Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 12, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown signs pension reform bill

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 340 in Los Angeles this morning, making changes to the pension system for state and local government employees.

"This is the biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the history of California pensions," Brown said in a statement. "We're lowering benefits to what they were before I was Governor the first time and reducing costs by up to $55 billion in PERS and billions more in other local pension systems. Under the new rules, employers and employees alike are going to contribute their fair share of the costs, resulting in a more sustainable system."

The legislation caps benefits, increases the retirement age, stops abusive practices and requires state employees to pay at least half of their pension costs.

Related Stories:

Legislature approves pension overhaul

The State Worker: The years have brought CalPERS back to earth

Local officials still penciling out when California pension reform will help

September 12, 2012
How California ranks in income, poverty and health insurance

California's median household income of $53,367 was only slightly higher than the national median last year while its poverty rate and its medically uninsured population were among the nation's highest, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The national median income in inflation-adjusted dollars was $50,054, a 1.5 percent decline from 2010. Fourteen other states topped California in median household income last year, with Maryland the highest at $68,876 and South Carolina the lowest at $40,084.

September 12, 2012
AM Alert: Lunch, a movie and a show

Gov. Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will be in Los Angeles today for a 10 a.m. ceremony to sign pension legislation.

ENDORSEMENT: The Proposition 39 campaign has secured a noteworthy endorsement. Today Assembly Speaker Pérez will endorse the November initiative that raises taxes on out-of-state businesses, according to campaign officials.

Pérez's support of Proposition 39 was far from certain, since the Los Angeles Democrat proposed a megadeal containing the same tax change that collapsed on the final night of the legislative session. Pérez wanted to devote most of the resulting $1 billion in revenue toward reducing tuition at public universities. Proposition 39, financed by billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, would initially devote about half of the tax funds toward clean energy projects, with the other half going toward the general fund that supports education, prisons, health care and social services.

Steyer is making the rounds in Sacramento today to stump for his initiative, including a lunch appearance at the Sacramento Press Club.

SILVER SCREEN: A little sliver of the national political conventions is making its way to Sacramento today in the form of a film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. StudentsFirst, the education reform group headed by Sacramento's first lady Michelle Rhee, sponsored screenings of "Won't Back Down" at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. It caused a bit of a stir at the DNC because teachers unions perceived the story - about a group of parents who try to take over their kids' school using the so-called "parent-trigger" law - as anti-union. Today Rhee is showing the movie at Sacramento's Downtown Plaza. A panel discussion will follow the 3 p.m. show, featuring Rhee, Mayor Kevin Johnson, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and others. The Bee's education reporters will be there, writing about the movie and the talk on our new education blog, The Report Card.

ON THE STAGE : GOP political consultant Wayne Johnson and his Gateway Media production company are making the leap from television ads to musical theater, producing a live show about gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. "Mahalia," sponsored by The Bee, tells the life story of the woman who performed next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. It's at the Guild Theater in Sacramento through Sept. 23.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Happy Birthday to Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, who is celebrating the big 7-0.


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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