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Brown calls special session on Rainy Day Fund

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday called a special session of the Legislature to replace the “Rainy Day Fund” measure on November’s ballot with a dedicated reserve to let the state to pay down its debts and unfunded liabilities.

“We simply must prevent the massive deficits of the last decade and we can only do that by paying down our debts and creating a solid Rainy Day Fund,” Brown said in a news release, which accompanied a proclamation convening the special section next Thursday, April 24.

Voters enacted the current Rainy Day Fund in 2004 by approving Proposition 58, which directs 3 percent of annual revenues into the Budget Stabilization Account. The current system has no restriction on when funds can be withdrawn and requires deposits even in deficit years, unless the law is suspended.

Lawmakers in 2010 approved the proposal on the November 2014 ballot – ACA 4, which would raise the fund’s cap from 5 percent to 10 percent of the General Fund, among other things. But Brown said Wednesday it doesn’t address the volatility of capital gains revenue, doesn’t provide a reserve for schools to help cushion future downturns, and limits California’s ability to pay down long-term liabilities.

Brown in January proposed changes including increasing deposits when the state has spikes in capital gains revenue; allowing supplemental payments to speed up the state’s payoff of its debts and liabilities; limiting withdrawals to ensure the state doesn’t drain too much at the start of a downturn; and creating a Proposition 98 reserve, after school funding is fully restored to pre-recession levels, to smooth school spending and avoid future cuts.

UPDATE @ 11:15 A.M.: Assembly Speaker John Perez calls this “a welcome and helpful development.”

“Assembly Democrats first proposed a permanent rainy day fund last May, and we look forward to working with our Republican and Senate colleagues to build a reliable system that handles short-term revenue spikes differently than ongoing, stable revenue streams,” said Perez, D-Los Angeles. “We need to establish a solid system for saving money in good years, so that we can better weather the bad years. We need a mechanism that not only strengthens our constitutional reserve, but also gets us off the rollercoaster ride of revenue spikes and dips that has caused so much trouble in recent years.”

UPDATE @ 2:02 P.M.: State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Brea, says he’s glad Brown is doing this, but doubts whether Democrats share the enthusiasm. “It’s just common sense for California to put away money during the ‘boom’ years to avoid future tax increases and spending reductions in the ‘bust’ years. However, we are mindful that legislative Democrats have undermined similar efforts in the recent past,” he said.

“Despite agreeing to, and voting for, the rainy day reserve fund in Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4 (ACA 4) as part of the 2010-11 budget agreement with Republicans, Senate Pro Tem Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Perez denied Californians the opportunity to vote for it on the ballot in 2012 as promised,” Huff continued. “Now they want to remove it from the 2014 election ballot, preventing the people of California from establishing strong protections against future budget crises. I think today’s announcement is a message to the Democrats that the Governor is serious about doing something.”

The California Chamber of Commerce supports Brown’s move, too. “Adopting an effective Rainy Day Reserve should be the state’s top fiscal policy. California’s budget crises were caused by the Legislature spending one-time revenues for ongoing programs,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg. “A solid reserve requirement will remove the California budget from the fiscal roller coaster. It is crucial that the Legislature pass a consensus proposal that the Governor can support to get approval by voters in November.”

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, John Perez, state budget | 4 Comments »

Don’t like the poll results? Too bad.

Whenever we do a poll story, I’m a bit amazed at the vitriol and ignorance in some of the comments.

That holds true for my story in Tuesday’s editions about a Field Poll showing President Obama’s relative popularity in California, and Jessica Calefati’s story in Wednesday’s editions about how Gov. Jerry Brown is trouncing his challengers. Let me clear up a few misconceptions (or intentional misstatements):

1.) IT’S NOT OUR POLL

In the comments on Jessica’s story, RobThom wrote “The lib media loves polls, because you can get a poll to say anything you want.”

Except the “lib media” didn’t conduct the poll. Bay Area News Group doesn’t do its own polls on these issues, and we generally only write stories about California polls conducted by nonpartisan organizations of the highest reputation, such as Field Research, the Public Policy Institute of California and occasionally the University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times. We receive the same poll results as every other media outlet – even Fox News!

Lest you think the poll questions were biased, the Obama question was “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?” And here’s how the gubernatorial election question was phrased:

The upcoming June statewide election will be an open primary. This means that candidates from all parties – Democrats, Republicans and others – will be listed together on one ballot and voters can chose to vote for a candidate from any party or affiliation. I am going to read the names of some of the likely candidates for Governor in the June open primary election and please tell me who you would be your first choice if the election were being held today. Suppose the candidates were (CANDIDATES READ IN RANDOM ORDER) Who would be your first choice for Governor? (REPEAT IF NECESSARY)

2.) IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE POLL DIDN’T CALL YOU

In the comments on my story, Tamara Lynn wrote, “They didn’t poll me…. In my generalized poll while speaking with friends, family and social media.. Obummer isn’t favored at all! Once again the merc printing only what it wants.. Stupid is as stupid does.”

