Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 14, 2013
Plans to split Lake Tahoe oversight called off after compromise

RP LAKE TAHOE KAYAK.JPGEfforts to cut Lake Tahoe in half, or at least the governance of the basin surrounding California and Nevada's shared treasure, were put to rest Tuesday after an agreement was reached to continue the two-state partnership known as the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Nevada passed a law in 2011 that had the Silver State withdrawing from the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact in 2015 following a longstanding dispute centered on how much development to allow and where. The two states have tussled over Nevada's calls for more development in order to boast the economy and California's efforts to preserve the natural environment.

California Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, introduced a bill earlier this year to create a contingency plan should Nevada officially end the 44-year marriage. The California bill will be amended to reflect today's agreement and Nevada will repeal their 2011 law.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a joint statement calling off the divorce: "This agreement renews our commitment to work together to do what's best for the environment and economy of the Lake Tahoe region."

The newly reached compromise, which needs approval from Congress, requires each state to consider economic impacts when adopting regional plans for the area and establishes a burden of proof for challenging a regional plan.

Both states still reserve the right to withdraw from the planning agency.

PHOTO CREDIT: A kayaker paddles along the south shore of Lake Tahoe under the watchful eye of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

May 14, 2013
State's health insurance exchange awards $37 million in grants

vaccinate.jpgThe UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency have a million reasons to celebrate today after the state agency overseeing a federal health-care overhaul announced 48 winners of education and outreach grants.

The two Sacramento-area groups were among 16 winners of million-dollar grants by Covered California, which is implementing federally mandated changes to health care by creating an exchange for buying health insurance. The agency cumulatively awarded 48 grants totaling $37 million.

"They're organizations that are connected with and trusted by the communities that we will serve," said Diana Dooley, the state's secretary of Health and Human Services and a member of the Covered California governing board. "They're engaged in social services, they're language assistance groups, they're food and nutrition groups - they're many kinds of groups at the local level."

The goal is to create a statewide community network to promote insurance coverage, answer questions and discuss options about the national health-care law, effective Jan. 1, that requires nearly every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine. Covered California's campaign will target 5.3 million uninsured Californians.

Thirty-seven grants target outreach to Latinos, while 32 focus on African American communities, 24 Caucasian, 20 Asian-Pacific Islander, and 11 Middle-Eastern, according to Covered California.

The largest single grant recipient was a nonprofit group at California State University Los Angeles, University Auxiliary Services, which is charged with reaching students and their families throughout the CSU system.

Other million-dollar grant recipients were the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, California Black Health Network, Community Health Councils, Infoline of San Diego County, John Wesley Community Health Institute, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Vision y Compromiso, Small Business Majority, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, the UC Regents, United Ways of California, and two units of Service Employees International Union.

Covered California's grants ranged from $250,000 to $1.25 million. Widely known groups chosen to receive grants included the Los Angeles Unified School District, $990,000; California Council of Churches, $750,000; Planned Parenthood of Mar Monte, $694,000; California NAACP, $600,000; and University of Southern California, $500,000.

The agency has reserved $6 million for additional outreach and education efforts next year.

See the full list on the jump.

May 14, 2013
VIDEO: Republicans react to 2013 California budget revision

gorellrevise.JPGRepublicans in California have taken to aligning themselves more with the fiscally cautious budget priorities of Gov. Jerry Brown than with their Democratic colleagues in the Legislature, and party leaders had some tentative praise for the governor's revised 2013-2014 budget on Tuesday morning.

Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chair Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, said it was "appropriate for the governor to have conservative revenue projections" given that a surge of surplus revenue is "probably short-lived." But he criticized Brown for moving to scale back enterprise zones, saying the proposal would undercut businesses who had "relied on this program in good faith," and called on the governor to dedicate more reserves as a cushion against a future downturn.

"To truly preserve the legacy for any sort of austerity for the governor, he needs to identify a very hard and fast, solid rainy day fund into which revenues are placed when they come in over projections so we can use those to buffer the peaks and troughs or the fits and starts of California financing and budgeting we've had over the last twenty years," Gorell said.

May 14, 2013
VIDEO: Jerry Brown discusses his revised budget plan

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The terrain for the 2013 version of California's annual budget trek got a little clearer on Tuesday morning, with Gov. Jerry Brown releasing an updated blueprint..

Brown continued to emphasize restraint with a windfall of new money, but he detailed some new investments in schools. The revised budget would direct another $240 million towards the governor's plan to revamp education funding and send more money to disadvantaged students.

