Capitol Alert

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SALTONTREE.JPGWe mentioned yesterday that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee was considering a bushel of new audit proposals.

Several of them got the green light, including an audit of the Salton Sea Restoration Fund, requested by Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella.

Here are others that were approved:

• State tracking of information on mentally ill people and guns. (The Senate voted recently to allocate millions of dollars more to that cause.) The audit was requested by Assemblymen Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, and Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa.

Veterans employment programs, requested by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana.

State agency accounts outside the state treasury. This general audit, requested by Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, was spurred by recent revelations that the California parks department and Cal Fire had secret pots of money.

A request by Republican lawmakers to audit the High-Speed Rail Authority was rejected. High-speed rail is still on the agenda today, though, for a meeting of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation. In addition to California's ambition to connect far-flung cities with swift trains, members will be discussing the state's newly reorganized Transportation Agency. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. in Room 2040 of the state Capitol.

In a separate budget subcommittee hearing, senators will be weighing Gov. Jerry Brown's funding proposals for the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and California State University. The Legislative Analyst's Office has already dinged the governor for pouring more money into higher education without ensuring the school system pursues greater efficiency.

At that same hearing, Sen. Richard Roth and Assemblyman Jose Medina, both Riverside Democrats, are going to make a special appeal for a $15 million infusion for the UC Riverside School of Medicine.

Speaking of higher education, the University of California regents are in day two of a meeting at UC San Francisco today. Brown visited their conclave yesterday, continuing his renewed interest this year in regent's meetings. A press release from the governor's office Tuesday said he would also attend today.

The Corrections, Public Safety, And the Judiciary budget subcommittee will be taking a look at the court system today. That hearing comes a few days after California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye used her State of the Judiciary speech to warn the Legislature that ongoing budget cuts are undercutting the court system's ability to function smoothly. Find it at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 113.

VIDEO: Dan Walters doesn't think it's a good thing that the Legislature is talking about making it easier for local governments to issue bonds.

PHOTO CREDIT: An effort by the Department of Water Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife to restore the Salton Sea, a large inland lake in southern California. Seen here on Nov. 21, 2002, by Dick Schmidt for The Sacramento Bee.



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