, I think they're open," he said. "I feel confident that we're at the right place for this moment in time."

Brown, whose budget proposal seeks to close a $25.4 billion deficit through a mix of cuts and tax extensions, said Republicans who oppose a ballot measure to extend temporary tax increases have not given him a list of demands in their negotiations.

He invited Republicans to release an "all-cuts" budget that could be required if tax extensions are not approved, saying, "Is it really fair and honest to keep that secret?"

But Brown himself, fearful of being seen as threatening to voters, won't release such a document himself.

"It's so horrible that we don't like to release it," he said.

Mayors of California's large cities are scheduled to meet this afternoon with Brown, opposing his bid to eliminate redevelopment agencies. Brown said that the Capitol's "hallways are going to be crowded" in the coming months with people lobbying for the programs and services they support.

But he said, "If we don't get this budget fixed, California will flounder."

Brown, who will deliver the first State of the State address of his third term on Monday, said he hasn't started writing it yet. The speech will include remarks about the budget, but also more optimistic remarks about California, he said.

Brown, visiting with reporters for the first time in his office, sat at the end of a picnic table brought over from his Oakland campaign headquarters. A massive coffee table he had stood on during his first post-election press conference in Oakland is now in the governor's reception area.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown meets with reporters and takes questions about the budget as they sit at the picnic table in his office. Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

January 26, 2011
Sen. Leland Yee receives threat after objecting to Limbaugh

California state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said today that he received a threatening and racist fax related to his condemnation of recent comments by talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Yee, who is Chinese-American, had publicly objected, he said, to Limbaugh "mocking the Chinese language and culture during his radio program" this month.

Limbaugh had imitated Chinese, and made other remarks related to the Chinese president's recent visit with President Barack Obama.

The fax that Yee received today at both his Capitol and San Francisco offices is laced with profanities targeting black and Asian people. It includes a drawing of a pickup truck with an American flag dragging a noose with the caricature of a black man inside it.

The fax defended Limbaugh and threatened Yee. The senator reported the fax to the Senate's sergeant-at-arms for investigation.

This isn't the first time Yee has received faxed threats, said Adam Keigwin, Yee's chief of staff. He said that Yee also received threats in April 2010 after he publicly pressed for disclosure of how much former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was paid to speak at a State University of California campus.

On the Monday after the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Keigwin said, he took a call from the Arizona Pima County Sheriff's office inquiring about the April 2010 threats.

Keigwin said a detective in that office said that the language in the threat Yee had received was similar to faxed threats that officials in Arizona were investigating following the Giffords shooting.

Keigwin said the detective didn't tell him who had received the threats.

In a statement today, Yee said: "It is quite disturbing that such racist sentiment still exists in our country. As I have said in the past, it is unfortunate acts like these that demonstrate why we must continue to be vigilant against hate and intolerance. Such vitriol has no place within our political discourse or anywhere in our society."

January 26, 2011
Will Schwarzenegger's next job be in the Obama administration?

010311_HA_brown_inaug_03 schwarzenegger.JPGA story published by POLITICO today notes speculation that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured at left listening to Gov. Jerry Brown's inauguration speech, could be considered to fill a soon-to-be vacant senior energy and climate adviser post in the Obama administration.

From POLITICO:

If Obama is looking to send a message, he could go with Arnold Schwarzenegger, expected by some on the left to fill the vacancy. The former California governor is a Republican who supported the Golden State's climate change law and has no trouble commanding attention.

"The governor has consistently supported President Obama on this issue and is committed to working with him," former Schwarzenegger adviser Adam Mendelsohn said Tuesday.

But that idea didn't excite lawmakers.

"He was courageous as a Republican governor, but I don't see him in a staff job at the White House," said House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

The White House confirmed this week that Obama's current energy czar, Carol Browner, will soon step down. Read the full story here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Former Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis listen to Gov. Jerry Brown's inaugural address Jan. 3, 2011, at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

January 26, 2011
AM Alert: Mayors press their case

The mayors of nine of California's largest cities are meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown this afternoon to urge him not to ax redevelopment agencies, as he's proposed.

They'll follow the 2 p.m. meeting with a press conference on the Capitol's west steps at 3 p.m.

Expected to be on hand: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as Mayor Edwin Lee of San Francisco, Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose, Mayor Ashley Swearengin of Fresno, Mayor Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana, Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, and Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim.

To add some hard numbers to the debate, Controller John Chiang launched a review of 18 agencies earlier this week to look at how they spend their money, how much their officials are getting paid, and how they determine whether a property is "blighted."

Agencies under review include those in Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, Sacramento County and Citrus Heights.

Also under the dome, the Assembly Accountability Committee looks at prison health care costs, which grew to $2.2 billion in the fiscal year that ended in mid-2010.

Representatives of the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Bureau of State Audits will appear before the committee, as will Receiver J. Clark Kelso. That meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 437.

And a Senate budget subcommittee looks at proposed cuts to Medi-Cal, including adult day health care programs, drawing senior advocates including Lydia Missaelides, executive director of the California Association for Adult Day Services. That meeting runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 4203.

POLL: California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno will hang up his robe in less than five weeks. Vote in this poll for who you think will be on Gov. Jerry Brown's short list to replace him.

January 25, 2011
Big city mayors to visit Jerry Brown, talk redevelopment

Mayors of California's largest cities will meet with Gov. Jerry Brown at the Capitol on Wednesday to express their opposition to his plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies, a spokeswoman for the group said.

Mayors of nine cities -- including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and Fresno -- are scheduled to attend.

The mayors are expecting to have about an hour with the governor. Following a 2 p.m. meeting with Brown, they plan to talk with reporters outside.

January 25, 2011
Jerry Brown appoints Florio, Sandoval to PUC

Gov. Jerry Brown today filled two positions on the powerful California Public Utilities Commission, appointing consumer advocate Mike Florio and law professor Catherine Sandoval to the regulatory board.

Florio, 58, has been a lawyer for The Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy group. He was previously a member of the board of governors of the California Independent System Operator.

Sandoval, 50, has been an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law since 2004.

Like Brown, both Florio and Sandoval are Democrats. They are each to be paid $128,109 a year.

Brown also announced two appointments to the California Energy Commission. Robert Weisenmiller, 62, a decline-to-state voter, was appointed to the commission by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year. Carla Peterman, 32, a Democrat, is a PhD candidate at University of California, Berkeley. Both are to be paid $128,109 a year.

Brown last week appointed Public Utilities Commission member Nancy Ryan deputy executive director of the agency, leaving one more spot on the commission for him to fill.

January 25, 2011
California given high marks for government transparency

California has been given an "A-plus" grade for transparency -- giving its residents access to records and other aspects of state government -- but the state's counties earn only a "C," says Sunshine Review, an organization based in Alexandria, Va., that promotes open government.

Michael Barnhart, the organization's president, said, "California has one of the most transparent state governments in the country, offering an innovative government website and open meeting and record laws for its citizens, but no matter how good the grades, Sunshine Review will always be setting a new standard of transparency for governments to live up to."

Sunshine Review's state-by-state grades can be found here.

January 25, 2011
Lungren disposes of House composting program

BB 3RD DISTRICT Lungren  294.JPGRepublican Rep. Dan Lungren is using the power of his new leadership post to throw out a composting initiative started under former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's watch.

Lungren, named chairman of the Committee on House Administration after Republicans gained control of the House last November, announced this week that he has asked the House Chief Administrative Officer to halt the waste disposal program, citing increased costs and unrealized energy savings.

The program, part of the past Democratic leadership's "Green the Capitol" push, put compostable trays and utensils in House dining facilities in an effort to reduce landfill-bound waste.

But the Gold River Republican issued a press release saying that a review concluded the program wasn't making a big enough mark to merit its $475,000-a-year price tag. He also cited a report finding increased "energy consumption through the use of additional electricity for the pulping process and the increased hauling distance to the composting facility."

"While I am suspending this program because it is costly and increases energy consumption, I would like to assure the House community that this Committee will continue to evaluate all components of House operations and will work with the appropriate agencies to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices when feasible," he said.

Pelosi's office disputed the review's energy-related findings to the Washington Post and said it hopes the program can be reintroduced at a lower cost in the future.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rep. Dan Lungren participates in a 2008 debate. Brian Baer/SacBee.

January 25, 2011
Schwarzenegger still governor on one state website

Is Arnold Schwarzenegger still governor in the eyes of one state initiative created during his time in office?

The website for the Homeless Youth Project invites visitors to click through to the website of "Governor Schwarzenegger," whose head shot is displayed in the left-hand rail of the page.

The link to the governor's website, pictured in a screenshot below, routes viewers to www.gov.ca.gov, which has since been updated as Gov. Jerry Brown's homepage.

Program Director Ginny Puddefoot said California Research Bureau-tied initiative, which as a state agency is required to have a picture of the governor on its site, has been so focused on content and putting out a new report on youth homelessness that updating the picture slipped through the cracks.

Puddefoot said while the Schwarzenegger slip-up was a "mild embarrassment," it felt even milder "compared to overall embarrassment of 200,000 homeless youth on the streets in California."

Welcome - Homeless Youth Project (HYP)_1295972881804.jpeg

Hat tip to Capitol Alert reader Daniel J.B. Mitchell

Update: This post was updated at 3:40 p.m. to add a statement from Puddefoot.

January 25, 2011
Santa Cruz ice cream makers at State of the Union

Santa Cruz ice cream makers Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis will be the sole Californians sitting with first lady Michelle Obama tonight at the State of the Union speech. It's a YouTube moment.

Baker and Davis opened the Penny Ice Creamery last August with the help of a $250,000 Small Business Administration loan. They subsequently took to YouTube with a video thanking the Obama administration for the help; the news reached Vice President Joe Biden in November. He called the ice cream makers to thank them, and now they are to be sitting with two dozen or so other guests. It's an eclectic group, including a Medal of Honor winner, a war amputee and some feisty students, among others.

January 25, 2011
AM Alert: Bell, the budget and the State of the Union

The Capitol will be abuzz with hearings on everything from Gov. Jerry Brown's budget to the city of Bell today.

Budget subcommittees in both houses will continue to delve into the details of Brown's proposed spending plan.

Subcommittees on State Administration and General Government and Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary will meet in the Senate. Health and Human Services and Education Finance are on tap in the Assembly.

At 10 a.m., members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and the Assembly Local Government Committee meet to discuss accountability and transparency on the local government level. Members will review the findings of audits on misappropriated funds and corruption in the City of Bell.

Another hearing that could create some buzz is a 9:30 a.m. Assembly Public Safety Committee look at California's current rules for convicted sex offender registration. The focus of the informational hearing is creating a "tiered registration system" based on the crimes committed by California's convicted sex offenders.

COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS: The Senate Rules Committee will finalize committee assignments this morning. See the full list, released yesterday by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, at this link.

SPECIAL ELECTION: Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office will hold a randomized drawing to determine ballot order for the upcoming 4th Assembly District special election.

SOTU: Supporters of President Barack Obama will gather at 5 p.m. to watch Obama deliver his State of the Union Address at Sacramento's Cornerstone Restaurant at Headhunters. The SOTU Watch party is sponsored by Organizing for America.

BIRTHDAY: Belated birthday wishes go to Sen. Lou Correa. The Santa Ana Democrat turned 53 yesterday.

January 24, 2011
Jerry Brown names appointments, legislative affairs officials

In two high-profile appointments, Gov. Jerry Brown today appointed Mona Pasquil, a longtime Democratic operative, to be his appointments secretary, and Gareth Elliott, state Sen. Alex Padilla's policy director, to be his legislative affairs secretary.

Brown also made his first appointments of non-Democrats, retaining H.D. Palmer, 51, a Republican, to be the Department of Finance's deputy director for external affairs, and appointing two decline-to-state voters: Michael Cohen to be chief deputy director for budget in the Department of Finance and Sue Johnsrud to be Brown's director of operations.

Johnsrud, 55, was chief administrative officer of the Department of Justice, where Brown was state attorney general.

Pasquil, 48, was chief of staff to Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and was acting lieutenant governor upon Garamendi's election to Congress. Before that, she was political director for Gov. Gray Davis' gubernatorial campaign. She is to be paid $147,900.

Elliott, 40, is to be paid the same amount. Like Brown, he also is a Democrat.

Brown also appointed Nettie Sabelhaus, 63, to be a special adviser to the governor on appointments. Sabelhaus has been appointments director for the California Senate Rules Committee since 1999. The Democrat is to be paid $147,900 a year.

Pedro Reyes, 49, of Davis, was appointed chief deputy director for policy in the Department of Finance. He has been deputy policy director in the Speaker of the Assembly's Office since 2000. Reyes, a Democrat, is to be paid $152,112.

January 24, 2011
Steinberg announces Senate committee assignments

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced today the full proposed lineups for policy committees.

The assignments, posted in full after the jump, are expected to be confirmed by the Senate Rules Committee tomorrow.

January 24, 2011
Eight candidates to compete for Assembly seat

Seven Republicans and one Democrat met Monday's filing deadline to become candidates for the 4th District Assembly seat left vacant by Ted Gaines' recent move to the state Senate.

GOP candidates are Beth Gaines, Ted Gaines' wife, a homemaker with business experience; Roseville City Councilman John Allard; Cheryl Bly-Chester, founder of Rosewood Environmental Engineering; Matt Williams, a South Lake Tahoe attorney; Rob Matthews, a police officer; Mike O'Connor, a retiree and former Yuba County assistant personnel director; and Bogdan "Bo" Ambrozewicz, a business entrepreneur who has been involved in home and business construction.

The lone Democratic candidate is Dennis J. Campanale, a retired West Sacramento division fire chief who lost to Ted Gaines for the Assembly seat in November.

All eight candidates will run on the March 8 primary ballot. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes cast, the two top vote-getters -- regardless of party -- will square off May 3.

More than half the district's registered voters are from Placer County, 58 percent, compared to 28 percent from El Dorado, 13.6 percent from Sacramento, and less than a half-percent from Alpine.

January 24, 2011
Donnelly battles on Fox Business show

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly took his budget-cutting message national today on the Fox Business show "Varney & Co.," telling host Stuart Varney that Gov. Jerry Brown's spending plan perpetuates "cradle-to-grave, nanny state government."

Donnelly is getting mileage out of his video last week, produced by the Assembly GOP, in which he literally shreds part of Brown's budget proposal. As The Bee's Jack Chang reported, Donnelly took some liberties with the facts.

Fox-Biz host Stuart Varney tried in vain today to get lure Donnelly into addressing whether he's willing to hold out on the budget until the state is forced to issue IOUs. Donnelly, a freshman lawmaker, didn't take the bait.

"We can't support people cradle to grave, and that's what we have right now," he said.

Donnelly said the $12 billion in cuts Brown has proposed is "a good start," but clearly not enough. "He's just trimming around the edges," he said. "We really need to dig in and start talking about eliminating entire departments."

Varney suggested Donnelly should realize that Democrats won the elections in California and suggested he should compromise.

"There's a whole other group of voters that voted for me," Donnelly responded. "Some people would say they let the wrong guy in the building. Well, you know what? I'm going to make our voice heard and try to drive the debate to taking a look at the proper role of government."

January 24, 2011
Officials not sure when IOUs would be necessary

Updated at 2:30 p.m. to include comments from Controller John Chiang.

Treasurer Bill Lockyer set off alarm bells Saturday when he suggested California could begin issuing IOUs as early as April if lawmakers fail to take swift budget action.

The Department of Finance and Controller John Chiang have never mentioned such an early threat of IOUs, and their projections show the state will have enough cash to last through June even without a budget. Both the Department of Finance and Chiang's office didn't dispel Lockyer's claim Monday, but they also couldn't say when IOUs may become necessary.

