California's state budget. Public-sector pensions. Taxes.
The Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert readers avidly followed those issues this year, as the blog's top 10 posts of 2012 show. Here's the list, in reverse order:
No. 10: "Rep. Dennis Cardoza announces resignation" (Aug. 14). In a surprise move citing his family's needs, the Merced Democrat said he was resigning from Congress.
No. 9: "FPPC says Arizona nonprofit laundered money to California campaign" (Nov. 5). "At $11 million, this is the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history," the Fair Political Practices Commission said in a news release.
No. 8: "Bera lead over Lungren wider in Sacramento County House race" (Nov. 9). Democrat Ami Bera wound up besting Republican Rep. Dan Lungren and will be sworn into Congress this week.
No. 7: "Gov. Jerry Brown signs pension reform bill" (Sept. 12). When the Democratic governor signed the measure changing the pension system for state and local government workers, he put out a statement calling it "the biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the history of California pensions."
No. 6: "Jerry Brown budget cuts $1 billion from California welfare" (Jan. 5). Brown's budget proposal not only whacked money from the state's welfare and child-care aid to the poor, it relied on a tax ballot measure -- which he later got in Proposition 30 -- to deliver funding to the state's K-12 schools and community colleges. Voters passed it in November.
No. 5: "Jerry Brown has early-stage prostate cancer" (Dec. 12). Brown's office released a statement from his oncologist saying the governor was being treated with "conventional radiotherapy." His treatment was expected to end next week.
No. 4: "Republicans propose California budget with state worker pay cut" (March 29). Legislative Republicans, who later got cut out of budget negotiations, argued that their proposal showed that voters didn't need to pass Brown's tax ballot measure to avoid the "trigger cuts" to education that were built into the state budget Brown later signed.
No. 3: "Gov. Jerry Brown: Cut state workers, health and welfare to solve budget" (May 14): Brown's May revised budget called for more cuts to health and welfare programs plus a 5 percent furlough for state workers. He negotiated the furlough policy with all but two unions and imposed it on the hold-outs.
No. 2: "Controller: State to run out of cash in March without action" (Jan. 31). Controller John Chiang told lawmakers the state would run out of cash by early March without using payment delays and borrowing. As Kevin Yamamura explained, the state borrows funds early in each fiscal year because it has monthly bills to pay but gets most of its tax revenue in the spring. Lawmakers found the money.
No. 1: "High-income Californians may pay nation's highest tax" (Dec. 5). This post from columnist Dan Walters cited a study estimating that, with voter-approved Proposition 30, the state's wealthy residents would pay the nation's highest marginal income tax rates if the country fell over the so-called "fiscal cliff." It drew more than 328,000 page views after the Drudge Report linked to it.
PHOTO CREDITS: Democratic congressional candidate Ami Bera speaks with campaign supporters at the Elks Lodge in Carmichael, Calif. on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo
California Gov, Jerry Brown with business leaders, holds legislation he signed, during a news conference Wednesday Sept. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles. Associated Press//Nick Ut
John Chiang, California State Controller at The Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau in Downtown Sacramento Wednesday, July 14, 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua