Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 15, 2013
Jerry Brown wants college students to graduate faster. But how?

UCREGENTS.JPGGov. Jerry Brown wants to get Californians through college faster, arguing that a speedier education will open up seats for others so more students can get a degree.

But so far he's finding it's a lot easier said than done.

A day after Brown released his revised state budget that dropped a proposal to cap the number of units students can take at the cheaper in-state tuition rate - which was supposed to create incentives for them to graduate on time - the governor said he's still trying to figure out how to make higher education speedier.

"We are searching for ways to, as they say in the business world, align the incentives," Brown said to the University of California's governing board of regents, who were meeting Wednesday at the Sacramento Convention Center.

"I don't like that phrase, but we are searching for ways to push people along."

May 15, 2013
Brown, Legislature remain at odds on school finance overhaul

steinbergbrown.jpgGov. Jerry Brown reiterated his resolve to remake how California finances public schools by giving districts with large numbers of poor and/or English-learner students more money when he presented a revised state budget this week.

"I think it's fair. I think it's just," Brown declared, adding, "I think it has great moral force."

Defending his plan, Brown stressed that overall, schools will see substantial increases in state aid and 80 percent of the money would still be distributed in "base grants" on a per-pupil basis, with the remaining 20 percent going to districts based on their numbers of poor and English-learner students, and just 4 percent going into "concentration grants to districts with especially large proportions.

But Brown's school plans are continuing to take heavy flak in the Legislature as education factions outside the Capitol ramp up pressure.

May 15, 2013
Senate approves Barbara Boxer's bill for Sacramento levees

ha_boxerblack.JPGIn a rare display of bipartisanship on major legislation, the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Barbara Boxer's water resources bill Wednesday.

The $12.5 billion bill, which includes a long-sought authorization for levee improvements in Sacramento, drew overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans. The vote was 83-14.

"This type of a bill is not easy to get through. Every state has its own needs," Boxer said. "We were able to meet the needs of the entire country."

After the vote, Boxer praised the work of her staff, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, her Republican partner on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs.

Vitter, who agrees with Boxer on little else, called her a "great partner."

"We can come together on the infrastructure side of our committee," he said.

May 15, 2013
Police arrest 13 union protesters at UC regents meeting


By Laurel Rosenhall

University of California police arrested 13 people this morning who staged a noisy but orderly protest during the governing board of regents' meeting at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Hospital workers who are part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union are locked in bitter contract negotiations with UC management. UC officials say that union members are unwilling to participate in the university's plan for reduced pension benefits for new employees. AFSCME representatives say the university's proposals compromise patient safety.

Workers interrupted the meeting with chants of protest and sat on the floor with locked arms. Police gave them several warnings before beginning the arrests. After about 20 minutes, police arrested 13 people, said UC spokesman Peter King. They will be processed and released, he said, unless any have outstanding warrants.

Gov. Jerry Brown was expected to attend the regents meeting but had not arrived at the time of the arrests.

PHOTO CREDIT: Police arrest protesters at UC regents meeting in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

May 15, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California's spot bill chicanery not healthy

The annual rite of passing a few dozen empty budget "spot bills" to be filled in later has increasingly become the way things get done in Sacramento, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

May 15, 2013
AM Alert: UC regents meet in Sacramento


Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown's budget and his proposal to overhaul K-12 funding dominated the conversation in Sacramento. Today, higher education gets its turn, with the University of California Board of Regents convening at the Sacramento Convention Center for a two-day meeting. UC President Mark G. Yudof and Regents Chair Sherry Lansing will deliver opening remarks.

In January, the ascendance of online education was the big story, especially given Brown's rare appearance at a Regents meeting to push for more online instruction. Today's meeting occurs against the backdrop of a potential strike by workers at UC medical centers, which the university hopes to block via the courts.

VIDEO: It's getting closer to budget time in Sacramento, which reminds Dan Walters of one of the most insidious trends in state politics.

STUDENTS DO THE GRADING: While the UC leadership discusses its agenda, UC students will publicly grade their elected representatives. The UC Student Association has scheduled a 12:30 p.m. press conference at the convention center to release a series of report cards gauging legislators' support for higher education.

LATINO LEADERSHIP: The Latino Community Foundation will hold a conference at the Sheraton Grand today, where the group will be welcomed by Aída Álvarez, former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the first Latina woman to hold a cabinet-level position, and Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. An evening reception at the Mayahuel Tequila Museo, beginning at 4:30 p.m., is expected to feature speeches from Senators Mark Leno, Alex Padilla and Ben Hueso, along with Assembly members Shirley Weber, Mariko Yamada and Tom Ammiano.

SPECIAL DISTRICTS: The California Special Districts Association is in town for a two-day legislative conference. Today, attendees will hear keynote addresses from Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, followed by roundtables hosted by organizations ranging from the California Public Employees' Retirement System to the California Association of Public Cemeteries.

OBAMACARE OVERTURE: Health care workers and advocates are mobilizing for a "Health Care Access 4 All" event today, where they will urge lawmakers to ensure the federal health care law goes into full effect. Speaking at the rally will be Senate Health Committee chair Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and Assembly Health Committee chair Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, doctors both. 11 a.m. on the east lawn.

OFF-RESERVATION GAMBLING: The Senate Committee on Governmental Organization is holding a hearing on a pair of compacts between California and two Native American tribes, the Wiyot and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono. The basic upshot is that the agreements, which the Assembly ratified a couple of weeks ago, would permit the North Fork tribe to build a casino far from its existing land. 1:30 p.m. in room 4203.

TOO FEW DROPS TO DRINK: Why has California been sitting on nearly half a billion dollars earmarked for improving water delivery systems? That's the topic of a Senate Environmental Quality Committee hearing today, starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 3191.

SEA LEVELS KEEP ON RISIN': The Assembly Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy will hold a hearing today on, well, exactly what you just read. Expected to testify are Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and Cat Kuhlman of the California Ocean Protection Council. Starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 444.

BUDGET BACKLASH: Gov. Jerry Brown was pretty blunt yesterday about the prospects for boosting social service funding ("Anyone who thinks there's spare change around has not read the budget"), but today advocates from the Women's Foundation of California will rally for Brown to restore funding. They'll be on the north steps from 11:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

PHOTO CREDIT: University of California President Mark G. Yudof addresses an assembly of high-achieving students. October 1, 2010 by Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee.


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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