The specter of IOUs has motivated lawmakers into action on the budget in recent years. Suggesting that IOUs loom near could be a way of pressuring lawmakers to act by Brown's deadline in March.

Jason Sisney, state finance director for the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, said IOU timing depends a lot on Chiang.

"It's really impossible to say when IOUs will be necessary if there's not progress on the budget," Sisney said. "That's because IOUs are largely a matter of the state controller's discretion. Even though you look at the numbers and don't see a problem until July or August, if the state controller believes it is prudent, he may trigger IOUs to give the state a larger margin of error."

Sisney also pointed out that the amount of revenues California receives in April, compared to projections, will play a role in determining the state's cash situation.

January 24, 2011
Jerry Brown to deliver State of the State next Monday

Gov. Jerry Brown will deliver his State of the State address next Monday, the final day of January.

Brown's predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, used his first State of the State address, in 2004, to propose a "total review" of government programs and to launch his campaign for a $15 billion debt-reduction bond.

Brown will likely use the stage to lobby for his budget plan, including his bid to extend temporary tax increases.

Brown's office has yet to announce details of the event. A source said it will be Monday evening.

January 24, 2011
Honeymoon? Not now - new legislator chooses work instead

Assemblyman Das Williams chose to report to the Capitol as usual Monday - rather than honeymoon with his bride.

"I'll go on a honeymoon when the budget passes or when we're on track to fix the fiscal crisis," the Santa Barbara Democrat said, smiling.

Williams, 36, married 23-year-old Jonnie Reinhold in what he called a "no frills," family-only ceremony Saturday overseen by his local pastor.

Politics is as responsible as Cupid, perhaps, for bringing the two together.

Williams, a freshman legislator, said he was campaigning for the Assembly seat at a health fair when he met Reinhold, who was giving swine flu shots at the event and works as a community health clinic program developer.

The two dated for about a year before Saturday's wedding, Williams said.

January 24, 2011
Controller John Chiang launches review of redevelopment

As fellow Democrats at the Capitol take aim at local redevelopment agencies as a way to close the state budget gap and send more money to local governments, State Controller John Chiang today launched a review of 18 agencies, including Sacramento County's.

Chiang said the review would find out how the agencies are using their money -- property taxes shifted from schools, special districts, counties and cities. Specifically, the review will determine how much the agencies spend on low- and moderate-income housing. State law requires the agencies to set aside part of their funds for such projects.

Chiang will also look at the salaries of redevelopment agency officials and how each agency determines which properties within their jurisdictions qualify as "blighted" and thus available to be included in a redevelopment area.

"The heated debate over whether RDAs are the engines of local economic and job growth or are simply scams providing windfalls to political cronies at the expense of public services has largely been based on anecdotal evidence," Chiang said in a statement. "As lawmakers deliberate the Governor's proposal to close RDAs and divert those funds to local schools and public safety agencies, I believe it is important to provide factual, empirical information about how these agencies perform and what they bring to the communities they serve."

Here are the 18 agencies Chiang will review:

January 24, 2011
Naylor joins Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk as 'of counsel' attorney

Fresh off of parting ways with one leading California political law firm, longtime political attorney Bob Naylor has joined forces with another major political player in California.

Naylor, a former Assembly GOP leader and California Republican Party chairman, is now serving as an "of counsel" attorney with Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP, practicing election and political law for specific clients and cases, partner Tom Hiltachk said.

"For us, he'll be available to us to assist our ongoing and future clients... it's a natural fit for us and an exciting opportunity," Hiltachk said, noting that Naylor has long had professional and personal ties to two of the firm's other partners.

Naylor announced late last year that he would be leaving his post as a partner at Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor, LLP, which has since changed its name, to start his own law and advocacy firm, Robert W. Naylor Advocacy. Hiltachk said Naylor intends to continue to operate his lobbying practice.

January 24, 2011
Just the Facts: Donnelly's Web video misleads

Rhetoric is heating up over Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, and the attacks and counter-attacks are flying. That means some fact-checking is in order.

We'll examine claims made in the budget debate and correct the record where needed.

Today's inaugural offering: Freshman Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly's online video from last week, arguably the strongest statement so far on the budget.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly's Take On The Governor's January Budget Proposal* from CA Assembly GOP on Vimeo.

In the nearly five-minute video, Donnelly slams Brown's budget proposal for being bloated and literally rips and shreds sections of it. In his commentary, he misrepresents a key element of Brown's budget plan and what two state agencies do.

January 24, 2011
Insurance company association names new president

Association of California Insurance Companies Vice President Mark Sektnan will take the reins as president of the trade association this spring, ACIC announced today.

Sektnan will take over March 1 for ACIC President Sam Sorich, who is retiring.

Sektnan has previously served as chief consultant to the Assembly Insurance Committee the Assembly Education Committee and the Assembly Government Efficiency and Consumer Protection Committee. He joined ACIC in January 2009.

The trade association, an arm of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, represents more than 300 property/casualty insurance companies that operate in California, according to a press release.

"Mark has a wealth of knowledge and a broad government affairs network. We are pleased he will continue to advance public policies which foster a competitive and healthy business environment," PCI Senior Vice President for State Government Relations Paul Blume said in a statement.

January 24, 2011
AM Alert: Subcommittees step up to the plate

Lawmakers are looking at what Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal means for all aspects of state government and services in a series of subcommittee hearings kicking off today.

First up at bat today is the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Education in the Senate (2:30 p.m. in Room 3191) and the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on State Administration (2 p.m. in Room 437).

The next several weeks are stuffed with budget hearings -- 27 scheduled in the Senate and 29 in the Assembly -- as Democrats scramble to meet an early March deadline for putting Brown's proposed tax extensions on the ballot.

See the full lineup of scheduled hearings in the Daily File for the Assembly and the Senate.

Also under the dome, the Senate is scheduled to meet for a 2 p.m. floor session. The Assembly will convene its session at noon.

MOVING POSTS: Jeannie Oropeza, the Schwarzenegger administration's top aide on education funding, has a new job with state schools chief Tom Torlakson. The Department of Finance veteran, who has worked for Democratic and Republican administrations, will join the Democratic superintendent of public instruction as the deputy superintendent of the fiscal, technology, and administration branch of the California Department of Education.

SUPREME COURT: State Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno steps down in five weeks. Vote for whom you think Brown will appoint to the bench using our reader-generated short list at this link.

SPECIAL ELECTION: Today is the filing deadline for candidates planning to run for the vacant 4th Assembly District seat. More than a half dozen candidates have said they will run in the March 8 special primary.

TALK: Freshman Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, will be on the "Varney & Co." show on the Fox Business Network live today at 7 a.m. Pacific Time talking about Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget. Check back later today on Capitol Alert for a fact check on Donnelly's video ripping the plan.

Editor's note: A previous version of this post misstated the name of Fox Business Network as Fox Business Channel.

January 24, 2011
POLL: Who will Jerry Brown nominate to Supreme Court?

Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno will hang up his robe five weeks from today, giving Gov. Jerry Brown the opportunity to make his first high court appointment.

With the vacancy fast approaching, Capitol Alert asked readers to submit their suggestions for Brown's short list.

Many of the names mentioned were Latino, likely because Moreno's departure will leaves the bench without any Latino members (he's also the only current justice appointed by a Democratic governor). In addition to the usual suspects, Gloria Allred, the attorney for Republican Meg Whitman's undocumented ex-housekeeper), was thrown into the mix.

Potential picks are posted below. Vote for who you think will likely be the nominee and watch for the results later this week. Feel free to make the case for your vote in the comments forum.

January 22, 2011
Jerry Brown advisers cite patience in campaign win

One of the hardest decisions Gov. Jerry Brown's advisers made in last year's gubernatorial race was to lay low during the summer, saving limited resources by staying off the air until after Labor Day.

Brown adviser Steve Glazer said at a Berkeley conference analyzing the campaign that one of Whitman's first ads, "40 years of failure," was a particularly "well-produced and well-researched" spot. He said "one of the toughest choices" Brown made was not responding to it.

Joe Trippi, who coordinated Brown's media effort, said consultants made several ads that never aired, setting up four or five potential air dates throughout the summer before canceling them.

The effect was beneficial. Trippi said Whitman erred by advertising continuously, becoming the "old, tired thing."

Whitman consultants declined to participate in the conference, attended by consultants, academics and reporters from across the state. Sharing the stage with Brown's advisers were three Republicans, including former Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte.

Whitman over-saturated the market, he said.

"By Labor Day, Jerry Brown, who was governor when I was in high school, was the fresh new face," he said.

Furthermore, Brown campaign polling showed Whitman ads backfiring, increasing her negative ratings more than they raised Brown's. Glazer called that phenomenon "amazing to us to see."

Roger Salazar of the independent expenditure committee California Working Families, which backed Brown, said his group tested messages in focus groups about Whitman. It found criticism of the former eBay CEO's business record did not play well, he said, but that attacking her trustworthiness did.

Brown and his allies attacked Whitman for her poor voting record and for airing ads judged by independent observers to be misleading.

Duf Sundheim, former chairman of the California Republican Party, said Whitman's consultants entered the race concerned it would become about character.

"They felt that they were vulnerable on that," he said.

Nor did Whitman's image improve, said former Assembly Republican leader Robert Naylor. He said she suffered from a "cumulative thing of ducking the press, not being spontaneous."

In private gatherings, Naylor said, Whitman was "excellent on her feet," but it "didn't come out in the campaign."

"It was quite remarkable," he said.

Brown's advisers maintained they were not involved in Whitman's housekeeper controversy. Sundheim said he knew as many as 10 days before the story broke that a union was "shopping it" around.

The panel conversation, though thorough, revealed little that had not previously been reported about the campaign.

Nor were Brown's advisers in a secret-telling mood.

Asked to identify the person in Brown's campaign recorded calling Whitman a "whore," Glazer said, "What's the question, again?"

Glazer said, as he has before, "We could not make out, from our point of view, who it was."

January 22, 2011
Lockyer warns IOUs likely if budget talks fail

The state could begin issuing IOUs in April or May if Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature fail in their budget negotiations, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer said this afternoon.

IOUs could be required if the state is "unable to meet the self-imposed deadlines by the governor and the Legislature to adopt a budget in a timely way," he told academics and political consultants at a conference in Berkeley.

Brown is seeking to have a budget deal in place by March, proposing massive spending reductions and a ballot measure to extend temporary tax increases to resolve California's yawning budget deficit.

Lockyer said the "all-cut" alternative that could be required if voters do not extend tax increases is so awful Brown and Democratic lawmakers should make it public, despite not wanting to appear threatening to voters. He said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is considering asking the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office to issue such a document.

January 22, 2011
Analyst: Whitman, not blue state, to blame for her loss

Republican Meg Whitman lost the gubernatorial race to Democrat Jerry Brown because of her housekeeper scandal and relatively poor performance among Republicans, not because Democrats' registration advantage made a Republican victory impossible, said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at University of California, San Diego.

"Nothing was inevitable in this campaign," Kousser told political consultants, academics and reporters meeting in Berkeley this morning to analyze the race.

Whitman's consultants said after her drubbing that the Republican nominee could not overcome Democrats' 13-point registration advantage in California, and some observers wondered how any Republican could win.

But that concern was almost nonexistent just a few months before Election Day, when Whitman and Brown were running nearly even in the polls, Kousser said. Before Brown's victory, Republican candidates had won six of the last eight gubernatorial races, he said.

Tony Quinn, a political analyst and former Republican legislative aide, said Republicans must follow the lead of Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, also a blue state. Christie appealed to voters by attacking public employee unions and proposing massive spending cuts.

Whitman, who praised Christie, made similar proposals in her campaign. Quinn said she didn't make them well enough.

Kenneth Miller, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, said Republican candidates can win statewide election, but he said their registration disadvantage is a real obstacle.

"The terrain for Republicans is just incredibly difficult," he said.

Miller said Republican victories in California will be the "rare exception" unless the GOP can appeal more broadly to the electorate, including minorities.

January 21, 2011
Pollsters battle in Berkeley

Bristling at criticism by Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo that automated polls were less reliable than traditional polls in last year's gubernatorial race, pollster Jay Leve said today that his outfit, on average, has been more accurate than DiCamillo's in final polls in gubernatorial races since 1994.

DiCamillo and Leve, of Survey USA, were seated at opposite ends of a stage in Berkeley, in a panel conversation at a conference analyzing last year's gubernatorial race. DiCamillo had spent most of his time critiquing the performance of automated telephone polls, and the PowerPoint that Leve brought with him suggested he was expecting the attack.

"Mark DiCamillo's heart is in the right place, but his analysis is shortsighted and ultimately unproductive," Leve said.

Between the June primary and Election Day, 40 different public polls were conducted, more than ever before, DiCamillo said.

Of those polls, 25 were automated, he said, and he lamented their "methodological shortcuts" and "unbalanced samples." While traditional polls showed Brown pulling away from Whitman in the months before Election Day, automated polls' results were widely mixed, he said. They were also less consistent immediately before the election, he said.

"Their data collectively," DiCamillo said, "gave a less clear picture of what was going on in the race."

Leve, who focused on final polls taken before elections, said his final poll last year had Gov. Jerry Brown's lead over Meg Whitman in double digits, and his poll's average error since 1994 is less than the Field Poll's, he said.

January 21, 2011
Brown appoints CPUC Commissioner Nancy Ryan to staff post

NancyRyanlg.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has appointed California Public Utilities Commission member Nancy Ryan deputy executive director of the powerful regulatory agency.

The move means Brown will have three spots to fill on the commission, appointments his office said in a statement will be announced "in the days ahead." The terms of two of the commission's five members, all of whom are gubernatorial appointees, expired last month, while Ryan was facing an end-of-the-month deadline for Senate confirmation.

Ryan, who has previously served as CPUC deputy executive director was appointed to the commission by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in January 2010. Ryan, a Democrat, has also served as chief of staff to Commission President Michael Peevey and as a deputy regional director and economist for the Environmental Defense Fund. The new job, which does not require Senate confirmation, pays a salary of $134,808.

"Serving the people of California as a CPUC Commissioner has been the greatest of privileges for me. I am pleased that I can continue to serve by returning to my previous position as the CPUC's Deputy Executive Director for Policy," Ryan said in a statement.

The CPUC regulates electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water and transit companies.

PHOTO: Nancy Ryan, via PUC website.

January 21, 2011
Whitman's money shaped primary, UC Berkeley panel agrees

UC Berkeley's regular post-election conference is under way at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza, and the clear theme of the first session, which analyzed the gubernatorial primary -- billionaire Republican candidate Meg Whitman's money.

In the thick of the primary race, both Democratic candidate Jerry Brown and Republican Steve Poizner based many of their political calculations on how to counter Whitman's threat to spend up to $150 million of her own money on the race. She ended up spending more than $140 million.

Poizner strategist Jim Bognet said that money allowed Whitman to rebound after Poizner pummeled her with ads attacking her immigration positions and her ties to the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Whitman's monster lead over Poizner, which widened to around 50 percentage points at one point, shrank to single digits, according to some polls.

Whitman spent $15 million on direct mail criticizing Poizner compared to the $400,000 Poizner spent on mail, Bognet said. Poizner ultimately burned through about $25 million of his own money.

"We were taking punches left and right, on the radio, from September, on TV, from February," Bognet said. "We really couldn't punch back. When we did punch back on character and on immigration where there was differentiation, she didn't take the punch very well for six weeks. She then kind of rebooted her campaign with a new message."

The result: Poizner losing the nomination to Whitman by more than 30 percentage points.

January 21, 2011
CHP investigating graffiti threatening Jerry Brown

The California Highway Patrol is investigating graffiti messages in Santa Ana as threatening Gov. Jerry Brown.

