Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 22, 2013
Jerry Brown rooms with friends, likes 'refrigerator in the middle of the night'

browndctram.JPGWASHINGTON - One advantage of being in politics for more than 40 years is that Gov. Jerry Brown knows someone with a spare bedroom almost everywhere he goes.

In Washington this weekend for a conference of the National Governors Association, Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown will stay at the home of Lucie Gikovich, a former aide.

"I don't like hotels," the 74-year-old, third-term governor said while waiting for a tram at Washington Dulles International Airport.

He mentioned that his wife likes them, though, and she said, "You can see who gets their way."

The conference is at a respectable hotel, the JW Marriott, and Brown could have stayed there. He didn't last year, and he often rooms with friends when traveling.

"I like to be able to go in the refrigerator in the middle of the night," Brown said.

He and his wife joked about Brown's frugality - how he doesn't like the minibar prices.

"No," Brown said. "It's just, I like to be with friends."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown ride the tram at Washington Dulles International Airport on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee

February 22, 2013
Jerry Brown says he was counting on Michael Rubio

jerrybrowndc.JPGWASHINGTON - Gov. Jerry Brown said today that state Sen. Michael Rubio's resignation from the state Legislature took him by surprise, and he suggested it could complicate his effort to overhaul the state's signature environmental law.

"He's a good man," Brown said as he arrived here for a conference of the National Governors Association. "I was kind of counting on him for this year."

Asked if Rubio's resignation would hurt his effort to make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act, the Democratic governor said, "Well, he was certainly the foremost champion" of enacting changes.

Rubio announced today that he is leaving the Legislature to take a job at Chevron Corp. Brown had expected the Shafter Democrat to help him enact legislation limiting the reach of CEQA.

Brown said of Rubio's announcement, "That was a surprise."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee

February 22, 2013
Pregnant on Dec. 31? California lawmaker proposes tax break

RP_YUBA_PRENATAL_CORTES.JPGA California lawmaker wants to give tax deductions for unborn children, piggybacking on a recent law making pregnant minors eligible for welfare.

If fetuses deserve public aid, why not tax breaks?

Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove is pressing that question this week by proposing Assembly Bill 673, which would grant a $321 child income tax deduction for an "expected child."

Robert Smith, Grove's legislative director, said the bill is not specifically intended to spark new debate over California's failure to recognize a fetus as a person for abortion purposes, but it spotlights the current inconsistency.

"If it can drive the discussion, that's an issue we'd love to have a real substantive and honest discussion about," Smith said. His boss, a Bakersfield Republican, opposes abortion.

February 22, 2013
California analyst says K-12 funding overhaul has merits

Thumbnail image for Brown.jpgThe nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office says in a new report that Gov. Jerry Brown's school funding overhaul has many strengths but questions the retention of some "irrational" relics from the current system that benefit powerful constituents.

California for years has funded schools with a combination of general per-pupil dollars and earmarks dedicated for state-driven purposes. Brown, right, wants to blow up the earmarks and create a new system that gives districts more control and directs more money to schools with impoverished students and English learners.

The governor's proposal would generally help urban and rural districts while proving less beneficial to suburban districts with wealthier families. The Bee explained today how this would play out in the Sacramento region, based on Department of Finance estimates.

The analyst's office finds Brown's system "simple and transparent" compared to the current ways in which the state funds K-12 schools. It relies on a uniform funding formula and gives districts more say in how dollars get spent.

"Currently, the state's categorical programs, as well as the broader education funding system, are based on overly complex and complicated formulas," the report says. "Very few policy makers, taxpayers, school board members, or parents understand or can explain why a particular district receives a particular level of funding."

February 22, 2013
Elizabeth Emken eyes challenging Ami Bera in Sacramento seat

Feinstein.jpgWill the third time be the charm for Republican Elizabeth Emken?

The former GOP candidate for House and U.S. Senate is exploring a run against freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District next year.

Emken, who lost to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein by double digits last year, has filed paperwork to raise campaign cash for a potential House campaign, her spokesman Mark Standriff said this week. While the Danville Republican has not made a final decision on where she might run, Standriff said her "focus is on CD 7 and Ami Bera" right now.

Bera, who narrowly defeated GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in a costly campaign last year, is expected to be a top target for Republicans, who believe lower turnout in the midterm elections could help them overcome Democrats' slight registration advantage in the new district.

A challenge to Bera would be Emken's third run for public office in the state. Before her loss to Feinstein, Emken came in last place in a four-way GOP primary for a Bay Area House seat.

February 22, 2013
State Sen. Michael Rubio resigns, will take job with Chevron

AP120417140783.JPGState Sen. Michael Rubio announced today that he is resigning from the state Legislature and taking a job directing California governmental affairs for Chevron Corporation.

The Shafter Democrat cited a desire to spend more time with his family in a statement released today, saying he "realized that my current professional path has left little opportunity to be home for those who are most important to me, which is why I am making a change."

"My wife and I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, from whom we have learned a great deal," he said. "Our youngest child, who has special needs, has given me great perspective as to life's priorities and our eldest has reminded me that the most critical decisions are made at home and not under the Capitol dome."

Rubio, who was elected to the state Senate in 2010, dropped plans to run for Congress in 2012 after his daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome. One of the upper house's most moderate members, Rubio was leading a push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act. He was named chair of the Environmental Quality Committee last year and has worked closely with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on drafting legislation for the upcoming session.

Rubio said in the statement that his resignation is effective today. His decision means Senate Democrats will temporarily lose their supermajority, as two other Democratic seats are currently vacant. A special election will be held to fill his seat for the remainder of his term.

PHOTO CREDIT: State Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield, left, a member of the Senate Transportation and Housing committee, explains to Sen. Doug La Malfa, R-Willows why he would vote against La Malfa's proposal to put a $68 billion high-speed rail plan back before California voters, during a hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Tuesday, April 17, 2012. After more than an hour of testimony La Malfa was granted his request to postpone the committee's vote on the bill. He did not say when he would seek a vote.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

February 22, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Big fight ahead over California school finance

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to revamp how schools are funded would produce big disparities in who gets what, and Dan says that will make for contentious debate.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 22, 2013
AM Alert: Jerry Brown heads to national governors meeting

Brown.jpgVIDEO: The governor's proposed school funding formula will pick winners and losers in how it distributes money, and Dan Walters predicts that will fuel a battle in the Legislature.

FIELD POLL: Attitudes about immigrants are changing fast among Californians, but only toward those already in the state, Jim Sanders reports in today's Bee. Click here to read the statistical tabulations compiled exclusively for Capitol Alert. The poll is at this link.

Gov. Jerry Brown left the state Thursday to make his way east to the National Governors Association's winter meeting this weekend in Washington, D.C. Capitol Alert's David Siders will be checking in with updates from the nation's capital, so stay tuned.

Anyone want to take bets on what happens when Brown crosses paths with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas? Health care and the Affordable Care Act will also be factors as governors weigh whether to set up health insurance exchanges and expand Medicaid -- Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida just made news by caving on the latter.



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Capitol Alert Staff


Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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