Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 1, 2012
Jerry Brown: California no worse than elsewhere in manufacturing losses

Gov. Jerry Brown said this evening that California is losing manufacturing at a rate no faster than the rest of the country, telling the TV show host and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm the problem is a national one.

"This is the place where Facebook started, where Hewlett-Packard started, where Steve Jobs built Apple Computer just a few miles from where we're sitting," California's Democratic governor said on Current TV's "The War Room with Jennifer Granholm. "This is a place of innovation."

Granholm told Brown, "When I was governor of Michigan, I would come here and try to get people in Silicon Valley to take their technology to scale in Michigan, because California seemed to be so expensive."

Brown defended his state, saying California "has lost manufacturing at about the same rate as the rest of America, so this is a national problem."

Said the former Michigan governor: "Oh, for sure."

February 1, 2012
Linda Halderman decorates her cramped Capitol 'doghouse'

doghouse2.JPGConstituents are pitching in to make Assemblywoman Linda Halderman and her staff members feel right at home in the Capitol's doghouse.

The Fresno Republican has renamed her shoebox-sized office the Bulldog House in honor of the four-legged Fresno State mascot.

Supporters have contributed decorations and bulldog memorabilia to convert her cramped 391-square-foot digs into a colorful conversation piece. Giant paw prints lead from the hallway to her office. A bulldog caricature adorns her outer door. A bullseye target hangs from her inner door, which is framed to look like a doghouse.

Halderman, a conservative politician and a medical surgeon by profession, said she has no idea why Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez chose her for the tiny accommodations.

And the Los Angeles Democrat has not elaborated, she said.

Doghouse1.JPG"I think logic is really unlikely in the Capitol," she said. "I just figure things are random or arbitrary, and we don't really need to know."

Now that she's unpacked, however, Halderman plans to stay a while.

No bark, no bite, no complaint. "They'll have to drag me out of that office kicking and screaming," she said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, the Fresno Republican occupying the "doghouse" office at the Capitol this year, is maximizing the photo-op possibilities of the position. Feb. 1, 2012, Jim Sanders / Sacramento Bee

February 1, 2012
California to reap taxes from Facebook IPO, but unclear when

California stands to gain hundreds of millions of tax dollars after Facebook goes public, but fiscal analysts say it's hard to predict when that money will flow into state coffers.

The Menlo Park-based social media giant filed papers today to launch a $5 billion stock offering, and state officials are giddy over the prospect of Facebook money helping California dig out of a $9.2 billion deficit.

The state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, dubbing the potential state windfall the "Facebook Effect," estimates California could receive more than $1 billion across the next several years. The Department of Finance has not included the Facebook IPO in its projections, while the Analyst's Office assumed some stock offerings would take place, though not one as large as Facebook's.

"We don't know what the specific amount is going to be, but if it's as significant as it's projected, then on behalf of a very grateful state, I will happily go to Mark Zuckerberg's house and wash his windows or mow his lawn," joked H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance, referring to the company's CEO.

California would gain once Facebook insiders sell shares and pay state income taxes on their gains.

If voters approve Gov. Jerry Brown's tax plan in November to raise income taxes on wealthy earners (in addition to hiking the state sales tax by a half-cent), Facebook employees could pay as much as 12.3 percent to the state on income above $1 million. Tax proposals by the California Federation of Teachers and attorney Molly Munger would impose higher rates than Brown's plan.

Without any tax hike, millionaire rates would be at 10.3 percent, including the one percentage point tax for mental health services.

The big question mark is when those employees will begin selling -- and paying the state. While Brown and lawmakers would love for money to flow as soon as possible, LAO forecaster Jason Sisney says it may take a couple years for the state to benefit.

February 1, 2012
California lawmakers cut ties with Komen over funding decision

ha_breast_cancer10208.JPGSeveral California lawmakers are severing ties with Susan G. Komen for the Cure over the breast cancer foundation's decision to stop providing breast cancer exam funding to Planned Parenthood.

Democratic Sen. Noreen Evans, who chairs the Legislative Women's Caucus, blasted the decision in a statement, saying it "defies logic ... to deny the most disadvantaged women the critical care they need."

