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What they’re saying about Brown’s budget

We’ve included some reactions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s May budget revision in our main story, but here are some more.

From Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego:

Toni Atkins“The Governor’s revised budget provides a solid starting point for the final phase of our deliberations. I am particularly pleased the Governor has built upon the framework Assembly Democrats proposed for a STRS solution earlier this year. That, and the Rainy Day Fund we are poised to pass this week, are two great steps forward to ensure California’s economic stability. As we finalize the budget over the next few weeks, we will also look to expand opportunity by combatting child poverty, improving access to higher education, increasing funding for transportation projects, and taking strides to expand affordable housing. Based on the Governor’s May revision and the more than 50 hearings the Assembly has already held, I am confident we are on track for another on-time, balanced budget – one that will help solidify the state’s fiscal position for years to come.”

From State Senate Budget Committee Vice Chair Jim Nielsen, R-Chico:

Jim Nielsen“The Governor should be commended for proposing to set aside $1.6 billion for the Rainy Day fund; and to pay down $11 billion in debt but this is a mere 3 percent of the state’s $340 billion debt.

“Unfortunately, his budget also includes increased spending on permanent programs that will inevitably take us back to deficit spending.

“More money needs to be set aside for the Rainy Day Fund and for emergencies like wildfires, natural disasters and public safety.

“State revenues are forecast to increase by $2.4 billion. While this appears to be good news, this is a veneer generated by a temporary tax that was promised for education and public safety; and will expire in three years.

“The high speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield is a boondoggle not worthy of precious taxpayers’ dollars.

“In the coming months, the Legislature must rectify the Governor’s failure to help counties protect their citizens by providing more funding for realignment. Counties need money for rehabilitation, inmate housing and supervision, and court costs.

“The administration is releasing the second class of realignment prisoners, making our communities more dangerous. State leaders shouldn’t wait for a catastrophe before we fix this ill-conceived program.”

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

Ellen Corbett“Coupled with last week’s bipartisan Rainy Day Fund agreement, today’s budget revision further sets California on track to fiscal health and economic growth so that all Californians may benefit from our state’s improving economy.”

“I praise the Governor’s short and long term commitment to supporting education at all levels, including career technical education at our state’s community colleges and high speed internet access at our K-12 schools that need it the most. California’s future depends largely on our continued investment in today’s students, so we must ensure that California’s education system is strong and offers students the needed preparatory tools to enter an increasingly global and technological job market.”

“I also thank the Governor for committing to help ensure the long term solvency of the teacher pension system. It is critical that we help secure the retirements of California’s educators.”

“I am pleased that the Governor’s revised budget also proposes significantly increased access to health care for millions of Californians through Medi-Cal and Covered California. We must certainly continue to restore the frayed safety net upon which many of my 10th State Senate District constituents rely during these still tough economic times.”

From State Board of Equalization member George Runner:

“The Governor is on the right track in proposing a budget that has no new taxes, contains ongoing expenses, pays down debt and begins to address the state’s growing pension costs.

“I just wish the Governor would repeal the fire tax and stop the bullet train.

“In addition, California continues to rank as the worst state to do business in an annual survey of business leaders.

“The next test for the Governor will be how he deals with legislators who want to raise taxes and spend billions more. Will he hold the line?”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, state budget, Toni Atkins | No Comments »

An interview with Tim Donnelly

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly doesn’t believe he’s out of step with most Californians on a variety of issues, even if polls say he is – or he just doesn’t care.

Tim DonnellyI talked with the conservative Assemblyman from Twin Peaks early Wednesday afternoon, and asked how he feels about polls that show most California voters have different views than his on issues such as Common Core education standards, climate change, abortion rights, gun control, immigration and more.

He replied by citing a Gallup poll from December that found 72 percent of Americans believe big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question.

An honest candidate can succeed “if you tap into that and be the person who is articulating what is in people’s hearts” said Donnelly, whose campaign website is peppered with references to tyranny, freedom and liberty.

Donnelly said his priorities in the final weeks before June 3’s primary will be “raising money and getting out the vote, and there’s nothing better for getting out the vote than being there in person.” That means long days of phone calls and wearing out a lot of tire rubber and shoe leather. Then, after the primary, he expects to offer more specific policy proposals.

“It’s not a pivot away from principle, but it’s a pivot from more populist ideas to serious policy,” he said. “We’ve always had serious policy ideas in mind but we’ve been communicating them in sound bytes.”

Once the field has been narrowed to two candidates, it becomes a contest of “who has the better vision, who has the nuts and bolts of how we can turn this state around,” Donnelly said. “It’s a different campaign, it’s a much more serious kind of campaign.”

“I love the idea that Jerry Brown and his minions are not going to take me seriously, that they’re going to be laughing and dancing and celebrating in the streets” once it’s a one-on-one contest, he said. But that’s “largely how Jerry Brown has ruled the state,” and Donnelly is ready to argue that in a David-versus-Goliath fashion. “The people are going to be on the side of the underdog, they always are.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly | No Comments »

Neel Kashkari goes on the offensive

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, lagging in the polls, has launched his big pre-election push with his first TV ad, a $500,000 personal investment in his campaign, and an attack website targeting GOP rival Tim Donnelly.

The 30-second ad, which will air statewide, presents Kashkari “as a fiscal conservative with the right background and the right vision to turn the state around,” his news release says. Its launch coincides with today’s mailing of vote-by-mail ballots.

