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Archive for the 'California budget' Category

Tri-Valley Dems kick off campaign to end 2/3rds threshhold

With the California Senate still deadlocked over a budget, the Tri-Valley Democratic Club passed a resolution this week to support a petition campaign that would end the state’s requirement for two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass a budget.

Democrats in the Senate need only one more Republican vote to pass a budget deal that calls for a mix of $42 billion in new taxes and spending cuts. Eliminate the two-thirds requirement and Democrats have plenty of votes in both the Senate and the Assembly to pass a budget without a single Republican vote.

Republicans, of course, oppose it. But many Democrats believe the answer to the annual budget stalemate — which has been exacerbated by the recession — is to ask voters to strip that threshhold from the law. There is ample talk that Democrats and their allies in the labor community will seek to put such a ballot measure before voters in the November 2009 election.

Read on for the Tri-Valley Democrats’ resolution: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Under: California Assembly, California budget, California Legislature | 2 Comments »

DeSaulnier sends out e-alert on budget

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

As state senators prepare to go into a budget session this afternoon — one that that will turn into a slumber party unless at least one Republican votes for the budget — Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, sent out a gloomy e-mail alert.

From the sounds of it, he will need a sleeping bag, a toothbrush and, dare we suggest, earplugs.

Here is DeSaulnier’s alert:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Since the afternoon of Valentine’s Day and through the President’s Weekend holiday, my Senate colleagues and I have been on the Senate floor debating the best way to move our state forward. Over the last 5 months we have seen what can, without dramatics, be called the implosion of our national financial markets, the collapse of the American Dream of homeownership and the strife of precipitous middle and working-class job losses.

As the leading state in the nation, California must turn itself around and begin to work toward financial solvency. The road to economic recovery begins TODAY with this budget vote. As we speak, 276 more crucial infrastructure investments are being shut down. TODAY, The Governor has called for layoffs of 10,000 Californians. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Under: California budget, California Legislature, California Senate | No Comments »

Contra Costa assessor interviewed on NPR

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer was featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” talking about the impacts of budget cuts on county health and human services. Click here to listen:

Kramer is undoubtedly grateful to be in the news for something other than a lawsuit.

Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009
Under: California budget, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

What does California need? Reform, reform, reform

Sunne Wright McPeak

Sunne Wright McPeak

California’s increasingly precarious financial predicament will require major reforms of a wide variety, agreed  state leaders and former elected officials who spoke to the Contra Costa Council this morning during its annual CCUSA conference in Concord.

They blamed — not in equal parts — term limits, the two-thirds voting threshhold for budgets and taxes, campaign finance reform, partisan primaries, polemic politics in Sacramento and the Legislature’s inability to focus on solutions that work.

Ex=Business, Transportatoin and Housing Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak even went so far as to diss her former boss, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling his decision to roll back the vehicle license fee a terrible one that has helped contribute to at least $6 billion of the state’s structural deficit. McPeak has in the past been very circumspect in her comments about the governor and the three years she worked for him.

Asked how she woudl fix the $41 billion state budget gap, McPeak told the audience she would take three years in order to avoid irreparable damage to schools and social services. But she would hike the sales tax for two or three years and reinstate the vehicle license fee and permanently dedicate it to city and county governments.

McPeak called it a distraction to focus on the two-thirds requirement in the legislature to pass a budget or a tax hike.

“I don’t want ot get to a bad budget faster,” she said.

Instead, McPeak said she would shift the state’s full attention to growing the economy as a means to restore public funds in conjunction with a full analysis of existing state programs’ effectiveness.

Willie Brown

Willie Brown

Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s reform ideas included an end to term limits and called it absurd that the two-thirds voting requirements have been imposed by a majority vote given the fact that these rules would never receive a two-thirds vote.

As for campaign finance, he called for a repeal of much of what he referred to as “so-called” reforms.

“In my time in public office, there were no such things as independent expenditures, he said. ” I was the independent expenditure. The public is entitled ot know who gave money and how much and how it was spent. These modern campaign reforms are bullshit. It conceals what is really happening and never really know the source of the money.”

Click through to next page for recommendations offered by anothe speaker, former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009
Under: California budget, California Legislature, campaign finance, Election reform, General | No Comments »

Criticism for Arnold’s plan to cut mental health

Mental health advocates said today that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to divert almost $227 million from the Mental Health Services Fund for which California voters earmarked it just four years ago is – well, insane.

Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2009-10 budget calls for redirecting the money – raised by Proposition 63 of 2004, which enacted a 1 percent income tax on incomes of over $1 million to bankroll a Mental Health Services Fund – to instead fund the state’s Mental Health Managed Care program.

Well, it’s still going to mental health, right? That’s not the point – Schwarzenegger wants to use the money to backfill the state’s share of counties’ bill for caring for the Medi-Cal-eligible mentally ill, rather than for creation and expansion of community-based mental health programs, children’s services, preventative measures, workforce and training services and so forth for which Proposition 63 was intended. Net result: Less money for mental health.

The 54 percent of voters who approved that ballot measure “recognized the dire need to address decades of inadequate funding for mental health programs,” California Mental Health Directors Association executive director Patricia Ryan told reporters on a conference call this morning. Schwarzenegger’s proposal would roll back that progress, amounting to “a misguided attack on people living with mental illness who literally have no other option for shelter and healthcare” and causing “immediate harm to the most vulnerable in our state.”

More after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California budget, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, General, Karen Bass | No Comments »

Torlakson to push emergency school lunch funding

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, will announce emergency legislation to ensure the survival of California’s school meal program, which is projected to run out of funding before the end of the school year.

Torlakson will appear with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell at press conferences on Friday in San Leandro and Los Angeles.

Torlakson, by the way, is running for the job held by O’Connell, who terms out in 2010.

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Under: California budget, education | 3 Comments »

State of the state set for Thursday morning

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Watch Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state of the state speech online tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m.

It should be very interesting to hear how the governor characterizes the impasse between himself, Republicans and Democrats over the massive budget chasm.

With the state set to run out of cash next month, one wonders how much longer the public’s already thin patience with political intransigence will last.

Posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California budget, Schwarzenegger | No Comments »

LAO issues more dire budget warnings

The independent Legislative Analysts Office has released yet another cheery report about California’s horrific budget disaster.


The LAO urges the governor and the Legislature to act quickly before the bleeding worsens. Yeah, they’ll get right on it.

Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2009
Under: California budget | No Comments »

DeSaulnier predicts quick end to budget fight

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier in his first appearance as a senator on the locally hosted cable show “Friendly Fire” — the host is Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer — apparently predicts the state budget fight in Sacramento will be over by the time the show airs.

Really? Does anyone have a calendar and a red marker handy? That’s the most optimistic anyone has been about the state budget stalemate in, well, months.

“Friendly Fire” airs on the Comcast public access station in eastern Contra Costa County on Jan. 5 and Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. and in central Contra Costa County on Jan. 8 and Jan. 22 at 10 p.m.

Posted on Friday, January 2nd, 2009
Under: California budget, California Legislature | 17 Comments »

Fox and Hounds blog blasts Buchanan

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon

Fox and Hounds Daily conservative blogger Patrick Dorinson, also the former state GOP communications chief, incinerated four newly elected Assembly Democrats including Joan Buchanan in District 15 for failing to cast either yes or no votes on recent state budget votes.

In a piece titled “Profiles in Cowardice,” he accuses the four of abstaining on the critical votes in order to avoid attack ads in those inevitable 2010 re-election campaign tying them to “tax and spend” Democrats.

“Vote your conscience but vote,” Dorinson said via telephone today. “The people sent you to Sacramento to get something done.”

Dorinson’s biting commentary begins with with:

Congratulations to new Democratic Assembly members Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills, Marty Block of San Diego, Joan Buchanan of Alamo and Manuel Perez of Coachella. In the first important vote of your careers, you demonstrated that all the fancy words from your campaigns about “changing the system” and “not a career politician” as well as “ready to go to work” and “performance not politics” were as empty as California’s bank accounts.

The four of you, joined by wily political veteran Charles Calderon of Whittier, abstained from voting on the tax hikes proposed by your own party. You didn’t vote yes or no, you abstained. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary says that to abstain means, “to refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice”.

Is it because you all got elected from swing districts and you fear the wrath of the voters in two years? Is this about maintaining “political viability” for higher office and are worried about future campaign attack ads that would include you vote for higher taxes? Did Speaker Bass give you “get out of jail free” cards on the vote because she knew it would not pass without three Republicans, and therefore you would not have a “tax increase” vote on your record? Or is it that you don’t have the guts to stand up and vote “yes or no” because you believe it is the right thing to do, political consequences be damned?

I don’t know your motives, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that it was, dare I say the word, politics – pure politics.(Click here to read full column.)

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2008
Under: 2010 election, Assembly, California budget, California Legislature | No Comments »