Tamara apparently doesn’t know what a poll is – the only poll that surveys every registered voter is called an election. Field surveyed 1,000 Californians randomly selected from the state’s voter rolls. At last count, California had 17,660,257 registered voters, so Tamara had a 1-in-17,660 chance of getting called. Even with Field polling on Obama’s approval rating about four times a year, I’d advise her not to hold her breath. And of course her friends, family and social media say otherwise – that’s a self-selecting community of like-minded individuals, not a random poll.

3.) JUST BECAUSE YOU DISAGREE DOESN’T MAKE IT WRONG

In the comments on my story, Real American Ranger wrote, “Who ever wrote this article is obviously on crack. The experiment with putting a community organizer with zero real world experience in the white house has failed miserably.”

We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. The fact is, Barack Obama and Jerry Brown are riding high in California, borne by a minority-heavy voting population that skews significantly toward Democrats. There certainly are people who dislike Obama and Brown, but they are outnumbered. The polls show it, the elections show it – it walks and talks like a duck, yet a few vocal critics insist it’s a goose.

Try to remember, folks: Neither these nonpartisan polls nor this news organization are here to confirm your personal worldview. If you want that, I’m sure there’s a cable news channel that will make you very happy.

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, polls | 4 Comments »

Jerry Brown rakes in some Silicon Valley cash

Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election campaign reported almost a third of a million dollars in Silicon Valley and Bay Area campaign contributions Tuesday.

Among those listed on the filing as having made contributions Monday:

Venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, Mountain View – $54,400
Michelle Yee (Hoffman’s wife) – $54,400
Angel investor Ron Conway, Danville – $54,400
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Santa Cruz – $27,200
Patty Quillin (Hastings’ wife) – $27,200
California Teachers Association, Burlingame – $27,200
TechNet California PAC, Los Gatos – $17,000
Qualcomm Inc., San Diego – $10,000
Attorney Jon Streeter, Berkeley – $10,000
Attorney John Keker, San Francisco – $10,000
Venture capitalist Nicholas Pritzker, San Francisco – $10,000
Venture capitalist Joseph Pritzker, San Francisco – $10,000
Qatalyst CEO Frank Quattrone, Los Altos Hills – $10,000
Denise Foderaro (Quattrone’s wife) – $10,000
Former U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. – $1,000

Perhaps not coincidentally, Democratic rainmaker and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Monday reported a $20,657.82 “in-kind contribution of fundraising event expenses” for Brown’s campaign.

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Brown to meet with Netanyahu in Silicon Valley

Gov. Jerry Brown will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week in Silicon Valley to sign a trade agreement expanding California’s partnership with Israel on economic development, research and trade.

Brown’s office says the agreement – to be signed Wednesday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View “will boost economic, cultural and academic cooperation between California and Israel, with an emphasis on water conservation, alternative energy, cybersecurity, health and biotechnology, education and agricultural technology.”

The pact also will let Israeli companies access the state’s Innovation Hubs (iHUB), a network including 16 clusters of research parks, technology incubators, universities and federal laboratories, plus economic development organizations, business groups and venture capital funds.

Brown this past Wednesday met in San Francisco with Portugal’s President Cavaco Silva and with Harold Forsyth, Peru’s ambassador to the United States. In the latter meeting, he signed an agreement with Peru to strengthen cultural, economic and academic ties and tackle shared challenges, including climate change.

Posted on Friday, February 28th, 2014
Under: economy, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Gov. Brown & Neel Kashkari to visit World Ag Expo

Agriculture professionals worried about California’s drought and economic recovery will have a double-header of opportunities to be heard Wednesday, as both Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican challenger Neel Kashkari tour the 47th Annual World Ag Expo in Tulare.

Brown’s office issued a news release saying the incumbent Democrat will tour the expo and then speak to reporters; the release touted his administration’s work so far to mitigate the economic and environmental damage threatened by California’s severe drought.

Kashkari’s campaign said he’ll tour the expo and talk to reporters as well. “In addition to visiting booths and exhibitions, Kashkari will also be talking with voters about his campaign for governor and his platform of jobs and education,” the release said.

But they won’t cross paths. Brown is scheduled to be there in the morning before coming up to the Bay Area to meet with French President Francois Hollande, and Kashkari will arrive at the expo in the afternoon.

Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari | No Comments »

Jerry Brown declares ‘Ronald Reagan Day’

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a proclamation declaring Thursday to be “Ronald Reagan Day.”

“From his humble Midwestern origins, through a successful career in Hollywood, and on to the highest offices in his state and country, Ronald Reagan lived the California dream.

“On this 103rd anniversary of his birth, we remember not only his most celebrated achievements – his successful diplomacy with Mikhail Gorbachev and the economic recovery that occurred under his presidency. We also remember the turbulent years of his governorship, during which he proved his ability to manage the affairs of the state, and earlier, the talent and the skill he brought to his work in one of our state’s most renowned and beloved industries.

“Now therefore I, Edmund G. Brown Jr., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim February 6th, 2014 as ‘Ronald Reagan Day.’”

