Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 7, 2012
PPIC Poll: Gov. Jerry Brown tax has bare majority of support

In its lowest public poll reading so far, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax plan has support from 52 percent of likely voters, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California survey.

PPIC found in two earlier polls that Brown's plan to hike taxes on wealthy earners and sales had 68 percent and 60 percent support from likely voters. A Field Poll last month found that Brown's plan had 58 percent backing from registered voters.

The new, lower result is likely due to two factors, said poll director Mark Baldassare: PPIC used official ballot language for the first time and Brown's plan has weathered vocal opposition in recent weeks from rival groups backing taxes.

The California Federation of Teachers is gathering signatures for a tax on millionaires to pay for education and county services, while attorney Molly Munger and the California State PTA have proposed an initiative that progressively raises income tax rates on all but the poorest Californians. They have defended their measures and been critical of Brown's plan. Voter opinion of those proposals was not surveyed by PPIC.

"In the best of circumstances, you don't have people saying don't do this," Baldassare said. "But in this situation, you even have people who favor taxes saying don't do this."

March 7, 2012
LAO says marina loan program should be eliminated

Boating clubs throughout the state are organizing opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to fold the Department of Boating and Waterways into the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Recreational Boaters of California and its member clubs contend that merger would divert fees and taxes collected from boaters into non-boating activities.

The Legislature's budget analyst added more fuel to the controversy Wednesday when it suggested that the department's programs of loans to public and private marina and launching ramp developers be eliminated to save money.

"In 2012-13, proposed expenditures for these programs total $13.8 million from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund (HWRF)," the Legislative Analyst's Office told the Legislature in a report. "We recommend that the Legislature consider whether these loan programs continue to be a state funding priority. Eliminating these programs would leave the lending function to the private sector.

"We note that the budgetary savings from the elimination of these programs would gradually decline over time because one of the primary sources of funding for these programs is the repayment of the interest and principal on previously issued loans."

March 7, 2012
Redevelopment's demise leaves CA housing money in limbo

When more than 400 local redevelopment agencies in California went out of business this year, thanks to state legislation and a Supreme Court decision, it stranded as much as $2 billion in funds that had been set aside for low- and moderate-income housing.

The funds had been accumulated from a 20 percent set aside of property taxes that redevelopment agencies had collected in their project areas -- money that housing advocates often complained was being stockpiled rather than spent on housing projects.

What happens to that money -- whether it will spent on housing or join other redevelopment agency funds to be redistributed to schools and local governments -- is one of the issues left over from redevelopment's demise.

Housing advocates want the money retained for their projects, but it's uncertain whether they will prevail.

As Gov. Jerry Brown sought to phase out redevelopment, he originally proposed that the housing money should be kept intact for that purpose. But when the Legislature passed a bill to that effect, Brown vetoed it, saying it was premature because the entire issue was then before the state Supreme Court.

This year, after the Supreme Court ruled that redevelopment agencies could be abolished, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 654, which would keep the housing money intact. The bill, carried by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, is now pending in the Assembly.

The question arose again Wednesday when two Assembly committees staged a lengthy hearing on what, if anything, will be done to replace redevelopment as a local government tool.

Pedro Reyes, the chief deputy director of Brown's Department of Finance, was asked pointedly about the fate of the housing money and he replied, cryptically, "Unencumbered money is supposed to be swept (distributed to other governments)."

That left legislators and housing advocates wondering whether Brown would sign or veto SB 654 if and when it reaches his desk.

March 7, 2012
Andrew Pugno signals possible run against Beth Gaines

RA_AD5_ANDY_ANDREW_PUGNO.JPGRepublican Andrew Pugno, who wrote and served as legal counsel to California's 2008 proposition to ban gay marriage, is laying the groundwork for a possible challenge to Republican Assemblywoman Beth Gaines.

The Folsom attorney, who lost an Assembly bid in 2010, filed a statement of intention to run for the 6th Assembly District on Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State. The move allows potential candidates to open a campaign finance committee.

At least two voters in the district also received a call from a polling firm Tuesday night that asked questions about possible ballot designations and a Pugno-Gaines match up. The owner of Lawrence Research, which one voter said was identified as the polling outfit, declined to comment, citing client confidentiality policies.

