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The buzz on Jerry Brown’s May budget revision

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, and state Senate Budget Vice Chair Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar:

Bob Dutton“Senate Republicans believe Governor Brown is moving in the right direction by making education and law enforcement funding a top priority. We also applaud the governor for embracing Republican proposals of paying down state debt and providing some job-creation incentives.

“But the May Revise goes too far on taxes and not far enough on reforms.

“Rather than curbing government spending, the governor’s revised budget still sets the state on a course of excessive spending growth in the future – spending that relies on tax increases.

“With $6.6 billion in new revenues, Republicans are right – we don’t need, and it’s ridiculous to ask voters for, five years of new taxes.

“Clearly the California economy is trying to recover, which makes it critical that the state budget include reforms that Senate Republicans have been seeking from day one – a hard spending cap, pension reform and business-regulation relief.

“The Senate Republicans’ long-terms solutions provide the stability small businesses need to grow and create jobs.”

From State Senate Budget Committee Chairman Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco:

Mark Leno“The revised budget proposal Governor Brown released today makes use of the state’s unexpected improved revenues in a fiscally responsible way and addresses California’s structural deficit so that we do not dig the hole any deeper. While our cash forecasts are encouraging, we are far from resolving the long-term deficit problem, and must not fall into the trap of utilizing one-time solutions, borrowing and deferments that would only aggravate the problem. This revised budget is an honest and balanced spending plan that extends current revenues to stimulate the economy, secure jobs and protect public investments in K-12 education, universities, public safety and social programs. I am committed to working with Governor Brown, my colleagues in the Legislature and the people of California to help our state recover and flourish once again.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare:

Connie Conway“In our ‘Roadmap to a No Tax Increase Budget,’ Assembly Republicans showed that we can protect funding for the classroom and law enforcement without raising taxes. We call upon the Governor to stop trying to raise people’s taxes and start working across party lines on a no-tax increase budget compromise. Protecting our core priorities, reforming state government and bringing back private sector jobs – without raising taxes — must continue to be our focus as we work to get California back on track.”

From state Treasurer Bill Lockyer:

“The Governor deserves credit for not succumbing to expediency and remaining focused on California’s longer-term fiscal future. The plan reflects an understanding that, despite welcome revenue increases, the State still faces significant budget shortfalls not just in the next fiscal year, but in subsequent years. It closes those ongoing deficits with a balanced approach that solidifies California’s fiscal foundation without short-circuiting the state’s economic recovery.

“The plan’s effect on our ability to borrow $10 billion to meet the State’s cash-flow needs remains unclear. If full implementation of the Governor’s FY 2011/12 plan remains contingent on voter approval of taxes, my office will not be able to complete a cash-flow borrowing transaction unless the final adopted budget includes real, inescapable, quickly-implemented spending cuts that would be triggered if voters reject the taxes.”

Lots more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011
Under: Bill Lockyer, Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, John Chiang, Mark Leno, state budget, Tom Harman, Tom Torlakson | 11 Comments »

Lockyer: Let further cuts start in GOP districts

State lawmakers who want an all-cuts budget because less government is better should get their wish starting with their own districts, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer said this morning.

Lockyer, visiting the Bay Area News Group-East Bay’s editorial board, said that when these lawmakers – many of whom already serve the state’s most recession-stricken areas – start hearing from their constituents about even deeper cutbacks in police and fire services, public schools and universities, social services and the like, they’ll soon think the better of stonewalling a public vote on Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to extend current tax rates for five more years.

It’s a put-your-money – or lack thereof – where-your-mouth-is tactic.

Short of even more painful cuts atop those already signed into law, Lockyer sees no end to the current deadlock, he said.

Refuting the common “it’s a spending problem, not a revenue problem” meme, Lockyer noted that under Gov. Ronald Reagan, general fund spending amounted to about $5.02 for every $100 of wealth in the state. If Brown’s tax extensions are enacted, the rate would be about $5.05 per $100 – basically flat since 40 years ago.

He came loaded for bear with a packet of graphs and charts showing the huge spending reductions that an all-cuts budget would entail, and as well as tracking various scenarios under various kinds of spending caps. The long and short of it is that Brown’s plan would allow the most growth in general-fund spending over the next five years; about 4.7 percent; a spending cap based only on personal income growth would allow about 4.4 percent growth; a spending cap based on growth in population and the Consumer Price Index would allow for about 2 percent growth; an all-cuts budget espoused by Republicans would allow for about 1.7 percent growth; and ACA 4, a rainy-day-fund expansion measure passed by the Legislature last year and now awaiting voter approval, would shrink spending by about 0.7 percent.

