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More calls for Legislature to nix BART strike

With little or no progress apparent at the bargaining table, calls are growing louder for the Legislature to throw an obstacle on tracks as BART rolls toward another strike as early as Oct. 11.

Steve Glazer16th Assembly District candidate Steve Glazer, a Democrat who also is an Orinda councilman and a political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, will be at the Orinda BART station Thursday morning to hand out fliers to commuters and meet the press regarding his online petition drive urging the Legislature to ban BART strikes.

“A BART strike will cripple our economy, hurt workers getting to their jobs, limit access to schools and health care, and damage our environment,” his petition says. “The impact of a BART strike will be felt across the state. It should not be in the hands of a regional BART board. We need a statewide law.”

Glazer is running to succeed Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, who’ll be term-limited out of office next year. Also seeking that seat are Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti – both Democrats – and attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Brown on Wednesday urging him to call an emergency legislative session in order to act on SB 423, which would compel BART unions to honor the no-strike clause in their expired contracts. Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Brea, introduced the legislation by gutting and amending another bill on the last day of the regular legislative session, and started touting it a few days later.

“The hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents who rely upon BART to get to work or school each day deserve peace of mind that they can get to where they need to go without the threat of a strike,” Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia, said in a news release Wednesday. “We call upon the governor to take swift action to ensure that this labor dispute does not create a transportation nightmare.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Bob Huff, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Transportation | 5 Comments »

Brown, some lawmakers unveil state prison plan

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle – most of them, anyway – rolled out a plan today to satisfy a federal court order to limit the state’s prison population while avoiding the early release of thousands of prisoners.

In the short term, the plan is: Lock ‘em up somewhere else.

The plan unveiled by Brown, Assembly Speaker John Perez, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway calls for quickly leasing in-state and out-of-state prison capacity, including county jails, and contracting with community corrections facilities; suspending the closure of the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco; and spending up to $315 million to make it all happen.

“This legislation will protect public safety and give us time to work with public officials and interested parties to make thoughtful changes in the overall criminal justice system,” Brown said in a news release.

But while state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he agrees with preventing any early inmate releases, he said Brown’s plan has “no promise and no hope.”

“As the population of California grows, it’s only a short matter of time until new prison cells overflow and the Court demands mass releases again,” Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said in his own news release. “For every 10 prisoners finishing their sentences, nearly seven of them will commit another crime after release and end up back behind bars.”

“More money for more prison cells alone is not a durable solution; it is not a fiscally responsible solution; and it is not a safe solution,” he said, announcing he’ll unveil Senate Democrats’ alternative plan at 10 a.m. Wednesday. “We must invest in a durable criminal justice strategy, which reduces both crime and prison overcrowding.”

The state is under a federal court’s order to reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent of capacity by the end of this year. California already has reduced its prison population by more than 40,000 since 2006 – more than half of which was via 2011’s “realignment,” which spun some offenders out to county jails instead of state prisons.

Brown, Perez, Huff and Conway said they’re also seeking long-term solutions.

“This process will leave no stone unturned as we investigate what can work to make improvements,” Perez, D-Los Angeles, said in the news release. “We will consider every option from updating sentencing laws; to giving local governments and law enforcement the necessary tools. And certainly we will examine broader policy questions that prevent crime, like improving education from preschool to higher education and on programs that break the cycle of poverty.”

Huff, R-Brea, said Senate Republicans will support the plan “because we believe the safety of California families should be our first and foremost priority” and allowing the early release of so many inmates “is simply unacceptable.”

Conway, R-Visalia, said today’s plan incorporates some ideas that Republican lawmakers had put forward. “We will continue to work with the Governor and the Speaker to find sustainable solutions that will honor the court’s demands, while keeping Californians safe.”

Activists who’d like to see the prison population reduced, not just moved around, are disappointed.