"The CHP is aware of the graffiti messages and is investigating them as threats to the governor," CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader said today.

The Associated Press, citing City News Service, reported that officers on Thursday were notified of graffiti messages in two parts of the city. One of them, spray-painted in red, included a swastika and the message "27 more days 4 Brown," the news agency reported.

January 21, 2011
Steinberg wants big review to kill regulations

20110120_HA_STEINBERG1217.JPGCalifornia Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, today said he will pursue emergency legislation forcing state agencies to review all regulations and recommend a wholesale re-writing of the state's regulatory scheme.

In an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau, Steinberg said he'll propose "urgency legislation that directs each state agency to review its regulations, identify any duplicative, archaic or inconsistent rules."

Steinberg said lawmakers could then act on the recommendations over the next six months, perhaps expunging some rules from the 5,000-page California Code of Regulations as part of the state budget negotiations.

"To our knowledge, no one, not a previous governor, not the agencies and not the Legislature have ever compelled this sort of retrospective review to ensure that state regulations are streamlined, that they're up to date and that they're consistent with the law," Steinberg said.

The idea drew a positive response from Sen. Bob Dutton, the minority Republican Senate leader, who said that GOP bills to eliminate regulations have met with defeat for years in the Legislature.

"I would like to thank Senate Pro Tem Steinberg for his decision today to introduce urgency legislation to review all of California's thousands of regulations that have contributed to the loss of private-sector jobs over the past several years," Dutton, of Rancho Cucamonga, said in a statement.

Democratic leader Steinberg said his is not an effort to "weaken or undermine public health, environmental or worker safety protections," but rather to make it easier for businesses to "wade through the often difficult, complicated, duplicative bureaucracies that delay economic investment and job growth."

Steinberg, who held a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting this week with high-profile business figures, said he also wants urgency legislation that allows businesses or others to request a "consolidated and coordinated" state review process to obtain permits.

"Government needs to be more nimble," Steinberg said.

January 21, 2011
Steinberg casts doubt on redevelopment moratorium

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg suggested Friday that lawmakers won't pursue an immediate freeze on redevelopment activities, contrary to fears that have prompted cities to approve a flurry of projects in the last week.

Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, said during a meeting with the Bee Capitol Bureau that it is "not a constructive move" for cities to rush money out the door to thwart Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal.

But, he added, "I don't anticipate emergency legislation because I think we're six weeks away from an actual budget vote, and I think that I'd rather not have that difficult debate twice. I think we'll have it once."

Steinberg focused his attention on the $1.7 billion in redevelopment funds that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to tap to balance the 2011-12 budget. He said that piece was "obviously crucial," though he said he's "open to sitting down with the redevelopment agencies" to discuss Brown's proposal to dissolve them.

January 21, 2011
Congress exploring bankruptcy options for states?

Post updated at 11:20 a.m. with statement from State Treasurer Bill Lockyer.

Our message boards and voice mailboxes have been filled over the years with the b-word - bankruptcy - in various forms of prognostication about where California's budget situation is headed.

Each time, the retort has been simple: bankruptcy is not an option for states.

But what if it were?

The New York Times reports today that some members of Congress are quietly discussing ways in which states could pursue bankruptcy or a bankruptcy-like avenue that would allow them to restructure their debts. The focus seems to be less about states' current operating deficits and more about long-term pension obligations that are so vast that states may at some point determine they cannot pay them.

The Times notes that proponents have been "going about their work on tiptoe." That's because the mere talk of states declaring bankruptcy could make bond markets nervous, municipal securities expert, Paul S. Maco, told the paper.

Mr. Maco said the mere introduction of a state bankruptcy bill could lead to "some kind of market penalty," even if it never passed. That "penalty" might be higher borrowing costs for a state and downward pressure on the value of its bonds. Individual bondholders would not realize any losses unless they sold.

The story also suggests that the proposal may be a device for states to use in pension negotiations with public employee unions, given that bankruptcy "could permit a state to alter its contractual promises to retirees, which are often protected by state constitutions."

Alex Anderson, a municipal bond expert as portfolio manager with Los Angeles-based Envision Capital Management, told us the Times story has been "the talk of the market today" and he's seen more retail investors trying to sell municipal bonds in recent weeks. But he cautioned that "at this point, it's all talk. There's no sign of anything being drafted right now, and this would take years to enact."

California's credit rating remains the worst in the nation, but state fiscal officials have taken pains to assure the market that threat of default is slim. Expect another response today.

Update (11:20 a.m.): State Treasurer Bill Lockyer responded with this statement:

"To the folks in Congress cooking this baloney: Don't bother. States didn't ask for it. We don't want it. We don't need it. Bankruptcy would devastate states' ability to recover from the recession and make the infrastructure investments that create good jobs. It would inflict severe injury on taxpayers. Advocates of this preposterous idea want one thing above all - to see government go up in flames and, with it, the lives of a certain class of working people they don't like."

"The people making this dangerous suggestion - and those who lend it credibility it doesn't deserve - confuse states' near-term budget deficits with long-term funding obligations. The latter, including pension obligations, are serious problems. We are dealing with them by reducing benefits and increasing employees' contributions, among other moves. With respect to our budget shortfalls, we have the tools to fix them without taking a wrecking ball to our economies and taxpayers. Thanks, but we'll pass on the Gingrich Kool-Aid."

January 21, 2011
AM Alert: Analyzing the governor's race

Christmas has finally arrived for California campaign junkies.

UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies kicks off its annual election post-mortem with a series of panels exploring why the results turned out the way they did Nov. 2.

The two-day conference, "The 2010 Governor's Race: The Inside Story," will bring together campaign consultants, political scientists, journalists, pollsters and more to take a closer look at the much-watched campaign.

Panelists representing various sides of the governor's race -- both in the primary and general election -- will be on hand, including Steve Glazer, Sterling Clifford and Joe Trippi from Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign and Jim Bognet, Lanhee Chen and Jarrod Agen speaking on behalf of Republican Steve Poizner's failed primary bid.

GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman and her advisers declined to participate -- marking the first time since the conference started in 1990 that the losing side has opted out of the discussion, organizers say.

The former eBay chief executive, who's been largely silent since the start, told the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday: "I don't know that it makes sense to rehash the whole thing."

Former California Republican Party Chairman Duf Sundheim and former Republican legislative leader Jim Brulte will tell why they think Whitman lost.

See a full list of scheduled speakers and panelists at the two-day conference, held at The Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley, at this link.

TOWN HALL: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is holding a town hall on the budget at Sacramento's Belle Cooledge Library on Saturday. Tune in or submit questions for the 10 a.m. forum at this link.

SPECIAL ELECTIONS: County election officials will start processing applications today for vote-by-mail ballots in the 17th and 28th Senate District special elections. Voters go to the polls for the districts' special primaries on Feb. 15.

January 20, 2011
Meg Whitman named to Hewlett-Packard board of directors

JV_WHITMAN 589.JPGFormer GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was named to Hewlett-Packard's board of directors today as the company announced a series of changes to its board.

The former eBay chief executive, who lost the November gubernatorial contest to Gov. Jerry Brown, is one of five new members appointed to the board.

Whitman has largely stayed out of the public spotlight since Nov. 2, surfacing today to speak at a private San Francisco event for young women associated with Harvard University, her own alma mater for business school.

Before the event, Whitman told the San Francisco Chronicle that she plans to "keep my hand in public policy and politics" and focus on work on several company and non-profit boards.

The New York Times has more on the HP board shake-up, which was triggered by the forced resignation of the company's top executive, here.

PHOTO CREDIT: California governatorial candidate Meg Whitman arrived at In-N-Out Burgers off Del Paso Heights Rd in Natomas to meet and greet while. October 15, 2010. Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee.

January 20, 2011
Brown declares new fiscal emergency

Same fiscal crisis, new owner.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a new fiscal emergency, Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said Thursday.

Brown's proclamation, obtained from a source, reboots a 45-day clock for legislative action as the governor seeks a budget deal by March.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency Dec. 6 on his way out the door, but lawmakers opted to wait for Brown's budget instead, ignoring Schwarzenegger's special session.

Had Brown not declared a new fiscal emergency, lawmakers would have been barred under Proposition 58 from acting on policy matters unrelated to the budget. The new declaration also allows Brown to replace Schwarzenegger's partial budget solution with his own plan to solve for a $26.4 billion budget problem.

January 20, 2011
Senate honors late Long Beach Democrat Jenny Oropeza

JENNY OROPEZA 2006.JPGThe state Senate convened this morning to honor the life of Democratic Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who died in October at age 53 after battling illness.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called the Long Beach Democrat "a crusader for the rights of women and girls and a champion for all of us as consumers."

"Frankly, I walk into these chambers and I still expect Jenny Oropeza to lift her mic right over there and to give an impassioned argument about one of her many causes," he said. "For when I think of Jenny, and when we all think of Jenny, we think of her first and foremost as a fighter. She fought for the health of children, for the health of our wives and our mothers, our sisters and daughters, for all Californians."

Colleagues praised Oropeza's focus on cancer prevention and limiting exposure to cancer-causing agents, including cigarette smoke, a passion fueled by her own battle with cancer.

"She used her fight against cancer not as an excuse to work less but as an inspiration to work harder," Steinberg said.

January 20, 2011
Suit filed to stop Schwarzenegger's commutation of Núñez sentence

Kicking off a potentially sweeping legal battle, a lawsuit filed today says former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had the right to commute the prison sentence of a political friend's son -- but violated crime victims' rights guaranteed under a 2008 law adopted by California voters.

The lawsuit filed in Sacramento by the family of Luis Santos, who was killed in an assault involving former Speaker Fabian Núñez's son, invokes the "Marsy's Law" constitutional right of crime victims to be notified before a reduction in sentencing is considered.

Fred Santos, Luis' father, spoke outside Sacramento County Superior Court, where the lawsuit was filed.

"By commuting the sentence of one our son's killers, Arnold Schwarzenegger committed a gross injustice against Luis and my family," Santos said, "against the families of the other victims of the crime, against the people of California and against the constitution of this state."

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger said the former governor would have no comment on the lawsuit.

January 20, 2011
Lawmakers set date to honor Martin Luther King -- late

US NEWS MLKDAY 15 RA.JPGBetter late than never?

The Senate and Assembly passed identical resolutions today setting a date to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s leadership of a 1960s civil rights movement that "helped change public policy from segregation to integration."

The measures were passed as part of various other King-related events, including an appearance by Gov. Jerry Brown at a breakfast hosted by the California Legislative Black Caucus.

Legislative aides said the Senate and Assembly resolutions were ceremonial, noting that King already is the focus of a national holiday.

Here's the rub: Both resolutions designate the same date for honoring King and for performing community service in his memory -- Jan. 17, 2011.

Three days ago.

PHOTO CREDIT: Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County grab hold of their signs before participating in the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial March in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Monday, January 17, 2011. (Ted Richardson/ Raleigh News & Observer/ MCT)

January 20, 2011
Redevelopment rush also occurred in 1993

More than a dozen cities have fast-tracked redevelopment proposals ever since Gov. Jerry Brown released his plan to eliminate the local agencies that use property tax revenues to subsidize construction projects.

The redevelopment rush is not unprecedented.

A similar flurry of activity occurred in 1993 when the state enacted a stricter blight definition. As a 1994 Legislative Analyst's Office report detailed, cities moved quickly to expand their redevelopment areas in 1993, likely out of fear that such neighborhoods wouldn't qualify under the new blight definition in subsequent years.

The Analyst's Office found that local governments placed three times as much land in redevelopment zones in 1993 than they did in the previous year. In one case, the report found, "the City of San Diego approved a redevelopment plan for land near San Diego State University which does not appear to suffer from severe or intractable problems," contrary to the stricter blight definition.

With that in mind, the Analyst's Office suggested last week that lawmakers may want to think about imposing a temporary freeze on redevelopment expansion to allow debate to unfold. That hasn't happened so far, and some cities now appear to be easing off the pedal as they monitor the situation in Sacramento. Los Angeles, for instance, delayed action on $930 million in redevelopment projects on Tuesday, while San Jose also backed off Wednesday.

January 20, 2011
Brown calls education funding 'a civil rights issue'

Gov. Jerry Brown this morning called education funding a civil rights issue, defending his proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies to reduce California's yawning budget deficit and to push more tax revenue to schools and public safety.

"We take from redevelopment and we put $1 billion into schools, that's a good thing, because we've got to make sure whatever we do, we give a chance to those who are coming along in the next generation," Brown said at a breakfast hosted by the California Legislative Black Caucus to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "And that is a civil rights issue."

Brown made a similar, if less explicit, assertion in remarks to city officials the previous day, suggesting a developing line of argument.

"We know Latino and African American kids are way behind other kids," Brown said at a conference hosted by the League of California Cities, which opposes Brown's redevelopment proposal. "We know the poor districts are not as good as the wealthier districts, so I don't want to take more money from schools. I'd like to put more money into schools. So that's just where we are. And where do we get the money? Well, that's the rub. And this proposal I have is to basically restore what was before where the local property taxes go for local functions, whether it's fire or police or schools or whatever the cities and the counties are doing."

January 20, 2011
Cedillo's pay-cut challenge killed by state claims board

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo's challenge of a 2009 pay cut totaling millions in pay and benefits for legislators and other California elected officials was rejected today by a state agency.

The Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board sustained a staff recommendation in turning thumbs down. The action was taken without comment as part of the consent agenda.

Cedillo said that he expected his claim to be rejected by the state and that he plans to pursue his fight by suing.

The Los Angeles Democrat contends that the California Citizens Compensation Commission exceeded its authority by reducing pay and benefits by 18 percent, a cut that went into effect in December 2009.

Specifically, Cedillo's claim argues that the panel has no control over per diem and car allowances; that cutting officials' pay mid-term is unconstitutional; and that it did not give adequate consideration to time spent on the job and to pay for similar positions in the public and private sectors.

Cedillo also contends that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used the possibility of a pay cut - the commission consists entirely of gubernatorial appointees - as leverage in an attempt to extract budget concessions from legislators. Schwarzenegger, through an aide, has denied Cedillo's accusation.

Cedillo, who is seeking back pay for elected officials affected by the 2009 pay cut, said last week that his challenge is a matter of principle because state commissions must abide by the law. He said his challenge would benefit colleagues but that he is not acting at their behest or in conjunction with them.

Asked who will pay the attorneys fees in a court fight, Cedillo said simply, "We'll figure that out."

Besides California's 120 legislators, Cedillo's claim would affect the state's constitutional officers - ranging from governor to schools superintendent to members of the state Board of Equalization.

The 2009 pay cut sliced legislative salaries from $116,208 to $95,291, and it chopped per diem from $173 to $142 per day. The latter is a stipend given to lawmakers while the Legislature is in session to defray living expenses while they are away from home in Sacramento.

Other state elected officials also saw their pay reduced by 18 percent -- for example, gubernatorial pay fell from $212,179 to $173,987, and Board of Equalization salaries dropped from $159,134 to $130,490.

* Updated at 1 p.m. with reaction from Assemblyman Gil Cedillo.

January 20, 2011
California gets low marks for anti-smoking efforts

KRG_SMOKING_0047.JPGThe American Lung Association praises California for its laws barring smoking in public places, but otherwise gives the state low marks in its annual state-by-state survey of anti-smoking efforts.

California - like all but a few other states - was given an "F" for its spending on anti-smoking campaigns. The Centers for Disease Control says California should be spending nearly $442 million a year, but it spends only $89.7 million, all of which comes from cigarette taxes and federal allocations.