Evans announced Wednesday that the caucus has decided to suspend its annual bake sale to raise money for the foundation and withdraw its sponsorship of a recent tradition of illuminating the Capitol dome with pink lights to raise awareness of breast cancer.

"I am frustrated, angered, and offended that Susan G. Komen for the Cure let a radical political viewpoint withdraw its support for women's health care," Evans said in a statement, referring to reports that the funding decision was made in response to pressure from anti-abortion groups. "I am hopeful they will reconsider their draconian move and fund Planned Parenthood throughout the nation."

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, is making a fashion statement out of his protest. The Los Angeles Democrat announced that he will no longer serve as a "Pink Tie Guy," male volunteers who wear neckties featuring the nonprofit's signature hue to show support of its efforts.

"Komen has placed its supporters in the untenable position of aligning themselves with acquiescence to the agenda of the religious right, or aligning themselves with healthcare and breast cancer organizations that will not bow to such pressures," he said in a statement. "The choice is clear to me. I choose the latter."

Reactions heated on Planned Parenthood-Komen rift

PHOTO CREDIT: Naomi Gonzalez, left, and Elvia Castro, right, both of Salinas, leave a breast cancer awareness event at the Capitol after it was lighted pink during a day long of events at the Capitol's north steps on Monday, February 8, 2010. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.

February 1, 2012
Gavin Newsom suggests Jerry Brown lacks 'vision for greatness'

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who pops up from time to time to snipe at Gov. Jerry Brown, suggested today that his fellow Democrat lacks a "vision for greatness" and is "not necessarily the most collaborative executive," and he criticized social service cuts Brown has proposed.

"We've got a governor who is doing a very good job focusing on solvency," the former San Francisco mayor, who dropped out of the gubernatorial race in 2010, said on KQED Radio's Forum. "But what we need is a vision for greatness again."

Brown and Newsom have a distant relationship, and about the warmest thing Newsom would say about Brown today is that he is a "unique person" and "in many respects a brilliant political tactician."

As he has before, Newsom said he was disappointed by proposed cuts to early education and welfare programs. But he also suggested that he could do better, and that he had an answer for the administration when asked what budget measures he might come up with instead.

"You give me your finance team, give me the controller, and give me your department heads, and give me 48 hours," Newsom said, "and I'll come up with them."

Brown spokesman Gil Duran declined to comment, except to say, "We stay busy over here in the governor's office."

February 1, 2012
Tobacco tax backers launch campaign with swipe at opponents

bed.jpegSupporters of a tobacco tax slated for the June primary ballot launched the opening salvo today of what is expected to be a multimillion dollar campaign, framing their effort as a battle to beat moneyed "big tobacco" interests.

At a news conference kicking off the campaign, Proposition 29 proponents cast their measure, which would raise taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack to fund cancer research and anti-smoking programs, as an approach to improve health and save lives.

"It's this simple: A no vote on Proposition 29 supports tobacco companies' strategy of singling out poor people and people of color for addiction and death. A yes vote on Proposition 29 is a vote for better health and live saving research," Joe Debbs of the American Heart Association said, adding: "From our perspective there is no middle ground. You're either with us, or you buy big tobacco's lies."

Supporters marked the official launch of the campaign for the initiative, which qualified for the ballot in 2010, by holding rallies in 21 other locations across the state that featured a bed with the message, "Let's see who's in bed with Big Tobacco."

February 1, 2012
Fundraising totals for hot California legislative contests

Early money is already flowing into the campaign coffers of candidates running for legislative seats across the state.

Tuesday was the deadline for state candidates to file their year-end campaign finance reports, which cover cash raised and spent through Dec. 31, 2011.

Wondering which legislative hopefuls are leading the pack and which are starting 2012 in the red? We've gathered the numbers for some of the races on our radar this cycle.

The spreadsheet includes 2011 totals for candidates we're tracking in some of the state legislative races Capitol insiders have been closely watching so far (blank fields mean a report had not been filed electronically at the time this sheet was posted). Full reports can be viewed at this link.

