Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 24, 2013
Karl Rove to headline California Republican Party convention

Rove Rage.jpgThe California Republican Party is turning to GOP strategist Karl Rove, the "architect" of former President George W. Bush's political campaigns, as it works to rebuild its own brand in the Golden State.

The party has tapped Rove as the keynote speaker for its spring convention in Sacramento, which will take place the first weekend in March. He'll address members at a Saturday night banquet at the Hyatt Regency.

Rove, who served as a senior adviser and chief of staff to Bush in the White House, has more recently been the figurehead for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two groups that have spent millions backing GOP candidates across the county.

The convention will mark the first official gathering of GOP operatives and delegates since the 2012 election, when Democrats dominated at the polls. Voters ousted several GOP congressional incumbents, gave Democrats a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature and approved a $7 billion tax measure backed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. The GOP's share of the electorate fell to less than 30 percent of registered voters.

Former GOP Senate leader Jim Brulte is expected to take the reins as party chairman in leadership elections conducted during the convention. Many within the party are counting on him to improve the party's fundraising and prospects for political success.

PHOTO CREDIT: Then White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove listens as President George W. Bush, not shown, speaks with reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington in this April 2, 2007, file photo. AP Photo/ Gerald Herbert.

January 24, 2013
Steinberg defends letter to Microsoft over possible Kings exit

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is not backing down from a request for information about Microsoft's dealings with California, a gesture that many interpreted as a warning to prospective Sacramento Kings buyer and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

After reports emerged that Ballmer was one of the investors seeking to purchase the Kings and relocate them to Seattle, Steinberg sent a letter to the Department of General Services asking for data about California's contracts with Microsoft and the monetary value of the state's past purchases from the technology giant.

January 24, 2013
Assembly sets pay ranges for newly created job classifications

BB NEW MEMBERS 169.JPGNow for the money: The California Assembly has set salary ranges for a handful of new job classifications it created this month.

Dozens of aides potentially could receive pay increases if chosen for the new posts. The 80-member Assembly currently employs about 1,200 people for Capitol and district offices, policy committees, administration, security and other functions, records show.

Administrator Jon Waldie said the purpose of increasing the number of job classifications was to create promotional opportunities for existing personnel, not to expand hiring.

The changes came in the wake of voters' decision to alter California's legislative term limits, which now allow Assembly members to serve up to 12 years in the lower house, rather than six.

Anticipating that less frequent turnover of legislators will resort in more stable office staffs and fewer vacancies, the Assembly created two new positions and basically two step increases, with expanded duties, for existing office posts.

January 24, 2013
Former California state parks chief dies

By Robert D. Dávila

Henry R. Agonia, who was appointed to oversee California state parks by Gov. George Deukmejian, died Jan. 18 of leukemia, his family said. He was 70.

Agonia was parks chief for the city of Glendale when Deukmejian named him in 1987 to be director of the state Department of Parks and Recreation.

He led efforts to manage resources at California parks, campgrounds, beaches and historic sites as public attendance grew while state funding declined. He apologized after stirring up controversy with remarks suggesting state parks should play a role in promoting religion.

A Sacramento resident, Agonia worked as a consultant after leaving state government in 1992. He ran an environmental planning and communications firm and served as executive director of the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts.

Besides his wife, Marlene, he is survived by his mother, three children, a sister, two brothers and eight grandchildren. A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Friday at East Lawn Memorial Park, 43rd Street and Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento.

A full obituary will appear tomorrow in The Bee.

January 24, 2013
Rapid Response: Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State reaction

Reactions to Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address have already started pouring in. Here are some highlights, updated as we get new material.


Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville

We have to make sure education remains on the top of our list of priorities. California is seeing some tough times, but if we work together with the Governor and our Democrat colleagues, we can get this state back on track again. As Governor Brown mentioned today, the time is now for action. We all need to take a hard look at the issues this state is facing and come up with real, practical solutions.

Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco

Thanks to the actions of the Governor, the Legislature, and the people of California, our state is clearly heading in the right direction. Jobs are being created and our economy has significantly improved. While we should not go on a spending spree, we should begin to restore critical services that were decimated in the past several budgets. I am extremely pleased to see the Governor's commitment to our public universities and his declaration that tuition hikes are off the table.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto

Governor Brown's tunnels plan is not the answer to our water crisis. We need to pursue less expensive alternatives that supply southern communities with quality water without devastating Delta farmers and families. Also, while our economy is showing some signs of recovery and there are stories to celebrate, California still has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation and Central Valley families suffer even more. I wish the Governor gave a more detailed plan for spurring job creation, but I'm pleased that he at least wants to reform CEQA and provide more certainty to businesses.

Barring any budget gimmicks, I am pleased with Governor Brown's growing commitment to focus on funding K-12 schools and universities while providing districts with more local control and flexibility. It is what families, students and teachers alike deserve. Investing in education is integral to our future economic health, and I am hopeful that the Legislature will uphold its commitment to using Prop 30 funds to boost our education system and ultimately our economy.

January 24, 2013
Jerry Brown says California has 'confounded our critics'

_HJA3608.JPGGov. Jerry Brown said in a triumphant State of the State address this morning that "California is back," arriving at a balanced budget after years of deficits.

"California has once again confounded our critics," he said. "We've wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget. And by God, we're going to preserve and keep it that way for years to come."

In a wide-ranging and, at times, seemingly rushed 24-minute address to a joint session of the Legislature, the Democratic governor credited lawmakers for casting "difficult votes to cut billions from the state budget," and he praised voters for approving Proposition 30, Brown's November measure to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

"Two years ago, they were writing our obituary," Brown said. "Well, it didn't happen. California is back, its budget is balanced and we are on the move."

Still, the governor who famously declared in his 1976 State of the State address that California was "entering an era of limits" also cautioned lawmakers to "guard jealously the money temporarily made available" by Proposition 30.

"This means living within our means and not spending what we don't have," he said. "Fiscal discipline is not the enemy of our good intentions, but the basis for realizing them. It's cruel to lead people on by expanding good programs, only to cut them, cut them back when the funding disappears."

January 24, 2013
Read the text of Jerry Brown's speech

Here is the text of Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State speech, as provided by the Governor's Office:

The message this year is clear: California has once again confounded our critics. We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget. And, by God, we will persevere and keep it that way for years to come.

Against those who take pleasure, singing of our demise, California did the impossible.

You, the California legislature, did it. You cast difficult votes to cut billions from the state budget. You curbed prison spending through an historic realignment and you reformed and reduced the state's long term pension liabilities.

Then, the citizens of California, using their inherent political power under the Constitution, finished the task. They embraced the new taxes of Proposition 30 by a healthy margin of 55% to 44%.

January 24, 2013
Live Blog: Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State

January 24, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Good government falls victim to power

Don't count on the Democratic majority supporting a bill that would require more bill transparency in the California Legislature, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 24, 2013
AM Alert: Jerry Brown lays out his view of the state of the state

VIDEO: Dan Walters laments the fact that a Republican-authored good government bill is unlikely to get any traction in California.

Today's the big day: Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State speech at 9 a.m. in the Assembly chambers. Buoyed by his Proposition 30 victory and a subsequent budget that restores a long-absent degree of fiscal stability to California, Brown is expected to expand upon his proposal to revamp education funding, among other things.

The Bee will be blogging live on his address, and will also stream it live. Look for both at

If you're looking for more context, our colleagues over at Capital Public Radio have put together this nifty archive of previous state of the state speeches. The collection spans back to 2004 and features audio and text.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining other members of Congress and advocates on Capitol Hill in announcing a bill to reinstate an assault weapons ban. at 11 a.m. EST (8 a.m. Pacific).

The University of California Center, Sacramento, is hosting an event on how the youth vote plays into California's voting trends. It features Jonathan Fox, a professor and chair of Latin American and Latino studies at UC Santa Cruz, and Mindy Romero, project director of the California Civic Engagement Project. Click here to learn more.

CalChamber is hosting a memorial service for the late Michael Kahl, who served as an aide to California lawmakers. Kahl, who died in November, helped erect what would become the Environmental Protection Agency and became an influential lobbyist upon returning to California. The service runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1215 K St., 14th floor.

Happy birthday to Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, who turns 55 today.


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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