Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 18, 2012
Jerry Brown repeats speech, says he'll be in Los Angeles more

LOS ANGELES -- Hours after delivering his State of the State address to the Legislature this morning, Gov. Jerry Brown arrived this afternoon in Los Angeles, where he essentially read it again.

The Democratic governor told an invitation-only crowd at Los Angeles City Hall, including former Gov. Gray Davis and philanthropist Eli Broad, that he flew down this afternoon because "the business of government is not just under the Capitol dome," though a bank of television cameras at the back pointed to another reason a politician might visit L.A.

Brown is proposing a ballot measure to raise taxes, and he told reporters later, after meeting privately with teachers at an elementary school in Burbank, that he plans to travel more often this year.

"You can expect to see me in Los Angeles a lot more in the coming months," he said.

Brown is scheduled to appear in Irvine and San Diego on Thursday, concluding a two-day swing through Southern California.

Brown was accompanied by senior advisers on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento, including his wife, Anne Gust Brown.

He told reporters an updated business plan for California's controversial high-speed rail project will be released in three weeks.

January 18, 2012
Auto rate initiative qualifies for California ballot

Auto insurance companies will get a second shot at asking California voters to allow them to use a motorist's coverage history when setting rates.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today that the proposed auto insurance pricing initiative has qualified for the November 2012 ballot. Proponents had submitted more than 800,000 voter signatures to election officials late last year.

The measure, backed by the American Agents Alliance, is similar to Proposition 17, the failed June 2010 measure bankrolled by Mercury General. Supporters, who say the change would allow companies to extend existing loyalty discounts to new customers who want to switch providers, have updated this version to address concerns about rates for members of the military and the unemployed.

Critics say the change would result in increased rates for motorists who experience a lapse in coverage.

The auto rate initiative is the third measure to qualify for the general election ballot. The two others are an $11 billion water bond, which was placed on the ballot by the Legislature, and a proposal to prohibit using paycheck deductions such as union dues to collect cash for political spending.

January 18, 2012
VIDEO: Steinberg, Pérez on future of high-speed rail

Gov. Jerry Brown wants the green light to move forward with construction of California's proposed bullet train.

The Democratic governor called on the Legislature to approve funding for the high-speed rail project today, telling lawmakers in his State of the State address that a revised business plan that will allow construction on the project to start by the end of the year will be released within weeks.

Despite ongoing criticisms about the cost and blueprint for the voter-approved rail project, Democratic legislative leaders appear poised to back the governor's commitment to the bullet train.

See why Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg support the project and where they stand on the question of where to start laying the track in this video from their Capitol press conference today.

January 18, 2012
California Democratic congressional candidates get boost

Democratic strategists on Wednesday put more serious muscle behind two Central Valley challengers to incumbents in the California congressional delegation.

In a move that opens up campaign pocketbooks, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee elevated former astronaut Jose Hernandez of San Joaquin County and physician Ami Bera of Sacramento County to the highest priority in the party's bid to reclaim the House.

"They are problem solvers," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., the committee's chairman. "Who can be more of a problem solver than an astronaut, who has to decide 'all systems are go.' "?

On Wednesday, Bera and Hernandez joined 16 other top-ranked Democrats on the party's designated first team of challengers, dubbed "Red to Blue" candidates for their potential to take back Republican seats.

Bera is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Hernandez is challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Atwater.

January 18, 2012
Kamala Harris gives Jerry Brown go-ahead on California tax initiative

Gov. Jerry Brown can begin collecting signatures on his tax initiative thanks to a timely release by state Attorney General Kamala Harris today.

Minutes before Brown took the podium in the Assembly chambers for his State of the State address, Harris' office issued petition language on his plan to ask voters for a temporary hike in income taxes on the rich and sales taxes.

The governor received a favorable title: "TEMPORARY TAXES TO FUND EDUCATION. GUARANTEED LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY FUNDING." Brown hopes to frame his initiative as a $6.9 billion increase to pay for schools and public safety, the two highest priority issues for voters.

First Lady Anne Gust Brown and top aide Nancy McFadden said Brown's campaign team would begin collecting signatures today.

The petition language reflects the disparity between the governor's tax projections and those of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. Though Brown believes his plan will raise $6.9 billion annually, the analyst thinks it will raise only $4.8 billion in the first budget cycle and $5.5 billion on average at full implementation.

