Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 6, 2013
State, counties joust over Medi-Cal expansion in California

RCB_20110915_MEDI_CAL_0069.JPGThe perennially contentious relationship between the state and county governments over money has a new flash point -- the expansion of Medi-Cal coverage to more than a million low-income Californians under the new Affordable Care Act.

The conflict -- aired Wednesday in an Assembly budget subcommittee hearing -- has two prongs:

• Whether the state or counties will manage the expansion.
• Whether the state should "claw back" some of the money it now pays to counties to pay for indigent medical care -- on the theory that many of the half-million poor beneficiaries will become Medi-Cal patients next year, raising state costs.

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is still undecided whether to opt for county or state management, but the larger counties have said they don't want it, the Legislature's own budget analyst recommends state management, and the major pending implementation bill also opts for state operation.

March 6, 2013
Ex GOP Rep. Doug Ose weighs challenge to Democrat Ami Bera

BB OSE 165.JPGFormer Republican Rep. Doug Ose might make another run at returning to Congress by challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in a competitive Sacramento County seat.

The Sacramento Republican, who left Congress in 2005 and lost a primary bid for another seat in 2008, told The Bee that he and his wife are "deliberating on it but have not made a final decision" on seeking the 7th Congressional District seat

"It's very easy to say 'I'm going to run for Congress,' but having done it four times now, it's not a simple task," he said. "There's a lot that goes into it."

Bera unseated incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Lungren last year in one of the state's closest and most expensive House races. The 2014 race for the seat is expected to be a top priority for both Democrats and Republicans, given the narrow registration gap in the east Sacramento County district. The National Republican Congressional Committee has been on the offensive for weeks already, blasting the Elk Grove Democrat on everything from gas prices to the sequestration in emails and new Web ads.

March 6, 2013
Lawmakers scold California PUC for erroneous budget forecasts

20121203_HA_Richard_Bloom_2012.JPGThe director of the California Public Utilities Commission was scolded by lawmakers today after conceding that his agency had committed errors in forecasting and other budget-related issues involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

A state Department of Finance audit found serious management, training and procedural problems in PUC accounting and forecasting procedures for special funds tied to programs ranging from low-income customer subsidies to telephone services for deaf and disabled individuals. The money stems from surcharges on Californians' gas, electric and telephone bills.

"I find it deeply troubling that an agency would have such dismal accounting of large amounts of public funds in apparent disregard of basic principles of good management," said Assemblyman Richard Bloom, a Santa Monica Democrat who chaired today's Assembly budget subcommittee meeting, which examined the audit findings and the PUC's response to them.

March 6, 2013
Mixed bag for Michelle Rhee in Tuesday's school board races

MichelleRhee1.jpgMichelle Rhee's biggest foray yet into local politics in California yielded mixed results yesterday as voters in West Sacramento rejected the school board candidate backed by her education advocacy group while voters in Los Angeles handed a victory to one of the three candidates StudentsFirst supported.

Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools who is married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, created StudentsFirst to counter the power of teachers unions in state and local politics.

The group formed a campaign committee that supported Francisco Castillo for school board in Washington Unified, the West Sacramento school district. Castillo works as a spokesman for StudentsFirst. Voters in West Sac elected Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, who was backed by the local teachers union.

March 6, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California's skewed transportation priorities

The mounting cost of repairing California's existing roads should give lawmakers pause as they consider spending heavily on high-speed rail, 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 6, 2013
AM Alert: California lawmakers look at immigrant labor abuses


VIDEO: Dan Walters says lawmakers should be worrying about the state's deteriorating roads before spending billions on high-speed rail.

Responding to a National Employment Law Project report on workplace abuses of undocumented immigrants, Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina, is holding a hearing on the treatment of undocumented workers in California. Joining Hernández will be Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer for the California Labor Federation; Eunice Cho of the National Employment Law Project; Gabriela Villareal of the California Immigrant Policy Center; and Marta Medina of Warehouse Workers United. In room 317 of the State Capitol building, starting at 10:30 A.M.

March 6, 2013
Greuel, Garcetti head to runoff; Blumenfield wins in LA city races

Downtown_Los_Angeles_Freeway_AP_2005.JPGEric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are headed into a runoff for Los Angeles mayor, as state Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield won his city council race outright in Tuesday's balloting.

Sen. Curren Price, the other current lawmaker seeking Los Angeles city office, will face Ana Cubas in a runoff for council in District 9.

Unofficial results from the Los Angeles City Clerk's Office this morning showed Blumenfield won 51.6 percent of the vote in District 3, advancing over six opponents. Price won 27 percent to Cubas' 24 percent. Former Assemblyman Paul Koretz easily won re-election in District 5, and former lawmaker Felipe Fuentes won outright in District 7 with 51 percent of the vote. Former lawmakers Gil Cedillo (District 1, 49 percent) and Mike Feuer (City attorney, 44 percent) face runoffs.

The results in Los Angeles could alter the political calculus in Sacramento, potentially endangering -- or at least interrupting -- the two-thirds supermajority that allows Democrats to raise new taxes and put constitutional amendments on the ballot without Republican support.


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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