Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 21, 2013
$500 million cap-and-trade loan to state hits wall of opposition

BEALL.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's proposal to shift $500 million in cap-and-trade fees levied on business for greenhouse emissions into the state budget ran into bipartisan opposition Tuesday.

The two Democrats and one Republican on a Senate budget subcommittee denounced Brown's plan, which was included in a revision of his state budget last week.

The $500 million loan to the general fund is designed to partially offset the Brown administration's forecast that revenues will dip below earlier projections in the 2013-14 fiscal year by $1.8 billion, but members of the committee said it made little sense since the same budget proposes to repay some of the state's "wall of debt," which is mostly money owed to schools.

Money from the fees is supposed to pay for programs that reduce greenhouse gases, and the Legislative Analyst's Office had warned in the past that using the fees for other purposes could be illegal..

"It's a little bit of an odd exception to reducing the wall of debt,' Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, the subcommittee chairman, said. Republican Jim Nielsen of Gerber and Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara joined in the criticism. The committee was poised at one point to formally reject the loan, but decided to leave the issue open instead.

The hearing was conducted on the same day that the Air Resources Board revealed results of its third auction of carbon emission credits, raising $280 million. Business groups have complained about the program, saying it amounts to a new tax burden that will inhibit economic recovery. Environmentalists, meanwhile, have been critical of the proposed loan, saying it undercuts the purposes of the program.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose shown in the Senate chambers in March, was critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shift cap-and-trade funds to the state general fund.

May 21, 2013
Sen. Ricardo Lara cancels Las Vegas fundraiser

20130311_HA_LEGISLATORS1424.JPGSacramento lobbyists and others looking forward to attending a mixed-martial-arts fight in Las Vegas with Sen. Ricardo Lara on Saturday will have to find another way to enjoy the holiday weekend.

Lara announced today that he has canceled a fundraiser that was to take place Saturday at an Ultimate Fighting Championship match in Las Vegas because of "an unfortunate case of coincidental timing."

The Bee reported today that the event was to be hosted by Station Casinos, which has been lobbying the Legislature to approve a gambling compact for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. The Las Vegas-based casino company is in line to make millions if the compact is approved because it would operate North Fork's casino for seven years. The compact has cleared the Assembly and is now in the Senate.

Lara has declined interview requests, but his legislative staff released a statement today.

"Despite this event having been planned for more than a year, the unpredictability of our legislative calendar has created an unfortunate case of coincidental timing," Lara's statement says.

"To ensure there's no perception of any conflict, I felt it necessary to cancel the event, effective immediately. There has never been - and there will never be - any connection between my outside fundraising and my legislative duties as an elected official."

May 21, 2013
Census Bureau says California 36th in school spending

RP MATH HANDS UP.JPGCalifornia spent far more than any other state on K-12 education in 2011, but its per-pupil spending was $1,421 below the national average, putting it 36th in the nation, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The Capitol's ceaseless debates over school spending usually count only state and local funds, and education advocates say by that measure, after adjustment for California's high cost of living, the state ranks near the bottom vis-à-vis per-pupil spending in the other states. But the Census Bureau calculates revenue from all sources, including the federal government, and spending of all types, including capital outlay.

Gov. Jerry Brown is attempting to overhaul how state and local school funds are distributed, giving more to districts with large numbers of poor and/or English-learner students. His latest budget revision pegs per-pupil spending in 2011-12 from state and local revenues at $7,175 and says it would rise to $9,929 by 2016-17, thanks largely to tax increases approved by voters last year.

May 21, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California playing cannabis catch-up

California is trying to reclaim the mantle of marijuana leadership it has ceded to states like Colorado and Washington, 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 21, 2013
AM Alert: Elections in Los Angeles, Senate District 16 and Assembly District 80


We'll get a sense of what's next for California's perpetually evolving Legislature after the polls close on a few different races today. In addition to choosing a new mayor, the citizens of Los Angeles will decide whether Sen. Curren Price, D-Los Angeles, wins his runoff and secures a City Council seat (Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, secured a spot on the council back in March).

If Price prevails and swaps Sacramento for southern California, he would join the ranks of Democrats who have abdicated state Senate seats this year. Also on that list is former senator Michael Rubio, now employed by Chevron, whose former 16th district seat is the focus of a special election today that will feature five different candidates, chief among them anointed Democrat Leticia Perez and Andy Vidak, a Republican. Also up for grabs is the 80th Assembly district seat Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, represented before moving to the upper house. That race is a Democrat-on-Democrat contest between former Chula Vista Councilman Steve Castaneda and secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council Lorena Gonzalez.

VIDEO: Once a national trailblazer in cannabis policy, California is lagging behind other states as it seeks to clarify the hazy legal status of pot, Dan Walters says.

HISPANIC BUSINESS: The California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce is convening its legislative conference at the Sheraton Grand today, where Senators Ricardo Lara and Hueso will speak to attendees. The evening reception is at the Park Ultra Lounge, where Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, will be offering a few words. The Chambers' legislative priority is a business development bill by Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, along with legislation dealing with enterprise zones.

COMMERCE CLAUSE: Ahead of its big breakfast tomorrow, the California Chamber of Commerce is hosting a legislative update at which President and CEO Allan Zaremberg will talk about the organization's legislative priorities, including the bills it has labeled "job killers" and "job creators." From 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Hyatt Regency.

AFTERSCHOOL ADVOCACY: Your kid might not be thrilled by the idea of spending more time at school, but the California School-Age Consortium is working to bolster after-school programs in California. Representatives of the organization will be meeting with lawmakers today toward that end, and a 10:30 a.m. rally on the west steps is expected to include Senators Mark Leno, Jean Fuller and Hannah-Beth Jackson, along with Assembly Members Richard Gordon and Joan Buchanan.

PHOTO CREDIT: The fate of the 16th district Senate seat formerly held by Michael Rubio, pictured here, will be a little clearer after today. By Felix Adamo / The Bakersfield Californian.


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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