Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 28, 2013
State auditor: California's net worth at negative $127.2 billion

RB_Prison_Construction_2009.JPGWere California's state government a business, it would be a candidate for insolvency with a negative net worth of $127.2 billion, according to an annual financial report issued by State Auditor Elaine Howle and the Bureau of State Audits.

The report, which covers the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, says that the state's negative status -- all of its assets minus all of its liabilities -- increased that year, largely because it spent more than it received in revenue.

During the 2011-12 fiscal year, the state's general fund spent $1.7 billion more than it received in revenues and wound up with an accumulated deficit of just under $23 billion from several years of red ink. Gov. Jerry Brown has referred to that and other budget gaps, mostly money owed to schools, as a "wall of debt" totaling more than $30 billion.

March 28, 2013
Middle class to pay more for health insurance, state study shows

Overhaul-Price Hikes.jpgMiddle class Californians counting on federal health-care reform to lower their insurance premiums are in for a double-digit shock next year, a new state study shows.

People or families who buy insurance for themselves could see rate increases of up to 30 percent. Milliman consulting group performed the analysis, but scope was limited to the individual market, meaning about 5 million Californians who do not receive insurance through their employer.

Millions of low-income Californians will see their costs plummet while costs rise for households where incomes exceed about $46,000 for an individual or $94,000 for a family of four, the study concluded.

Comparisons are skewed somewhat by stiffer coverage requirements for next year's plans, but the bottom line is that the poor are likely to pay significantly less than they do now while middle-class families dig deeper into pocketbooks.

"Our top priority is to provide Californians with affordable health insurance options, and we are pleased that most individuals will pay lower rates and receive better coverage," said Peter V. Lee, director of the state's health-care exchange, which commissioned the study.

March 28, 2013
Jerry Brown convenes advisory panel on defense industry

brownnga.jpgGov. Jerry Brown announced today he has convened a panel on military matters to advise the state on efforts to expand California's defense industry and to protect against federal budget cuts.

The formation of the Governor's Military Council comes as $85 billion in across-the-board, federal spending reductions start taking effect under sequestration.

"California plays a crucial role in our nation's defense, and military bases and activities are vital to our state's economy," Brown said in a prepared statement. "As federal priorities shift to cyber security and new military technology, this council will work to expand defense-industry jobs and investment in California."

The Democratic governor appointed Ellen Tauscher, a former Democratic congresswoman and undersecretary in the State Department, to chair the panel. She said in a prepared statement that the panel "will send a unified message to Washington, D.C., that highlights the value" of military bases in California.

The Department of Defense employs more than 236,000 people in the state, according to the governor's office.

The council is scheduled to convene for one year, drafting recommendations to the governor and Legislature.

The 18-member panel includes Republican and Democratic lawmakers, retired military admirals and generals and the adjutant general of the California National Guard. Their positions on the panel are unpaid.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown at a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington on Feb. 24, 2013. AP Photo/ Manuel Balce Ceneta

March 28, 2013
California AG Kamala Harris reaping Prop. 8 PR bonanza

Harris.PNGCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris has been hitting for the cycle before, during and after the Supreme Court arguments on the Proposition 8 gay marriage case.

While not the only official from California to travel to the East Coast for the historic arguments Tuesday -- San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera was also in town, among others -- Harris proved particularly alluring to reporters.

Accompanied by her press secretary, Gil Duran, the Democratic AG has been making the rounds.

On Sunday, she appeared on CNN's "State of the Union," declaring that the case is a matter "of equal protection under the law."

On Monday, the eve of the oral arguments, Harris made media phone calls and met with some reporters in person, including a pair from the Bee and from the San Francisco Chronicle.

On Tuesday, Harris appeared on PBS's "Newshour" and on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."

On Thursday, Harris appeared on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" to discuss both the Proposition 8 as well as the Defense of Marriage Act case.

Harris spent part of her time explaining her decision not to defend Proposition 8 in the long-running legal battle, a fact the court confronted when addressing whether the initiative's sponsors have legal standing to defend it in court.

PHOTO CREDIT: Attorney General Kamala Harris appearing on ABC news from Washington on Tuesday. ABC News

March 28, 2013
Lawsuit challenging Amador County casino moved to Sacramento

MAJ_ELEISHA_HAYES.JPGA lawsuit challenging a proposed tribal casino in Amador County has been shifted to federal court in Sacramento, and away from a Washington, D.C.-based court.

In an 11-page decision Thursday, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer sided with the Interior Department officials who wanted the lawsuit relocated to California.

The lawsuit, filed by Nicolas Villa, Jr., challenges the decision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to acquire in trust land in Amador County for Indian gaming purposes.Villa alleges that Interior should not have acquired the land nor recognized the Ione Band of Miwok Indians as a "restored tribe" under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Villa, in essence, leads what he calls the true Ione Band of Miwok Indians of California.

Collyer concluded, among other things, that "The Eastern District of California is located much closer to Villa's home and is perfectly capable of deciding this case carefully and fairly."

PHOTO CREDIT: Slot machines at the San Pablo casino of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians in 2006. The Sacramento Bee/ Michael A. Jones

March 28, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: CalPERS backs off clean tech

Dan's amused that CalPERS chief investment officer Joseph Dear thinks clean technology is a money loser, a clear break from the position many of California's leaders espouse.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

March 28, 2013
AM Alert: California officials wade into Delta plan

Delta_delta.JPGA trickle of details has widened into a river as officials formulate an ambitious new water plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Today the Delta Stewardship Council is meeting to discuss how to balance two interlocking goals: enhanced water delivery and environmental protection. (The Council can hear appeals and make recommendations but cannot alter the plan itself.)

That will include giving staff final instructions for preparing an environmental impact report. The daylong meeting convenes at 9 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Capital Plaza, 300 J St.

The council isn't the only public agency meeting in Sacramento today. The California Health Facilities Financing Authority is also convening to consider, among other things, issuing up to $450 million in revenue bonds to improve facilities at Sutter Health. That starts at 1:30 p.m. at 915 Capitol Mall, room 587.

VIDEO: Gov. Jerry Brown has emphasized the economic potential of clean technology, but Dan Walters is amused that the CalPERS investment guru doesn't seem to agree.


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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