Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 3, 2011
California Forward proposes new government overhaul plan

A leading California think tank on Thursday rolled out its latest ballot proposal to tackle the Golden State's fiscal and governance woes.

The list of fixes endorsed by California Forward includes shifting to a two-year budget and curbing last-minute legislative amendments by requiring that all bills are made available to the public at least three days before final passage.

The political arm of the foundation-funded nonpartisan group filed paperwork Thursday to place its full proposal on the 2012 ballot through a constitutional amendment.

"It's really about figuring out steps that we can take to ensure that government is delivering results in a transparent and accountable way," Zabrae Valentine, executive director of the California Forward Action Fund, said of the plan.

November 3, 2011
Assembly budget aides expecting $5 billion to $8 billion deficit

Assembly budget officials expect California to face a deficit of about $5 billion to $8 billion next fiscal year, higher than the $3.1 billion projected by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to a legislative memo obtained by The Bee.

The memo itself doesn't explain why Assembly officials believe the deficit will be larger than once projected, but one budget source said it was due to a variety of factors such as uncertainty over legal challenges, additional demand for public programs and a less optimistic view of the economy in the next fiscal year.

At the same time, the "Budget Recap" from Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, downplays a first-quarter lag in tax revenues of more than $650 million.

To help balance the budget last summer, lawmakers and Brown optimistically decided the state would receive $4 billion in additional revenue in 2011-12. If budget experts determine in mid-December that the state will fall at least $1 billion short of that mark, the state must impose so-called "trigger" cuts to social services and possibly education, depending on the depth of the shortfall.

November 3, 2011
Cash-poor move to overturn California initiative law sputters

With the clock ticking, opponents of a new law limiting future initiatives to November elections have failed to raise the cash needed to qualify a referendum for the ballot.

About two months remain for opponents of Senate Bill 202 to gather the roughly 505,000 valid voter signatures needed to ask voters to overturn the law. Collecting that many signatures in such a short time frame has proven to be a costly endeavor.

"As of right now, there has not been enough financial support for it to really get off the ground," Chuck Bell, the GOP political attorney who filed the referendum papers, said in an interview Wednesday.

November 3, 2011
Jerry Brown names PG&E official as his senior adviser

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. official as his senior adviser for cabinet and external affairs.

Dana Williamson, who was PG&E's director of public affairs, "will be responsible for working with members of the Governor's cabinet especially on projects requiring cross functional collaboration," Brown's executive secretaries, Nancy McFadden and Jim Humes, said in an email to staff on Tuesday.

Williamson, 39, will also oversee the governor's external affairs operation and the administration's Washington, D.C., office.

Like Brown, Williamson is a Democrat. She is to be paid $147,900 a year, the governor's office said.

McFadden and Humes said in the email that Williamson "brings 15 years of political, policy and communications experience in government, campaigns, non-profits and business."

McFadden also came to the administration from PG&E, where she was a senior vice president.

November 3, 2011
AM Alert: California's High-Speed Rail Authority talks business

Members of the state's High-Speed Rail Authority are holding their monthly board meeting this morning to talk about the new business plan that The Bee's David Siders detailed in this story earlier this week.

If approved, the rail project would start construction in the Central Valley from Bakersfield to near Chowchilla sometime next fall. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. in Sacramento City Council chambers at 915 I St. Click here to read the agenda.

Back at the Capitol, an Assembly budget subcommittee will consider whether the safety net program CalWORKs is helping families move out of poverty. The meeting, chaired by Democratic Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, runs from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 126.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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