Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

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.

An Assembly budget subcommittee is holding a hearing on Gov. Jerry Brown's higher education budget. The hearing starts at 4:00 p.m. in Room 126 and will feature representatives from the higher education system, the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst's Office.

That last participant could help lawmakers stoke criticism of Brown's higher ed proposals. Last week, the LAO questioned Brown's plan for allocating more money to the colleges without ensuring those dollars are spent more efficiently.

Also getting some scrutiny will be the troubled California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the ballot-initiative-birthed stem cell agency whose attempts at reform were faulted in a recent report by a federal committee. The Citizens Financial Accountability Oversight Committee, which is devoted entirely to the stem cell institute and is headed by Controller John Chiang, is holding a meeting in Los Angeles to see if the agency has followed up on recommendations that arose after a series of audits. Starting at 10:30 a.m. in the Southern California Association of Governments building.

Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye will be speaking at a Public Policy Institute in San Francisco today, addressing the road ahead for California's court system. Cantil-Sakauye has been an outspoken critic of cutbacks to the court system's funding, so expect that to come up. The event runs from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Bechtel Conference Center in San Francisco.

Controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee and Ben Austin, executive director of the organization Parent Revolution, will be on a panel about the future of education reform in California. Rhee's advocacy organization Students First has had a light footprint in Sacramento despite being headquartered here. The talk starts at 12:00 p.m. at the University of Southern California's campus center.

Today is day one of a California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators conference at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento. Participants will be meeting with staffers at the Capitol Building this afternoon.


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