Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 29, 2012
Arizona group cites 'Citizens United' ruling in opposing FPPC

Attorneys representing an obscure Arizona nonprofit that spent $11 million this month on California initiative wars today cited the federal "Citizens United" campaign speech ruling as one reason the group does not have to disclose its donors.

Americans for Responsible Leadership faces a lawsuit from the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which has demanded the group turn over communications and transactions data related to an $11 million check ARL gave a business campaign committee this month. FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel said the commission is trying to determine whether the group violated California disclosure rules.

The group's money has gone toward fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supporting a measure restricting union dues collection, Proposition 32.

October 29, 2012
Jerry Brown urges student vote for tax measure, $250 refund

CHICO - Gov. Jerry Brown suggested this afternoon that his campaign to raise taxes will make no major changes in the final week before Election Day, calling his prospects "darn good" despite flagging support in public surveys.

Rallying several hundred students at California State University, Chico, Brown appealed to students to turn out for the election in part for the tuition refund checks they are promised if Proposition 30 passes.

"It's pretty simple," Brown said. You know, 'Yes' means money into schools, 'No' means money out of schools. 'Yes' means $250 in your pocket, 'No' means no $250 in your pocket. It's pretty simple. This is about third grade arithmetic. It's money in or money out."

October 29, 2012
Assembly candidate's illegal entry becomes campaign headache

Republican Pedro Rios' candidacy has sparked controversy in a Central Valley Assembly district after it was publicly revealed that he came to the United States, at age 9, as an undocumented immigrant.

Rios, who is now a legal citizen, is running against Democrat Rudy Salas in the 32nd Assembly District of Kern and Kings counties.

Reporter Jose Gaspar, in a Bakersfield Californian column, describes the local Republican Party as in "damage control mode" over the Rios revelation.

Read Gaspar's column here.

October 29, 2012
See which California legislators are most loyal to their party

With Election Day just over a week away, many California legislators and candidates are highlighting their interest in working across the aisle.

But voting records suggest those promises won't translate to frequent splits from the party line once they get to Sacramento.

An analysis of voting records by The Bee's Phillip Reese found that even the most independent legislators voted against the majority of members of their party less than 10 percent of the time.

See the full analysis, as well as a ranking of the most and least independent legislators when it comes to party loyalty, at this link.

October 29, 2012
Think tank report slams Jerry Brown's school finance plan

Gov. Jerry Brown has been seeking implementation of a "weighted student formula" that would give more school money to districts with high levels of poverty and other educational impediments and low levels of achievement.

But the proposal has been a hard sell in the Legislature, because districts that would lose money under the redistribution plan are opposed. This year, the Legislature passed only legislation that would create a "task force" to study the issue, but Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 18, saying, "a task force ... may actually delay action on reforms" and adding, "Rather than create a task force, let's work together and craft a fair weighted student formula."

The issue is expected to be joined again in 2013, but prospects for increasing overall school financing are dim. Brown's own tax measure, Proposition 30, is fading, and a rival tax measure just for schools, Proposition 38, is faring even worse. And without more money to lubricate the politics of the situation, districts that would lose under a weighted formula would be even less willing to accept it.

Brown's proposal, which has never been fully fleshed out, is now receiving flak from another source, Education Trust-West, an education think tank based in Oakland. It has issued a report that enthusiastically embraces a weighted formula, noting that only a handful of states are not using such a system, but says that Brown's proposal may fall short.

October 29, 2012
California teacher unions rated as nation's 6th most powerful

California's teacher unions - principally the huge California Teachers Association - are the nation's sixth strongest when it comes to raising money and influencing politics and educational policy, according to a new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an educational think tank in Washington, D.C. The group, which includes former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige on its board, advocates for charter schools.

The report was issued just a week before California teacher unions' fundraising prowess and influence are tested by two big ballot measures, Proposition 30, which would raise taxes by $6 billion a year, and Proposition 32, which would severely curtail unions' ability to raise political funds from their members. The CTA and other unions support the former and oppose the latter and at the moment, both appear headed for defeat.

October 29, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: 'Wild attacks' in the forecast this week

Dan says that Californians can expect "the people who think they're losing" to make "wild attacks on their opponents" in the last week before Election Day.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 29, 2012
AM Alert: Brace for the final onslaught of mailers and TV ads

VIDEO: Dan Walters forecasts "wild attacks" this week before Election Day.

It's down to the wire. Expect mailers stuffing your postal box and wall-to-wall TV ads demanding your eyeballs.

As Matt Rexroad, Yolo County supervisor and Republican consultant, tweeted last week, "I don't really know congressmen (Jerry) McNerney or (Dan) Lungren -- but I am kind of sick of seeing them on my television."

Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be announcing the latest official statistics on registered voters Friday. The last certified numbers from Sept. 7 showed more than 17.2 million Californians are registered. Since then, more than 679,000 state residents have been added to the voter rolls, and county officials will be hard at work this week to finish up their eligibility check of the last-minute registrants who made the Oct. 22 deadline.

Friday's total may be a record. The record high thus far, set in February 2009, topped 17.3 million. And the vote-by-mail ballots are already streaming in.

Other examples of democracy in action include a women's rights march today to protest Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, and his votes on equal pay and other issues. That event starts at 11 a.m. at the Westfield Galleria Mall in Roseville. Listed participants include California NOW president Patricia Bellasalma.

Meanwhile, the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in Sacramento and others are hosting a panel discussion tonight of Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 and Molly Munger's Proposition 38, two of the three tax initiatives on the ballot.

Dan Schnur, the director of the USC Unruh Institute of Politics, will moderate. Panelists include Juliet Musso, a professor of state government at USC Price School of Public Policy; John Kabateck, the co-chairman of the No on 30 campaign; Sharon Scott Dow, who's representing the Yes on 38 campaign.

The event runs from 6 to 7:45 p.m. at USC State Capital Center, 1800 I St., in Sacramento. Call 916-637-8981 for more information.

And lest you think most folks won't make it that far down the ballot, a new USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll finds that 88 percent of registered voters say they vote on every race and issue, according to this Los Angeles Times blog post.


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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