Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 1, 2011
Jerry Brown to announce tax proposal Friday

SAN FRANCISCO - Gov. Jerry Brown said tonight that he will announce his tax proposal publicly on Friday, though he again declined to discuss what it includes.

"We're going to unveil a very complete press release tomorrow," the Democratic governor said after an event in San Francisco.

Brown is expected to propose a November 2012 ballot initiative to raise nearly $7 billion by raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians and on sales, but he stayed quiet about the proposal today, even as details of the plan leaked.

Brown was speaking at a California State Association of Counties banquet. The event was closed to the media.

As he left, he said, "I have to go home and work on the press release."

December 1, 2011
VIDEO: Jerry Brown mum on tax plan as he leaves pension hearing

Gov. Jerry Brown declined this afternoon to say anything about his plan to propose tax increases next year, deflecting questions about it as he left a pension hearing at the Capitol this afternoon.

"Today is pension day," Brown said, adding later, "We have to do one problem each day."

The Democratic governor said he would "soon ... talk about that other thing." He's expected to propose raising nearly $7 billion annually by raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians and on sales.

His interaction with reporters was brief. When someone asked reporters at the elevator to clear the door, he chuckled.

"Clear the door," Brown said with a grin, "or I'm going to have to clear you."

December 1, 2011
Read the tentative ruling ordering Assembly to release records

Here is a copy of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley's tentative ruling ordering the California Assembly to release budget records sought by The Bee and the Los Angeles Times:
Tentative Ruling

December 1, 2011
Sacramento judge orders Assembly to provide budget records

The Assembly must release member-by-member budgets and related documents under a Sacramento Superior Court ruling Thursday.

Judge Timothy M. Frawley's ruling was a tentative one, but it became final when the Assembly informed the court that it would not challenge the decision in a court hearing scheduled Friday for that purpose.

"The court concludes that the records were improperly withheld under the Open Records Act," Frawley opined in a 12-page decision.

"The court is persuaded that the strong public interest in disclosure outweighs any reason for keeping the records secret," he added.

The Assembly decision not to challenge Frawley's tentative ruling does not preclude appeal to a higher court. No announcement was made Thursday as to whether it will do so.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Assembly Rules Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner released a one-paragraph written statement that noted the lower house's current disclosure practices mirror its policies for more than three decades.

"As we review the court's opinion, we will revise our procedures accordingly," the Assembly statement said. "We remain committed to improving public access to information about the operations of the California State Assembly."

Frawley said that California law "reflects a strong presumption in favor of public access to legislative records" and that exemptions "should be narrowly construed to ensure maximum disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations."

Though the Legislature wrote the state's open-records law, Frawley said that judges do not necessarily have to accept the Assembly's interpretation of it in litigation over its rights and limitations.

"The Legislature has no authority to interpret the laws and determine rights; that is the function of the judiciary," Frawley said.

The lawsuit, filed by The Bee and Los Angeles Times, challenged the Assembly's interpretation of the Legislative Open Records Act, a 36-year-old law law assuring public access to many, but not all, Capitol records.

The law, known as LORA, begins with a declaration that "access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business by the Legislature is a fundamental and necessary right of every citizen in this state."

Exemptions from disclosure are provided for various Assembly and Senate records, however, including preliminary drafts, personnel matters and correspondence to lawmakers and their staff.

A key question in the suit was whether member-by-member budgets and related projections or changes fall under those exemptions.

December 1, 2011
Texas Gov. Rick Perry raises cash in Sacramento, slips press

RICK PERRY US NEWS GOPDEBATE 12 ABA.JPGIt's hardly unusual for a politician at a private fundraiser to give the media the slip, but Rick Perry, it would seem, has it down to a form of art.

As the Texas governor finished mingling with donors inside The Park Ultra Lounge in Sacramento today, his aides waited out back and told reporters he was coming. As the luncheon ended, they pulled a GMC Yukon SUV in front of the back entrance and opened the vehicle's back door.

And then they split.

By the time a handful of Occupy Sacramento protesters made it around front, his aides said Perry was gone.

Perry, once a front-runner among the Republican presidential hopefuls, has fallen badly in the polls. He's now preferred by only 3 percent of California Republicans, for instance, according to the most recent Field Poll.

The Sacramento luncheon's hosts included Republican Sen. Tom Berryhill of Oakdale and Assemblymen Dan Logue of Linda and Jim Nielsen of Gerber.