It also sets aside $1 billion to implement the new Common Core educational standards that California teachers, like their counterparts in states across the country, are beginning to implement in their curricula.

"This is a prudent budget," Brown said. "It's one that responds to our educational and our health challenges, but it's one that unlike those of the past will be very prudent, because we're sailing into some rather uncertain times, as we always have."

You can watch a piece of Brown's press conference below:

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown talks about his revised budget proposal in the Capitol. Jeremy B. White/The Sacramento Bee.

May 14, 2013
Rapid Response Roundup: Jerry Brown's May budget proposal

brownCaliforniaBudget.jpgCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown detailed his revised budget proposal this morning. Read The Bee's coverage of the plan here, then see what legislators, advocates and others are saying about the proposal in this rapid response roundup.

May 14, 2013
Jerry Brown lowers revenue estimates in budget revision

brownrevise.JPGThis post is being updated throughout the morning as details emerge.

Despite income tax revenue running about $4.5 billion ahead of expectations through April, Gov. Jerry Brown included relatively low revenue figures in the revised budget he released this morning, likely dampening expectations for greater program spending.

The budget Brown proposed will assume revenue in the current fiscal year only $2.8 billion ahead of expectations, with revenue next fiscal year down $1.8 billion from Brown's January estimate.

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday's budget revision, speculation mounted that Brown could take advantage of $4.5 billion that rolled into state coffers unexpectedly this spring. But the governor took a more cautious approach, projecting that economic growth will be slower than previously thought because of federal spending cuts and a higher payroll tax on workers.

"Four percent growth has now become 2 percent," Brown said.

The governor also assumes that the spring revenue spike was partly due to wealthy taxpayers taking more income in 2012 in anticipation of federal tax changes. That means the state potentially would receive lower tax revenues in 2013-14 than Brown previously expected.

"We have climbed out of a hole with a Prop 30 tax," Brown said, referring to his initiative last year that hiked income taxes on the wealthy and sales taxes. "That's good. But this is not the time to break out the champagne."

The proposed budget includes a $1.1 billion reserve. It increases funding for Brown's effort to overhaul California's educational finance system by $240 million. In his education proposal, Brown also proposes $1 billion to implement English, math and other subject guidelines known as the Common Core Standards.

Brown continued to ask lawmakers to approve his new funding formula, which directs more money to K-12 districts with large numbers of impoverished students and English learners. He was skeptical of critics who consider his plan flawed because wealthier suburban districts stand to receive less money than they would otherwise.

"Ask somebody in Beverly Hills or Palo Alto or Piedmont, 'Would you like to move to Compton? Would you like to move to Watts?' And if they say, 'Yeah, let's do it because I want to get the extra money,' then I'll believe it," Brown said.

The governor has dropped his January proposal to cap the number of state-subsidized classes that public university students can take. He had pitched the idea as a way to make the University of California and California State University systems more efficient.

Brown proposed a statewide approach - not a county-by-county effort - to implement California's expansion of Medi-Cal under the federal health care overhaul.

The budget includes $500 million in additional Medi-Cal spending, and more funding for California's prison realignment, in which the state shifted responsibility for certain low-level offenders to counties.

Brown seemed resistant Tuesday to Democratic proposals to raise additional taxes. He also dismissed calls to increase spending beyond education, mocking the Capitol as "a big spending machine."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown unveils the revision of his budget proposal. The Sacramento Bee/Melody Gutierrez

May 14, 2013
Daughter-in-law of former Sen. Don Perata drowns in pool

PerataInvestigation.jpgThe daughter-in-law of former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata died over the weekend.

Catherine Perata, who was married to the son of the Oakland Democrat, drowned in a pool at the family's Napa home Saturday morning. She was 38.

The Associated Press reports:

Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly says 38-year-old Catherine Perata was found unresponsive Saturday morning by her husband in their backyard pool. ...

Troendly says while foul play is not suspected, investigators are waiting for a toxicology report before concluding the death investigation.

Don Perata served more than a decade in the Legislature, including four years as pro tem, before leaving office due to term limits in 2008. He lost a 2010 bid to become mayor of Oakland.

Read more from the Associated Press at SacBee.com.

PHOTO CREDIT: Don Perata, shown in 2008. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli


May 14, 2013
Jerry Brown to propose $1 billion for common core education standards

brownjanbudget.jpgGov. Jerry Brown today will propose spending $1 billion to implement English, math and other educational standards in California's public schools, part of a revised budget plan he is scheduled to release this morning, a source said.

