Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 12, 2011
Majority supports Jerry Brown's tax plan, poll finds

A new poll shows 60 percent of California voters, weary of state spending cuts and unsettled by the prospect of more, are ready to support Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to raise taxes.

The Public Policy Institute of California poll, released Monday, is the first public measure of voter opinion about Brown's tax initiative since he announced it this month.

Brown plans to ask voters in November 2012 to temporarily increase the state sales tax and to impose higher income taxes on California's highest-earners, raising $7 billion annually for five years.

The poll comes amid deep pessimism about the economy and concern about the state budget. More than 80 percent of likely voters think the budget situation is a big problem, and more than two thirds of likely voters predict bad times financially in the year ahead.

December 12, 2011
Jerry Brown opens tax campaign committee, starts fundraising

Gov. Jerry Brown has opened a campaign committee and started fundraising for his November 2012 initiative to raise taxes.

The Democratic governor filed paperwork last week listing the committee's name as "Californians to Protect Schools, Universities and Public Safety, a ballot measure committee supported by Governor Jerry Brown, teachers, business and public safety."

Steve Glazer, Brown's political adviser, has started fundraising for the effort, Glazer confirmed this afternoon.

Brown is seeking to raise $7 billion annually by increasing the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners for five years.

December 12, 2011
New data provide ammunition for workers' compensation clash

As employers, labor unions, lawyers, insurers and medical care providers gird themselves for another round of battle in the decades-long political war over workers' compensation, a new set of data from the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau is providing ammunition.

The multi-billion-dollar-a-year system provides payments and medical care for workers who incur job-related illnesses and injuries and approximately once a decade, those with stakes in the system clash over its rules governing eligibility for benefits, the level of the benefits, and payments to medical care providers.

The last such battle occurred in 2004, when a newly inaugurated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, wielding an employer-sponsored ballot measure, bulldozed the Legislature into tightening up the system. The results was a dramatic reduction of costs and of insurance premiums paid by employers - but the new data indicated that both are starting to edge upwards and that insurers are beginning to lose money.

December 12, 2011
Jerry Brown wants agencies to stop writing so many reports

Gov. Jerry Brown wants state agencies to stop writing so many reports, calling the volume of documentation a "waste of time and money."

The Democratic governor ordered departments and agencies this afternoon to review the about 2,600 reports they are required to submit to the Legislature each year and to recommend eliminating ones that aren't useful.

"My administration remains committed to keeping the Legislature informed, but churning out 2,600 annual reports - some ordered more than two decades ago - is a waste of time and money," Brown said in a prepared statement. "All state agencies and departments have been asked to take a closer look at these reports and will work with the Department of Finance and the Legislature to get rid of those that are no longer needed."

December 12, 2011
Mitt Romney: GOP primary fight could extend to California vote

Republicans Debate_JPEG-0d0.JPGThe latest developments in the GOP presidential primary could mean more campaign action for California voters.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told Politico that he thinks the nomination battle with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will extend many months longer than originally thought, giving more relevance to California Republicans going to the polls in June.

Politico reports:

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Mitt Romney, who just a month ago had hoped to seal the GOP presidential nomination with Florida's primary on Jan. 31, tells POLITICO that he now foresees an epic fight with Newt Gingrich that could last through the California primary on June 5.

Asked if the former House speaker is the front-runner, Romney replied bluntly: "He is right now."

Romney made it clear that he would rather lose than make incendiary charges about Gingrich that could help President Barack Obama in the general election. And the former Massachusetts governor said the nomination "is not going to be decided in just a couple of contests" and "could go for months and months."

"You see how dramatically the numbers have moved and how quickly they have over the last year?" he replied Monday during a video interview at a grubby French-Canadian diner, Chez Vachon, a storied campaign stop that has hosted George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

"It's a very fluid electorate. I think I'll get the nomination. I can't predict when. ... I've got -- what? -- five or six more months to go to make that a reality."

California campaign activity for presidential hopefuls on both sides of the aisle has been largely limited to fundraising events so far, as GOP hopefuls spend time and resources in the early primary and caucus states. Just two major candidates -- Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Rep. Ron Paul -- accepted invitations to speak at the state GOP convention this fall.

Romney remained the favorite candidate for California Republicans by a slim margin in a recent statewide poll. Field Poll results released last week showed the former Massachusetts governor out polling Gingrich 26 percent to 23 percent.

Click here to read the full Politico piece.


