Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 1, 2014
Mailer describes Neel Kashkari as conservative outsider

kashkarimailer.jpgRepublican Neel Kashkari, seeking to appeal to the GOP's conservative base five weeks before the June 3 primary election, has cast himself as a conservative and a "political outsider" in the first mail piece of his gubernatorial campaign.

The mailer, sent Wednesday, features photographs of Kashkari, a social moderate, with an ax near the mountain home he keeps in Truckee. On the log he is chopping is a toy train, a symbol of Kashkari's opposition to the state's $68 billion high-speed rail project.

Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official who managed the federal government's $700 billion bank bailout, is running far behind tea party favorite Tim Donnelly in early polls, but he has a fundraising advantage that will afford him a limited advertising run ahead of the election. Statewide elections in California are typically dominated by television ads, but mail may be significant in a race between Kashkari and Donnelly, two relatively underfunded Republicans.

Neither candidate is expected to unseat Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, but whoever finishes first in June will advance to a Nov. 4 runoff against the governor.

Kashkari supports a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants and same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and he has been criticized by conservative Republicans for his vote for Barack Obama in 2008. Kashkari has said he voted for Obama because he was receiving better financial advice than the Republican nominee, John McCain. He said he became disappointed in Obama and supported Mitt Romney in 2012.

Kashkari's mailer introduces the candidate as "Conservative Republican Neel Kashkari," and it says he will "end the waste and get spending under control" in government.

"He'll get able-bodied people off welfare, food stamps, and unemployment and into the workforce," the mailer says. "He'll work to create jobs and attract new companies to California to get families back to work."

The mailer was being sent statewide to high-propensity Republican voters. Kashkari's campaign declined to say how many households would receive the piece, or how much it cost.

Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, bristled in an email at Kashkari's description of himself as conservative.

"I didn't get the memo that the Webster's dictionary people changed the definition of 'conservative' to mean, voting for Obama, pro choice, and pro Wall Street bailouts?" he asked.

PHOTO: Image from mail piece distributed by Neel Kashkari's gubernatorial campaign on April 30, 2014.

May 1, 2014
Legislative analyst discounts California film tax credit


There is no "conclusive evidence" that California's film tax credit program will reverse the state's recent decline as a venue for film and TV productions, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

California has offered $100 million in film and TV production tax credits annually since 2009. Supporters want to extend the program beyond its scheduled July 2017 end date, as well as expand it to increase the number of productions eligible to receive the credit.

Without the credit, proponents say, one of the state's trademark industries will increasingly be at risk of losing productions to Louisiana, Nevada and other states. Of 41 feature-length films made in 2012-13, only two were made in California and nine used California as a secondary location. The other films did all of their filming outside California, according to the LAO's report.

But the analyst's office's report warns of the prospect of an increasingly expensive "race to the bottom" if California tries to match generous TV and film benefits offered elsewhere. Even with the benefits, there is no guarantee that California's share of TV and film production jobs — almost 123,000 in 2004 but 107,400 in 2012 — will rebound.

"If the Legislature wishes to continue or expand the film tax credit, we suggest that it do so cautiously," the LAO reported.

The analyst's office said almost all TV and film production jobs are in Los Angeles County. The report also rejects claims that the state tax credit pays for itself. The LAO estimates that the state's rate of return is 65 cents on the dollar.

The tax-credit program was part of the indictment of state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello. Authorities allege that Calderon allegedly accepted cash and other favors in return for trying to trying to open the tax-credit program to low-budget independent films.

PHOTO: Actor Nicolas Cage testified in 2013 in support of a Nevada bill proposing tax incentives to filmmakers. The Associated Press/Cathleen Allison

May 1, 2014
Senate panel approves bill for illegal immigrant health insurance

healthblood.JPGEstablishing a system of subsidized health insurance for undocumented immigrants in California won conceptual approval late Wednesday from a state Senate committee, but its author acknowledged that he doesn't yet have an "appropriate funding mechanism."

The measure, Senate Bill 1005, would place the new system under control of Covered California, the state's provider of health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act, and offer similar benefits.

California's estimated three million undocumented immigrants are now excluded from ACA coverage, which includes billions of dollars in federal subsidies, and covering them, as Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, envisions, would require many millions of dollars in underwriting funds, but no precise cost estimate has been made.

