Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 29, 2012
Jerry Brown says cap-and-trade fees will fund high-speed rail

Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview airing in Los Angeles today that California's high-speed rail project will cost far less than the state's current estimate of nearly $100 billion and that environmental fees paid by carbon producers will be a source of funding.

"It's not going to be $100 billion," the Democratic governor said on ABC 7's Eyewitness Newsmakers program. "That's way off."

Brown's remarks come as his administration prepares revisions to the California High-Speed Rail Authority's latest business plan. Brown is trying to push the project through an increasingly skeptical Legislature following a series of critical reports.

"Phase 1, I'm trying to redesign it in a way that in and of itself will be justified by the state investment," Brown said. "We do have other sources of money: For example, cap-and-trade, which is this measure where you make people who produce greenhouse gasses pay certain fees - that will be a source of funding going forward for the high speed rail."

Brown said, "It's going to be a lot cheaper than people are saying."

The annual spending plan Brown released this month included $1 billion in cap-and-trade revenue for programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The budget document lacked detail, however, saying, "Further detail on specific program areas will be developed when there is more certainty of fees received from the Cap and Trade Program."

The interview aired following Brown's trip last week to Southern California, his second in two weeks as he begins campaigning for his ballot initiative to raise taxes.

"It isn't all, you know, going to football games and buying clothes and cars and gasoline and all the things people want to do in their private life," Brown said. "We also have a public investment, and that's part of the balance of a civilization."

Brown has also proposed changes to reduce pension costs, and he suggested he may take that measure to the ballot, too, if the Legislature does not act.

"One way or the other, if we can't get it through the Legislature," he said, "then there's always the initiative route at some point."

January 29, 2012
California Teachers Association backs Gov. Jerry Brown's tax plan

The California Teachers Association officially agreed Sunday to back Gov. Jerry Brown's multibillion-dollar tax plan, which should provide the governor hefty financial support for his fall campaign.

The union represents 325,000 teachers and education workers, and it is a heavy hitter in state politics. Brown is gathering signatures for a November initiative to raise sales taxes by a half-cent and income taxes on high income earners. He has structured his budget so that schools would face a $2.4 billion program cut in 2012-13 if voters reject his proposal, which he says is equal to three weeks off the school year.

The Democratic governor now has support from the state's two most powerful public employee unions in CTA and the Service Employees International Union State Council. SEIU has not made its support public, but CTA President Dean E. Vogel told his members on Saturday that "SEIU State Council has already taken a support position," according to a text of his speech.

SEIU spokesman Michael Cox said Sunday his organization has not taken a public position. But sources besides Vogel confirmed SEIU has privately agreed to support Brown. The governor has been working for weeks to convince other tax proponents to step aside, knowing that voters are less inclined to support any tax plan if faced with multiple options.

CTA's State Council, a group of nearly 800 union leaders, voted today in Los Angeles to back the governor's plan. The union's support had been expected for weeks, but it took the State Council to make it official. Some members advocated for competing plans, such as a "Millionaires Tax" proposed by a separate union, the California Federation of Teachers. But CTA ultimately got behind the governor's plan.

"It is way past time for a tax increase, and we must help lead the way in getting a revenue package approved," Vogel said Saturday.

The CFT proposal would raise taxes only on Californians earning at least $1 million as either single or joint filers. The $4 billion to $6 billion it would raise annually would flow outside the state's general fund to schools and local governments, but it may not help solve the state's deficit.

In his speech, Vogel called the CFT plan "the most progressive of the proposals ... But as it is written, there are some unintended consequences. This initiative doesn't help close the current budget deficit and does not pay for the local realignment. There also another big issue: It doesn't help restore program cuts to essential services."


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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