Brown's Reagan Day proclamation

I’m sure some Bay Area folks will say Brown is soft-pedaling Reagan’s less-flattering legacies in income inequality, financial deregulation, mental health, labor rights, and other policy areas.

Posted on Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Neel Kashkari says he raised $976k in two weeks

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari announced Wednesday he has raised $976,000 in the first two weeks of his campaign, and said there will be a lot more coming soon.

Practically none of that sum had been reported to the Secretary of State’s office by Wednesday afternoon, so it was not yet possible to assess from whom or how many the contributions came. (See updates below.)

NEEL KASHKARIBut if the figure is accurate – and it’s hard to imagine a candidate who would lie about such a thing, knowing it’ll all have to be reported in detail – it confirms suspicions that Kaskhari, 40, of Laguna Beach, is the man for whom the GOP’s deep pockets have been waiting.

Neither fellow Republican candidate Tim Donnelly nor Abel Maldonado, who dropped out of the race last month, have come anywhere close to this kind of number. After campaigning hard for months, Donnelly had only about $18,000 in unencumbered cash banked by the year’s end.

Pat Melton, Kashkari’s campaign manager, said in a news release that the former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary and asset manager “is extremely grateful to all the supporters who have helped get his campaign off to such a strong start. Clearly, there is broad support for Neel’s platform of creating good jobs and giving every kid a quality education and for his commitment to restoring the Republican Party as the party of economic opportunity.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign had about $17 million banked at the start of this year.

“There’s no doubt that Neel faces a significant financial disadvantage against Governor Brown, who has already raised millions from special interests that benefit from the status quo,” Melton added. “But with 24 percent of Californians living in poverty and 18 percent of our state struggling for work, the truth remains: The status quo is unacceptable. Our campaign’s robust fundraising in these first two weeks underscores Neel’s strength as a candidate, and it will help ensure that we have the resources necessary to share with voters his vision for turning California around.”

UPDATE @ 4:33 P.M.: A copy of Kashkari’s filing I’ve just obtained shows he received $27,200 each – the maximum contribution allowed by law – from his former boss, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and Paulson’s wife, Wendy, of Chicago; from each of his parents, Dr. Sheila Kashkari and professor Chaman Kashkari, of Stow, Ohio; from Red Mountain Group CEO Michael Mugel and his wife, Coleen, of Santa Ana; from Anthos Capital co-founder Eff Martin and his wife, Patricia, of Woodside; and from Goldman Sachs executive George Lee II of Tiburon. Kashkari worked at Goldman Sachs before following Paulson to the Treasury Department; several other Goldman Sachs employyes and executives also have contributed to his campaign.

UPDATE @ 5:10 P.M.: Kashkari’s report is now available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Posted on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly | 5 Comments »

Video: The drought (and Jerry Brown) of 1976-77

It’s stunning how well this California Department of Water Resources video detailing the drought of 1976-77 applies to the state’s current predicament. And check out that guy who appears at the nine-minute mark!

Posted on Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, water | No Comments »

Obama calls Jerry Brown for drought update

This just in from the White House:

Today, the President called Governor Jerry Brown to receive an update on the situation in California and express his concern for the citizens impacted by the historic drought conditions facing the state – conditions that are likely to have significant impacts on the state’s communities, economy and environment in the coming months.

The President reinforced his commitment to providing the necessary federal support to the state and local efforts. The agencies are working together to target resources to help California and other impacted states prepare for and lessen the impacts of the drought. USDA is also working with farmers and ranchers to increase their irrigation water efficiency, protect vulnerable soils from erosion, and improve the health of pasture and range lands. And the Bureau of Reclamation is working closely with federal and California state authorities to facilitate water transfers and provide operational flexibility to convey and store available water, and facilitate additional actions that can conserve and move water to critical areas.

The National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) will help coordinate the federal response, working closely with state, local government, agriculture and other partners. The NDRP is already helping to enhance existing efforts that federal agencies are working on with communities, businesses, farmers and ranchers to build resilience where drought is currently an issue across the country.

The President made clear that we will continue to work with our federal partners, including FEMA, to support the state and local response, and expressed his support during this challenging time.

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Under: Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, water | 1 Comment »

A GOP ‘prebuttal’ to Brown’s State of the State

With Gov. Jerry Brown set to deliver his State of the State address at 9 a.m. Wednesday, one notable Bay Area Republican has made a first strike.

Tom Del BeccaroIn an opinion piece published on Forbes’ website, former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette said the Golden State is reeling under Brown’s leadership, with crises in public safety, education, transportation, water, pension liabilities and unemployment, to name but a few.

“The foregoing, mind you, are just facts,” Del Beccaro wrote. “While the state’s economy is doing better than in 2009, despite government policies, Jerry Brown will not let the above facts get in the way of his good story. For too many Californians, however, they represent the true, divided and troubled state of the state.”

Brown’s address will be streamed live online by the California Channel.

Posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Republican Party, Republican politics | No Comments »