California Republicans still favor Romney but Gingrich now in second

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Ron Paul wins California GOP straw poll

Photo Gallery: California Republican Party Convention

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, right, during the Republican debate, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. Attacked as a lifelong Washington insider, Gingrich parried criticism from Mitt Romney Saturday night, telling the former Massachusetts governor, "The only reason you didn't become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994." (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

December 12, 2011
Video archive: Jerry Brown talks 'strike force' and taxes

Following the pepper-spraying of protesters by police at UC Davis and the jabbing of students with batons at UC Berkeley, Gov. Jerry Brown said he was "seriously concerned" and asked the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training last month to review procedures for crowd control.

His concern was relayed in a letter. Forty years ago, he might have sent a team of commandos.

"I propose a statewide strike force to be under the charge of the governor, to be called out at the first sign of any violence, to prevent it if possible, to stop it once it starts," Brown, then a candidate for secretary of state, said in an interview - viewable here - with KPIX-TV in San Francisco in 1970. "I think a lot of the problem on the campus confrontations - oftentimes police are called in who are not adequately trained to deal with, with really the unique problems that we see today on the campus. Some of it is almost like guerrilla warfare, and I think we need a specially trained, well-motivated, well-screened force of men who know how to deal with the problem and are ready to go anywhere at any time under the command of the governor to really bring calm to the campus."

The video of the interview is part of the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, a project of the J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University. Bee researcher Pete Basofin came across it the other day. The cache includes about 4,000 hours of film, mostly from before 1980.

Of course, circumstances were different when Brown was secretary of state, then governor, before. Politics were, too.

The Democratic governor, who is proposing next year to raise taxes, had a different opinion about tax increases in 1977, the year before passage of the property-tax limiting Proposition 13, according to this clip in the archive:

"There is a feeling that some citizens in California are not paying enough. My own view is that as you open the door to new taxation, that you encourage and expand an accelerating form of government that is already quite excessive," Brown said. "I am going to exert every effort I have to block the effort to increase taxes."

Come back to Capitol Alert on Tuesday for more from the video archive, including a clip of Brown's father, former Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, talking about his son's first gubernatorial campaign.

December 12, 2011
California high-speed rail debate returns to D.C.

California's high-speed rail debate comes to Capitol Hill this week, as a key House committee conducts its first hearing devoted solely to the state's project.

The Republican-led House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is setting the tone for what participants can expect, calling Thursday's hearing "California's High-Speed Rail Plan: Skyrocketing Costs and Project Concerns."

Minds may be already made up, but the witnesses do reflect the competing sides in this debate. Following a presentation by House members, a panel of seven witnesses will make their case. They include Roelof Van Ark, chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, as well as skeptics like Madera County farmer Kole Upton. A committee briefing paper provides background.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m. EST and will be webcast.

December 12, 2011
AM Alert: Penn State headlines inspire California proposal

California legislators are keeping themselves busy -- just not under the dome.

Sacramento area lawmakers, for instance, are keeping their names out there with events ranging from a news conference to a community coffee.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, is teaming up with former Sacramento Monarchs basketball star Ruthie Bolton and child abuse prevention advocates to announce legislation ripped from the recent headlines out of Penn State.

Dickinson's proposal would require organizations employing athletic coaches, administrators and directors to train them how to identify child abuse and neglect, and would require those personnel to report instances of child sexual abuse and neglect. The news conference starts at 10 a.m. at Sacramento City College's North Gym.

Republican Assemblywoman Beth Gaines of Roseville is holding a community coffee in Lincoln starting at 9 a.m. at Kim's Country Kitchen, 537 G. St.

GOP Assemblyman Dan Logue of Penn Valley and Sen. Ted Gaines of Roseville, meanwhile, head to Yreka in Siskiyou County to talk business and jobs with small business owners and others at the Community Theater, 812 N. Oregon St., starting at 10 a.m.

Back in Sacramento, Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, is hosting a Monday night football fundraiser at The River House, 1421 Garden Highway, for his 2012 bid for the 5th Senate District seat.

And if you see show cars along L Street, Ford Motor Co. is running a private event starting at 11 a.m. at Spataro, 1415 L St., to showcase fuel-efficient and electric vehicles. Word has it that if lawmakers attend, they'll have to report it as a gift.

HOLIDAY MUSIC: The music lineup in the Capitol rotunda continues today with the Roseville Sun City Singers from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' group Corps-A-Liers and the Emerson Junior High School Choir.


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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