“Gov. Brown has turned his back on his own earlier proposals to the court, which detailed smart, sustainable alternatives for California to reach the court order,” said Courage Campaign executive chairman Dr. Paul Song. “Instead, the Governor is choosing to throw hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars down the black hole that is California’s broken prison system. This wasteful spending will prevent the restoration of funding to education and other vital services, which continue to suffer from devastating cuts made during the Great Recession. Funding those services would do more to keep Californians safe than further expansion of the prison-industrial complex.”

Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Bob Huff, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, John Perez, State Prisons | 6 Comments »

Reactions to Jerry Brown’s May budget revision

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“The Governor’s May Budget Revision is another key milestone in our effort to pass a balanced on-time budget by June 15th. We appreciate the Governor’s commitment to maintaining the fiscal stability that has come from an improving economy, legislative Democrats making tough but necessary budget cuts, voters approving the majority-vote budget and voters standing with Democrats in supporting temporary tax revenues. We will review the Governor’s proposals and revenue projections, along with the LAO’s revenue projections, in depth, and his revised budget will be thoroughly discussed throughout the Budget committee and subcommittee process. Assemblymembers will review the Governor’s proposal through the prism of principles outlined in our Blueprint for a Responsible Budget: continuing fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class, and delivering effective, efficient services for Californians. On the whole, the Governor’s framework and the Assembly’s Blueprint seem to track well, and we’ll spend the next month reconciling our priorities.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia:

“Governor Brown today put forward a revised state spending plan that I believe charts a realistic path forward in meeting the budget priorities of hard-working taxpayers. Republicans share the Governor’s commitment to paying down state debt and holding the line on new spending. It is our hope that Legislative Democrats will follow the Governor’s lead in making fiscal discipline a core budget principle. We must resist the temptation to blow through the surplus using one-time money for ongoing programs and reverse the progress we’ve made in closing the deficit.”

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“Overall, this May Revision is a refreshing change. For the first time in four years, we no longer have to stare at enormous deficits and make agonizing decisions on which cuts will do the least harm to our children, to the poor, and to middle class families.

“That’s the politically correct thing to say, and it happens to be true.

“I agree we must aggressively pay down our state’s debt and set aside money for a reserve, but there’s a disappointing aspect to this proposal. It’s important that we also begin making up for some of the damage done to tens of thousands of Californians. Unless the Legislative Analyst has a different conclusion, the Governor proposes few if any resources to restore cuts made over the past few years to the courts, and to health and human services.

“The Governor’s Local Control Funding Formula is the right policy direction, but our serious concern about how it’s accomplished remains. The concentration grants treat thousands of disadvantaged students unequally. It also fails to expand the proven success of career pathway programs which can reduce dropout rates and improve our kids’ readiness for the workforce by combining rigorous curriculum that’s also relevant to students’ career goals.

“The budget debate begins in earnest. I look forward to a deeper analysis of revenue projections in the coming weeks while we continue to work with the Governor on the best budget for California’s economic recovery and its people.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Brea:

“The Governor has revenue estimates that are lower than anyone expected, largely due to the increased payroll tax suppressing the economy. Higher tax rates and continuing high unemployment mean less money in people’s pockets and less money to propel the economy.

“We have common ground with the Governor in a belief that we cannot return to a culture of overspending that drives new budget crises. Governor Brown referred to this as a ‘Call for Prudence,’ we would call it ‘Common Sense.’ It seems that the Governor’s biggest budget challenge will be in restraining legislative Democrats and their growing wish list of new spending.

“Senate Republicans continue to believe that the State must meet the promises of the voter approved Proposition 30 tax increase measure by increasing funding for K-14 and higher education. We also believe that the Governor should support our efforts to allow Californians to vote on the bi-partisan rainy day reserve fund that had been previously scheduled for the 2012 ballot. Implementing a voter approved rainy day reserve requirement is the best way to protect against future budget crises and ensure stability.