The revised budget proposal comes with state income tax revenue running about $4.5 billion ahead of expectations through April. Nearly all of the additional revenue could be required to go to schools and community colleges under Proposition 98, California's school-funding guarantee.

Brown is seeking a major overhaul of education funding, seeking to give local school districts greater flexibility in how they spend state money while directing more money to school districts with high proportions of poor students and English learners.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and other Democratic lawmakers have argued more money should be allocated to all districts on a per-pupil basis.

The $1 billion Brown will propose will be to implement the so-called Common Core State Standards adopted by California and more than 40 other states since 2010.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference at the Capitol on Jan. 10, 2013. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee

May 14, 2013
Jerry Brown pushes for 'smooth and rapid' path to citizenship

micsjerrybrown.jpgGov. Jerry Brown called Monday for a "smooth and rapid" path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, telling U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a letter that he is working to find state money that may be used to implement potential changes to the nation's immigration system, including employment requirements and assistance learning English.

"In order to avoid dire consequences for our state, comprehensive immigration reform must occur this year and the resulting path to citizenship must be smooth and rapid," Brown said in a letter to Feinstein ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today on a bipartisan immigration bill.

The Democratic governor said California and the nation "are choosing to accept the undocumented workers who have entered our country illegally because neither industry nor the workers themselves were ever given any viable option to fill our labor demands legally."

Brown said those workers should be afforded an expeditious path to citizenship, not "held in a state of purgatory for ten years."

May 14, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Serious tax reform still avoided in California

The Legislature continues to content itself with tinkering around the edges of tax policy rather than tackle a broad overhaul, something Dan says could come back to haunt California.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

May 14, 2013
AM Alert: Jerry Brown's revised California budget plan arrives

RBBudget5.JPG

At last, the fiscal moment we've all been waiting for. We'll get a better sense of where things stand on Gov. Jerry Brown's 2013-2014 budget after he releases the updated version during a 10 a.m. conference at the state Capitol.

The governor has been telegraphing restraint in the face of projections of a multi-billion dollar surplus, so it should be interesting to see how signs that California is back on fiscal terra firma manifest themselves in his new budget plan. Look for a heavy emphasis on Brown's much-discussed plan to overhaul education spending, which should also come into clearer focus with today's release.

VIDEO: Rather than do some serious work to clean up the tangled thicket of California's tax code, lawmakers are just trimming the edges, and Dan Walters says they will come to regret it.

BAY BRIDGE BACKLASH: The governor's take notwithstanding, lawmakers are sufficiently concerned about the structural issues and delays plaguing the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to have called a hearing. The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee will be hearing more from state auditor Elaine Howle about a recent report faulting the California Department of Transportation for testing lapses, and several different officials from Caltrans, including director Malcolm Dougherty, will also be testifying. Starting at 1:30 p.m. in room 4203.

SPECIAL ELECTION: It may get largely drowned out by the budget brouhaha, but today also features a special election to find a successor for former state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod's now-vacant seat in the 32nd district. A March primary winnowed the race to today's contest between Ontario mayor Paul Leon, a Republican, and Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona.

SEEKING SERVICES: A new budget release means a new opportunity for advocates to press their case, and today the Health and Human Services Network of California will be rallying across the state for restored social services funding. The Sacramento installment will feature a press conference in room 4202 after the governor has finished speaking.

NURSING NUMBERS: Speaking of health care-related demonstrations, the California Nurses Association is holding a 12:30 p.m. press conference on the south steps to discuss data on the gap between the costs hospitals incur and the fees they charge. CNA representatives will be joined by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, and Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, both of whom are authoring bills that the nurses are promoting: Wieckowski's would tighten the conditions hospitals would need to satisfy to claim nonprofit status and the associated tax benefits, while Yee's would have hospitals adopt violence protection plans.

COVERED COMMUNITIES: Covered California, the health insurance marketplace California has been busy setting up per the new federal health care law, is announcing 48 community partners who will help with the monumental task of getting Californians to participate. Board member Robert Ross and Executive Director Peter Lee are making the announcement today in Los Angeles.

WOMEN'S WORKPLACE WOES: Members of the Women's Caucus will be discussing workplace injuries common among women at a breakfast put on by the California Applicants' Attorneys Association. Sen. Hannah Beth-Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, will be speaking, and Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, and Assembly members Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, are expected to attend. Starting at 8:30 a.m. in the Eureka room.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, who is 51 today.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown explains his initial 2013-2014 budget proposal during a press conference at the California Capitol in Sacramento. Thursday, January 10, 2013. Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee.



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Capitol Alert Staff


Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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