Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 4, 2013
Fewer California school districts in financial distress

RP RALLY TORLAKSON.JPGThe number of California school districts in financial jeopardy has dropped by a third in the last year, state schools superintendent Tom Torlakson said Monday.

Last May, 188 school districts, including several of the state's largest, were either in "negative certification" or "qualified certification," denoting levels of financial distress, but the number has since dropped to 124 - in part because the state is pumping more money into local school coffers from the sales and income tax increase approved by voters last November.

The new list has seven districts with "negative" status, meaning they cannot meet their financial obligations now, the largest of which is Inglewood Unified in Los Angeles County.

Another 117 districts have "qualified" status, meaning they may not be able to meet their obligations. They include the state's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, and a number of other large districts, such as Oakland Unified, Antelope Valley Joint Union High School, Compton Unified, Pomona Unified, Capistrano Unified, Elk Grove Unified, Sacramento City Unified, San Juan Unified, Folsom-Cordova Unified and San Diego Unified.

Overall, Torlakson said, 500,000 fewer of California's 6 million K-12 students are being schooled in financially distressed districts, but 2.1 million remain in those districts.

PHOTO CREDIT: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, urges legislators to support the tax extension proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. on March 14, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

March 4, 2013
California lawmakers treated to Hawaii conferences

stevepeace.jpgNumerous California lawmakers fly to Maui in an annual Capitol tradition that allows elected officials to talk public policy and schmooze on the dime of Capitol interests without having to disclose their participation until months later - a deadline reached Friday.

Seventeen legislators attended one of two Maui public policy conferences last November, each of which was bankrolled by a nonprofit group, according to newly filed financial disclosure statements. The groups do not identify their donors and have strong ties to former legislators.

The most popular Hawaii conference was the one that offered legislators the most expensive accommodation package as a gift.

The California Independent Voter Project provided up to $2,800 per legislator to attend the event for three or four days at the Kea Lani resort, which describes itself as a "luxurious haven in one of the most scenic places on Earth." The nonprofit group, which is led in part by former Democratic legislator Steve Peace, is backed by various business, labor and other interest groups whose identities are not reported

March 4, 2013
CA Republican wants to create a 'Neighborhood Legislature'

JohnCox.JPG Looking for your state legislator? Check the house next door.

That's the promise one Republican who attended the GOP's state party convention in Sacramento was touting over the weekend as he promoted a proposed ballot initiative to create what he's calling a "Neighborhood Legislature."

Under the measure, each of the state's 120 state legislative districts would be broken into 100 precinct-level mini districts. The change would mean that each legislator is elected by several thousand voters instead of several hundred thousand. The number of lawmakers serving in the Legislature wouldn't go up under the measure. Instead, the 100 candidates elected within the mini-districts would caucus to select one person to serve and vote in Sacramento.

John H. Cox, a businessman and investor backing the change, acknowledges that the idea is unconventional and, perhaps "counter intuitive," but he said breaking down state representation would break "the connection between money and being elected" and make lawmakers more accountable.

March 4, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California Republicans face long road ahead

The Republicans who gathered at the state party convention over the weekend have a lot of work to do if they want to revive their fortunes in California, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

March 4, 2013
AM Alert: Immigration bus tour starts rolling through California

US_NEWS_IMMIGRATION_7_LOS_ANGELES.JPGVIDEO: Dan Walters talks about the long road back for California Republicans who convened in Sacramento this weekend.

As a bipartisan U.S. Senate group looks at comprehensive immigration reform, advocates in the Golden State are mobilizing.

Sunday marked the start of the California portion of what's being called the Keeping Families Together Bus Tour, a rolling demonstration urging elected officials to open a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles is organizing the tour in the state.


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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