Lara believes that his proposed system could enroll about a million immigrants, and told the committee he has a team of academic experts working on the financing issue and hopes to have something in hand before his measure reaches the Senate floor.

The Senate Health Committee approved SB 1005 after hearing from dozens of immigrant rights and health care groups. The only opposition came from Californians for Population Stabilization, which opposes illegal immigration.

"California continues to lead where the federal government is failing to act. While we've made enormous strides to reduce California's uninsured population with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we won't have a truly healthy state until everyone has access to quality, affordable coverage," Lara said in a statement after the committee action.

PHOTO: People who attended an Aug. 30. 2012 health fair in Sacramento, sponsored by the Mexican consul general, had their blood checked for cholesterol and glucose levels. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench.

May 1, 2014
California also has a high 'near-poverty' rate


California has the nation's highest rate of poverty -- nearly a quarter of its 38 million residents -- under an alternative calculation devised by the Census Bureau that takes the cost of living into account.

The state's official poverty rate, based on a half-century-old formula that doesn't include cost of living, is about half as high, but still higher than the national rate. And that's true, as well, in a new statistical category called "near-poverty."

The Census Bureau defines persons in near-poverty as those with incomes between 100 percent and 125 percent of the official poverty threshold. For a family of four, an income under $29,205 would qualify as near-poverty, and under that definition, California is one of 12 states with rates higher than the national average.

In a report issued Thursday, the Census Bureau tabs the national near-poverty rate at 4.7 percent, or 14.6 million persons, during the 2010-12 period. Just under two million Californians, the report said, fell into that category for a rate of 5.3 percent.

PHOTO: Loaves & Fishes volunteer, Juanita Albert, left, talks with homeless couple, Frankie Griffin, center and Olivia Carter, right, in the dining room at Loaves & Fishes, across from Friendship Park, Friday, April 18, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling.

May 1, 2014
Paid sick leave, rape kits among Assembly Appropriations suspense bills


In an annual ritual, the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday delayed action on scores of bills, including two dealing with paid sick leave and evidence of rapes.

The Appropriations Committee's suspense file is often the place where bills go to die. Most bills must pass through before getting a floor vote and some of the costlier ones make it no further, ending their journey on the "suspense file."

Among the bills now gathering dust on suspense: a measure requiring more paid sick leave, legislation seeking to limit the use of solitary confinement in California prisons, a bill requiring schools to teach about the Armenian genocide, a bill requiring more timely testing of so-called rape kits and a bill altering the much-disputed fire prevention fee.

Interestingly, one measure placed on suspense was introduced and advocated by the committee's chair. Citing a rash of Los Angeles hit-and-runs Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, authored a bill fortifying penalties for drivers who flee the scene - that bill has also been relegated to the suspense file.

Editor's note: A previous version of this post stated that a final decision on these bills will happen after the state budget is enacted in June. In fact, bills must be passed out of their house of origin by the end of May.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D- Los Angeles, leaves a of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli.

May 1, 2014
Pérez public safety death benefits bill goes to Jerry Brown

Perez.JPGGov. Jerry Brown will once again consider a bill to give more time for survivors of firefighters and peace officers felled by job-related diseases to apply for benefits.

The Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to advance Assembly Bill 1035, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles. The legislation nearly doubles the amount of time after a worker falls ill in which family members can seek workers' compensation for work-spurred cases of tuberculosis, cancer and bloodborne infectious diseases.

The legislation addresses the "very real increased risk of certain job-related diseases contracted by California's front-line public safety personnel," Pérez said on Thursday.

Brown rebuffed Pérez's attempts in 2012 and 2013, in both cases citing increased costs and wondering how often family members are locked out of benefits. He said in his veto message last October that the measure was "identical to the one I vetoed last year."

"At that time, I outlined the information needed to properly evaluate the implications of this bill," Brown wrote last year. "I have not yet received that information."

In 2012, Brown questioned whether the instance of family members being denied benefits because the window had closed "occurs other than rarely, yet tragically."

Amendments in the 2014 bill lower the statute of limitations for filing a claim from 480 weeks, the benchmark in last year's bill, to 420 weeks. It also contains language sunsetting the measure in 2019 and directing the Division of Workers Compensation to collect data on whether the bill's window works in the interim.

Otherwise, Pérez said, it is "the same bill that this body passed last year." The measure passed 65-0.