Lunch was listed at $500 per couple, and a photograph with Perry cost $1,000, according to an invitation.

An Occupy protester outside said to a couple on their way in, "You can have your picture taken with me for a dime."

PHOTO CREDIT: Texas Gov. Rick Perry is seen before the start of the Republican presidential debate at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, November 22, 2011. (Olivier Douliery/ Abaca Press/ MCT)

December 1, 2011
Jerry Brown wants tax hikes to wealthy, sales to raise $7 billion

Gov. Jerry Brown will ask voters to raise nearly $7 billion annually by hiking taxes on upper-income earners and sales in California over the next five years, according to sources who have been briefed.

The Democratic governor is expected to file his tax initiative for the November 2012 ballot as soon as Friday. He wants the tax plan to help bridge next year's budget deficit, which the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office pegs at $12.8 billion.

Under the measure, California would impose a half-cent sales tax increase starting in 2013 and an income tax hike on high-income earners starting retroactively with the 2012 tax year. Both would expire at the end of 2016.

The upper-income tax hike starts with a 1 percent increase at $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers. A separate increase would charge 1.5 percent more on income between $300,000 and $500,000, followed by a third step of 2 percent on income above $500,000 for individuals (with amounts doubled for joint filers). That would increase the tax on millionaires from 10.3 percent to 12.3 percent.

The income tax change generally affects the top 1 percent of taxpaying households, a favorite target of Occupy protesters in recent months. In 2009, the 1 percent threshold of tax filers started at $400,635, according to the Franchise Tax Board.

Sources said the state would dedicate the money to school districts, intended as a way to convince voters who have said in recent polls that they would approve higher taxes for education. But the governor's proposal would still help the state balance its budget, without guaranteeing that the net effect would be an additional $7 billion for classrooms. It would also include some language limiting how much money gets spent on salaries and administration.

The governor also will ask voters to lock in an existing sales tax shift that pays local governments to take over state responsibilities such as housing inmates.

December 1, 2011
Ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger back in energy spotlight

Thumbnail image for Schwarzenegger Climate Law.JPGThe reputation-rehabilitation tour of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger continues next Monday, when he delivers the keynote address for the American Council for Renewable Energy's 10th anniversary celebration.

Schwarzenegger will be one of four recipients of ACORE's "Renewable Energy Leadership Award," being presented at Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery of Art. His talk, according to the group, will be on "America's global competitiveness in the clean energy economy." ACORE is a non-profit organization, whose members include representatives of the wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and other renewable energy industries.

December 1, 2011
AM Alert: Jerry Brown's pension reform plan gets scrutinized

Gov. Jerry Brown's pension reform plan gets a second look today from a two-house legislative committee on public pensions.

Brown wants to ask voters to increase the retirement age for future state and local government workers and require all employees to contribute at least half of their annual pension costs. And that's just for starters.

Panel members will hear from a long list of speakers, including representatives of the state's Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the Department of Finance, the Legislative Analyst's Office, CalPERS, CalSTRS, the University of California, the League of California Cities and other employers, plus several labor unions.

The hearing, co-chaired by Democratic Assemblyman Warren Furutani of Gardena and Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino, runs from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 4203. Watch it via live webcast at Calchannel.com.

Click here to read the agenda. You'll find Brown's 12-point plan at this link.

The latest Field Poll has some good news for President Barack Obama. Even though California voters aren't champing at the bit to reelect him, "once you put him up against a real live Republican, he doesn't look so bad," Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo told The Bee's Torey Van Oot.

Find her story in today's Bee. For even more details, click here to read the publicly released poll, and click here for the statistical tabulations done exclusively for Capitol Alert.

Meanwhile, it's Taxpayers' Bill of Rights day at the Franchise Tax Board -- today's its annual hearing of ideas about how to change state income tax laws.

The board will be taking suggestions at its regular meeting, which starts at 1:30 p.m. at 9646 Butterfield Way in Sacramento. Presenters need to submit a written statement beforehand. The Bee's Claudia Buck has more details here.

It's also time for holiday music -- the California State Capitol Museum has lined up performances in the rotunda starting today and running through Dec. 23. First up: the Salvation Army Brass Quintet from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by the Golden State Accordion Club from noon to 1 p.m. Click here to check out the whole lineup.



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Capitol Alert Staff


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

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

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

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

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

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

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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