January 18, 2012
Chat with Dan Walters: Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State

January 18, 2012
VIDEO -- Rapid Response Roundup: State of the State

Gov. Jerry Brown began his speech Wednesday by chiding Republican lawmakers who responded a little too rapidly to his State of the State address. Assembly Republican leader Connie
and Senate Republican leader Bob Huff put out their videotaped response a day earlier.

"I noticed that Connie and Mr. Huff put out their critique of my speech 24 hours ago," Brown said. "I'll let you in on a little secret -- my speech wasn't finished 24 hours ago."

Given what he called their "powers of precognition and clairvoyance," Brown said he planned to check with Conway and Huff on some stock tips after the speech.

"We could use them -- especially the state," he said.

Here's an assortment of responses that arrived after Brown stopped talking:

January 18, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State 2012: Full text

Here is the full text of Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State 2012 address, "California on the Mend," as released by the Governor's Press Office on Wednesday, January 18, 2012. Remarks as prepared.

As required by the state constitution, I am reporting to you this morning on the condition of our state.

Putting it as simply as I can, California is on the mend. Last year, we were looking at a structural deficit of over $20 billion. It was a real mess. But you rose to the occasion and together we shrunk state government, reduced our borrowing costs and transferred key functions to local government, closer to the people. The result is a problem one fourth as large as the one we confronted last year.

January 18, 2012
Jerry Brown defends California and his tax plan

Gov. Jerry Brown defended his plan to raise taxes in his State of the State address this morning, the second of his third term, depicting California as a place of opportunity ripe for investment in high-speed rail, water infrastructure and schools.

"California is on the mend," he said.

Brown called his ballot measure to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest-earners "fair," and he suggested, as he has for weeks, that schools would suffer if higher taxes aren't approved.

"Given the cutbacks to education in recent years, it is imperative that California devote more tax dollars to this most basic of public services," he said to applause. "If we are successful in passing the temporary taxes I have proposed and the economy continues to expand, schools will be in a much stronger position."

January 18, 2012
Assemblyman Warren Furutani loses bid for LA City Council

BB FURUTANI 0265.JPGIt looks like Assemblyman Warren Furutani won't be leaving the Legislature this month after all.

The Gardena Democrat was defeated by Los Angeles Police Department officer Joe Buscaino in yesterday's runoff election for a vacant Los Angeles City Council seat by a 22-point margin.

The two Democrats were vying for the 15th Council District seat vacated by Democrat Janice Hahn's 2011 election to Congress.

Furutani, who was first elected to the state Assembly in a 2008 special election, will be termed out of the lower house in 2014. He has been drawn into the same district as fellow Assembly Democrat Isadore Hall for the 2012 election.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly member, Warren Furutani, casts his first vote on the floor of the Assembly after he was is sworn in, Thursday, Feb. 7 2008. Furutani won a special election in District 55, to succeed Laura Richardson, who was recently elected to represent the 37th Congressional District. (Sacramento Bee/ MCT/ Brian Baer / BBAER@SACBEE.COM).

January 18, 2012
AM Alert: No golf whispers during State of the State address

It's all ears for Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address this morning -- and no golf whispers in Assembly chambers.

The annual address, which begins at 10 a.m., requires a fair amount of media choreography.

Live trucks can start lining up at 6 a.m. for a security sweep from California Highway Patrol officers before they're allowed on Capitol grounds. If they get there after 7 a.m., they'll be out of luck.

Then reporters hauling radio and television gear will set it up. Everybody needs to be in place by 9:25 a.m. They also need to be sporting business attire, or they could find themselves ejected from chambers.

Another no-no: ringing cellphones.

Come back later -- The Bee will be broadcasting the governor's address live at You'll also find it at CalChannel. Live audio also will be available on Capital Public Radio station KXJZ-FM 90.9 in Sacramento.

After his State of the State address, Brown will be heading to Southern California to talk up his ballot measure on taxes to California voters, as David Siders and Torey Van Oot report in today's Bee.

First, he'll be talking at Los Angeles City Hall, starting at 2 p.m. That event will be webcast live at the governor's website. Later, at 4 p.m., he'll meet privately with teachers at Bret Harte Elementary School in Burbank. Thursday, Brown will make his pitch in Irvine and San Diego.

LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR: The Senate Rules Committee considers gubernatorial appointments, with Public Utilities Commission members Michael Florio and Catherine Sandoval required to appear. The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 113.


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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