Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 23, 2012
Californians had fourth highest state-local tax burden in 2010

Californians paid the nation's fourth highest state and local taxes in 2010, as a percentage of personal income, and 13th highest on a per-capita basis, according to an annual compilation by the Washington-based Tax Foundation.

The tax burden snapshot reflected, in part, temporary income and sales taxes that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had enacted in 2009.

Those taxes have since expired, due to rejection by voters, but Gov. Jerry Brown is sponsoring a new income and sales tax measure, Proposition 30, on the Nov. 6 ballot that would raise about $6 billion a year, or roughly 0.37 percent of personal income.

The Tax Foundation pegs Californians' state-local tax burden in 2010 at 11.2 percent of personal income, more than a percentage point higher than the national average of 9.9 percent and topped only by No. 1 New York at 12.8 percent, New Jersey's 12.4 percent and Connecticut's 12.3 percent. Alaskans had the lowest burden of 7 percent, largely reflecting the state's massive oil extraction revenues.

It was slightly higher than the 11 percent calculated for California by the Tax Foundation for 2009. Since 1977, the state's lowest level was 10.2 percent in 1985.

In per capita terms, Californians paid an average of $4,934 in state and local taxes in 2010, based on an average per capita personal income of $43,919, 13th highest. Connecticut topped the states at $6,984 per capita.

October 23, 2012
Andy Pugno releases radio attack and asks donors to keep it on the air

Assembly candidate Andy Pugno, whose strapped coffers have forced him to run a low-profile campaign, launched a radio offensive this week attacking opponent Beth Gaines as an "insider politician" who is "hiding from voters."

Pugno and Gaines, a two-year assemblywoman, are Republicans vying for the newly drawn 6th District Assembly seat, based in Placer County but stretching into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.

Pugno said his 60-second ad began running Monday on about a half-dozen radio stations.

"The message of the ad is that California's problems have been caused by insiders from both parties and real change requires replacing the insiders with new blood," the Folsom attorney said.

Pugno's campaign has been strapped for cash, and in an email Monday to donors, he asked for immediate financial help to keep his radio ad running through Election Day, Nov. 6.

"At a cost of $110 each time the ad runs, we urgently need to raise additional funds - and quickly - to keep this ad on the air," Pugno's e-mail says.

Disclosure statements showed that Pugno's campaign had $29,314 in cash and $132,205 in debts through Sept. 30.

Gaines characterized the ad's claim that she hides from voters as an unfair act of desperation by Pugno. She works hard to attend community events and listen to people throughout the 6th District, she said.

"My job is to stay connected to constituents, and I'm very proud of how connected I am," said Gaines, who easily finished first in the June primary while Pugno edged Democrat Reginald "Regy" Bronner to secure a spot in next month's runoff.

Pugno countered that his point is that Gaines does not identify herself as a sitting legislator in her ballot statement, which has been "widely recognized, particularly in this anti-incumbent environment, as a strategy for downplaying or hiding incumbency status."

The following is a transcript of Pugno's radio ad:

October 23, 2012
More than 1 million Californians have already voted by mail

Election Day is still two weeks away, but more than 1 million Californians have already cast a ballot.

That's according to vote-by-mail data tracked by Political Data, a firm that provides campaigns and others with voter information. The firm's latest tracking numbers show that county election officials have reported receiving ballots from about 12 percent of the state's 8.3 million residents who vote by mail.

Voting by mail has continued to grow in popularity in California. Almost half of California's 17 million registered voters now opt to receive an absentee ballot.

Political Data has gone beyond counting the number of ballots returned this year. The firm is also tracking the partisan breakdown of the early voters, including using past election performance and political donations to project the leanings of voters who don't declare a party preference. Its latest full report, distributed by firm vice president Paul Mitchell, can be viewed here.

October 23, 2012
Tom Steyer leaving San Francisco hedge fund he founded

Tom Steyer, the billionaire backer of Proposition 39 and prominent Democratic Party donor, announced Monday he plans to leave the San Francisco-based hedge fund he founded.

Steyer, 55, told investors at his Farallon Capital fund that his long-time deputy will run the $20 billion portfolio, according to Reuters.

Steyer has nearly singlehandedly backed Proposition 39, an initiative that would result in higher California taxes for multistate corporations based elsewhere. The roughly $1 billion generated would flow to the state budget and clean energy programs. Steyer has donated nearly $22 million toward the initiative this year.

October 23, 2012
Jerry Brown defends tax initiative, says 'I hate spending money'

Gov. Jerry Brown, campaigning in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley for his ballot initiative to raise taxes, said on "Good Day LA" this morning that his initiative is not a "shell game" aimed at funding non-education programs.

He also described himself as a governor who loves to "cut stuff" but is need of additional revenue.

"I've hacked away," Brown said on the popular morning show two weeks before Election Day. "We've cut the blind and disabled, we've cut redevelopment. We've cut salaries 5 percent. My own salary's been cut 23 ... 23 percent. The Legislature's been cut 23 (percent)."

October 23, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Slate mailers just another commercial venture

VIDEO: Dan says it's the time of year for "slate mailers" to arrive.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 23, 2012
AM Alert: Bill Clinton in California - again

VIDEO: The election is two weeks off and slate mailers are starting to show up. Dan Walters says they're not worth much.

California may not be seeing much in the way of presidential campaigning this election season, but the newly re-drawn congressional districts have led to plenty of competitive races for the House - and all the hoopla that accompanies a real political fight. More evidence of that is on display today as former President Bill Clinton hits the Golden State for the second time this month.

Two weeks ago Clinton came to UC Davis to endorse four NorCal congressional candidates. Today he'll be at UC Irvine, stumping for five SoCal congressional candidates. Getting the nod from the Democratic Party's big dog are: Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (CD26), Sen. Alan Lowenthal (CD47), Scott Peters (CD52), Raul Ruiz (CD36) and Mark Takano (CD41).

PROP. 30: Gov. Jerry Brown makes four campaign stops today in his pitch to get voters to approve his Proposition 30 tax increase. He's scheduled to appear at events in Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield and Fresno.

CEQA: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is raising money tonight for his 2018 run for Lieutenant Governor at the home of Sacramento attorney Tina Thomas and her husband Bill Abbott. Thomas is an expert in land-use law and co-wrote the book, "Guide to the California Environmental Quality Act." She has represented major developers including Angelo K. Tsakopoulos and Mark Friedman, and worked on former state Treasurer Phil Angelides' unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2006. Steinberg, you may remember, has said that overhauling CEQA is a high priority for him in the upcoming legislative session. Tickets for tonight's event start at $250.

I-POKER: The National Congress of American Indians continues its annual conference today at the Sacramento Convention Center with a discussion about Internet gambling. Several attempts to legalize online gambling have fallen flat in California but the issue is still percolating here and across the country as tribes see a potential money-maker and state governments see a source of tax revenue. Speaking today are Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians; Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians; Jason Giles, executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association; and W. Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.

SENATE: The state Senate is holding two hearings today: The Elections committee meets in Santa Ana to discuss voter participation, while the Health and Human Services committee discusses developmental centers under the Dome.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Best wishes to Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, on her 62nd birthday.


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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