Pugno, who has not responded to messages seeking comment on his plans, faces a Friday filing deadline to decide whether to enter the race. Because the period for filing nomination signatures in lieu of a filing fee has passed, he would have to pay a filing fee of roughly $953.

Despite early fundraising success fueled by Proposition 8 supporters, Pugno lost a 2010 race for the top-targeted 5th Assembly District to Democrat Richard Pan, 49 percent to 46 percent. The suburban Sacramento Assembly seat. which had a slight voter registration advantage for Republicans at the time of the election, had been in GOP hands for more than two decades.

Republicans hold a 20-point voter registration in the newly drawn 6th Assembly District, which includes parts of El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties. Gaines, who was elected to the Assembly in a 2011 special contest held to fill a vacancy created by her husband's election to the state Senate, had raised about $31,000 for her re-election bid as of the end of 2011. Republican Linda Park and Lincoln Democrat Reginald Bronner have also announced candidacies for the seat.

PHOTO CAPTION: Republican candidate Andrew Pugno talks with supporters while awaiting election returns on June 8, 2010. Randy Allen / Sacramento Bee file, 2010

March 7, 2012
Jerry Brown: 'It's good that we have old politicians around'

Gov. Jerry Brown, who will turn 74 next month, found himself last night in the company of an older politician, a rare enough occurrence Brown's thoughts turned to age.

"It's good that we have old politicians around," said Brown, in San Francisco to welcome Israeli President Shimon Peres, 88, to Temple Emanu-El. "There's a lot of these young ones, and they give us a lot of energy, but we need the wisdom of those who've gone through all the struggles."

The Democratic governor recalled meeting Peres some 40 years ago, when Peres was promoting Israeli bonds.

"I had purchased one by then, so that was very good," said Brown, who once reported the investment in his financial disclosures. "And I still have it, testifying to my faith in the future."

Brown said he and Peres spoke about brain research, and Brown suggested California and Israel could create a joint research program similar to the California-Israeli solar energy initiative Brown promoted when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983.

March 7, 2012
AM Alert: Will dry year boost California's water bond?

It's water, water everywhere as the Association of California Water Agencies meets at the Sacramento Convention Center for its annual legislative symposium.

On the agenda: water infrastructure and the water bond still on the November ballot.

Panelists scheduled to discuss the water bond include Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield; Sen. Michael Rubio, D-East Bakersfield; Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore; and Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno. The association's executive director, Tim Quinn, will moderate.

Afterward, legislators and key aides are invited to lunch, where Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will deliver the keynote address. Click here to read the symposium agenda, which also includes pension reform.

Back at the Capitol, half a dozen committees consider budget-related matters, including long-term care and Medi-Cal managed care, higher education and financial aid programs, Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission, CalPERS and CalSTRS, the California Highway Patrol -- just to name a few. Other hearings will look at schools' food service contracts, land use and community development.

On the Senate side, the Rules Committee considers governor's appointees, starting at 1:30 p.m. in Room 113, with these folks required to appear: Will Lightbourne, director of the Department of Social Services; Patricia Leary, the department's chief deputy director; and Mark Ferron, member of the Public Utilities Commission. Click here for the Assembly's daily agenda, and click here for the Senate's.

Congratulations to Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, who gets the honor of hanging a framed samarai sword on his wall for a year now that he's won the 2012 Capitol Roller Award.

The Ceres Republican beat out Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan of Sacramento, and James Gore of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the California Rice Commission's 11th annual sushi rolling contest, held Tuesday at Sacramento's Sheraton Grand. The competitors got coaching from executive chef Billy Ngo of Kru, a contemporary Japanese restaurant in Sacramento.

FISH & GAME: The state's Fish and Game Commission (think Dan Richards) meets at Riverside's Mission Inn Hotel and Spa starting at 8:30 a.m. The long agenda, which you'll find at this link, includes a public forum. Expect the words "mountain lion" to be uttered.

NEW GIG: Matt David has signed on as senior adviser with Republican Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher's campaign for San Diego mayor. David was campaign manager for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's presidential bid and also worked, once upon a time, for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, turns 52 today.


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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