Local government groups were not swayed. An opposition letter signed by the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties said the legislation would "create major financial liabilities" and would treat death benefit claims as "a life insurance policy for public safety officers."

PHOTO: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez speaks about Gov. Jerry Brown's 2014 State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 at the Capitol. THe Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

May 1, 2014
On second attempt, Muratsuchi HOV bill clears Assembly

muratsuchi.JPGA month after it became an unanticipated proxy in California's affirmative action debate, an HOV lane bill by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi cruised to passage on Thursday.

Assembly members voted 57-2 to send Assembly Bill 2013 to the Senate. The legislation, which expands from 40,000 to 85,000 the number of low-emission vehicles that can use high-occupancy vehicle lanes, passed without any debate.

Last time the bill arrived on the Assembly floor, lawmakers were still fuming over Democratic leadership pulling a bill that would have allowed voters to overturn Proposition 209, California's ban on race-based university admissions. Asian-American lawmakers had expressed reservations about the measure, and Muratsuchi's bill stalled on the floor as Latino and African-American lawmakers declined to vote.

"I feel I was targeted because of my race," the Torrance Democrat told The Bee after the April vote. "There were members of the state Assembly that wanted to apparently send a message to the (Asian Pacific Islander) caucus. Unfortunately, they failed to recognize that I support affirmative action."

Unlike the last go-round, on Thursday the bill was supported by all Democratic Latino and African-American members who were present for the vote.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance is sworn-in as he holds three-year-old daughter Sophia during the first day of session at the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 . The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

May 1, 2014
Independent expenditures approaching $3 million in California races

Glazer.JPGUnions, real-estate agents, dentists and other special interests already have spent close to $3 million on independent efforts in legislative and statewide contests, with more than a month to go until the June 3 primary.

The 16th Assembly District in the San Francisco East Bay has had more than $1.3 million in independent expenditures, more than five times as much as any other contest.

An independent expenditure committee funded by the California Teachers Association and California Council of Service Employees has spent more than $326,000 backing Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti and $64,000 opposing Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer.

But the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee has spent more than $797,000 supporting Glazer, who also has received independent support from California charter schools ($108,716) and the Chamber of Commerce's JobsPAC ($48,042).

The race with the next-highest IE activity is Southern California's 26th Senate District. Santa Monica school board member Ben Allen, a Democrat, has received almost $199,000 in support from William E. Bloomfield, Jr., the chairman of Baron Real Estate. Doctor-backed committees have spent $65,000 to support Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a Democrat.

Here is a list of all expenditures, with the most recent at the top:

May 1, 2014
AM Alert: Caltrans honors fallen workers

highway_construction.JPGCalifornia recognizes April 28 as Workers Memorial Day for those who have died or been injured on the job. In 2012, 339 workers in the state lost their lives, according to the proclamation Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week.

Caltrans will be at the Capitol today to honor the 183 employees of the state Department of Transportation who have been killed on the job since 1921. Many of them were highway maintenance workers hit by errant vehicles.

California Secretary of Transportation Brian Kelly, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty will deliver remarks

VIDEO: Many California programs with high costs produce lackluster results, Dan Walters says.

LAST CALL: Tomorrow is the last day for fiscal bills to make it out of their policy committees, which has led to some very lengthy hearings this week. A final few Assembly committee are scheduled to meet today: Natural Resources in Room 444 of the Capitol, Transportation in Room 4202 and Revenue and Taxation in Room 3162, all following the conclusion of floor session.

ECO-LIFORNIA: Daniel Sperling, a professor of civil engineering and environmental policy, analyzes the effectiveness of California's programs for zero-emission vehicles, low-carbon fuel standards and cap-and-trade, and whether they can be duplicated in other states, noon at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street.

C-LOW-2: UC Davis transportation researchers Sonia Yeh and Christopher Yang discuss models for transitioning to a low-carbon economy in California, 10 a.m. at the Cal/EPA building on I Street.

PHOTO: Construction work on Highway 50 in the Sierra Nevada on May 10, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

May 1, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: California programs have high costs, lackluster results

gasprices.JPGThere is a vexing gap between the cost of some state programs and the quality of the services they provide, 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

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. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

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

More Capitol Alert

Capitol Alert on Twitter

Popular Categories

Now on


May 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Monthly Archives

Latest California Clips