“Thanks to Gov. Brown’s failed leadership, California today ranks 46th in education, 47th in jobs and first in poverty, and millions of middle-class families are struggling as a result. It’s clearly time for new, fiscally conservative leadership in Sacramento that knows what it takes to unleash the private sector,” Kashkari campaign manager Pat Melton said in the release. “With this ad – along with our direct mail program and other ongoing voter outreach efforts – we’re introducing Neel Kashkari to voters as the candidate with the experience and the plan to turn California around and to help rebuild the Republican Party around an inclusive economic message.”

The ad comes on the heels of a week-long roll out of endorsements by big Republican names including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and many others. The ad also comes alongside Kashkari’s announcement that he’s putting half a million of his own money into the campaign – a significant boost, given that he had only about $900,000 banked by mid-March, more than Donnelly but far behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19.7 million.

“Since launching his campaign in January, Neel has earned the support of many people who share his vision for California and for the Republican Party, and his contribution only adds to the momentum building behind his campaign,” Melton said. “As our campaign continues our voter outreach effort and as Californians get to know Neel better, we’re confident they’ll support his candidacy and cast their ballots for him.”

But in case positivity doesn’t work, Kashkari also is going heavily negative on Donnelly, who has been way ahead in the polls.

Kashkari’s campaign has launched a “Tim Donnelly: You Can’t Be Serious” website that takes the conservative Assemblyman to task for his 2012 gun conviction, for allegedly flip-flopping on property rights, for allegedly living high on the taxpayers’ hog, for having a tax lien against one of his former businesses, and more.

The GIF-laden site (seriously, guys, it’s an awful lot) claims Donnelly has zero chance of beating Brown, and so Democrats would be “partying in the streets” if he turns out to be the only challenger left standing after June’s top-two primary.

Posted on Monday, May 5th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly | No Comments »

Jerry Brown will lead trade mission to Mexico

Gov. Jerry Brown will lead a trade and investment mission to Mexico – California’s largest export market – in the last week of July, he announced Tuesday.

California’s neighbor has a role to play in the Golden State’s push to address its energy and environmental needs, Brown had said in his State of the State address in January.

“Reducing our oil consumption, two-thirds of which is imported by ships and tank cars, will take time, breakthrough technologies and steadfast commitment. It will also require that the countries which burn the most fossil fuel join with us,” he said at the time. “We’ve started building those partnerships with other states and countries like China. We will go to Mexico next. California can’t do this alone.”

A delegation of California government, business, economic development, investment and policy leaders will join Brown on this mission, which is being organized by the California Chamber of Commerce. The focus will be on boosting direct investment in the state, expanding bilateral economic and environmental cooperation, and connecting California businesses with new opportunities and partnerships.

Brown met last month with Mexican consuls general from cities across California.

The governor one year ago led a similar mission to China, during which he met with government leaders including China Premier Li Keqiang, opened the California-China Office of Trade and Investment in Shanghai and signed the first economic and environmental agreements ever between a subnational entity and Chinese Ministries. Brown later last year met with China’s President Xi Jinping in California to sign a climate-change pact; he also has signed pacts in the past year with leaders from Canada, Israel and Peru to combat climate change, strengthen economic ties and cooperate on research.

Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
Under: economy, energy, Environment, Gov. Jerry Brown, International politics, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Neel Kashkari rolls out his education plan

State funding would be routed directly to schools so principals, teachers and parents can spend it as they see fit while much of California’s Education Code would be eliminated under a plan unveiled Tuesday by Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.

NEEL KASHKARIThe education reform legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last summer was called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), so perhaps Californians can think of Kashkari’s plan as EMLCFF: Even More Local Control Funding Formula.

Handing over the purse-strings to local educators and families would let them adopt new priorities and methods – perhaps including increased vocational training and lengthening the school day and academic year – even as they’re held to strict accountability standards, Kashkari says. He also wants charter schools to have the same level of funding and facilities as traditional schools, and would eliminate the cap that limits California to 100 new charter schools per year.

For higher education, Kashkari wants to tie state funding to campuses’ success rates – as measured by credits accumulated, students retained, courses completed and degrees awarded – while putting more UC and CSU courses online and offering free tuition to science, technology, engineering and math students in exchange for a cut of their future earnings.

Kashkari’s education plan, which he’s rolling out Tuesday morning at Central City Value High School in Los Angeles, is a cornerstone of a campaign he launched in January with the slogan, “Jobs and Education. That’s It.” The former Treasury Department official and asset manager from Laguna Beach says California’s schools rank 46th in the nation in reading and math, with a huge achievement gap leaving low-income kids wanting for an adequate education.

“California used to boast one of the best education systems in the nation, and we do know how to fix our schools,” Kashkari said. “States around the country have implemented bold reforms that can help improve educational outcomes for our students, both in our K-12 schools and in our institutions of higher education.”

Yet Gov. Jerry Brown “continues to pursue superficial measures that treat only symptoms instead of undertaking bold education reforms that will help lift student achievement and rebuild the middle class,” Kashkari accused.

Brown last year signed the LCFF legislation that changes the state funding formula for K-12 schools in a way that he hopes will help boost disadvantaged students’ academic achievement. It will send $2.1 billion more to school districts with high numbers of students who are from lower-income families, who have limited English proficiency, or who are foster children.

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, education, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari | No Comments »

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 | 1 Comment »

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 »