Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 6, 2013
Steinberg calls Jerry Brown's education plan '80 percent there'

20121203_HA_ASSEMBLY0856 (1).JPGWith just nine days of budget negotiations left, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg called the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown "basically aligned" on public education funding.

In a conversation with Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California, on Thursday, Steinberg credited Brown for including "significant augmentations" to public education in his version of the budget. Steinberg noted only a few points on which he differed from the governor.

"The governor suggested an equity formula that to me was about 80 percent there, but I still object to about 20 percent of it," Steinberg said.

Like Brown, Steinberg wants to include a 35 percent bump in funding for low-income or disadvantaged students. Steinberg, however, championed Senate Bill 69, which would use a different formula to dole out additional money to disadvantaged students in both low- and high-income districts.

"Kids that come from more disadvantaged backgrounds ought to have more resources -- spent well, that's the key piece -- in order to be able to achieve their dreams in life," Steinberg said.

Steinberg also downplayed the role that personality differences play in negotiations, saying his experiences working on budgets with three different governors have been relatively similar.

"In terms of some of the tension points as far as my frustrations at times, I can repeat the same things I've said this budget cycle that I've said in all previous budget cycles," Steinberg said. "The executive is the executive."

Steinberg seemed confident the Legislature and governor could work out the remaining kinks in the budget before the June 15 deadline.

"If there is no creative tension, we're not pushing each other hard enough," Steinberg said.

PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento during the first day of session at the State Capitol in December 2012. The Sacramento Bee/ Hector Amezcua

June 6, 2013
FBI raid should spark wider look at legislative ethics, group says

PEGGY.JPGWhether any wrongdoing is proved or not, the FBI's search of Sen. Ron Calderon's offices is a sobering reminder that California lawmakers are sent to Sacramento to represent voters, not special interests, according to a statewide advocacy group holding a Capitol news conference Thursday.

Officials of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment emphasized that they have no knowledge of Calderon's guilt or innocence in whatever the FBI is investigating. The law enforcement agency, which served a sealed search warrant Tuesday, has not disclosed the nature of its probe.

"We're saying to all our elected officials that either you work with the people or you work against them," said Peggy Mears, an organizer of the statewide group that advocates on behalf of low- and moderate-income Californians on taxes, health care, mortgages and other issues.

"Just like we put you in office, we'll take you out," she said.

June 6, 2013
Capitol brimming with rumors after FBI raids tied to Calderon

shed.jpgShortly after FBI agents began searching the offices of Sen. Ron Calderon this week, Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard began fielding phone calls asking whether the letters had arrived.


Rumors were flying that the raid involved poisonous letters that had been sent to the Montebello Democrat, laced with the toxin ricin, Beard said.

Speculation about what the FBI is looking for and who its agents may interview at the Capitol is running rampant, but since the federal search warrant is sealed, all the chatter is guesswork, according to Beard.

The biggest whopper, Beard said, was that a little wooden shed next to Calderon's office was a secret hideaway for the FBI, used to monitor arrivals and departures from Calderon's fifth-floor office.

That stemmed from a joke by a Capitol employee to a companion, overheard by reporters standing nearby, Beard said.

Truth is, the enclosure is for a ventilation maintenance project, Beard said.

PHOTO: A shed outside Sen. Ron Calderon's Capitol office may be not so mysterious after all. The Sacramento Bee/Melody Gutierrez

June 6, 2013
California politicians still wrangling over Proposition 39 funds

RP_MATH_TEACHER_AND_STUDENT.JPGCalifornia voters last year passed Proposition 39, which changed the way multistate corporations are taxed, creating a big pot of money - about a billion dollars a year - with half required to be spent on energy-saving projects in schools, colleges and other public buildings.

Seven months later, the Capitol's politicians are still wrangling over how to divvy up the more than $400 million going to schools. It's one of the stickiest of several high-dollar issues still in limbo with scarcely a week remaining before the June 15 constitutional deadline to pass a budget.

Just before the Legislature's budget conference committee recessed indefinitely late Wednesday, Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, a co-sponsor of Proposition 39, engaged in a pointed exchange with Gov. Jerry Brown's budget point man, Michael Cohen, over Brown's plan to distribute the school money widely, based on attendance, with every school in the state getting at least a token amount.

That runs counter to plans by de León and other Democratic legislators to concentrate the money on fewer schools with, they say, the largest potential to achieve greater energy savings and create jobs in low-income areas.

June 6, 2013
High-speed rail board authorizes first contract for construction

High_Speed_Rail.jpgBy Tim Sheehan

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has agreed to negotiate and sign a $985 million contract for the first stage of construction for a statewide bullet-train system in the Fresno-Madera area.

By a 6-0 vote Thursday, the agency's board authorized CEO Jeffrey Morales to finalize a deal with a consortium comprised of Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction of Texas and Parsons Corp. of Pasadena. The Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons team was the lowest of five bidders for the contract to design and build the 30-mile segment from northeast of Madera to the south end of Fresno.

Thomas Fellenz, the rail authority's chief counsel, said he believes it will take about a month before the contract is signed as the agency and representatives of the construction consortium hammer out the details of the agreement.

June 6, 2013
Assemblyman Ian Calderon 'trying to figure out what's going on'

iancalderon.jpgLegislators offered supportive words and hugs to Assemblyman Ian Calderon during a brief floor session Thursday as the 27-year-old grapples with a FBI investigation of his uncle and roommate, Sen. Ron Calderon.

"I honestly don't know what's going on other than what I read in the press," Calderon, D-Whittier said. "I just don't have a comment. I'm just trying to figure out what's going on."

Sen. Ron Calderon, a moderate Democrat who represents the Los Angeles community of Montebello, was not on the Senate floor Thursday as the upper house convened its twice-weekly floor session.

He was out on "personal business," said Kathy Dressler, chief of staff to Senate leader Darrell Steinberg. That's not considered an excused absence, she said, so he will not receive his $142 per diem.

Calderon has not appeared publicly since his Capitol offices were raided Tuesday by FBI agents who carried out several boxes of material, but would not discuss the nature of their investigation.

Both the Calderons share a Land Park house while in Sacramento. The younger Calderon is a first-term assemblyman. His father, Charles Calderon, is a former assemblyman, who is raising money to run for secretary of state next year.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier during session on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

June 6, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California Capitol all stirred up over FBI raid

Dan comments on the unfolding events surrounding Tuesday's FBI raid of Sen. Ron Calderon's offices in Sacramento.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

June 6, 2013
AM Alert: Obama mines California cash at Bay Area fundraisers

US_NEWS_OBAMA_6_LA_2012.jpgPolitical junkies, quit thinking for now about this week's FBI raid on the California Capitol and turn your thoughts to national politics: That blur you see passing over the Central Valley could well be Air Force One.

Friday and Saturday, President Barack Obama will be holed up with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Sunnylands, the Annenberg spread in Rancho Mirage, but tonight Obama is due to mine some California gold at Bay Area fundraisers.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will benefit from this evening's reception at the home of Flipboard CEO Michael McCue and his wife, Marci, as well as of a dinner afterward at the home of Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla and his wife, Neeru.

If you have to ask how much the events cost, you probably can't afford it. Obama's ATM trips to California have also sparked grumbling about the lack of public events, not to mention online rumblings of at least one protest during this visit.

VIDEO: Back to the FBI raid on Sen. Ron Calderon's Sacramento offices: Dan says it's got Capitol denizens all stirred up.


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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