Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 5, 2012
Optimism up about Jerry Brown, Legislature, California's future

Gov. Jerry Brown, lawmakers and the state's future all looked brighter to residents after last month's passage of the Proposition 30 tax hike, according to a new poll released tonight by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

Brown's approval rating hit 48 percent among all California adults and slightly higher, 49 percent, among likely voters.

Legislators are less popular, the poll found, but the mercury is rising. Thirty-four percent of California adults gave the Legislature a thumbs up, the highest PPIC total since January 2008, when its approval rating was 39 percent.

Forty-four percent of respondents said things in California generally are going in the right direction, the highest tally since June 2007 -- and up 30 points from a low of 14 percent in July 2009.

"Many Californians are feeling positive about the state's outlook now and optimistic about the future," Mark Baldassare, PPIC president, said in a written statement. "But they also are feeling fiscally frugal. They are strongly opposed to raising their state taxes and strongly in favor of spending limits."

Among other findings:

December 5, 2012
High-income Californians may pay nation's highest tax rate

Thanks to passage of Proposition 30 last month, high-income Californians would pay the nation's highest marginal income tax rates -- nearly 52 percent -- if President Barack Obama and Congress fail to make a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to a new study.

Without a fiscal cliff deal to the contrary, the Bush era tax cuts on high-income taxpayers would expire next year and rates would return to their previous levels.

Gerald Prante, an economics professor at Lynchburg College in Virginia, and Austin John, a Lynchburg economics student, calculated marginal tax rates -- the highest rates on the highest levels of income -- for all 50 states. They combined state, federal and, where applicable, local income taxes, plus payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and included the deductibility of some taxes.

Proposition 30 added three percentage points to the marginal state income tax rate for California's highest-income taxpayers, bringing it to 13.3 percent. That action raised California over other high-tax jurisdictions to a marginal rate of 51.9 percent, slightly higher than New York City's level. Hawaii was the only other place with a calculated rate above 50 percent.

Their report was published by the Social Science Research Network.

December 5, 2012
Perez, Steinberg set sights on lieutenant governor bid in 2018

Termed out of their California legislative posts in two years, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are finding themselves on a collision course for higher office.

Pérez opened a campaign committee last Friday to raise funds for a possible bid for lieutenant governor in 2018, creating the specter of a same-party fight with Steinberg, who opened a similar committee early last year.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will be termed out in 2018, creating a vacancy for a position likely to be filled by a Democrat because of the party's dominance in voter registration statewide.

Doug Herman, Pérez's political strategist, said the Los Angeles lawmaker is considering the lieutenant governor post among his "serious options" for continuing public service after leaving the Assembly.

But creation of an exploratory committee does not obligate either Pérez or Steinberg to run for lieutenant governor.

"Six years is a lifetime in politics," Herman said. "I don't expect the two of those guys to run against each other."

Steinberg, a Sacramentan, currently has more than a half-million dollars in his lieutenant governor campaign coffers, while Pérez's newly created committee has not yet reported any donations.

Under California term limits, Steinberg would be ineligible to run for the Legislature after 2014. Pérez is not barred from seeking a state Senate seat and could serve up to eight years there.

December 5, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Seat juggling will leave vacancies in CA Legislature

Dan says it could take nearly a year for the California Legislature to have a full roster of members.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

December 5, 2012
AM Alert: Movie break

VIDEO: In today's video, Dan Walters says the Legislature's seat juggling is already underway.

Now that you've recovered from the hubbub of swearing-in ceremonies and receptions, it's time to kick back and take in a movie or two. Of the political variety, of course.

Two films screening near the Capitol this evening are likely to catch the interest of Alert readers:

California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown is a documentary about Gov. Jerry Brown's father, the former governor who oversaw creation of landmark fair housing and employment laws, the expansion of California's highway system, the development of the California Aqueduct and the creation of the state's Master Plan for Higher Education. The 7 p.m. screening at the California Museum (1020 O Street) includes a panel discussion with filmmaker Sascha Rice and journalist Phil Bronstein, executive chair of the Center for Investigative Reporting. The group is sponsoring a full-day of workshops and talks related to the film. More details are here.

Knife Fight is a full-length feature film co-written by Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. The political thriller stars Rob Lowe (as a Lehane-ish political consultant), Carrie-Anne Moss, Julie Bowen and Eric McCormack. Bee columnist Dan Morain makes a cameo appearance in the film, which he wrote about in this column last year. Tonight's screening at the Crest Theater is a fundraiser for scholarships handed out by the Sacramento Press Club. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with the screening starting at 7 p.m. More information is here.

Both screenings follow the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree at 5 p.m. on the West Steps. Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to light the 50-foot tall white fir tree with 10-year-old Christian Anderson of Costa Mesa. KFBK's Kitty O'Neal will emcee the ceremony, which includes performances by the California Army National Guard's 59th Army Band, Galena Street East, St. Paul's Baptist Church Choir and students from Brown's two charter schools, the Oakland Military Institute and Oakland School for the Arts.


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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