“The Legislature should spend less time on a growing list of additional tax proposals such as soda taxes, oil severance taxes, tobacco taxes and several property tax measures that undermine historic Proposition 13 protections and instead focus on the growing public safety crises caused by the passage of AB 109, the Governor’s Public Safety Realignment scheme that has shifted 65,000 criminals from state prison to our local communities and neighborhoods.”

From California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye:

“I’m disappointed that the Governor’s revised budget proposals provide no more fiscal relief to the courts. Given the state’s current fiscal condition, I had hoped for more effort to help stop the downward spiral of the judicial branch budget. Courts across the state are already closing courthouses, courtrooms, and reducing the hours they serve the public. Without reinvestment in the courts, these terrible impacts will only expand, and the poor and middle class residents who rely on the courts to resolve issues that affect their lives and livelihoods will be adversely affected, as well those businesses still digging out from the effects of the great recession. We need adequate, ongoing funding for the courts that will permit us to reverse the damage caused by five years of budget cuts. The reforms I’ve put in place have helped save money and created more efficiencies. We needed critical support a year ago from the other two branches and now the need for justice is urgent. I am heartened by Speaker Perez’s comments last week about the need to begin reinvesting in the courts. I am optimistic that the Legislature and the Governor can work toward reversing some of the adverse impacts on access to justice before a budget bill is passed and signed.”

There’s a whole lot more, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, Ellen Corbett, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Leland Yee, Mark Leno, Rich Gordon, state budget, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

GOP candidates sign up for ‘Trailblazer’ program

As House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, prepares to take the podium at the California Republican Party convention’s banquet in Bakersfield, a news release has just gone out announcing that 33 GOP candidates have enrolled in his “California Trailblazers” legislative recruitment, training and advisement program.

The program is modeled on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program McCarthy founded for House candidates.

“As Republicans we see this election as an opportunity to embark on an economic comeback for both America and California,” McCarthy said in the news release. “Also, as Republicans we’re ready to begin the California Republican comeback. I believe that the Trailblazers program is essential to this effort. The Trailblazers program will work to find and give needed resources to principled reform-minded Republicans who are ready to bring fiscal discipline back to Sacramento, and economic growth and job creation back to California. I am proud to be a part of this effort.”

State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff said in the release that the threat of a Democratic super-majority makes it “more important than ever to put our best team on the field this November. The rigorous training these candidates will go through will prepare them to win and fight for a fiscally conservative agenda in Sacramento.”

And Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway called it “a terrific way to train Republicans to become stronger candidates and arrive in Sacramento ready to lead”

Once candidates meet campaign infrastructure, grassroots support, fundraising and other metrics specific to their races, they will advance to “Pathfinder,” “Rising Star,” and ultimately “Trailblazer.” The program also will provide ongoing education through fundraisers, coalition-building experts, media training and issue briefings. A preliminary campaign college for candidates was held in December, California Trailblazers in April will announce the candidates who have graduated to “Pathfinder” status.

Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 State Senate election, Assembly, California State Senate, Connie Conway | 2 Comments »

What they’re saying about Jerry Brown’s tax plan

Gov. Jerry Brown today issued an open letter to Californians announcing, as expected, that he’s filing a proposed ballot measure to hike income taxes on those making more than $500,000 a year and temporarily boost the state sales tax by half a cent to prevent devastating budget cuts in education and public safety.

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“Californians realize that four years of draconian cuts have swung the pendulum too far. We’ve done enough damage, and enough is enough. It’s time to stop the bleeding and begin reinvesting in public education and local public safety. The Governor’s plan dedicates new revenue where it’s most needed – guaranteed to go directly into our public school and community college classrooms. At the same time, it protects ongoing funding for local public safety programs. The temporary taxes also create a more equitable system, with everyone paying a little more in sales tax while the wealthiest among us pay their fair share at a time when they enjoy record income growth. Bringing more balance to the support of essential services will begin to restore the greatness of our state.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga:

