Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 20, 2012
Jerry Brown: Munger sent 'nice e-mail,' but no deal in works

A week after negotiating the compromise tax measure with the California Federation of Teachers, Gov. Jerry Brown said today that despite recent talks with Molly Munger, the proponent of a competing tax initiative, there is no sign of a deal.

"I spoke to her on the phone, she sent my wife a nice e-mail, and my wife responded, and then she responded back, and that's where we are," the Democratic governor told reporters in Sacramento.

He said the exchange "left things as they are, with a very fierce campaign on the horizon, which I'm fully prepared for."

Brown said his compromise tax measure, despite its greater reliance on income tax, will not lead to budget volatility.

"We're coming out of a recession, and we're coming out slowly," Brown said. "By the time we get to the point of the next recession, this tax measure will have expired."

He said, "My goal is to use the money from the tax measure, if it passes, and pay for the programs, pay down debt, and get ready for the next recession with a reserve ... I'm going to build a reserve to guard against the falloff in revenue that comes from having so much reliance on the income tax."

Brown said a representative of Occidental Petroleum Corp., which donated $250,000 to Brown's tax campaign in January, told him in a telephone call that the company is still supportive of the measure.

The compromise tax initiative between Brown and the CFT would extend a higher tax on California's highest-income earners to seven years instead of five. Business groups have objected to permanent tax increases or ones that remain in place for a long period.

March 20, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown criticizes college president pay

Hours before the California State University Board of Trustees considers approving annual salaries of more than $300,000 for two college presidents, Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that he opposes the increases, and suggested any number of people - including him - could do the work of a college president for less.

"The colleges ... a lot of public employers think that they have to give pay raises, and I don't think so, because the average person has not gotten a pay raise, and the kids have been paying more in tuition," Brown told reporters before speaking to optometrists in Sacramento. "So I think they have to find ways of attracting people, and they have to widen the pool."

The Democratic governor dismissed the argument that the potential pool of college presidents is so small that salaries must be raised to remain competitive.

"I think there are a lot more people that can be college presidents, maybe even some of you," Brown told reporters.

Asked if he could be one, Brown said, "I have no doubt."

"I have no doubt that I could be a college president, and I think a number of legislators could," he said "since basically it involves raising money, it involves being diplomatic with all the different constituencies, including the faculty, and it takes some skill."

The CSU board is scheduled to consider compensation packages this afternoon for the presidents of the Fullerton and East Bay campuses, Mildred Garcia and Leroy Morishita, respectively.

March 20, 2012
Kamala Harris, online dating sites agree to security measures

Thumbnail image for kamala.jpgCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris is touting today an agreement she says will help improve safety and security for people looking for love online.

Harris and online dating site companies eHarmony, and Spark Networks, which operates JDate and Christian Mingle, released a set of business guidelines by which the parties have agreed to abide. Harris praised the principles as "important consumer protections" for people participating in the sites. The release noted that 40 million Americans used online dating services in 2011.

"Consumers should be able to use websites without the fear of being scammed or targeted," she said in the statement.

Under the agreement, which is posted here, the providers will publish safety tips and financial scam warnings online, maintain systems for reporting abuse or suspected criminal activity by users and make an effort to remove registered sex offenders and fake profiles from their sites. The providers will also work with the attorney general and a liaison from the office's new eCrime Unit to address concerns about criminal activity and identity theft issues.

Leaders from the companies said in the statement that many of the "best practices" outlined in the document were drawn from existing policies.

"These types of practices have been part of our commitment to member safety and education for many years," eHarmony CEO Jeremy Verba said in the statement. "We are proud to join Attorney General Harris, and Spark Networks in setting an example for the rest of the online dating industry."

Harris spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said the attorney general's office initiated conversations with the providers after learning about a case in Southern California involving a woman who was allegedly raped by a man she met through an online dating service. After learning that the man had a criminal history, the woman started urging the site to increase its user screening practices.

While the principles released today are not legally binding by private parties, Gledhill said the attorney general hopes the good-faith agreement will spark more changes for other sites.

"We hope it becomes best practices for the industry," she said.

March 20, 2012
Ashburn says he'll resign from state board if elected to county board

Former state Sen. Roy Ashburn, who had earlier indicated he might keep his $128,000 per year position on the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board if elected to a $120,000 seat on the Kern County Board of Supervisors, is changing his tune.

Ashburn told the Bakersfield Californian newspaper Tuesday that he'll resign from the state board if elected to the county board seat that's opening because incumbent Jon McQuiston is running for the state Assembly.

Republican Ashburn was a Kern County supervisor before going to the Legislature as an assemblyman and later as a two-term senator. In 2010, his last year in the Senate, Ashburn was arrested for drunken driving in Sacramento after leaving a gay bar and later publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. After leaving the Senate, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the UI appeals board.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger's successor, Jerry Brown has proposed to abolish the UI board, whose appointees have often been ex-legislators, as part of a larger reorganization of state government.