“The dirty little secret is that neither D’s nor R’s know what creates jobs,” he said, noting that Democrats tend toward dumping more money into public spending while Republicans look to “make the rich richer.” There’s less evidence for the latter’s efficacy, he said, but both reflect more ideology than actual track record.

He said although he favored moving in January to put a tax-extension measure on the ballot without Republican votes, he understands why Brown might’ve felt “the optics necessitated the exercise” – an effort to allow for bipartisanship, even if Republicans “were always going to find an out” from signing onto the plan.

“The people who want less government ought to be at the front of that line to get less government,” he said, even as Brown “has to keep doing what he’s doing, keep engaging Republicans.” The task is to “have people try to understand what an all-cuts budget means, in very specific terms.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
Under: Bill Lockyer, state budget | 37 Comments »

Man repays 1964 jobless benefits to state, plus

The state’s budget gap has narrowed by $10,000 thanks to a debt repaid by someone California did right by almost half a century ago.

Dennis FergusonDennis Ferguson, 74, of South Carolina, recently sent the state a check for $10,000 to pay back with interest the unemployment benefits he received for about four months in 1964, after he’d been laid off as an engineer at Douglas Aircraft in Los Angeles, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s office reports.

Ferguson’s benefits for the roughly 20-week period he received aid would have totaled about $1,100, according to information provided by the State Employment Development Department. Ferguson told Lockyer’s office he wanted to show his appreciation for the help he’d received by adding “interest,” and he figured $10,000 was a “nice round figure.” On the Nov. 23 check, Ferguson wrote, “REPAYMENT FOR WHAT CALIF. DID FOR ME!”

“Anyone who is helped out when they are down ought to give something back, especially now that California has budget problems,” Ferguson told Lockyer’s office.

Because the check didn’t designate a specific recipient, state law requires that it go to public schools.

“It’s appropriate this money will go to educate our kids, because there’s a lesson to be learned here about what it means to have a sense of shared sacrifice and commitment to the common good,” Lockyer said in a news release. “On behalf of Californians, I want to express our deepest appreciation to Mr. Ferguson. I hope that as we work together to meet our budget challenges, we keep in mind his act of generosity, and the spirit it embodies.”

In a note Ferguson sent to the State Treasurer’s Office along with the check, the retire wrote, “In 1964, the State of California allowed me to collect unemployment while I attended a storefront school to learn how to program a computer. This allowed me to have a great career and I’ve been ever thankful. Please find enclosed a check for $10,000 as a repayment. Happy Thanksgiving!”

And a very Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you, too, Mr. Ferguson.

Posted on Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Under: Bill Lockyer, state budget | 2 Comments »

Lockyer: ‘Straight Talk, No Bull#*+!”

Incumbent state Treasurer Bill Lockyer launched the first television ad of his re-election campaign today, with a slogan of “Straight Talk, No Bull#*+!”

For real.

If there’s one thing Lockyer can safely tout, it’s plain-spokenness. After all, he was the state Attorney General who suggested in 2001 that Enron CEO Ken Lay should do time in “an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, ‘Hi, my name is Spike, honey;’ ” the Democrat who after 2003’s gubernatorial recall election admitted he had voted for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger; and the Treasurer who has bluntly criticized both the governor and Democratic legislative leaders for the state’s budget boondoggles. In fact, there are some who believe his penchant for “straight talk” might’ve burned bridges that otherwise might’ve led him to the governor’s office.

Lockyer’s ad comes almost a month after the launch of an ad by his Republican challenger, state Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, wherein she marks him as a career politician who’s part of Sacramento’s culture of failure.

No word yet from Lockyer’s camp as to how much he’s spending on this ad buy, but don’t you worry – he can afford it. His campaign had $7.7 million in the bank as of Sept. 30, compared to Walters’ $315,000.

UPDATE @ 5:20 P.M.: Per Lockyer campaign spokesman Tom Dresslar, “Without getting into specific numbers, it’s a substantial buy. We’re starting in LA, and extending statewide in a few days.”

Posted on Monday, October 11th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Bill Lockyer, Mimi Walters | 2 Comments »

Mimi Walters launching first ad against Lockyer

With all the heat and light of California’s gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns, it’s almost easy to forget about the down-ticket races. But with Labor Day behind us and the general-election season now fully upon us, forgetting is no longer an option.