“Clearly the governor has put tax hikes ahead of job creation. Californians have consistently voted down tax-only proposals. Senate Republicans continue a call to action on reforms first. Only with reforms can we put Californians back to work and restore the people’s confidence in state government.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“The Governor’s revenue plan is fair, focused and forward-thinking. The plan asks the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share and takes us another major step forward on getting control of our long-term finances. More importantly, this plan helps minimize the need for cuts to higher education and other critical services and ensures that California is making the kinds of investments in education and public safety that will keep our communities safe and help our economic prosperity in the long term. I believe this is a plan that every Californian can and will support, and I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to win approval from the voters.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare:

“Governor Brown is once again relying on his failed budget playbook in proposing a massive $35 billion tax increase on hard-working Californians and job creators. Voters rejected similar tax increases in the past and have shown a strong reluctance in polls to accepting higher taxes to bailout Sacramento. Ironically, Sacramento Democrats are again proposing higher taxes at a time when Washington Democrats are suggesting a tax increase on families could plunge the country back into recession.

“Despite their rhetoric, it is clear that our state’s projected $13 billion budget shortfall is not the result of a lack of revenue, but rather that Democrats want to grow government spending by $10 billion next year. The majority party’s budget priorities are clear – sock working families with a painful tax increase to pay for more health and welfare spending and unsustainable public employee pensions, while education continues to take a massive hit. Assembly Republicans will again stand united as the last line of defense for taxpayers and will fight these reckless taxes every step of the way.”

Read more after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2011
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, state budget, taxes | 8 Comments »

The budget’s done. Who will own it?

Assembly Republicans reportedly will hold a news conference tomorrow to mark Friday as “Freedom from Higher Taxes Day,” on which the state’s temporary income, sales and car tax increases enacted in February 2009 will expire. Democrats say they should have musical entertainment from Nero and his fiddle, with seed corn served for lunch.

“While it is unfortunate that the Democrats’ majority vote budget plan includes illegal fee increases, irresponsible spending priorities and lack of funding certainty for K-12 and higher education, it is good news for Californians that it does not include a massive $58 billion tax increase,” Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, said yesterday. “As a result of Assembly Republicans standing united together to protect taxpayers, the average California will see $1000 in annual tax savings starting Friday. This tax relief will be a major boost to families and the economy.”

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President John Coupal put it more succinctly this morning, as Twitter requires: “Effective midnight tomorrow, multi-billion $ tax burden will be removed from the shoulders of CA taxpayers. Thank you Republicans! Victory!”

Few on the GOP side seem concerned – at least, not publicly – by the idea espoused in a Wall Street Journal article that Republicans not only failed to get other concessions in the budget deal, but now also have lost their prime bargaining chip to influence other policy such as pension reform.

Still, Republicans clearly are ready to own these reduced taxes. Democrats want to sure that ownership continues if this already painful budget – widely seen as based on some shaky income assumptions – goes south, necessitating even deeper midyear cuts.

“This is not a budget to celebrate. There’s a lot of pain here for a lot of people,” state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said last night. “We enacted a plan that preserves our opportunity for economic recovery, and look forward to giving Californians the chance to vote on making that recovery even stronger.”

Some Dems are needling their counterparts across the aisle.

“Reep Rapture Clock: T-39 hrs til tax redux to make up 4 bad St budget cuts. Q-why 0 Reeps voted 2 cut budget? A-tax cut unleash eco expansn!,” Democratic political consultant Steve Glazer – who ran Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign last year – tweeted this morning.

For those unaccustomed to reading tweet-speak, I’ll translate: Glazer asked why – if the tax cuts are such a great idea and guaranteed to spark economic expansion as GOP orthodoxy insists – not a single Republican actually voted for them yesterday. And Glazer clearly believes the “Reep Rapture” is every bit as likely to occur as was Harold Camping’s.