March 20, 2012
Assembly Republicans unveil 13-bill package honoring veterans

With troops returning from combat in the Middle East, Assembly Republicans unveiled a 13-bill package today designed to recognize their service and assist them in returning to civilian life.

One of the GOP's Assembly legislators, Jeff Gorell of Camarillo, is among those coming home after yearlong duty as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan. He is expected back on the Assembly floor April 9.

Legislation touted by Assembly Republicans today target issues ranging from single-parent custody rights to extending the number of years that veterans are given a priority for college class registration.

Key measures in the package include:

March 20, 2012
Friends propose Rod Blonien scholarship at Jesuit High School

Friends and family of Rod Blonien are trying to create a memorial scholarship to honor the late California lobbyist at Jesuit High School.

Blonien, who worked for former Gov. George Deukmejian before becoming a lobbyist for gambling and horse racing interests, died a week ago at age 65 of an apparent heart attack.

Blonien's longtime friend and former colleague Allan Zaremberg, the current president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, said Blonien's sons attended the Catholic school in Carmichael.

Zaremberg, who posted an announcement of the scholarship on his personal Facebook page, said Blonien's family mentioned the idea at a memorial service last week.

"It will be a legacy that lives well beyond him," he said.

March 20, 2012
Democrat Ami Bera says Obama hasn't done enough on economy

Congressional candidate Ami Bera is once again distancing himself from the country's top Democrat as he heads into the first of what could be two election battles with Republican Rep. Dan Lungren.

The Elk Grove Democrat, who is challenging Lungren in the newly drawn 7th Congressional District, was critical of President Barack Obama's record on improving the economic climate in an interview with News 10 this week.

"I don't think the president did enough in his first years in office," Bera said, noting Sacramento County's roughly 11 percent unemployment rate.

Bera, who called job creation "jobs one, two and three," said he believes officials need to look at both cutting regulations to help small businesses and approving shovel-ready projects, such as work on California's roads and levees, to put people back to work.

Bera tried to distance himself from Obama and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the 2010 campaign, too, without success.

At one point he declared that "If I thought the Democrats were doing the right job in this country with moving forward, I wouldn't be running," and later said he would have been "reluctant" to vote for the health care law Obama and Pelosi championed

Still, two weeks before the 2010 election, a conservative group with ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove, aired a campaign ad asserting that Bera didn't think the overhaul of the nation's health care system went far enough.

"I've been consistent. I think the Affodable Care Act, the health care reform by President Obama misses the point," Bera said in the News 10 interview. "We've got to address the cost of health care. Far too many families, far too many business owners are paying more and more every year and we're getting less and less."

He said Obama's failure to take on the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to lower the cost of health care is "one of the biggest disappointments" of the overhaul.

March 20, 2012
AM Alert: How to raise $10 billion for California state government

DAN WALTERS DAILY: Dan's video report today laments HBO's cancellation of 'Luck,' a move that leaves its legislative plot hanging.

On a day with plenty of committee hearings on tap, the most lucrative for state budget purposes is probably one scheduled for Assembly Budget Committee #4 on State Administration.

The committee will look at ways to close the state's "tax gap" - the difference between how much taxpayers owe and how much they really pay.

The number has been estimated at more than $10 billion a year.

Lawmakers will consider adding positions to step up enforcement at 1:30 p.m. in room 447 at the Capitol.

They will also look at adding 28 jobs to collect sales and use taxes under AB 155, the deal the Legislature made with last year.

You'll remember that California agreed to delay collecting those online taxes until September, while Amazon sought to convince Congress to take a national approach. Capitol Alert hasn't heard that congressional action is coming anytime soon.

Find the committee agenda here.

TERMLIMITS: Voters in June will decide whether to change California's term limits law to cut the number of years legislators can serve from 14 years to 12, while allowing 12 years' service in one house.

Supporters say the change will prevent job-hopping by lawmakers now limited to three terms in the state Assembly and two in the state Senate. Opponents say it will mean those elected stay in office longer than they do now.

Elections committees for the Assembly and Senate will conduct a joint hearing on the measure at 1:30 p.m. today in room 3191 at the Capitol.

Among those testifying: Trudy Schafer of the California League of Women Voters, Phillip Ung of California Common Cause, and Jon Fleischman of Californians for Term Limits.

CITIZENS UNITED: The Assembly Judiciary Committee considers a resolution that calls for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling let corporations and labor unions spend unlimited amounts in election efforts independent of candidates' campaigns.

Supporters predict the resolution will sail out of the Democratic-controlled Capitol. The hearing is at 10 a.m. in room 4202.

March 20, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: HBO's 'Luck' leaves legislative plot hanging

VIDEO: Dan Walters is disappointed that HBO cancelled "Luck."

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

Read Dan Walters' columns here.


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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