It also gets a "D" for its relatively low level of cigarette taxes, 87 cents a pack, and another "F" for its laws and regulations compelling health insurers to cover smoking cessation treatment. Nationwide, cigarette taxes range from $4.35 a pack in New York to 17 cents in Missouri.

The lung association is one of the sponsors of a ballot measure -- which could face voters as early as June -- that would would raise the tobacco tax by $1 a pack to fund cancer research and smoking prevention programs.

Overall, the ALA says, California has 235 annual deaths per 100,000 population attributed to smoking, roughly in the middle of the states. The lowest rate of smoking deaths is in Utah, 138.3, and the highest is in adjacent Nevada, 343.7.

The full Lung Association report may be found here.

PHOTO CREDIT:Carmen Werle smokes a cigarette on her lunch break outside the Department of Justice in Sacramento on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. Kyle Grantham/Sacramento Bee.

January 20, 2011
Rex Babin: Redevelopment Gold Rush

SED_G0120_4BABIN0120.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpg

Above is Bee political cartoonist Rex Babin's take on how local redevelopment agencies have reacted to Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal to eliminate their funding. Click here for a collection of Babin's work.

January 20, 2011
AD4 hopeful Bly-Chester on the airwaves with radio spots

Republican Cheryl Bly-Chester, a candidate for the 4th Assembly District special election, hit the airwaves today with a pair of new radio spots.

The two ads, which will run across the district for the next month, highlight the environmental consultant's professional ties to the district and experience as a single mother of three children, saying she has the "know-how and determination to protect our jobs."

Bly-Chester, a 2003 gubernatorial recall candidate, is running in a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace Roseville Republican Ted Gaines, who was elected to the state Senate earlier this month. Candidates include Republicans Beth Gaines, John Allard, Rob Matthews, Michael Babich and Mike O'Connor and Democrat Dennis J. Campanale.

Candidates will vie in a March 8 "top two" style primary election. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the two top vote-getters will face off in a May 3 run-off.

The ads can be heard here and here.

January 20, 2011
AM Alert: Honoring Jenny Oropeza

The state Senate will honor the memory of the late Sen. Jenny Oropeza today.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will deliver a eulogy, with several other members expected to speak as well.

The Long Beach Democrat, who had been stricken with a blood clot, died unexpectedly in October at age 53.

The memorial ceremony, which will be held during the upper house's floor session, is expected to start at around 10 a.m.

Also this morning, Gov. Jerry Brown will be the keynote speaker at the Legislative Black Caucus' annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast.

Brown issued a statement Monday praising the civil rights leader for transforming "America by challenging us to bridge our differences and strive for equality."

The 7:30 a.m. event, which doubles as a leadership awards ceremony, is at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Also expected to attend: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who will help lead the Assembly's recognition of King later in the morning.

Meanwhile, Republican Meg Whitman is scheduled to make her first publicized appearance since the election she lost to Brown.

Whitman will speak to 20 female alumnae of Harvard University, where she earned a graduate business degree, at a sold-out luncheon today at the Harvard Club in San Francisco.

PRESSER: The family of the man killed in a fight that involved the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez will discuss their plans to sue over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to cut the prison sentence of Esteban Núñez at an 11 a.m. press conference at the Sacramento County Courthouse.

January 19, 2011
Secretary of State office evacuated due to suspicious package

A floor of the Secretary of State building was evacuated late this afternoon due to a suspicious package.

Shannan Velayas, spokesperson for the secretary of state's office, said staff evacuated the building out of an "abundance of caution" shortly after an employee opened a package that contained an unidentified ashy, powder substance.

Safety officials determined the package contents to be non-hazardous. Employees were allowed to return to the building, CHP spokesperson Jaime Coffee said.

January 19, 2011
Jerry Brown pitches city leaders on axing redevelopment

ha_Jerry BROWN Jan. 19 2011.JPGShort of an anti-tax rally, Gov. Jerry Brown probably couldn't have found a more hostile audience this week than a League of California Cities conference.

Ever since the Democratic governor proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies to help balance the state budget, cities have been outraged, some going so far as to push projects out the door in emergency meetings in an effort to thwart Brown's plan.

But the few hundred city leaders gathered Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento were respectful when Brown spoke at their luncheon, never mind the table outside declaring, "Stop the State's Redevelopment Proposal."

"I've been reading all those blog entries; they're all riled up," Brown said at the outset. "Actually, you look pretty good to me. You know, you look relatively benign."

January 19, 2011
California politicians heading to White House China state dinner

The guest list for tonight's White House state dinner for visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao includes a handful of current and former politicians from California.

Democratic Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Howard Berman, and Judy Chu, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, and San Francisco's new mayor Edwin Lee are expected to be in attendance, as are former state controller and gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly and former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, a major player in California's last election cycle.

Other notable California residents on the list include actor Jackie Chan, singer Barbara Streisand, jazz musician Herbie Hancock, cellist Yo Yo Ma, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert Iger and Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini.

A full list of the 200-plus attendees, released by the White House today, is posted on POLITICO. Culinary-minded readers can salivate over the planned menu at this link.

January 19, 2011
Scarves, ties among foreign gifts to California representatives

ITALY PELOSI.jpgCalifornia Rep. Nancy Pelosi got to keep just one of the three E. Marinella scarves given to her by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

But a pair of Murano glass candlesticks and a matching footed bowl of gold iridescent glass from the Italian leader -- worth $950 -- were kept for official display in the House speaker's office that the San Francisco Democrat then occupied.

Those items were among scores of gifts that foreign government sources gave to federal employees in 2009, according to State Department records released in the Federal Register this week.

Pelosi, who returned two scarves because they exceeded gift limits, also reported receiving a 4-by-6-foot silk screen of the Yangtze River gorge from Chinese official Wu Bangguo. Her office was granted permission to keep that $500 piece of art for official use, too.

Democratic Rep. George Miller of Martinez, the only other California member listed in the report, was given eight ties from Berlusconi worth an estimated $560, four of which he reported keeping for personal use.

In all cases, the report notes, accepting the gift was justified because "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. government."

Click here to see the full gift report.

PHOTO CREDIT: Then- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the Villa Madama residence, in Rome, Tuesday Feb. 17, 2009, during her weeklong visit to Italy. (AP Photo/ Pier Paolo Cito)

January 19, 2011
VIDEO: GOP Assemblyman rips, shreds Jerry Brown's budget

1.18.11 Asm. Donnelly / Budget Shreding from CA Assembly GOP on Vimeo.


If a new online video by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, is any indication, Gov. Jerry Brown has a ways to go to convince Republican legislators to go along with his budget plan.

The video, which was posted on the conservative website FlashReport, shows Donnelly dissing parts of the budget plan and ripping out sections and shredding them. The video brings to mind congressional Republicans, who knocked around and tied up copies of the Democratic health care reform plan.

You can also see the video here on Donnelly's official website.

The Southern California Assemblyman does, however, offer more specific budget proposals than many of his GOP colleagues have. He criticizes the California Air Resources Board, and apparently rips out and shreds the section of the budget related to the board. He also proposes eliminating the Employment Development Department (ripped, shredded) and deporting illegal immigrants in state prisons.

January 19, 2011
Damon Dunn is named fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution

Damon Dunn Stanford 1997.JPGFormer GOP down-ticket candidate Damon Dunn has been named visiting fellow at his alma mater Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Dunn, who played football for Stanford, will serve as a economic and public policy fellow there through the 2012 academic year, according to a release.

"I look forward to working with preeminent leaders in public policy as we help the Golden State regain some of its luster," he said in a statement.

Dunn, who lost a November bid to unseat Democrat Debra Bowen, is a businessman and former professional football player. The first-time candidate was included on Time magazine's "40 under 40" list of political up-and-comers last fall.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this file photo, Stanford wide receiver Damon Dunn is lifted by teammates after Stanford beat the University of California 21-20 in the 100th Big Game, Saturday, Nov. 22, 1997 at Stanford, Calif., Stadium. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

January 19, 2011
Memorial for Sen. Jenny Oropeza set for Thursday

JENNY OROPEZA 2006.JPGThe Senate on Thursday will celebrate the life of the late Sen. Jenny Oropeza, a Long Beach Democrat who championed cancer-prevention legislation and died last October at age 53 after a long illness.

Oropeza will be eulogized by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat. The tribute will start around 10 a.m. Several of the late senator's colleagues are also scheduled to speak about her life and work.

Oropeza's mother, Sharon, is expected to attend, along with a brother and sister. The first Latina member of the Long Beach City Council, Oropeza also served in the Assembly and on transportation and education boards in the Los Angeles area.

She fought cancer and defeated it, but last year suffered from a blood clot that weakened her health.

In 2005, the League of California Cities' Latino Caucus named her legislator of the year. The Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters in 2006 recognized her legislative work to curb air pollution and increase cancer prevention.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly Member Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, smiles on the floor of the Assembly before the vote on an education and levee deal, Wednesday March 15, 2006. Sacramento Bee file photo / Brian Baer

January 19, 2011
Washington's top-two primary clears another court challenge

The top-two primary system that was the model for California's new election rules has survived another court challenge.

A federal judge in Washington state last week rejected major political parties' arguments that the top-two system and its process for identifying party preference "creates voter confusion that unconstitutionally infringes on their First Amendment associational freedoms."

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour concluded:

Put simply, Washington's implementation of I-872 with respect to partisan offices is constitutional because the ballot and accompanying information concisely and clearly explain that a candidate's political-party preference does not imply that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party or that the party approves of or associates with that candidate. These instructions -- along with voters' ability to understand campaign issues and the fact that the voters themselves approved the new election system through the initiative process -- eliminate the possibility of widespread voter confusion and with it the threat to the First Amendment. The reasonable, well-informed electorate understands that the primary does not determine the nominees of the political parties but instead serves to winnow the number of candidates to a final list of two for the general election.

The judge did strike the Washington law's provision to hold top-two contests for electing the major political parties' precinct directors. Click here to download a PDF of the full ruling.

January 19, 2011
Family to sue Schwarzenegger for cutting prison sentence

Schwarzenegger Clemency Nunez.JPGThe family of a young man killed in an altercation with former Speaker Fabian Núñez's son plans to file a lawsuit Thursday against former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because of a prison sentence commutation.

The family of Luis Dos Santos, a student stabbed to death in San Diego in 2008, plan to file a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court accusing Schwarzenegger of violating their constitutional rights under "Marsy's Law," according to the family's attorneys.

Marsy's Law, a voter-approved 2008 constitutional amendment, requires victims of crimes, including family, be notified of parole hearings in advance so they have a chance to be heard at a hearing.

On Jan. 2, his last day in office, Schwarzenegger used his executive power to reduce the sentence of Esteban Núñez, the former speaker's son, from 16 to seven years in prison.

The younger Núñez, Schwarzenegger said in a message, had not wielded the knife that killed Santos and had no prior criminal record. It was excessive to give him the same sentence as the attacker who used the knife, Schwarzenegger said.

Prosecutors said Esteban Núñez did stab another man. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for Santos' killing and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with his attack on another man.

Fred and Kathy Santos, Luis' parents, will attend a press conference in Sacramento on Thursday, said Kelli Reid, spokeswoman for the family's attorneys, Nina Salarno Ashford and Laura Strasser.

San Diego Deputy District Attorney Jill DiCarlo, who prosecuted Santos' attackers, will attend the 11 a.m. press conference at the Sacramento County Courthouse with representatives of Parents of Murdered Children and others, Reid said.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this Wednesday, March 18, 2009, file photo, former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, right, and his son Esteban Núñez, left, leave a hearing in Superior Court in San Diego. (AP Photo/ Denis Poroy, File)

January 19, 2011
Major retailers back bid for 'Amazon tax' in California

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner is making another run at forcing major online retailers, including Amazon, to collect sales tax on California purchases.

Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, said the bill could generate between $250 million and $500 million for the state. Proponents are hoping that a new governor and some major corporate firepower, including Amazon rival Barnes & Noble, will help the legislation succeed where it failed before.

Former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was adamant in his opposition the past two years, arguing that the bill would cost the jobs of "affiliates" in California who earn income by generating sales for Amazon and other companies. He vetoed previous legislation and blocked online tax proposals during budget talks.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has not yet stated a position on the bill. It is not part of his plan to bridge a $25.4 billion deficit.

Democrats say they can pass the bill with a majority vote because it changes the collection mechanism for a tax Californians are already supposed to pay.

January 19, 2011
Skeptical local officials prepare for Jerry Brown

When Gov. Jerry Brown crosses the street from the Capitol this afternoon to pitch his budget plan to new mayors and city council members, he will likely find the reception less than warm.

Local officials are resistant to Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies, and at a morning session of the League of California Cities New Mayors and Council Members Academy, Dan Carrigg, the group's legislative director, told the audience to make a point of it to Brown.

"I'm sure he's going to try to make a pitch as to why his proposals are necessary," Carrigg told officials at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento.

"We need to, obviously, listen respectfully," Carrigg said. But he told the officials they have an obligation to their communities to promote the value of redevelopment, what he called "the most significant economic development tool that cities have."

In the lobby were signs inviting local officials to join a coalition to "stop the state's redevelopment proposal," and Carrigg encouraged them from the podium to join the campaign.

"The stakes are pretty high right now," he said.

The League of California Cities is not an insignificant player at the Capitol. The officials were told this morning that the League's political strength relies on the relationships local officials have with lawmakers and with business and community groups.

A form was passed out asking them to list any "key political contact(s)" they might have. Included was a line to describe the type of relationship, listing the examples "golf club member, neighbor, personal friend."

January 19, 2011
Gavin Newsom suggests challenging Jerry Brown's UC cuts

Gavin Newsom inaugurationIn his first remarks at a University of California Board of Regents meeting this morning, Lt. Gov. and Regent Gavin Newsom proposed challenging half a billion dollars in cuts to the UC system proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Newsom said the regents shouldn't automatically accept the cuts and said, "I'm not convinced we're going to lose that half a billion dollars."

The remark suggested Newsom won't hew tightly to the Brown administration line as lieutenant governor, despite coming from the same party and sharing longtime family ties. Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, had expressed some concern about Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies on Jan. 10, just minutes after taking the oath of office.

Wednesday's remarks at the Board of Regents meeting, however, reflected a stronger tone from Newsom. The lieutenant governor's office comes with a Board of Regents seat.

Overall, Newsom struck an ambitious and challenging theme at the meeting held at UC San Diego, after UC President Mark Yudof warned his audience of the painful cuts to come.

"I sit here bewildered by the state not of only our state but the state of our UC system," Newsom said. "I didn't come here to fail more efficiently. I didn't come here to play in the margins. I didn't want this job to keep asking the same old questions."

He added, "I think we need to ask some different questions around here."

Newsom also said he planned to "blow up" the state Commission for Economic Development, which he chairs as lieutenant governor.

"It's been frankly a waste of energy of folks participating," he said.

Photo: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during his inauguration ceremony on Jan. 10, 2011, at the state Capitol. (Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee)

UPDATE: In an interview this afternoon, Newsom elaborated that the UC Board of Regents should look for alternatives to some of the cuts suggested by Brown and help the governor avoid making them.

"Isn't our job to make the case to the Legislature about alternatives and give the governor some cover?" Newsom said. "(Brown) needs people to advocate against it."

The Bee caught up with Brown this afternoon and asked him about Newsom's comments.

Brown's response: "I understand that regents are going to advocate, and just like the cities ... everyone is going to be advocating in the best way they can. At the end of the day, you've got to come up with our $25 billion in solutions. It's all moving the pieces on the board. And each group does advocate but at the end of the day we'll get most of them in the room and we'll come out with something."

