Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 10, 2013
Brown fudges a bit on scope of California's budget spending

Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget boasts that even with new taxes, general fund spending is below the record $103 billion that it reached in 2007-08, just before a severe recession hit the state.

But that claim is fudging a bit. Brown's budget would spend, he says, $97.7 billion in 2013-14, but the number doesn't include $5.3 billion that the state is now sending to counties to pay for "realignment" of some social and correctional programs to local control.

That's money that used to flow into and out of the general fund. When it's added to the projected spending for 2013-14, the total is $103 billion -- thus equaling the record set six years earlier, not taking inflation into account.

The budget also says that general fund spending "remains at its lowest level since 1972-73" by inflation-adjusted measures such as a proportion of personal income. But that, too, doesn't take into account big changes that have been made since then in how money is allocated, such as "realignment" and dozens of other shifts between local and state levels.

The realignment funds, for instance, are now counted as a "special fund" expenditure. When the general and special funds are merged, spending rises to $138.6 billion. And when $7.2 billion in bond spending and about $80 billion in federal funds are included, the total budget jumps to about $225 billion.

January 10, 2013
TV reporter wins sweepstakes on asking Brown first question

Nannette.BMPThere was a flurry of tweeting and other on-line speculation about which journalist would jump in with the first question Thursday when Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his new budget at a Capitol press conference -- and even a bit of odds-making.

Television journalist Nannette Miranda, however, defied the odds by asking a question of Brown even before he began his presentation -- an innocuous inquiry about his well-being.

That not only earned her bragging rights but an autographed budget summary from Brown saying it was a "great question" to certify her triumph.

"Coolest 1st Question Prize ever!" tweeted Miranda, who is the Sacramento bureau chief for ABC-owned stations in California, when Brown aide Steve Glazer informed her she could come by the governor's office to pick it up.

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitpic posted by Steve Glazer @steve4jerry

January 10, 2013
Rapid Response Roundup: Jerry Brown's proposed budget

It didn't take long for California's lawmakers, officials and advocates to start issuing statements responding to the budget proposal that Gov. Jerry Brown released this morning.

You'll find them after the jump. We'll be adding statements as they come in.

January 10, 2013
Gov. Jerry Brown: California's budget deficit is gone

RB Budget 1A.jpgGov. Jerry Brown said Thursday that California faces no budget deficit for the first time since the recession.

"This is new. This is a breakthrough," Brown said.

But Brown allowed that the state still faces fiscal risks, notably uncertainty in the federal government's fiscal affairs and the still-unknown cost of federal health care reform.

"It is best to maintain a very solid budget and a good reserve...or we'll go back to the boom and bust, borrow and spend," he said.

The governor's declaration that the deficit is gone contrasts with the November projection from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office that the state still faced a $1.9 billion shortfall, despite voters' approval of new income tax rates on high earners and a temporary hike in the sales tax.

Brown said he is unwilling to restore funding for social service programs that have been cut during the recession. "That kind of yo-yo political economy is not good," he said. "I want to advance the progressive agenda, but consistent with the amount of money the people made available."

The spending plan Brown released this morning calls for small increases to education funding in a $97.7 billion general fund budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 but generally holds the line elsewhere.

The governor's budget will give each state university system an extra $250 million. The addition is not as much as the University of California and California State University had hoped, so it remains to be seen whether university officials will pursue tuition hikes.

As part of his plan, Brown will demand each system cap the number of classes that students can take at 150 percent of what is necessary to complete most degrees - 270 quarterly units at UC and 180 semester units at CSU. That cap will shrink further after two years. Students could continue taking classes but would have to pay full price rather than the subsidized in-state rates. The governor believes this will force more students to finish on time and free up resources.

January 10, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Governor also shifting prison responsibility

Dan says Gov. Jerry Brown is blaming the federal courts for problems with prison realignment, but California's counties have their own issues with the state.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 10, 2013
AM Alert: Jerry Brown lays out his latest budget proposal

VIDEO: Dan Walters draws parallels between Gov. Jerry Brown's criticism of the federal courts and California counties' criticism of the state, both over the prison system.

It's the day we've all been waiting for: Gov. Jerry Brown unleashes his budget at a 10 a.m. press conference in the Capitol building. Check back with The Bee's Capitol Alert for coverage throughout the day.

His proposal will contain a new "Local Control Funding Formula" designed to simultaneously give K-12 districts more control and direct more money to at-risk students, as Kevin Yamamura reports today. The Bee explained last month the background behind the changes and how the new system could lead to significant funding differences between suburban and urban districts.

Health and human services advocates will mark the occasion with a series of rallies urging lawmakers to restore funding that has been steadily trimmed in recent budgets. The demonstrations are happening across the state, and the Health and Human Services Network will hold its Sacramento iteration in Room 126 of the Capitol building.

But the state budget isn't the only thing on the agenda. Republican Jim Nielsen prevailed in Tuesday's special election in the 4th Senate District and will be heading back to the upper house, where he was once Republican leader. His swearing-in is the first order of business this morning at 9 a.m. with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg presiding.

St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Sacramento will be holding a funeral Mass for former Assembly Chief Clerk R. Brian Kidney, who spent nearly three decades working in the Legislature. The service is at 12:30 p.m.

Happy birthday to Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, who is 48 today.

Post updated at 7:30 a.m. with a link to today's story on Brown's budget.


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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