Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 30, 2013
Cal-Tax estimates California's state and local debt at $443 billion

HJA_7844.JPGGov. Jerry Brown has repeatedly pledged to tear down what he calls California's "wall of debt."

But Brown's definition of that debt wall - about $30 billion in accumulated deficits from recent state budgets - is less than 10 percent of the debt that state and local governments have amassed, according to a new compilation by the California Taxpayers Association, if one includes unfunded liabilities for public employee pensions.

Cal-Tax researchers counted $443 billion in state and local debts, roughly two-thirds of it carried by the state and the other third by local agencies. That's the equivalent of a fifth of the state's annual economic output and amounts to $11,600 for each of California's 38 million residents.

September 30, 2013
Shutdown, or not - California launching health law Tuesday


California will forge ahead with the launch of its health insurance marketplace Tuesday, regardless of whether Congress fails to reach a last-minute deal to avert a federal government shutdown.

A possible shutdown would not stop the state because it has already received federal funding to implement the law. Much of the health care law, including federal subsidies for lower-income customers, was established through mandatory spending and not tied to annual appropriations.

On Friday, President Barack Obama promised that the insurance exchanges would open for business even if there's a government shutdown.

"That's a done deal," he said.

Indeed, Covered California - the state's version of the federal health care law - is preparing to begin enrolling customers in its health insurance exchange on Tuesday. Parts of the government would close on the same day if lawmakers in Washington don't act on legislation to extend discretionary spending.

September 30, 2013
AM Alert: California policymakers consider climate-change risks

WesternWildfireYosemite.jpgAfter the Rim fire incinerated a record-setting chunk of California this year, a spokesman for the Republican co-author of a bill to log larger trees was unequivocal about the scientific backdrop: With climate change, blazes affecting California could become more intense.

As life has begun reasserting itself in the 400 square miles scorched by the Rim fire, policymakers are still formulating responses to the risks of climate change. A California Natural Resources Agency meeting in Sacramento today will take a look, the first in a series of public meetings aimed at gathering input for an updated "Safeguarding California Plan." From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Natural Resources Building.

VIDEO: Dan Walters takes a look at one of the most successful constituencies of the 2013 session.

TRUST US: As Dan notes above, immigrant advocates have tallied some major victories this session, from legislation giving overtime pay to domestic workers to a bill granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Bills addressing both have perished via veto in recent years. Soon we'll see whether another reiterated bill, one that would limit local law enforcement's ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, will win Gov. Jerry Brown's blessing or die on his desk, as it did last year. Advocates will be rallying for Assembly Bill 4, also called the "Trust Act," on the Capitol steps today at 10 a.m.

TRUANCY TROUBLES: Millions of missing students and billions of forfeited funds: That is the central thrust of a new report on truancy in California's elementary schools. Attorney General Kamala Harris will detail the findings alongside Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and others in Los Angeles from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the California Endowment building.

PHOTO: In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 25, 2013, a trail cuts through some of the forest land of the Stanislaus National Forest, destroyed by the Rim fire, near Tuolumne City. The Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli.

September 30, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California immigrants win big in 2013

Immigrants who are in California illegally turned out to be one of the biggest benefactors of state legislation this year, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.


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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