January 19, 2011
Meg Whitman scheduled to speak Thursday at Harvard Club

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is scheduled to speak Thursday at the Harvard Club in San Francisco, according to the club's website.

Attendance at the sold-out event is limited to 20 young female alumni, the site says. Since losing her bid for governor in November, Whitman has virtually disappeared from the public spotlight.

The online event announcement makes only a brief mention of Whitman's candidacy, instead stressing her decade-long run as CEO of the online auction firm eBay. Whitman received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a business degree from Harvard.

Whitman is also scheduled to address a group of women executive and entrepreneurs on Jan. 31 at a Redwood City event hosted by the business group the Bay Area Council. That event is closed to press and the general public.

January 19, 2011
AM Alert: 'Amazon bill' is back

The so-called "Amazon bill" is back.

Assembly Bill 153, introduced yesterday by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would require online-only out-of-state retailers to collect state sales taxes for purchases sold in California.

The Berkeley Democrat's office estimates the change could generate $300 million in state and local revenues as the state looks for ways to fill a projected 18-month deficit of $26.4 billion.

This isn't the first time legislators have considered mandating sales tax for the online shopping hubs -- the concept has been pushed both in legislation introduced by Skinner in 2009 and during past budget negotiations. Previous efforts faced major opposition from online retailers, including Amazon.com, Overstock.com and eBay. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it out of a 2009 budget bill.

Skinner is holding a 10 a.m. press conference on the Capitol's north steps to talk about the bill, which is being touted as "E-Fairness" legislation since it would hold out-of-state retailers to the same sales tax standards as state-based ones. Representatives from Barnes and Noble, California Retailers Association, the California Federation of Teachers and other business interests are scheduled to be on hand to show support.

On the budget front, Gov. Jerry Brown is planning on speaking to new mayors, council members and city managers at a League of California Cities conference at the Hyatt in downtown Sacramento. The governor is scheduled to address the group at 12:30 p.m.

BOARD OF REGENTS: The University of California Board of Regents continues its three-day meeting today at UC San Diego's Price Center starting at 8:30 a.m. Expected to be on hand: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Click here for the schedule. The open sessions will be audio-streamed at this link.

REPORT: Next 10 and partner organizations release a new report on the state's "green" economy this morning. The 10 a.m. release of "Many Shades of Green: Regional Distribution and Trends in California's Green Economy 2011," will include a panel discussion at Siemens Mobility Corporate Headquarters featuring Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

TOWN HALL: Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, is hosting a town hall-style meeting on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal. The two-hour meeting at the Samuel C. Pannell Meadowview Community Center (2450 Meadowview Road) starts at 6 p.m.

BIRTHDAY: Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, turns 37.

January 18, 2011
Schwarzenegger: Sargent Shriver inspired 'power of the heart'

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement calling the life of his late father-in-law Sargent Shriver "a blueprint for those of us who aspire to place the needs of others above our own."

The former vice-presidential candidate and director of the Peace Corps died today at age 95.

Schwarzenegger said in the statement:

"As someone who has always believed very strongly in the power of the body and the power of the mind and the power of will, Sargent taught me a new power: the power of the heart. He said, 'Tear down the mirror in front of you -- the one that makes you look at yourself. Tear down the mirror and you will see the millions of people that need your help.' In his 95 years, he touched more lives than can ever be counted, and I'm grateful for the example and inspiration he provided me. He was not only a fantastic public servant who constantly found new ways to help and serve, he was also a wonderful and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and father-in-law.

"As we honor Sargent's memory, I hope that each of us can accept his challenge - to tear down the mirror and live as selflessly and as well as Sargent did."

Click here to submit your own thoughts on Shriver's life.

January 18, 2011
Meg Whitman to speak to Bay Area business group

Meg Whitman at debateMeg Whitman is scheduled to make one of her first public appearances since losing the gubernatorial race at a Jan. 31 women's executive roundtable to be held at Chantilly restaurant in Redwood City, according to Joe Arellano, a spokesman for the Bay Area Council business group, which is hosting the event.

The billionaire former CEO of online auction firm eBay will speak to 50 to 100 women executives and entrepreneurs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Arellano said. Continuing the tight-lipped practice of her campaign, media will not be allowed inside, and only council members and invited non-members may attend.

"To have a candid conversation with our women CEOs and executives, Ms. Whitman asked that the event be closed press," Arellano said.

Whitman, a Republican, lost the election to Democrat Jerry Brown in November while becoming the biggest self-funded candidate in U.S. history. She spent about $144 million of her own money on her campaign and lost by 13 percentage points.

PHOTO CREDIT: Former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman speaks at a Sept. 29, 2010, gubernatorial debate held at UC Davis (José Luis Villegas / Sacramento Bee)

An editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect the spelling of Arellano's last name.

January 18, 2011
Senate Dems hearing from Republican Safeway CEO and others

Steve Burd Safeway.JPGSenate Democrats holding a closed-door policy conference today and Wednesday are reviewing options for slashing the state budget and listening to the concerns and ideas of Safeway's CEO and other business interests.

"The issue of jobs and the economy in the Capitol bubble sometimes doesn't lead to the most productive solutions," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, told the Bee.

He said the Senate Democratic Caucus is hearing "sobering" presentations about the state budget deficit that must be back-filled.

Senators will hear more Wednesday on "what policy makers can do to attract and retain high-wage industries in California," Steinberg said.

Among the speakers: Steve Burd, CEO of Safeway and a Republican; green energy supporter and SunPower CEO Thomas Werner; wealthy Democrat Tom Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management; Edward de la Rosa, an investment banker from Los Angeles; and a representative of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

Senators are interested in hearing about green energy and how several bills they have pending could promote job growth in that area. They're also interested, Steinberg said, in hearing about the impact budget cuts could have on the state's economy.

"We're not taking vote cards here today," Steinberg said, commenting on whether the caucus is united in backing Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed $12.6 billion in cuts. However, he said, "there is a common commitment to making the cuts that are necessary."

Economists from the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses made presentations today. The senators are meeting at the UC Davis MIND Institute, part of the school's medical treatment and research complex in Sacramento.

PHOTO CREDIT: Safeway CEO Steve Burd smiles as he sits in a Safeway truck at a Safeway store in Dublin, Calif., Friday, Jan. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/ Paul Sakuma)

January 18, 2011
Share your remembrances of Sargent Shriver

Thumbnail image for shriver.JPGSargent Shriver, father-in-law of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and father of Maria Shriver, died today at the age of 95. The former vice-presidential candidate had Alzheimer's and was hospitalized Sunday in Bethesda, Md.

Please use the COMMENTS field below to share your memories and impressions of Sargent Shriver.

Read the obituary here.

The Shriver family issued the following statement Tuesday:

January 18, 2011
Eddie Wright hopes Jerry Brown shines

RP SHOE SHINE BUFF Eddie Wright.JPGGov. Jerry Brown hasn't stopped by for a shoeshine since taking office, so Eddie Wright, the longtime shiner of shoes at the Capitol, walked over from his stand this morning to introduce himself.

"I just wanted to invite him down for his first free shine on me," Wright, 63, told Brown's receptionist.

The last governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, never sat for a shine, Wright said. But he did send aides out with his shoes.

Schwarzenegger and his staffers were sharply dressed, even on Fridays, Wright said. It was good for business.

Brown is a more casual dresser. Still, it's early in the administration, and Wright is holding out hope.

"I hope he keeps the dress code up," he said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Shoe shine man Eddie Wright buffs a customer's shoe at his new stand inside the south entrance to the state Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2001. Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee file photo

January 18, 2011
Jerry Brown moving press shop back to the Horseshoe

Gov. Jerry Brown's press shop moved today from an exterior office to back inside the Horseshoe, to a suite previously occupied by former first lady Maria Shriver.

Brown had been considering the move last week. Press operations were in the Horseshoe, the section of the Capitol that houses the governor's office, when Brown was last governor, from 1975 to 1983.

Brown's spokespeople -- all four of them -- said in an e-mail this morning, "The overall reduction in staff within the Governor's Office freed up office space and made this move both possible and necessary."

Brown previously eliminated the first lady's office, appointing his wife, Anne Gust Brown, to be his unpaid special counsel.

In the office this morning were televisions and a coat rack brought over from the old press room. The couch was left behind.

January 18, 2011
Seven Democrats contend for remap panel

Seven Democrats suddenly are in the running to become members of California's first-ever redistricting panel following Friday's surprise resignation of Commissioner Elaine Kuo.

Contenders are Victoria Aguayo Schupbach and Maria Harris of Los Angeles County, Tangerine Brigham and Brightstar Ohlson of Alameda County, Angelo Ancheta of San Francisco County, Lillian Judd of San Luis Obispo County, and Ann Marie (Amber) Machamer of Santa Clara County.

The seven represent the remaining Democratic finalists from what once was a 12-person pool of party applicants who survived a screening process by a panel of state auditors and a limited number of cuts by legislative leaders. Kuo and four others previously had been selected to the commission.

By law, the redistricting panel must consist of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independent or minor-party voters to draw boundary lines for legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts after the federal census every 10 years.

Kuo, a Mountain View resident, cited time constraints for resigning Friday during a board meeting in which the nascent commission picked an executive director, Daniel Claypool, from a field of 29 applicants. The panel is required to complete its map-drawing by Aug. 15.

Proposition 11, passed by voters in 2008, provides the following directions for filling a commission vacancy:

"Any vacancy, whether created by removal, resignation or absence, in the 14 commission positions shall be filled within the 30 days after the vacancy occurs, from the pool of applicants of the same voter registration category as the vacating nominee that was remaining as of November 20 in the year in which that pool was established.

"If none of those remaining applicants are available for service, the state auditor shall fill the vacancy from a new pool created for the same voter registration category."

Kuo's resignation leaves four Democrats remaining as commissioners: Cynthia Dai of San Francisco County, Jeanne Raya of Los Angeles County, Gabino Aguirre of Ventura County; and Maria Blanco, who recently moved from Contra Costa to Los Angeles County.

January 18, 2011
Political newcomer to run for Ted Gaines' seat

Photo Candidate Matthews.jpgAnother Republican is throwing his hat in the ring to fill the vacant 4th Assembly District seat.

Rob Matthews, a police officer in Stockton and co-owner of Roseville's Waikiki Dental, has announced that he will seek the seat vacated by former GOP Assemblyman Ted Gaines' election to the state Senate.

Matthews, a self-described political newcomer, said in a statement that he decided to run for office after feeling the effects of "nightmarish bureaucracy and government entanglements involved in the day to day operation of a small business" while running the dental practice he owns with his wife.

At least four other Republicans -- including Beth Gaines, who is married to the former assemblyman -- and one Democrat have announced plans to run in the March 8 special primary election. The contest in the conservative district will be conducted under the new top-two system approved by voters last June. All candidates will appear on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters regardless of party will advance to a May run-off. Under special election rules, a candidate can win outright in March by winning more than 50 percent of the vote.

January 18, 2011
Supreme Court to hear key California budget cases

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear three cases involving California's medical reimbursement policies.

The court's decision to hear the cases is at least temporary good news for Gov. Jerry Brown, who has pegged some of his budget-cutting hopes on being able to slash medical reimbursements.

One case involves California's efforts to cut Medi-Cal reimbursement payments, a proposal that Brown relies upon in his budget proposal to save $9.5 million this year and $709 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1

Previously, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state's reimbursement proposals.

The three cases are called Maxwell-Jolly v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, Maxwell-Jolly v. California Pharmacists Association and Maxwell-Jolly v. Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. A date has not yet been set for the oral argument, which is likely to be held sometime this spring.

January 18, 2011
AM Alert: Senate Dems huddle

Senate Democrats are meeting in Sacramento today and tomorrow to talk budget.

Job creation and other policy issues will be discussed during the annual private event, though talk is expected to be centered on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal.

That discussion could include strategy, as the Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor and others have confirmed that Brown's proposed route of putting tax extensions on the ballot before passing the actual budget bill would require a two-thirds vote on the taxes.

With most Republicans pledging to vote no on that part, alternative pathways for meeting the truncated time line for getting the proposal on the ballot by June have been floated, though possible legal challenges could emerge.

Members will also hear from business leaders, who have been invited to talk about the state's economy, Senate Budget Committee Chair Mark Leno said Friday.

Under the dome, the Assembly Higher Education Committee meets today to look at how the state's public universities and colleges can meet student needs in light of continued funding reductions.

As Bee colleague Laurel Rosenhall wrote last week, California's three higher education systems are poised to take a big hit under Brown's budget proposal.

Representatives from the Legislative Analyst's Office, California State University, the University of California and the California Community College systems are all expected to be on hand for the hearing.

The 1:30 p.m. hearing will be broadcast at this link.

January 17, 2011
Schwarzenegger father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, in critical condition

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, is in critical condition at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., after being admitted Sunday, according to Special Olympics spokeswoman Kirsten Seckler.

Seckler added in an e-mail to The Bee that the 95-year-old Shriver has Alzheimer's. Shriver's wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the Special Olympics in the 1960s and died in 2009.

Marrying into the Kennedy family, Sargent Shriver was the running mate for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972 and helped build the Peace Corps, Head Start and other influential government programs.

Schwarzenegger's wife, former first lady Maria Shriver, had not released a statement about her father's condition as of Monday morning.

January 14, 2011
Teachers, firefighters slam L.A. redevelopment vote

Four days after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies, Los Angeles officials voted in a hastily called meeting to spend $930 million on redevelopment projects, the Associated Press is reporting.

The move brought immediate condemnation from two powerful public employee unions -- the California Teachers Association and California Professional Firefighters. Teachers and firefighters stand to gain from Brown's proposal because funds tapped now for redevelopment would instead go toward schools and fire services, among other local uses.

"This seems like a way to short-circuit reform," said Carroll Wills, spokesman for the firefighters union. "One of the reasons we moved as quickly as we did was because we wanted to encourage other agencies not to get the same idea."

Brown has proposed using $1.7 billion in redevelopment money in 2011-12 to offset state Medi-Cal and trial court costs, then send redevelopment funds back to cities, schools and special districts thereafter. According to AP, the Los Angeles redevelopment projects would tap public funds through 2016.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called Brown's redevelopment proposal a "non-starter" earlier this week. The city council must still approve the $930 million in funds.

California Redevelopment Association director John Shirey didn't endorse the fast-track move, telling the AP, "I don't think it's a wise course."

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, fearing a run on borrowing by redevelopment agencies, recommended Wednesday that lawmakers immediately freeze their ability to incur more bond debt and expand their territory. Brown's plan would not interfere with existing bond obligations.

January 14, 2011
CRP Chairman Ron Nehring loses RNC treasurer bid

California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring today lost a bid to become treasurer of the Republican National Committee.

Nehring was defeated by Tony Parker, a Republican National Committeeman for Washington, D.C., in a run-off ballot at the RNC's winter meeting in Maryland.

Nehring, who has headed the California GOP since 2007, is wrapping up his final months as state party chair.

Reince Priebus, who heads the Wisconsin Republican Party, was elected party chairman. He replaces incumbent Chair Michael Steele, who dropped out of the running after several rounds of balloting.

January 14, 2011
Senate Dems plan Sacramento 'retreat' on budget

The California State Senate Democratic Caucus is holding a two-day retreat in Sacramento next week to dig into Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposals and discuss the economy and job creation, Sen. Mark Leno, chair of the Senate Budget Committee said today.

"We're bringing in some business leaders to talk about the economy," Leno, D-San Francisco, said.

The Tuesday-Wednesday retreat is an annual private event where policy is discussed, but debate over budget proposals and the economy are pressing needs that will dominate the meeting.

Leno said budget subcommittees will likely begin holding hearings to take public testimony and review details of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget the week after next.

