Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 4, 2013
GOP leader Connie Conway getting heat from caucus critics

Whispers are getting louder.

Assembly Republicans are not talking publicly, but they're meeting in little groups and buzzing among themselves about the possible overthrow of their caucus leader, Connie Conway.

A key question is whether any Republican can corral enough votes for a coup. No Assembly member has pushed publicly to succeed Conway, though veteran Don Wagner of Irvine and freshman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach are touted privately as possibilities. They did not respond to interview requests Monday.

Republicans are still reeling over the loss of three GOP seats in last November's election, a stunning party defeat that handed Democrats a supermajority in the 80-member house.

Conway , a Tulare County Republican, has served for two years as leader of the Assembly GOP. But political caucuses, like professional baseball or football teams, often react to humiliating defeats by switching managers because their lineup is set.

February 4, 2013
Jerry Brown responds to Rick Perry: 'Texas, come on over!'

jerrybrownstate.jpgGov. Jerry Brown said today that the radio ads Texas Gov. Rick Perry is voicing in California are nothing more than a "few tricks," doubtful they would influence businesses to leave the Golden State.

"Do you think a few tricks from a politician is going to make any difference?" the Democratic governor told reporters at a business event in Los Angeles, according to a transcript provided by the governor's office. "People invest their money where these big things have occurred. The ideas, the structures, the climate, the opportunity is right here on the Pacific Rim."

Perry, a Republican, announced this morning that he is airing a new radio ad in California cities criticizing California's business climate and promoting Texas.

Asked by a reporter about Texans "coming here and poaching," Brown said, "Of course they're coming here. So are the British coming here, so are the French, so are the Russians, so are the Chinese. Everybody with half a brain is coming to California. So Texas, come on over!"

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown is escorted by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, left, and Assemblywoman Nora Campos to his right, as he enters the Assembly to present his State of the State speech at the state Capitol in Sacramento, California on Thursday, January 24, 2013. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

February 4, 2013
California teachers pension fund faces $64 billion deficit

The trust fund that provides pensions to retired teachers has a $64 billion deficit and would need a $4.5 billion per year infusion of revenue to become fully solvent, according to a new internal study.

The California State Teachers Retirement System produced the report in response to a legislative resolution.

Its release came just days after the Legislature's budget analyst, Mac Taylor, indirectly chided Gov. Jerry Brown for ignoring "huge unfunded liabilities associated with the teachers' retirement system and state retiree health benefits" in his new budget.

STRS receives money from the state, from local school districts and from teachers themselves, but is also highly dependent on investment earnings, which were clobbered during the recent recession. And while its larger cousin, the California Public Employees Retirement System, has the power take money from the state treasury as it sees fit, STRS must receive specific appropriations from the Legislature.

While fully funding teacher pensions would require $4.5 billion more a year --excluding projected investment earnings -- the system says in its report, the burden would be eased by setting lower funding targets and./or stretching out contributions. The most important decision, STRS said, is to begin closing the deficit, rather than allowing it to widen further.

February 4, 2013
Former GOP lawmaker Nolan Frizzelle dies at 91

Assemblyman Nolan Frizzelle.JPGFormer Republican Assemblyman Nolan Frizzelle, an Orange County conservative and backer of the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign in 1964, has died at his home in Folsom. He was 91.

Frizzelle died Thursday from complications of congestive heart failure, said his stepdaughter Sabina Pellissier.

Frizzelle, an optometrist, represented a Huntington Beach district in the Assembly from 1980 until 1992. He got behind Goldwater in 1964, and later became president of the California Republican Assembly, a conservative GOP organization. He championed toll roads during his legislative career, and his legislation eventually became the template for a bill allowing joint powers authorities to operate pay-as-you-drive roads in Orange and Riverside counties.

Born in Los Angeles in 1921, Frizzelle attended UCLA and Stanford before opening his optometry practice in Newport Beach. He served in the U.S. Marines during World War II.

He is survived by his wife Ina, and six children. Services are pending.

February 4, 2013
Texas Gov Rick Perry rips California business climate in new ad

perry.jpgTexas Gov. Rick Perry is criticizing California's business climate and promoting Texas in a new radio advertisement airing in the Golden State.

"Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible," the Republican governor says in the ad. "This is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and I have a message for California businesses: come check out Texas."

The ad, airing this week on six stations in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Inland Empire and San Diego media markets, is the latest in a back-and-forth between Perry and California Gov. Jerry Brown about whose state is better for business. The ad cheers Texas' "low taxes, sensible regulations and fair legal system."

Perry has boasted frequently about luring companies from California, while Brown, a Democrat, has touted the state's green energy industries and venture capital investments. THe ad buy cost about $24,000.

February 4, 2013
Jerry Brown says 49ers 'screwed up' but showed 'intestinal fortitude'

Gov. Jerry Brown doesn't watch a lot of sports, but he caught the Super Bowl last night and offered an assessment of how the San Francisco 49ers played.

"Sure they screwed up," Brown said on the Bay Area's KPIX-TV. "But they came back, and that, that kind of energy and intestinal fortitude and guts and imagination, they still demonstrated. It was close. It's exciting. I mean, more than that you really can't ask for."

The 49ers allowed the Baltimore Ravens to take a 22-point lead before mounting a comeback that fell just short. San Francisco lost 34-31.

The Democratic governor was interviewed on "A Super Night on the New Bay Bridge" a post-Super Bowl program in which the CBS affiliate celebrated the upcoming opening of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The $6.4 billion project is scheduled to open in September, and Brown - live on location - pressed a button starting a clock counting down to the opening.

"It's a pretty darn good looking freeway, now that I look at it," Brown said.

February 4, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Immigration reform is 'good politics' for GOP

Some Republicans are getting on board with immigration reform, which Dan says is a reflection of California's demographic destiny.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 4, 2013
AM Alert: Lawmakers honor civil rights activist Rosa Parks

AOC_ROSA_PARKS.JPGVIDEO: Dan Walters says some Republicans are getting in touch with reality by backing immigration reform.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks' birth today, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, and Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, are planning a floor resolution to honor the civil rights icon. They'll be joined by members of the women's, LGBT and Latino caucuses.

On the Senate side, lawmakers will recognize the winners of this year's James Irvine Foundation's leadership awards -- Aida Cardenas of Los Angeles, Karen Christensen of Capitola, José Quiñonez of San Francisco, and Stuart Cohen, Jeff Oxendine and Jill Vialet, all of Oakland.

Sen. Kevin de León, Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Sen. Ed Hernandez and Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway will present the awards during a luncheon before the floor session.

In the Assembly, the Transportation Committee is taking a look at Assembly Bill 8, by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, that would provide grants and loans aimed at encouraging alternative fuel technology.

You may remember a story from back in early January about how ousted members of Congress didn't have district offices, leaving constituents with nowhere to direct suggestions, constructive criticism and general verbal abuse. Freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, who unseated Republican incumbent Dan Lungren, was in a similar boat until today -- when Bera's district office in Rancho Cordova is opening its doors.

As part of a speaker series at the California Department of Education, the department is holding a talk on how educators use the California Career Resource Network to help students pursue their career goals.The event runs from 10 to 11 a.m. at 1430 N St. in Sacramento.

In judicial news, San Mateo County recently announced plans to lay off employees and close some courthouses. Officials in the court system have been pleading with Gov. Jerry Brown to restore some of the funding they've lost in years of cutbacks, which have led to reduced services and staffing.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lilyann J. Mitchell, 74, holds a book about her friend, Rosa Parks, who she met in Detroit about 40 years ago. Autumn Payne / Sacramento Bee file, 2005


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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