Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 5, 2013
Local CA officials say $82 billion needed for road repairs

RP STREET WORK JACKHAMMER.JPGCalifornia's network of local streets and roads "is in crisis" and needs $82 billion in repairs and reconstruction to be restored, a coalition of local government groups declared Tuesday.

The California Statewide Needs Assessment Project report closely parallels recent appraisals by the California Transportation Commission that the state highway network also needs hundreds of billions of dollars in work.

Cities and counties are responsible for 81 percent of the state's roadway mileage, and the report by the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities and other groups say that while $2.5 billion is being spent annually on their upkeep, they need another $1.9 billion to keep the roadways from deteriorating further and $82 billion over the next 10 years "to bring the system up-to-date."

Localities receive shares of gasoline taxes and supplement those funds with local sales and property taxes to maintain and expand local streets and roads.

"It costs far less to repair and maintain roads than to replace them," Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, said in a statement accompanying the report, adding, "We can either spend money now and make the repairs, or expect to pay a lot more in the future."

The report does not suggest a way to pay for the work it advocates, but notes that $82 billion would translate into an extra 56 cents per gallon of fuel in taxes.

PHOTO CREDIT: A Sacramento City street division road crew uses jackhammers to remove cracked asphalt on Land Park Drive near 2nd Avenue on April 24, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

March 5, 2013
Jerry Hill chosen to lead environmental committee

Jerry Hill - 1MB version (1).JPGSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has tapped Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to fill former senator Michael Rubio's place atop a key environmental committee.

Steinberg announced in a statement that he was nominating Hill to chair the Committee on Environmental Quality. It will be an influential post as the Legislature weighs overhauling the California Environmental Quality Act.

"[Hill] is well-positioned to appreciate the complexities of this challenge, and well-versed in the false dichotomy that pitches business against the environment," Steinberg said in a statement. "California has led, and will continue to lead the nation in smart, environmentally sustainable economic growth."

Critics, including Gov. Jerry Brown, have said CEQA is in need of reform, saying cumbersome environmental requirements unnecessarily stall development. Environmental groups have begun mobilizing to protect the law. Rubio was expected to be a leader in the process until his abrupt resignation two weeks ago.

The Senate Rules Committee, which Steinberg chairs, is expected to confirm the appointment on Thursday.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Sen. Jerry Hill's office. .

March 5, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California's perpetual election cycle

You might think an odd-numbered year means a lull in electoral activity, but Dan Walters says that's not the case in California between Los Angeles city contests and special Senate elections.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

March 5, 2013
AM Alert: Los Angeles votes


VIDEO: You might expect a reprieve from elections in an odd-numbered year, but Dan Walters says special Senate contests and elections in Los Angeles are ensuring otherwise.

It's primary day in Los Angeles, an opportunity for voters in several different races to winnow down the options ahead of the May 21 runoffs. In the mayoral race, Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel and L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti are the front-runners and look likely to advance. And the results of some city council races could ripple north to Sacramento, potentially disrupting a Democratic supermajority.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, is running in the 3rd district and Sen. Curren Price, D-Los Angeles, is seeking a seat in District 9. The prospect of Price leaving the Senate, combined with the recent surprise departure of former Sen. Michael Rubio, leaves things in flux.

There are several former Sacramento denizens running: former Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes is aiming at a City Council seat in District 7, former Assemblyman and state Sen. Gil Cedillo is running in District 1, and former assemblyman and incumbent L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz looks to fend off a challenge in the 5th district. Former Assemblyman Mike Feuer is running for city attorney, while former Assemblyman Mike Eng is running for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

State senators will be at an education policy conference in Long Beach for the next two days. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office estimates that a majority of senators will be there (including Steinberg). The focus is on "linked learning," or education that prepares students for specific career paths.

Attendees will be dropping in on classrooms and discussing policy topics like the implementation of new Common Core standards and Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed school funding overhaul. Since they'll be talking about school funding formulas, here's some data on funding for the trip: Steinberg's office pegs the cost at $17,800 for members and $9,380 for staff.

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance will be probing similar topics today during a 9 a.m. hearing on Brown's school funding proposals in room 444.

Rolling along: immigration advocates will continue to travel across the state advocating for reform today. On the agenda are visits to the Visalia district office of Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, the Hanford district office of Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, the Brea district office of Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, and the Irvine District office of Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine.

PHOTO CREDIT: Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Kevin James, left, and Eric Garcetti, right, listen to Wendy Greuel speak during a city of Los Angeles mayoral candidate debate in September. Allen J. Schaben/ Los Angeles Times/ MCT.


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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