January 14, 2011
Redistricting panel loses member, gains executive director

California's first-ever citizens redistricting commission lost a member Friday and gained an executive director.

Democrat Elaine Kuo resigned from the 14-member panel, saying time limitations make it impractical for her to continue.

"It's been an honor to be part of the process," Kuo said in announcing her resignation in a public meeting.

The redistricting commission is charged with drawing legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization district boundaries.

The panel also hired an executive director, Daniel Claypool, from a pool of 29 applicants that had been whittled down to four final contenders.

Claypool formerly worked for the Bureau of State Audits, where he helped to lay the groundwork for formation of the commission, which was created through voter passage of Proposition 11 in 2008.

The panel now must turn its attention to replacing Kuo, a Mountain View resident and one of five Democrats on the panel.

Under state law, the commission must consist of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independent or minor-party voters.

Kuo is expected to be replaced within 30 days from a list of Democratic finalists for the post.

January 14, 2011
Former LAT bureau chief appointed to Little Hoover Commission

Former Los Angeles Times Bureau Chief Virginia Ellis has been appointed to the Little Hoover Commission, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced today.

The independent state oversight panel is tasked with making recommendations for improving efficiency and service in state government. Ellis, who left the Times in 2008, won a string of awards for investigative work while at the paper. She had previously worked at papers in Texas and Florida.

Steinberg announced several other appointments made by the Rules Committee. The full release is posted after the jump.

January 14, 2011
Bill would ban 'open carry' of unloaded handguns in public

Angry Summer Obama protest with rifle.JPGNew legislation would ban the controversial practice of carrying unloaded handguns in public places after a similar proposal was shelved in the final hours of last year's Assembly session.

The issue has sparked headlines nationwide in recent years because of a protest movement that encourages participants to show up at public places en masse with firearms strapped to their side.

Dozens of people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, stood outside an Arizona convention center where President Barack Obama was speaking in 2009. The practice typically is meant to protest gun-control laws or the scarcity of concealed-weapons permits.

"There is a proper place for firearms, and having a proliferation of them strapped to hips is something that belongs in a Western movie, not Main Street, California," said Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge, who proposed the new ban.

January 14, 2011
Núñez commutation sparks bill to limit power

Schwarzenegger Clemency Nunez.JPGFormer Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial decision to reduce the voluntary manslaughter sentence of a political ally's son has sparked a proposed constitutional amendment targeting the governor's commutation powers.

The proposed amendment, authored by Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, would require that the governor's office give interested parties 30 days' notice before granting a pardon, reprieve or sentence commutation.

As one of his final acts as governor, Schwarzenegger commuted the prison sentence of Esteban Núñez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, from 16 to seven years. Núñez had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon for his involvement in a 2008 fight that led to the fatal stabbing of college student Luis Dos Santos.

Santos' father, Fred Santos, expressed outrage this week that the governor had not notified the family of his plans, adding that they are exploring options to challenge the decision in court.

January 14, 2011
Illinois tax hike would bite more than California's

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday signed a package of tax increases, including a 67 percent jump in the state's income tax rate, that will raise about $7 billion a year and close part of that state's whopping budget deficit.

Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a package of tax increases, loophole closures and extensions that would raise approximately $11 billion a year and cover about half of the state's projected annual budget deficit.

So how do the two packages compare?

The Illinois tax package would cover less than half of that state's budget deficit and even with a two-thirds increase, the Illinois personal income tax rate will be just 5 percent, roughly half of California's top bracket rate.

In terms of impact, however, the Illinois tax hike is much larger. Overall, it amounts to roughly $2,000 per family of four (Illinois has 13 million residents), while Michael Cohen, California's deputy director of finance, told legislators this week that the Brown package would translate into about $1,000 per California family.

January 14, 2011
California moves to keep vetoed child-care program alive

ha_CHILDCARE_IV.JPGTens of thousands of low-income California children will continue to receive child care despite former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of $256 milllion for the program, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez announced today.

The state has identified $60 million in unspent Department of Education funds to bankroll the care until April 1, and Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget would pick up the tab after that, Pérez said.

The goal is to assist nearly 60,000 children in a program called CalWORKS Stage 3 Child Care that serves parents who have graduated from the state's welfare-to-work program, are gainfully employed, and are not receiving cash aid.

"The former governor's actions would have effectively created the first 'work-to-welfare' program in America because the folks who utilize this program are people who have worked hard to get off welfare and provide for their families," Pérez said today on the Assembly floor.

January 14, 2011
AM Alert: Executive director wanted

NOTE: Due to the holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there will be no AM Alert on Monday. Look for its return Tuesday morning.

The Citizens Redistricting Commission meets for the third day this week to interview candidates to serve as the commission's executive director.

The post, which pays a salary of up to $11,554 a month, "functions as the administrative and management leader" as the panel's 14 members draw new political maps for the state's legislative, Board of Equalization and congressional districts, according to the commission's website.

Duties could include "legal, public relations, human resources, business services, contract management, financial management, and facilities management."

The interviews will be conducted during a closed session, beginning at 10 a.m. A spokeswoman for the commission said two of 29 applicants will be interviewed today. It is possible that more candidates will be interviewed at a later date, she said.

The public portion of the meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m., will be broadcast on the commission's website.

Under the dome, the Assembly and Senate both have floor sessions scheduled for 9 a.m.

Both houses are off Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Bee colleagues have compiled a list of events in the Sacramento area at this link.

BIRTHDAY: Assemblyman Jim Silva, R-Huntington Beach, turns 67 on Saturday.

January 13, 2011
Jerry Brown talks to the State Board of Education

It was the State Board of Education's first meeting of the year today in Sacramento, and who should drop by but Gov. Jerry Brown.

The governor talked informally about education policy, telling the members he's sometimes wary of reform.

"I sometimes call myself a reformed reformer. ... Everything that people propose, they call it reform. That doesn't mean it's change," Brown said.

"I don't expect any silver bullets," he added. "I see a lot of fashion in educational theories and practices."

Brown also mentioned that critics of some of his picks had equated experience to "has-been."

"Well, I'm probably 'has-been' more than anybody around here," Brown said. Still, he added, "I'll be looking for some younger appointees, too, along the way. I don't want everyone to be on Medicare that I appoint."

Earlier, members picked the board's president: Michael Kirst, a Stanford education professor who has had a long relationship with Brown, who first appointed Kirst to the State Board of Education back in 1975.

Speaking of longevity, Brown told the board he'd gotten a congratulatory letter recently from his fifth-grade teacher, Sister Rosine. At his elementary school, he said, students had the same teacher for fifth, sixth and seventh grades.

"Actually I didn't like it because they knew too much about you," Brown said to laughter.

Check out a video of Brown's informal remarks posted on the Department of Education's website at this link. The video is closed captioned.

January 13, 2011
Jerry Brown's budget time line draws skepticism

JV_BROWN 001.JPGLawmakers in both houses promised Thursday to put the state budget on a fast-track time line, but Gov. Jerry Brown's goal of finishing by March seems daunting in light of the plan's complexity.

As Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, said at an Assembly budget committee hearing, "The March 1st objective of a two-thirds vote? I've been here four years, and I haven't seen a timely two-thirds vote take place. I would agree that's a little ambitious, but I'm sure we'll do the best we can."

Brown wants the plan completed by March 1 so he can place extensions of higher income, sales and vehicle taxes on a June ballot. That early date also would give the state enough time to implement social service cuts by June.

Department of Finance chief deputy director Michael Cohen emphasized Thursday that Brown wants lawmakers to pass the cuts package and place two measures on a June ballot through a two-thirds vote, which requires Republican support.

January 13, 2011
Tom Berryhill set to be stripped of Agriculture Committee chair

Days after saying Democrats should have to deal with the budget on their own, Republican Tom Berryhill is set to be stripped of his Senate Food and Agriculture Committee chairmanship.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has penned a letter asking Rules Committee members to approve handing off the Oakdale Republican's gavel to newly elected Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres.

"Each member of the California State Senate represents nearly one million people and we have a duty, regardless of party or philosophy, to actively engage in the serious work necessary to address the challenges confronting California," Steinberg wrote in the letter.

A Berryhill representative was not immediately available for comment.

Berryhill said he saw no reason for Republicans to propose an alternative to Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal, telling The Bee that the budget "is really not our problem."

"The Democrats own this, and we think that they should be giving us what the solutions are," he said.

In closing his letter, Steinberg wrote that Berryhill "is a man of integrity and substance, and I am confident he will so engage in the months ahead."

Berryhill, a former Assemblyman elected to the Senate in November, was named chair of the committee last week. Cannella, his proposed replacement, is one of two Republican members of the Senate who has not signed the Americans for Tax Reform's no-tax pledge.

The Rules Committee, which Steinberg chairs, is scheduled to meet next Wednesday. The letter is posted below.

Rules Letter Berryhill

January 13, 2011
Brown's press shop could move to the Horseshoe

Gov. Jerry Brown is considering moving his pared-down press operations from a hall-access office to inside to Horseshoe, the California Highway Patrol-guarded section of the Capitol that houses the governor's offices.

Capitol Weekly's John Howard reports:

Brown spokesman Steve Glazer, responding to a reporter's inquiry, said the timing had not yet been decided. But he said the change was tentatively approved in part because there was space available resulting from Brown's decision to cut his office staff by 25 percent.

"We've slimmed down dramatically the governor's staff and that has given us a number of empty offices in the Horseshoe," Glazer said.

The move is emblematic of Brown's dealings with the press: He reads reporters' stories, listens to their broadcasts and frequently - and personally -- complains about coverage. He also likes to know who's covering what. And putting the press office near his own suite accomplishes the old maxim about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

"If we did shift back, it would allow the press to integrate with the other activities of the governor," Glazer said.

Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford told Capitol Alert that the room change is under consideration but has yet to be finalized. She said Brown's office would work to balance safety concerns with accessibility for reporters if the move occurs.

Read Howard's full story here.

January 13, 2011
Brown's budget release breaks record on the Web

Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal made a record-breaking debut on the Web.

The Department of Finance's ebudget.ca.gov site logged about 1 million hits between 11 a.m. and midnight on the day of the budget's release, according to a DOF spokesman. That's more than 300,000 more hits than the previous record-holder -- former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's January 2008 budget unveil.

Traffic remained high in subsequent days, DOF says, with 350,000 hits on Tuesday and 150,000 on Wednesday.

The Department of Finance has posted the governor's budget online since the release of the 1995-96 Fiscal Year plan.

January 13, 2011
Rex Babin: Hanging up state cell phones

SED_G0113_4BABIN0113.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpg

Here's Bee cartoonist Rex Babin's take on Gov. Jerry Brown's order to cut the number of state-paid cell phones in half. State Worker columnist Jon Ortiz also summed up some of the reactions in today's Bee. See a full collection of Babin's work here.

January 13, 2011
School board elects president, delays items

KirstMichael1 original.jpgA new state board of education, gathering Wednesday for its first meeting of the year, chose Michael Kirst as board president and delayed taking action on two controversial issues.

Kirst is a Stanford education professor who has a long relationship with Gov. Jerry Brown. He served on the board during Brown's first term as governor (including a stint as president), consulted on education matters when he was the mayor of Oakland and advised Brown throughout his most recent gubernatorial campaign.

He is one of seven new members Brown appointed last week to the board that sets policy for California's public schools.

The board was supposed to tackle two hot-button issues in its first meeting, which runs through today: affirming the ability of the Aspire charter school chain to operate statewide, and regulations for a controversial law known as the "parent trigger" that made up part of the Race to the Top package of bills.

Both items will reveal the political leanings of the new board on education reform. The prior board, appointed by Schwarzenegger, favored charter schools and policies that give parents more choice about their children's education. But teachers' unions generally oppose such changes, and were heavy contributors to Brown's campaign.

The items were postponed to give board members more time to consider the issues, said Regina Wilson, spokeswoman for the state board of education.

Photo: Michael Kirst. Courtesy of Stanford University School of Education, 2010

January 13, 2011
AM Alert: Legislators eyeball Brown's budget

Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal gets its first public vetting in the Legislature today.

Brown met earlier this week to urge lawmakers to take quick action on his plan in order to put part of it -- a proposal to ask voters to extend temporary tax hikes set to expire -- on the ballot in June. Legislative Republicans are vowing to vote no on the tax proposal, complicating Brown's desire (and, perhaps, need) for a two-thirds vote to go to the ballot.

Today, budget committees in both houses will take a look at Brown's plan, which relies on the assumption that the tax proposal passes as well as on deep cuts to close a projected $26.4 billion budget deficit over the next 18 months.

Both committees will hear testimony from the Department of Finance's Michael Cohen and Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor.

Taylor's overview of the plan, released yesterday, called Brown's budget a "good starting point" but warned of potential risks if parts of the "ambitious, complex" proposal fall through.

The Senate Budget Committee meets at 1 p.m. 9 a.m., and the Assembly Budget Committee meets at 10 a.m.

Lawmakers aren't the only ones taking a closer look at what Brown's plan entails, and what the impacts would be for stakeholders. Finance Director Ana Matosantos is set to address the Chamber of Commerce crowd at a private luncheon forum at the chamber's Sacramento office.

TAXES: Conservatives cry foul on Brown's plan to put the tax extension on the ballot at a 10:30 a.m. press conference at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. HJTA President Jon Coupal, FlashReport.org publisher Jon Fleischman, National Tax Limitation Committee President Lew Uhler and Tea Party Patriots of Northern California's Ginny Rapini are all scheduled to be on hand.

WOMEN IN MEDIA: The California Commission on the Status of Women hosts a briefing on how women and girls are portrayed in the media. Scheduled to be on hand: actress and commission member Geena Davis, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife and director of a Sundance-bound documentary on the subject. The meeting runs from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 437.

January 12, 2011
Analyst praises Brown budget plan but sees many risks

In its first review of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office called the plan a "good starting point" Wednesday and praised the governor for focusing on solutions to fiscal problems beyond this year.

But the analyst's report identified several major ideas that could fall through, particularly in Brown's plan to shift a variety of services to local governments and eliminate redevelopment agencies.

The 40-page review noted that "there is significant work ahead to fill in the details of some of the governor's ambitious, complex budget proposals - especially the realignment and redevelopment proposals, which involve many legal, financial, and policy issues."

Analyst Mac Taylor plans to discuss his report today at 1:30 p.m.

The Analyst's Office believes that Brown wants the Legislature to pass a series of budget "trailer bills" that carry out policy changes to reduce spending by March 1, but that he wants to withhold the actual budget act until June, presumably after a special election. That game plan would require two-thirds votes from both houses, the Analyst believes.

Republicans indicated Tuesday that they see the budget as the Democrats' problem alone.

"This is really not our problem," said Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale. "The Democrats own this, and we think that they should be giving us what the solutions are."

Also of note: the Analyst's Office says that Brown wants to put his $11 billion tax package on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, which would also require a two-thirds vote. There has been some speculation that Democrats could put it on the ballot as a statutory initiative change, which might be done only on a majority vote.

The Analyst supports a higher vehicle tax and lower dependent tax credit, as well as reductions in business tax benefits. But he said extending higher income and sales taxes would pose "more difficult issues."

"The current rates are some of the highest in the nation, and the continuation of the rates would affect the work and investment decisions of many individuals and firms," the report states. "On the other hand, as temporary increases, they would have less negative impacts on economic planning and decision making than permanent ones."

January 12, 2011
Brown names Karen Ross as food and agriculture secretary

Karenross.jpgGov. Jerry Brown today announced the appointment of Karen Ross as secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

Ross, who most recently worked as chief of staff to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is the former president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. She has also worked for the Agricultural Council of California and served on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

The 59-year-old Democrat's experience in state agriculture industry won her support from Central Valley farmers.