To that end, Republican nominee for state Treasurer Mimi Walters – the state Senator from Laguna Niguel – announced today that she’ll start airing this ad next week on cable television in the Central Valley and parts of Southern California:

As you can see, it’s all about painting Democratic incumbent Bill Lockyer of Hayward as a career politician – which, of course, he is.

You can almost forgive her that, as it would be hard if not impossible to explain in a 30-second ad what the state Treasurer – California’s chief asset manager, banker and financier – actually does. More on that, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 16th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Bill Lockyer, Mimi Walters | 1 Comment »

Dunn leads Bowen in fundraising for Sec’y of State

Campaign finance reports are due today, and incumbent Secretary of State Debra Bowen filed her report saying she raised more than $60,000 and spent more than $12,600 from May 23 through June 30, leaving her with more than $113,000 cash on hand at mid-year. She’s lagging behind Republican nominee for Secretary of State Damon Dunn, a former NFL player turned businessman, who reported raising more than $126,500 and spending more than $81,000 during this period, leaving him with cash on hand of almost $176,600.

In other statewide races, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s re-election committee reported having a mammoth $8.52 million cash on hand as of June 30, even after having spent more than a million in the first half of this year (including almost $258,000 from May 23 through June 30); that spending includes the more than $676,000 his committee has given to his wife’s campaign as she seeks a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Meanwhile, Republican nominee for state Treasurer Mimi Walters, the state Senator from Laguna Niguel, reported raising $36,455 and spending $26,505.42 from May 23 through June 30, leaving her with cash on hand of almost $350,000.

Incumbent state Controller John Chiang’s re-election campaign reported raising $125,000 and spending more than $31,000 from May 23 to June 30, leaving almost $1.28 million cash on hand at midyear. Republican state Controller nominee Tony Strickland, the state Senator from Moorpark, reported raising $173,000 and spending almost $38,000 during this period, leaving him with almost $309,000 cash on hand as of June 30.

Still awaiting full readouts on the races for attorney general, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner…

Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Bill Lockyer, campaign finance, Debra Bowen, John Chiang | No Comments »

Bill Lockyer: Arnold right to veto gas-tax swap

The Legislature really dropped the ball with its version of the gas-tax-swap deal, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer told Alameda County officials today, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was right to promise a veto.

Lockyer @ AlaCo budget workgroup 3-17-10Lockyer addressed the county Board of Supervisors Budget Workgroup, with attendees including supervisors Keith Carson, Alice Lai-Bitker and Gail Steele; County Administrator Susan Muranishi; and dozens of county department heads and staffers, local nonprofit officials and other stakeholders.

Schwarzenegger’s version of the gas-tax-swap deal would’ve saved a lot of money, but the changes and compromises it underwent while wending its way through the Legislature reduced the General Fund savings to a fraction of what they had been, he said.

“Why do all this complicated shifting around if the net result is confusion,” Lockyer later elucidated outside the budget session. “It didn’t make sense to change everything around and have lawsuits about it … for a very modest net result.”

Lockyer said he also agrees with the governor’s pitch for a sales-tax exemption for green tech manufacturing equipment.

Inside the budget session, Lockyer had delivered a somewhat sobering assessment of the state’s fiscal situation – and so, the outlook for cities and counties – in the months to come.

Cash flow is fine now, he said, but if the Legislature and Schwarzenegger can’t reach a budget deal early in the summer, the state’s payments of gas tax funds, mental-health tax funds and other monies to cities, counties and school districts “almost inevitably” could be deferred for up to two months, to the tune of billions of dollars.

And Sacramento is counting on “unrealistically high” estimates of federal aid to help balance its books, meaning lawmakers and the governor will have to scramble to backfill an even bigger hole when that money from Washington doesn’t materialize.

Lockyer said he intends to sell about $14 billion worth of general obligation bonds this year to pay for infrastructure projects, and as much as $10 million (depending on when we have a budget deal) in short-term borrowing this summer to tide us through our annual cash-flow issues.

He said California gets a bad rap from bond-rating agencies, not because there’s any real risk of default – he’s constitutionally empowered to service the state’s debts no matter what the Legislature does or doesn’t do – but rather because of the widespread perception of legislative gridlock Sacramento exudes year after year, a perception unlikely to be dispelled so long as the state constitution requires two-thirds votes of the Legislature for all budget and tax bills. But with no significant chance of changing that any time soon and no chance of reforming Proposition 13 to allow for reassessment of commercial property, California will keep having to find ways to muddle through, he said.

Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
Under: Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, Bill Lockyer, California State Senate, state budget | No Comments »

One-stop shopping for Democratic candidates

The Coalition of Bay Area Young Democrats, conjunction with the San Francisco Young Democrats, will host a massive candidates’ forum at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 6 at the SEIU Local 87 hall, 240 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

Free and open to the public, the forum aims to hear from, and give attendees a chance to ask questions of, candidates in some of 2010’s highest-profile races. Confirmed speakers include gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown; lieutenant governor candidate Janice Hahn; Attorney General candidates Kamala Harris, Chris Kelly, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico; incumbent state Treasurer Bill Lockyer; Insurance Commissioner candidates Hector De La Torre and Dave Jones; Superintendent of Public instruction candidates Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson; and incumbent Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.

Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Alberto Torrico, Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Elections, Janice Hahn, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Pedro Nava, Political events, Tom Torlakson | 1 Comment »

Bill Lockyer helps fund wife’s campaign

In what proves to be an interesting follow-up to the question I raised last week about whether and when a candidate’s marriage to another elected official should be noted, Nadia Lockyer announced today that her campaign for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat collected about $168,000 in the latter half of last year – including, she notes, a $75,000 contribution from her husband’s Bill Lockyer for Treasurer re-election campaign.

Bill Lockyer can certainly afford it; his committee had almost $9.4 million in the bank by mid-2009, and raised at least $58,000 more since then. He’s unopposed in the Democratic primary; only state Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, has announced her intention to run on the GOP ticket, and she starts at a significant name-recognition deficit compared to the incumbent Lockyer.

Nadia Lockyer says she raised over $237,000 in all of 2009, leaving her at year’s end with cash on hand of $135,000. She also noted she and volunteers (including former state Democratic Party chairman Art Torres) have been walking the district’s precincts to chat with residents and build grassroots support.

“I am so grateful for the support people have shown my campaign,” she said in her release. “When I am Supervisor, I will fight to ensure that southern Alameda County gets a fairer share from our County government in order to maintain public safety in our communities and continued access to programs critical to our families.”

Also in this race are former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Sunol; Hayward City Councilman Kevin Dowling; and Union City Mayor Mark Green. I’ll be checking on their campaign finance filings ASAP. The District 2 seat represents parts of Hayward, Newark, Union City, Fremont, and Sunol; incumbent Gail Steele isn’t seeking re-election in this June 8 vote.

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Bill Lockyer, campaign finance | 3 Comments »

Have you redeemed your state IOU yet?

State Controller John Chiang and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer will start mailing more than 89,000 letters tomorrow to those who have not yet cashed their Registered Warrants – what you and I call IOUs – from last summer’s cash crisis. They estimate there are about $50 million of these IOUs still outstanding.

Is it just me, or does it seem insane that so many IOUs are still out there? I would’ve cashed those babies in a loooong time ago, especially since they stopped accruing interest last Sept. 3, the day before Lockyer’s office started redeeming them.

Still, here’s what’s still outstanding in our local counties:

  • Alameda – 2,998 IOUs worth $1,662,919.75
  • Contra Costa – 1,897 IOUs worth $1,186,905.86
  • Marin – 736 IOUs worth $443,322.04
  • Napa – 290 IOUs worth $131,924.55
  • San Francisco – 2,315 IOUs worth $1,433,057.99
  • San Joaquin – 935 IOUs worth $794,397.02
  • San Mateo – 1,658 IOUs worth $910,805.04
  • Santa Clara – 4,070 IOUs worth $2,397,690.76
  • Solano – 595 IOUs worth $189,897.97
  • Sonoma – 793 IOUs worth $288,256.76
  • That’s your $9.4 million, Bay Area – go get it. IOU holders can redeem their Registered Warrants by mailing them to 915 Capitol Mall, Attention Registered Warrant Desk, Sacramento, CA 95814; tomorrow’s mailings will include a pre-addressed envelope. IOUs can also be redeemed in person at that address on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., or you can check with your bank to see if it’ll honor the IOU. Questions? Call the State Treasurer’s hotline, 1 888-864-2762, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for live help, or at any time for automated help.

    Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2010
    Under: Bill Lockyer, John Chiang, state budget | No Comments »