Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 20, 2013
Gov. Jerry Brown releases funding data for K-12 districts

RB Gov Brown 3.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's Department of Finance released a long-awaited table today that shows how each K-12 district fares in his new plan to direct more money to schools with low-income students and English learners.

The table can be seen here.

The Department of Finance says that no district will receive less than it has this school year, while the "vast majority" will get "moderate to significant funding increases." The governor's future funding expectations depend on significant growth in state revenues thanks to the economy and voter-approved tax hikes.

Locally, for example, the suburban Buckeye Union Elementary School District in El Dorado County would receive $5,948 per student in 2013-14 and $8,296 per student at full implementation of Brown's plan several years from now. Only 14 percent of Buckeye students qualify for free and reduced lunch, while 4 percent are learning English.

By comparison, Twin Rivers Unified in North Sacramento would go from $7,890 per student in 2013-14 to $11,993 per student at full implementation. At Twin Rivers, 82 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and 24 percent are learning English.

Brown last month said that he believes the state should spend more money on students living in poverty and those struggling with language barriers. Districts with such challenges generally qualify for additional federal and state aid now, but Brown and critics suggest state school funding formulas are convoluted and offer the wrong incentives.

February 20, 2013
Prosecutions of California lobbyists on the rise, FPPC reports

JD_CAPITOL_LOBBYISTS_02.JPGCalifornia lobbyists are facing increased scrutiny by the Fair Political Practices Commission, according to a new report by the state's political watchdog agency.

The FPPC prosecuted 14 lobbyists in 2012 for violations of the California Political Reform Act, up from just one lobbyist prosecuted two years earlier, says the commission's year-end report. The FPPC also sent 54 warning letters to lobbyists who violated the law in 2012, said the FPPC's enforcement chief, Gary Winuk. Warning letters go out when evidence shows the law was broken but circumstances do not warrant imposing a fine.

Lobbyists are required to file quarterly financial statements with the Secretary of State's Office that disclose who their clients are, how much they're being paid, and which bills or agencies they're lobbying. Any failure to file those reports can result in an investigation by the FPPC. Winuk attributed the rise in lobbying prosecutions to better coordination between the FPPC and the Secretary of State's Office.

"Every person who doesn't file with the Secretary of State after a short period of time, it gets sent over here as an enforcement referral, so no one can fall through the cracks," Winuk said.

February 20, 2013
California state auditor offers hypothesis on hidden parks funds

RB_Russian_Gulch_State_Park.JPGOne curiosity in California's state parks controversy is why department officials hid millions of dollars when they needed the Legislature's approval to spend the funds.

State Auditor Elaine Howle in hearings this week referred to the hidden surplus as a "useless reserve" because state Department of Parks and Recreation officials in theory couldn't spend the money without telling lawmakers of its existence. But that left some lawmakers unsatisfied.

"I can't get my head around the nature of this," said Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, asking later Wednesday whether "sheer stupidity" was to blame. If officials couldn't spend the money, Blumenfield wondered, what was their motive for willfully hiding the funds?

February 20, 2013
California home ownership continues slide, now second lowest

RB_New_Home_Sales_4.JPGCalifornia's rate of homeownership continued a years-long slide in 2012 and is now the second lowest in the nation, according to a new Census Bureau report.

Just 54.1 percent of Californians lived in homes during the last quarter of 2012 that they or their families owned, the Census Bureau reported. Only New York, at 53.1 percent, had a lower rate.

The report covers the annual housing survey dating back to 2005, when California's home ownership rate was 60.1 percent. It has declined every year since.

Nationally, 65.4 percent of U.S. residents live in homes owned by themselves or their families. States range as high as 76.7 percent in West Virginia.

PHOTO CREDIT: New homes are under construction in West Sacramento on Thursday, July 8, 2010. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee file, 2010.

February 20, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Uncertain road ahead for California health care

California is about to undertake a massive expansion of state-sponsored health care, courtesy of the Affordable Care Act, and Dan says it's anyone's guess how it will work out.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 20, 2013
AM Alert: California officials probe parks, higher ed and stem cell budgets

VIDEO: There are a lot of unanswered questions as California prepares to enthusiastically tackle a huge federally mandated health care expansion, Dan Walters says.

More fallout from the parks department's hidden funding scandal is expected today. Yesterday, lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee took a look at a new audit finding the problem existed far longer than was initially known; today the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee get a crack at it in a joint hearing. Starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 4202 of the State Capitol Building.

The renewed scrutiny from the Capitol stems from a state auditor's report, released last week, that traced unreported budget surpluses at the Department of Parks and Recreation stretching back two decades.

Just because there's an extra focus on the parks department doesn't mean other recipients of General Fund dollars are escaping examination.


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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