The position, which requires Senate confirmation, pays $172,524.

PHOTO CREDIT: AP file photo of Karen Ross, 2010.

January 12, 2011
Brown makes case for cuts in budget summary

ha_BUDGET098 jerry brown 1-10-2011.JPGBudget geeks that we are, we have a pile of governor's budget summaries on our desk, and Gov. Jerry Brown's budget document is considerably thicker than his predecessor's.

One reason is that Brown and his Department of Finance team have added longer narratives to his proposal. Rather than just outline cuts, Brown's document adds arguments for every health and social service reduction, many of which boil down to assertions that California currently offers more public services than other states.

"If you compare it to what (spending) was, it's obviously not as much as it was," Brown said Monday of his budget proposal. "If you compare it to other states, we're still doing reasonably well. If you compare us to some European states, we're not doing so well at all. So it depends upon what your yardstick is."

Judging by his budget document, the yardstick Brown would like to use is other states. In budget forums last month, he included charts stating that California ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending nationally - and his latest budget plan attempts to spare schools from new cuts.

But here's a sampling of what his budget document says on social service and health programs:

January 12, 2011
Beth Gaines will run for husband's former Assembly seat

ha_tgaines19367 beth gaines.JPGBeth Gaines will run for the Sacramento-area Assembly seat vacated by her husband, Ted.

The Roseville Republican announced her candidacy today in a written statement featuring the slogan, "Conservative for Assembly."

The 4th District Assembly seat was vacated by Ted Gaines when he was sworn in Jan. 6 as a state senator, replacing the late Dave Cox, a Fair Oaks Republican who died last July.

Gaines' Republican opponents for the seat include John Allard, Roseville councilman; Michael Babich, an Auburn college instructor and businessman who lost to Rep. Tom McClintock in a congressional primary last year; and Mike O'Connor of Lincoln, a retiree and former Yuba County assistant personnel director.

Democrat Dennis J. Campanale -- a retired West Sacramento division fire chief who lost to Ted Gaines in November for the 4th District Assembly seat -- also has declared his candidacy in a race that will feature an "open primary."

Candidates from all parties will run in the March 8 primary. If none receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - regardless of party -- will square off in a May 3 general election.

Beth Gaines, 51, never has held public office, which she contends will benefit her if she wins election to the Assembly seat representing Alpine and parts of Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties.

January 12, 2011
Father of slain man says Schwarzenegger apologized

The father of Luis Dos Santos, the college student who was killed in a fight that involved the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, has told a Los Angeles radio station that he received a letter of apology from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On Jan. 2, his last day in office, Schwarzenegger reduced the prison sentence of Esteban Núñez from 16 years to seven. Esteban Nunez pleaded to manslaughter in the killing of Dos Santos and assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing another man during a drunken fight at San Deigo State University in 2008.

Fred Santos, the father of the slain man, told radio station KNX 1070 this morning that Schwarzenegger sent him a letter apologizing for not notifying the Santos family that Nunez's sentence was being commuted.

"We received a letter last Saturday from our former governor saying that he acknowledges that he did not give us any notice of what he was planning to do," Santos said in the radio interview.

"We do not believe the sincerity of the apology. We do thank him for writing the letter but if there were not any outrage over his actions we do not think we would have received this letter."

Santos also told the station that his family is talking to lawyers and considering a lawsuit.

"We think our constitutional rights as victims have been violated because we were not notified of the actions prior to this, as we were supposed to," Santos said.

Listen to the whole interview here. The letter, obtained by KNX, is posted below.

Santos Letter


January 12, 2011
Roseville senator decides he doesn't need per diem after all

BB BUDGET VOTE 0600.JPGShedding an issue that plagued him during his recent campaign, new state Sen. Ted Gaines of Roseville has decided not to accept $142 per day in legislative living expenses.

Elected this month to the Senate after spending six years in the Assembly, the Republican has decided to forego the per diem given to legislators to defray rent, food and other costs incurred during the legislative session.

Gaines, who lives less than 25 miles from the Capitol, said his decision stemmed from the severity of the state's multibillion-dollar budget gap and the need for everyone involved to tighten their belt.

"I think at this time things are so bad financially that we need to do everything we can to try to balance our budget," Gaines said. "We all ought to be helping out and figuring out ways that we can find savings."

Per diem supplements a legislative salary of $95,291. No pension funds are provided. Gaines rejected his Assembly car allowance last year.

January 12, 2011
Jerry Brown will 'probably' do budget road show

It would not be unusual for a governor, having just proposed a budget, to take his show on the road, soaking up media in key markets and pressuring lawmakers in their home towns.

At the end of a day of meetings at the Capitol on Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown said he probably will do that, but not yet.

"Probably, but I mean, nothing yet," Brown said. "Nothing I can tell you. So, I'm not ready to make that kind of announcement."

Brown was meeting with lawmakers that afternoon, and he was planning to lobby business interests for support, particularly for his bid to extend temporary tax increases.

But it was after 5 p.m., and Brown supposed people at the California Chamber of Commerce had gone home.

"I was supposed to call them today," he said.

January 12, 2011
Broken water pipe affects hundreds of state DOJ employees

water_main_break.jpgSara Drake, an employee at the state Attorney General's office leaves the Department of Justice building in downtown Sacramento which was closed because of a water main break. Photo by Hector Amezcua

Hundreds of employees were unable to work today at two California Department of Justice buildings in downtown Sacramento because of a broken water main, officials said.

Eight hundred workers were affected, an undetermined number of whom are expected to work from their homes or other offices, spokeswoman Becca MacLaren said.

The two DOJ buildings -- including the agency's Sacramento headquarters -- are not flooded but lack running water because of the broken pipe, which was discovered last night and is located in an alley nearby, she said.

The DOJ has no estimate on when the buildings will reopen.

January 12, 2011
AM Alert: It's the analyst's turn

Looking for more budget charts and graphs? You don't have to wait long.

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor is holding a press conference this afternoon to present his office's latest report, titled rather succinctly, "Overview of the Governor's Budget."

The report will be available on the LAO's website at 11:30 a.m. The press conference is set for 1:30 p.m.

Just in time: The budget committees in both the Senate and the Assembly are scheduled to start considering Brown's proposal tomorrow.

As colleague Kevin Yamamura reports, Republicans are already questioning Gov. Jerry Brown's characterization that his plan relies on half cuts and half taxes.

And education officials are mulling what the proposal means for K-12 schools.

Click here to follow the Bee's coverage of the quest for a budget deal.

REDISTRICTING: The final six members selected to serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commission are scheduled to be sworn in this morning. Commissioners will also discuss future actions and training at the 10:30 a.m. meeting.

GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEES: Two reappointees of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are scheduled to appear before the Senate Rules Committee: John Peck, a commissioner on the Board of Parole Hearings; and Stephanie Shimazu, a member of the California Gambling Control Commission. That meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 113.

SWEARING-IN: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez heads to San Francisco to deliver the oath of office at 5 p.m. to his UC Berkeley classmate, San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting.

January 11, 2011
Jockeying has begun over how to frame Brown's cuts, taxes

ha_BUDGET217 Jerry Brown 1-10-2011.JPGThe backdrop of a special election has raised the stakes for how Gov. Jerry Brown's budget is described and categorized.

Republicans are already questioning Brown's characterization that his plan relies on half cuts and half taxes, roughly $12 billion of both, to solve a $26.4 billion deficit. The remainder of Brown's plan relies on nearly $2 billion in internal borrowing, transfers and non-tax revenues.

In particular, they call into question four items that Brown has dubbed spending cuts but involve taking outside money to reduce the state's general fund burden. These include taking $861 million in Proposition 63 mental health funds, $1 billion in First 5 early childhood development reserves, $1.7 billion in redevelopment funds and $1 billion in a fuel-tax swap that involves local transit money.

January 11, 2011
Brown sets May 3 special election for 4th Assembly District

Gov. Jerry Brown has called a special election for May 3 to fill the vacant 4th Assembly District seat.

Candidates to replace Roseville Republican Ted Gaines, who was elected to the Senate last week, will first vie in a top-two style primary on March 8. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, the two top vote-getters, regardless of party, will go head to head in a runoff May 3.

Republicans John Allard, a Roseville city councilman, and Michael Babich, a businessman who lost a primary contest to GOP Rep. Tom McClintock, and Democrat Dennis J. Campanale, who ran against Gaines in November, have announced their candidacies. Republican Beth Gaines, Ted Gaines' wife, is also expected to run.

Republicans have a substantial registration advantage in the district, which covers Alpine and parts of Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties.

The AD 4 primary contest will be the fourth special election this year to fill a legislative vacancy.

January 11, 2011
Brown's school budget spurs questions over deferred payments

LS HAUNTED SCHOOL 1.JPGAfter Gov. Jerry Brown released his budget Monday, the big question among education officials was whether K-12 schools had been spared from cuts.

Brown said Monday that his budget protected K-12 schools and kept them at the same level of funding they received in the 2010-11 budget passed in October. But there were different interpretations of that claim due to ambiguity surrounding payment deferrals to schools.

The problem starts with the 2010-11 budget passed in October. That budget set funding for K-12 and community colleges at $49.6 billion, plus an additional $1.8 billion in onetime funds equal to about $250 per student. The catch was that the state would defer the $1.8 billion in funds until the following year -- essentially an accounting trick much like the one-day delay in state worker paychecks.

January 11, 2011
Brown to talk budget with legislators this afternoon

Gov. Jerry Brown is meeting with state legislators this afternoon to urge quick action on the budget proposal he released yesterday, his office announced.

Brown wants lawmakers to approve spending cuts and a proposal to ask voters to approve a five-year extension of temporary taxes by March, in time to call a June special election on the tax piece. The second part is a tough sell for Republicans, who said yesterday they wouldn't vote for the special election as the plan stands now.

The series of meetings was set to begin at noon with the Assembly Democratic Caucus. Brown will then meet separately with Assembly Republicans, followed by Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats.

January 11, 2011
Brown orders 48,000 cell phones confiscated

DS CELLPHONE DETAIL.JPGFirst to suffer from this year's budget crisis?

Cell phones.

New Gov. Jerry Brown today ordered the collection and return of 48,000 state government-paid cell phones - half of those now in use - by June 1.

The Democratic governor estimated that cutting the use of cellphones by state employees in half will save the state $20 million a year.

"It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones," Brown said in a written statement.

The state currently pays for 96,000 cell phones, the governor added.

"Some state employees, including department and agency executives who are required to be in touch 24 hours a day and seven days a week, may need cell phones, but the current number of phones out there is astounding."

Brown's cell phone directive, his first executive order since taking office last week, directed state agency and department heads to retrieve the cell phones.

January 11, 2011
New bid launched for college aid to undocumented students

HA_karen_bass171.JPGA new push to allow longtime California residents who are undocumented immigrants to receive college financial assistance was launched today by a Los Angeles lawmaker.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo is counting on new Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat heavily supported by Latino voters last year, to be more receptive to the issue than former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who vetoed similar measures last year.

Cedillo's bills would apply to undocumented immigrants who have attended California high schools, adult schools or technical schools for three years or more, graduated or attained an equivalent degree from them, and filed an application to legalize their status.

The two bills, Assembly Bills 130 and 131, would benefit the "best and brightest" of undocumented immigrants, who came to the United States as children through no choice of their own and embraced the English language and culture -- and performed well in state schools, Cedillo said.

"Our economy will need them," he said. "Our work force and leadership is aging out -- we need a new generation of architects and engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, even some people in government. And this is a generation that will do that."

AB 130 would enable undocumented immigrants who meet the school attendance, achievement and other criteria to apply for financial aid from a pool of money that is private but administered by state colleges and universities.

AB 130 also would allow community colleges to waive fees for low-income undocumented immigrants who meet the bill's residency, attendance and other requirements.

Cedillo's companion measure, Assembly Bill 131, would permit such students to apply for taxpayer-funded financial aid, such as Cal Grants, but not to displace eligible citizens in receiving assistance.

PHOTO: Gil Cedillo in 2009. Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee

January 11, 2011
No paw print of approval for first dog Twitter feed

ha_jbrown1211.JPGThe fan club for Sutter, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi in the care of Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown, has been steadily growing since news broke that the pooch could stay on board as the the state's "first dog."

A campaign for the Browns to keep Sutter, who belongs to his Chicago-bound sister, soon hit the twittersphere, with @SutterBrown sharing the pup's "views" on presser prep, favorite local bands and BCS National Championship game.

"Did you know that corgis herd ducks? (Proof: http://bit.ly/hGooyS) That makes my pick for tonight's game a cinch! Go Oregon!," read a tweet posted by @SutterBrown yesterday.

But Brown spokesman Evan Westrup says the account doesn't speak (or bark) for the potential first dog or its owner's administration.

"Confirmed with Sutter earlier today that with all of the new smells to take in and office supplies to chew on, he has not had time to share his barks, yelps and growls on twitter," Westrup e-mailed. "His drool also isn't particularly keyboard friendly."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife Anne Gust Brown go for a jog on the bike trail in Old Sacramento on Wednesday, January 5, 2011. The Browns were accompanied by Kathleen Brown's dog Sutter and a CHP officer. Hector Amezcua/SacBee.

January 11, 2011
What else would be on a June statewide ballot

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to keep higher tax rates set to expire isn't the only thing voters would decide if lawmakers agree to putting the budget plan on the ballot in a June statewide special election.

Two initiatives have qualified for the next statewide election, currently scheduled for the February 2012 presidential primary, and would be bumped up if an election is called.

One measure, backed by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, would alter legislative term limits, allowing state legislators to serve 12 years consecutively in one house or split the time between the Assembly and the Senate. Sitting members, who are currently restricted to 14 years total -- eight years in the Senate and six years in the Assembly-- would still be subject to existing caps.

A second initiative would raise the tobacco tax by $1 a pack to fund cancer research and smoking prevention programs. That measure, which would raise an estimated $500 million annually, is backed by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association of California, the American Heart Association and former Democratic President Pro Tem Don Perata, a cancer survivor.

A June special election would move up the calendar for both measures by nearly a year -- significantly shortening the window for raising cash and running a statewide campaign. But proponents for both said Monday they weren't too worried about the scenario.

January 11, 2011
AM Alert: Special elections

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to ask voters to add five years to the lifespan of temporary tax increases set to expire dominated yesterday's campaign-related chatter.

Brown wants that statewide special election scheduled for June, creating a short window for legislators to act on his budget plan. But campaign junkies are also keeping an eye on two other special elections quick approaching -- the Feb. 15 primary contests to fill vacancies in the 17th and 28th Senate districts.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen released late yesterday a list of certified candidates for each of the sets, including ballot designation and party preference. That last one is a new feature of the top-two primary system. Candidates aren't required to list their registered party, though it appears nearly all in this case did (SD 28 candidate Michael Chamness, who identifies with the non-ballot-qualified Coffee Party, chose not to list a party preference).

Here are the candidates and their ballot information, as released by Bowen's office:

Senate District 17 (formerly held by Board of Equalization member George Runner, a Republican):

Darren W. Parker (My Party Preference is the Democratic Party) - Small Business Owner
Sharon Runner (My Party Preference is the Republican Party) - Small Business Owner

Senate District 28 (formerly held by Democratic Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who died in October):

Ted W. Lieu (My Party Preference is the Democratic Party) - Legislator
Kevin Thomas McGurk (My Party Preference is the Democratic Party) - Public Defense Lawyer
Jeffrey E. Fortin (My Party Preference is the Republican Party) - Retired CBP Officer
Martha Flores Gibson (My Party Preference is the Republican Party) - Educator/Business Owner
James P. Thompson (My Party Preference is the Republican Party) - Attorney/Housing Provider
Bob Valentine (My Party Preference is the Republican Party) - Independent Businessman/Attorney
Michael Chamness (No Party Preference) - Non-Profit Organization Consultant
Mark Lipman (No Party Preference) - Publisher/Community Organizer

In both cases, if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top vote-getters, regardless of party, will face off in an April 19 runoff.