We're open to updating the roundup to include more races, so send any hot contests we might have missed to Stay tuned for a look at the money flowing in top congressional races in tomorrow's Bee.

Editor's note: The spreadsheet has been updated to correct the cash on hand for Jeff Miller's campaign and add figures for a Southern California Assembly race.

February 1, 2012
Steinberg shows no love for controversial judicial funding bill

Looks like controversial legislation on how to fund California courts has been put on ice in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters today not to expect to see action on the legislation, Assembly Bill 1208, any time soon. The measure passed the Assembly on Monday.

"The Senate has no near-term plans to refer that bill," Steinberg said, adding "It's a long year and a long session."

The bill, which would give trial court judges more power in spending decisions currently controlled by the state Judicial Council, which is led by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, was the subject of intense debate in the state Assembly this week. It cleared the lower house by a vote of 41-23 on Monday.

The bill, which is backed by a splinter group called the Alliance of California Judges and a union that represents court employees, is opposed by Cantil-Sakauye and 44 of the 58 presiding judges of the county courts.

Steinberg didn't address opposition or the merits of the bill today, but instead signaled he was irked by a comment made by the bill's author Assemblyman Chuck Calderon, D-Whittier, on the floor this week.

"I know Chuck Calderon's big comment about why he didn't fix the bill in the Assembly and instead (sent) it to the Senate was something to the effect of 'If I had it my way, we'd eliminate the Senate,'" the Sacramento Democrat said. "Not that I took any note of that."

Assembly OKs bill to give local courts more power over spending

February 1, 2012
AM Alert: Tobacco tax proponents gear up June ballot campaign

There's another battle brewing in this year's California ballot wars: The Yes on Proposition 29 campaign is cranking up.

Prop. 29 -- called the California Cancer Research Act -- would hike tobacco taxes by $1 per pack of cigarettes to fund research and smoking prevention efforts. It's one of two measures on the June primary statewide ballot.

Expected to be on hand at proponents' presser today are Jim Knox of the American Cancer Society's state's division, Kimberly Weich Reusché of the American Lung Association in California, and American Lung Association volunteer Steve Larson, who has stage 4 lung cancer. The event runs from noon to 2 p.m. on the Capitol's west steps.

Gov. Jerry Brown takes to the airwaves this evening, appearing on Current TV's "The War Room with Jennifer Granholm" starting at about 6:05 p.m. Pacific Time.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association, meanwhile, is in town for its 15 annual Governmental Affairs Day, and no fewer than five elected officials are scheduled to address its members.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez is up first this morning, followed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, then Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway and Senate Republican leader Bob Huff. State Controller John Chiang is to address the group after lunch. (The state's cash flow may well be on the agenda.) The event starts at 10 a.m. at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento.

Under the dome, a joint legislative hearing held with the Legislative Women's Caucus and the state Commission on the Status of Women looks at a new report, "Falling Behind," on the effects of the recession and the state's budget on women and their families. Listed presenters include Judy Patrick of the Women's Foundation of California, Jean Ross of the California Budget Project, and Sandy Gleysteen, who heads the commission. The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. in Room 4202.

Another joint hearing will consider recommendations from the California Community Colleges' task force on student success from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Room 4202. Later, an oversight hearing will look at the affordability of college textbooks starting at 2 p.m. in Room 444.

The Senate Rules Committee will take up the governor's appointments, starting at 1:30 p.m. in Room 113, with California Technology Agency Secretary Carlos Ramos and California State University trustee Herbert Carter required to appear. Carter is likely to face questions about executive compensation, given the reaction after CSU trustees hiked a campus president's pay package amid tuition increases.

BALLOT INITIATIVES: Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock of Berkeley and Assemblyman Paul Fong of Cupertino join with Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation and representatives of the Greenlining Institute to discuss the results of a recent poll on ballot initiative reform as well as responses from a statewide "listening tour." The briefing runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 2040.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, celebrates his 59th birthday today.

Editor's note: Due to an error in the press release, an earlier version of this post misspelled the name of Kimberly Weich Reusché.


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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