This, in a nutshell, will be your next year and a half, as Brown and the Legislature push to put a measure on next November’s ballot to restore the higher tax rates and raise the state’s revenue: Republicans taking a victory lap for holding the line on taxes, Democrats ensuring that Republicans take the blame for every untended senior citizen, cancelled school instruction day, tuition hike, dark courtroom, uninsured child and shuttered park they see.

Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, state budget | 2 Comments »

Rhetoric-rich reactions to new state budget deal

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced a budget deal this afternoon that can be passed on simple majority, no-Republicans vote – practically a done deal with Thursday being the last day of the fiscal year. Both sides insist the state deserved far better, so let’s all assume that’s true and it’s time for Californians to assume the position.

My colleage Steve Harmon will file has filed a story on the nuts and bolts, but meanwhile, talking points are being unsheathed left and right — so, let the rhetoric fly!

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“This is a balanced budget that protects, to the greatest extent possible, California’s public education system, jobs, the economy, and our way of life. While this budget implements more than $14.6 billion in harsh and very real cuts, it also puts us on a pathway over the next 18 months to eliminate a structural deficit that’s plagued California for a decade.

“This budget is the most austere fiscal blueprint California has seen in more than a generation. Spending levels are at an historic low, and every sector of society will feel the difficult choices we’ve made to bring this budget into balance.

“Earlier this year, the Governor asked both Democrats and Republicans to get out of their comfort zones and do what was best for California. For Democrats, that meant agreeing to billions of dollars in cuts to programs that are vital to children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We delivered in March and we’re delivering again in June – with billions more in cuts, particularly if revenues fall short of projections.”

“Unfortunately, Democrats were forced to deliver alone. We used all the tools available to us under the Constitution to do just that – deliver.

“The imperative for revenue is as great as before because there is still a structural deficit looming. We will move forward through the initiative process to put the question before the voters in November of 2012.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga:

“Californians deserve better than the ‘Hope without Change’ budget the Democrats announced today. This latest budget is based on the hope that $4 billion in new revenues will miraculously materialize, but does absolutely nothing to change government as usual.

“The Democrats have said no to all of the Republican reforms that Californians are demanding, including pension reform, a spending cap and job creation. Californians have the right to a real bi-partisan budget solution that provides for a vibrant economy and job opportunities.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“We began this process with a commitment to make 2011 the year we stopped reacting to the Great Recession and started the difficult work of building our way out of it. The budget agreement we have reached moves us much closer to that objective. We will pass a comprehensive, on-time budget that closes the remainder of the deficit for this year, and eliminates more than 75 percent of the structural deficit going forward.”

“One of the most important aspects of this budget agreement is that it will not cause massive job losses that threaten our economic recovery. We have cast some very difficult votes, but we need to get control of our finances if we are going to be able to make the kind of long-term investments that are necessary to rebuild our shattered economy and prepare the workforce for the kinds of 21st century economy industries, like green manufacturing and biotechnology.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare:

“Republicans listened to the voters and stayed true to the only special interest we represent – California’s taxpayers. Despite every effort by Gov. Brown, legislative Democrats, public employee unions and other Sacramento special interests to pressure us to raise taxes by $58 billion, we honored the commitment we made to the people of California to stay out of their wallets. While Democrats may still use legally questionable maneuvers to raise taxes, the simple truth is because of Republicans’ resolve, temporary tax increases will expire this Friday and the average California family will save nearly $1,000 per year.

“Californians deserve a government that understands that money belongs to the people, not the government. While we still haven’t seen the details of the Democrats’ budget plan, our steadfast opposition to higher taxes has helped remind Sacramento tax-and-spend liberals of the need to live within our means.

“In the remaining months of the legislative year, Republicans look forward to passing badly-needed measures like pension reform to fix future state budgets. We will also continue to push our pro-jobs agenda to help the nearly 2 million unemployed Californians get back to work.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, June 27th, 2011
Under: Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, John Perez, state budget | 5 Comments »