BUDGET: Catch up on budget news you might have missed yesterday on Capitol Alert's budget news section.

HIGH COURT: Today's the last day to submit your pick for whom Brown will appoint to the soon-to-be-vacant seat on the state Supreme Court. Submit your suggestion for the short list to capitolalertcontests@gmail.com.

Update: An earlier version of this post said Chamness was registered with the Green Party. While voter registration records indicate Chamness was previously registered as a Green Party member, he has recently changed his registration to indicate he wishes to be affiliated with the Coffee Party, which is not recognized as an official party in the state.

January 10, 2011
Maldonado opposes tax extension; Newsom cautious about cuts

Abel Maldonado may no longer be lieutenant governor or a senator. But after a little break from the public light, he plans to join the fight against a tax extension ballot measure proposed today by Gov. Jerry Brown, Maldonado said.

The Republican former lieutenant governor attended this afternoon's swearing-in ceremony for his successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who beat Maldonado for the office in November.

Maldonado tirelessly worked the room after Newsom's 23-minute speech, shaking hands and slapping backs. At one point, he playfully slapped Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, on the cheek.

When asked by The Bee what his future held, Maldonado responded, "I'm going home. I'm going back to the ranch," referring to his family's ranch in Santa Maria.

Maldonado then said about his political plans, "I'm going to work against this tax increase. We told the people of California that it was temporary, and it was going to be temporary. And that if they allowed us a temporary tax, we were going to make some decisions. And taxes should be the last and final emergency resort."

Maldonado voted in February 2009 for the temporary tax hikes, which are set to expire this July. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Maldonado as lieutenant governor after the elected Lt. Gov. John Garamendi won a congressional seat in November 2009.

When asked how he was going to fight the tax extension, Maldonado said, "I'm going to be very vocal about it. Because when I did the tax increase, we were shutting down construction jobs the very next day. We were sending IOUs as tax refunds to Californian taxpayers and we had a $60 billion deficit. We don't have that today, so this notion of going out asking for more taxes is actually kicking the can down the road."

Newsom, a Democrat who just stepped down as San Francisco mayor, struck a more cooperative tone in his remarks after taking the oath of office. He said he would focus on job creation and help Brown any way he could.

Attending the ceremony were former Assembly Speaker and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who launched Newsom's career after appointing him to a San Francisco commission, incoming San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Garamendi, among others in the Senate chamber.

Newsom said he would make the most of his office's limited responsibilities, which include serving as chairman of the state Commission for Economic Development.

"I come here with a lot of ideas," Newsom said, "a foundational philosophy and principle that states are laboratories of democracy but cities and counties are laboratories of innovation. And that we got to unleash that innovative spirit."

He told reporters later that he had concerns about Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies.

"It's at our peril that we eliminate all, but the debate's an important one," Newsom said. "And I want to underscore that. There are some real abuses on redevelopment where they're not doing what they should be, and so it's a very legitimate debate. And that's why I honor (Brown's) willingness to put it up, but I also look forward to honoring his willingness to keep an open mind about the ultimate outcome."

January 10, 2011
GOP leaders: No votes to put taxes on ballot

In detailing his budget plan this morning, Gov. Jerry Brown said he is shooting for a two-thirds vote to put a proposal to extend higher tax rates set to expire on the ballot in a June statewide election.

That feat would require the votes of at least a handful of Republican lawmakers in each house, a scenario GOP legislative leaders shot down as unlikely at best shortly after the official unveiling of Brown's plan.

Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton predicted that "zero" members of his caucus would cast an aye vote under the current proposal outlined by Brown today.


"I am not open to the idea because nobody has demonstrated anything to me that shows we are going to do anything different than we have done before," the Rancho Cucamonga Republican said. "Voters were given this choice back in 2009 and they rejected it and frankly they were right to reject it. We didn't fix anything, so why would the voters believe you now that you're going to fix the problem even if they would give you five more years of the same thing?"

He called Brown's proposed spending reductions a start, giving the governor kudos for cutting his own budget, but said it was "too little, too late." Dutton and Senate Budget Committee Vice Chair Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, called for steeper spending cuts, changing the regulatory structure, and changing how the Legislature conducts business with steps like limiting bills with new programs that add costs.

"Nobody wants to be with a hatchet in hand, going off and cutting programs, and yet we absolutely have to do that," Huff said.

Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway, of Tulare, painted a similar picture of the party's lower house caucus. She issued a statement saying Assembly Republicans "stand united" against the plan to "place the same tax increases that voters overwhelmingly rejected less than two years ago back on the ballot."

"At this point, I think California voters have got to be feeling like the parent who consistently tells the child 'No.' How many times do we have to say no to taxes? I think they speak loud and clear," Conway told reporters today. "Jobs are leaving the state, people don't have a job. Why aren't we looking at more jobs and more people working as a way to increase our revenue?"

Whether Brown will ultimately get, or need, a two-thirds vote is still unclear. The Democratic governor said this morning that Republicans aren't "locked in stone in opposition" and that he is committed to working with them on his plan.

"I'm trying to forge a consensus," he said "A wide agreement."

Links:

Brown's Countdown, Day 1: Plan takes on powerful redevelopment forces

Legislators, left and right, dislike Brown budget


Steinberg: 'I hate these cuts,' but we are 'out of patches'

State Budget coverage

Gov. Jerry Brown coverage

Bee colleague Jim Sanders contributed to this report.


Photo above: Senate GOP leader Bob Dutto

January 10, 2011
Honig withdraws name as Board of Education appointee

HONIG APPEAL.JPG Former state schools chief Louis "Bill" Honig, has withdrawn his nomination to the state Board of Education, Gov. Jerry Brown's office announced today.

Honig, one of seven appointed to the board announced by Brown last week, resigned as state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1993 after he was convicted of felony conflict-of-interest charges. The charges, which involved authorizing state funds for schools to hire his wife's nonprofit group, were later reduced to misdemeanors.

A release announcing Honig's decision does not specify why he decided to withdraw his name. Brown had defended his decision to appoint Honig, who had also served on the board during his first go-round as governor.

"I've known him, I've known his family," Brown said last week. "He has the kind of knowledge of the bureaucracy of education, as well as education policy. I think he's acquitted himself well in recent years. I think people can be confident that he has a contribution to make."

Brown nominated Dr. Ilene W. Straus, Beverly Hills Unified School District assistant superintendent for educational services, to fill the post. Straus, who has also worked in the Santa Monica school district, is a Democrat, according to the release.

PHOTO: Bill Honig in 1996. Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press.

January 10, 2011
Rapid Response Roundup: Brown's budget

The budget proposal released today by Gov. Jerry Brown includes a broad selection of cuts to most aspects of state services and a plan to ask the voters to extend temporary tax increases set to expire to close a projected 18-month deficit of more than $25 billion.

Find out what lawmakers and stakeholders are saying about Brown's budget after the jump. Additional statements can be sent to tvanoot@sacbee.com.

January 10, 2011
Steinberg: "I hate these cuts," but we are "out of patches"

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said today that Gov. Jerry Brown's recommended $12 billon-plus in budget cuts - including huge slashes in social services - are different from Brown's Republican predecessor's because they are more "across the board" and include restructuring state government.

"I hate these cuts," Steinberg said at a Capitol press conference. But, he said, "I think this is a realistic budget."

As Steinberg spoke, interests defending childcare and social welfare programs began circulating to react to cuts in Brown's proposal, which also would ask voters to extend tax increases expiring this year.

"There is a recognition in this proposal that we have run out of patches," Steinberg said. "And we have been criticized, understandably so, for the various patches over the years. Our motive was to try to save as much public investment as possible, for education, for health care, for the needy."

"Well," Steinberg said, "the federal funds have run out. The temporary taxes are ending. There are no more patches."

He said Democrats will review the proposals Brown put on the table and may "quibble" with some. But in general, he said, Brown is asking for "sacrifices across the board - including with some of the corporate tax breaks."

The Senate Budget Committee will meet Thursday to begin deliberating the recommendations, Steinberg said.

"While I'm not ready to endorse any particular cut," Steinberg said. "I'm also very clear that I can't in good conscience reject any proposal out of hand."

Steinberg also predicted Republicans, in the end, would be reluctant to allow a tax deal to collapse and trigger deeper cuts than the more than $12 billion Brown proposed.

January 10, 2011
Cedillo's challenge to legislative pay cut is tentatively denied

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo's challenge of millions cut from the pay and benefits of legislators and other state elected officials in late 2009 has been tentatively rejected by the state.

The Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board released a staff recommendation today that Cedillo's claim be denied at its Jan. 20 public meeting. No explanation was given, as is typical of such staff recommendations, and spokeswoman Janice Mackey declined to elaborate on reasons for the denial.

Cedillo said he anticipated the rejection and plans to sue if the three-member claims board upholds its staff recommendation. The Los Angeles Democrat said the key issue is not the amount of legislative pay but that the state commission responsible for setting elected officials' salary obey state law.

"I expect that we will continue (the challenge), because the principle is too important for the people of California," he said.

Cedillo contends that the state's compensation commission, a seven-member body of gubernatorial appointees, exceeded its authority and that the possibility of a pay cut was used as leverage by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration in an attempt to extract budget concessions from legislators.

"It's very important that legislators are able to make decisions on behalf of constituents and the state of California -- and to do so in a way that they're not being leveraged, not held hostage by another branch of government," Cedillo said.

Former Gov. Schwarzenegger, through a spokesman, has supported the May 2009 vote to cut elected officials' pay but denied playing any part in it and noted that the compensation commission is an independent body.

The 18 percent cut in pay and benefits, which took effect in December 2009, dropped legislative pay by $20,917 annually, while the state's 12 top state officials, ranging from governor to Board of Equalization members, saw their salaries sliced by at least $28,644 apiece.

Legislators currently make $95,291 per year, while pay for statewide elected officials ranges from a high of $173,987 -- former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not accept state pay -- to a low of $130,490 for the lieutenant governor and Board of Equalization members.

Cedillo's complaint argued that the seven-member salary-setting commission did not properly consider the amount of time required to serve in the state offices or the pay and benefits received by other public and private officials.

Cedillo also argued that the state constitution prohibited legislative pay from being cut in the middle of a lawmaker's term, and that the salary-setting commission lacked authority to cut legislative per diem from $173 to $142 per day.

January 10, 2011
DOCUMENT: View Brown's budget proposal

The full summary of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal for the 2011-2012 fiscal year is now posted at this link.

Read more about the plan's details in this post from Bee colleague Kevin Yamamura in this post..

January 10, 2011
Live chat replay: Gov. Jerry Brown releases his budget plan

January 10, 2011
Brown asks for deep cuts, five-year extension of taxes

Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget today that relies on $12.5 billion in spending cuts over the next 18 months and higher taxes over the next five years to solve the state budget deficit.

"What I propose will be painful," Brown said.

However, he told reporters at the Capitol, "It's better to take our medicine now and get the state on balanced footing."

Brown's budget will include an 8 percent to 10 percent cut in state worker pay. According to his press release, Brown wants to save "$308 million for a 10 percent reduction in take-home pay for state employees not currently covered under collective bargaining agreements."

The Democratic governor will ask voters in a June special election to approve higher tax rates on sales, vehicles and income for five years. In a written statement today, Brown referred to it as "a five-year extension of several current taxes so that we can restructure in an orderly manner." But critics are sure to call them tax hikes since taxes would be lower without any further action by the Legislature or voters.

January 10, 2011
Rex Babin: Jerry and Gavin

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Rex Babin is the political cartoonist for The Bee. This cartoon was originally published in Sunday's Bee. You can see a collection of his work here.

January 10, 2011
AM Alert: Brown's budget

Sit down and fasten your seat belt: Gov. Jerry Brown will unveil his budget proposal for the next 18 months today.

Brown will present his budget along with Finance Director Ana Matosantos at 11 a.m. The press conference, held in the Capitol's Room 1190, will be broadcast on CalChannel.com.

The full proposal will also be posted online at that time at www.ebudget.ca.gov.

As The Bee has reported, Brown's budget will rely on a long list of cuts that "seem designed to hit services that permeate every part of Californians' lives" to close a projected deficit of more than $25 billion through the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The plan is also expected to include a proposed ballot measure to extend temporary increases on taxes set to expire this year and repeal a tax benefit for corporations.

Read recent news related to the budget and see an interactive time line of California's budget crisis at The Bee's online budget news hub.

LIVE CHAT: Got questions on Brown's proposal? Join The Bee's 11 a.m. live chat on the budget at this link.

RALLIES: A coalition of advocates for seniors, the disabled, health care, long-term care and corrections reform brought together by the Health and Human Services Network will rally inside the Capitol as Brown's budget is released to urge the governor and lawmakers to consider revenue increases before cuts to social and health services. Seniors, people with disabilities and home care workers will also be roaming the halls to speak out against cuts to In-Home Supportive Services.

TAKING THE OATH: Lt. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will hold a 1 p.m. inaugural ceremony in the Senate chambers. The former San Francisco mayor decided to hold off on taking the oath of office and giving up his old post until a new Board of Supervisors was sworn in to pick an interim mayor he supported.

HIGH COURT: Think you know who Brown will appoint to the state Supreme Court seat when Justice Carlos Moreno steps down next month? Submit your pick for the short list to capitolalertcontests@gmail.com.

BIRTHDAY: Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, turns 47.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 8:22 a.m. to reflect a change in location for the Newsom swearing in ceremony.

January 7, 2011
California revenue numbers deliver a mixed bag in December

State revenues ended $562.5 million below budget expectations for the month of December, or 5.8 percent, according to Controller John Chiang.

Of the big three tax sources, corporate taxes dragged down revenues, finishing $529.9 million, or 25.6 percent, below estimates. The controller's office suggested that was partly because corporations accelerated payments in November, when the state took in $263 million more than expected in corporate payments.

"It is clear that next year's budget deficit will not be solved by a surge in revenues," said Chiang in a statement. "Rather than hope for a miracle, lawmakers must take the tough actions necessary to bring the budget back into balance."

Still, there were some positive signs. December 2010 revenues were 14.6 percent higher than in December 2009. For the 2010-11 fiscal year, the state remains $931 million above budget projections, or 2.3 percent.

Chiang's summary analysis states, "Despite the fact that December came in below the 2010-11 Budget Act estimates, the improvement over the last year shows that the major sources of revenue are trending in the right direction."

January 7, 2011
Jerry Brown talks Pinocchio and campaign ads with tourists

Gov. Jerry Brown is apparently still quite fond of his campaign ads that depicted Republican Meg Whitman's nose growing like Pinocchio's.

Brown, heading downstairs to the basement cafeteria this afternoon for a rice, cheese and bean burrito, was met in the hallway by Visalia tourists Berta Mendez-Perez and Jose Perez and their children Sofia, 5; Diego, 8; and Alexandra, 10.

"We voted for you," Mendez-Perez said.

Brown asked the children, "Did you follow the campaign?"

Alexandra nodded.

"You saw the TV commercials?" Brown asked.

They did.

"Did you see the one with the nose growing?" Brown said. "Her nose started growing because she wasn't telling the truth. Your nose will grow, too, if you don't tell the truth."

In addition to that lesson, the children secured a photograph with Brown. He said that is something about being governor he doesn't mind.

January 7, 2011<