Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 5, 2013
Gov. Jerry Brown, Republicans float bills to change fire fee

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to expand how the state can spend new fire fee proceeds, while Republican legislators want to kill the charge entirely.

In a series of new proposals, GOP lawmakers and the Democratic governor are jockeying over ways to change the controversial $150 annual fee on 825,000 properties mostly located in rural areas. State leaders approved the "fire prevention fee" in 2011 as a way to raise money for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and Brown said at the time that residential growth on the forest edges had led to higher state fire costs.

February 5, 2013
Would Pérez trade 'Assembly Speaker' for 'Labor Secretary?'

Welcome to the White House rumor mill, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.

As President Barack Obama shakes up his cabinet for a new four-year term, tongues are wagging in Washington D.C. - and one name they're wagging about is Pérez for U.S. Labor Secretary.

Pérez's name surfaced in an Associated Press report today that listed him among a handful of candidates to replace Hilda Solis, who resigned last month, reportedly to consider a run for Los Angeles County supervisor.

Pérez, who worked for labor groups 15 years before coming to the Legislature, scoffed at the possibility of leaving the Assembly for an Obama Cabinet post - but he stopped short of squashing it.

"Look, I'm always flattered if somebody thinks my work is worthy of other consideration, but I'm focused on being speaker for these next two years," he said. "And continuing to build back our economy, and continuing to build on the fiscal discipline that we've created here in California. And getting people back to work."

So he wouldn't take the Cabinet post?

The Los Angeles Democrat laughed.

"Let them ask and I'll give you the answer then."

February 5, 2013
Jerry Brown calls Texas Gov Rick Perry's ad 'barely a fart'

One day after Texas Gov. Rick Perry released a radio ad in California criticizing the Golden State's business climate and encouraging businesses to relocate to Texas, California Gov. Jerry Brown said today that Perry's campaign is "barely a fart."

"It's not a serious story, guys," the Democratic governor told reporters at a business event here. "It's not a burp. It's barely a fart."

The ad buy Perry announced Monday is relatively small, at about $24,000, but it gained widespread attention in the media. Brown called the amount "the smallest entry into the media market of California."

"If they want to get in the game, let them spend $25 million on radio and television," Brown said. "Then I'll take them seriously."

Perry's ad - and Brown's reaction - is the latest in a longstanding back-and-forth between Brown and Perry about which state is better for business.

Brown's remarks came during an appearance at a UPS distribution center to celebrate the deployment of a fleet of all-electric vehicles.

"It's small, but it's important," Brown said. "Climate change is not waiting. Pollution doesn't wait. So we can't wait, either."

February 5, 2013
Jerry Brown downplays Cal Fire reports, dubs it 'boring story'

Gov. Jerry Brown said today that revelations that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection hid settlement funds for several years in a nonprofit account amount to a "boring story," though he said the administration would look into it.

The Democratic governor said at a business event in West Sacramento that he had not read The Bee's report this morning that his administration for two years used a share of new fire fees for wildfire investigations, an arrangement the Legislature's attorney considers illegal.

Nor, Brown said, had he read earlier reports by the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal that Cal Fire since 2005 directed a share of wildfire settlements to a $3.66 million, off-budget fund managed by the California District Attorneys Association.

"I find it a relatively boring story, to tell you the truth," Brown said. "I always like stories that say we've got more money than I thought we had."

However, Brown said he will "certainly look into it."

'We're not going to not take it seriously," Brown said. "If there's a few million bucks laying around and somebody didn't put in the right account, we'll figure it out."

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, issued a statement criticizing Brown's characterization of the revelations as "boring."

"After the $40 million state parks fund scandal, the governor assured us there were no other hidden pots of money to be found in the depths of state government," Huff said. "But just weeks later, we see there's a completely different money-hiding scandal unfolding at CalFire. I can't speak for the governor, but 'boring' is the last word I would use to describe these very disturbing revelations of hidden funds."

Editor's note: Post updated at 1:45 p.m. to include Huff's remarks.

February 5, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Beware unfunded liabilities

Gov. Jerry Brown's optimistic talk about a balanced budget ignores huge shortfalls in obligations to retirees, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 5, 2013
AM Alert: California Senate Democrats gather to strategize

Editor's note: a previous version of this post incorrectly spelled Mr. Khan's name. It is Khan, not Kahn.

VIDEO: Dan warns that massive unfunded liabilities for future retirees undermine Gov. Jerry Brown's case that California is in good fiscal shape.

Senate Democrats will be gathering for a policy retreat at the Stanford Mansion today (the Republicans convened last week at Fox & Goose). Democrats will be mapping strategy for the year ahead, and Capitol Alert has learned that online education guru Sal Khan will be speaking.


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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