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What they’re saying about the governor’s budget

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“This is a proposal that clearly shows California has turned the corner. The Governor’s budget is sober, restrained and forward thinking, and I believe it’s a solid foundation for the budget process. I am looking forward to thorough and insightful public hearings as we work with the Governor to adopt the final budget by our Constitutional deadline.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro:

“It’s easy for Gov. Brown to tout austerity and fiscal restraint when he has more of the taxpayers’ money in his pocket. His challenge will be to follow through on those promises when the economy continues to stagnate and the Democrats’ pie-in-the-sky projections don’t come to pass. That’s why Republican legislative leadership correctly proposed this week for the Governor to mandate that his new Prop 30 taxes fund our classrooms and protect our communities.

“What’s disappointing about Gov. Brown’s announcement is that job creation was never mentioned. Cutting the regulatory burden was ignored. Working with Republicans to unify the state is sadly not part of his agenda. In order for California to finally emerge from its economic doldrums and enter a new Golden Age, the answer lies with policies that encourage job growth and unleash the innovation of small business owners, not with budget wrangling and deferred payments that mask billions in debt to the federal government for unemployment insurance and more.

“We need bold reforms to go hand in hand with accountability and responsible fiscal governance if we want to return California and its citizens to prosperity. If Jerry Brown thinks we’re out of the woods just because, on paper, we’ll finally be ‘living within our means,’ he’s sadly mistaken.”

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

“The budget proposal released today by Governor Brown is the most positive one we have seen in half a decade. The budget is narrowly balanced and contains elements that ensure a modest reserve. However, it reflects the difficult cuts and decisions the Legislature and Governor have made in the past few years to address the state’s structural budget deficit. It also demonstrates the confidence entrusted in us by voters in November who recognized that our fiscal situation was untenable without new temporary revenues. Although we are still under fiscal constraints, I am hopeful we are now past the period of devastating cuts we saw in previous years to education and programs that provide critical aid to elderly Californians, disabled people and working families.

“With the improvement of our fiscal outlook comes the opportunity to continue our work to restore California. While our recent efforts have focused largely on making cuts in the least harmful manner possible, we will now have more capacity to refine our work to improve essential programs and analyze the role of government and its effectiveness. I look forward to working with Governor Brown and my colleagues in the Legislature to evaluate this year’s budget to help ensure it is the best possible plan for a state on the mend.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar:

“New funding for our classrooms is a positive step forward for California. However, the Governor’s budget only seems to include $2.7 billion in new funding for K-12 schools and community colleges even though Proposition 30 taxes will generate $6 billion this year alone – Californians should be disappointed.

“I remain concerned that while state spending is being increased by $5 billion over last year, much of this money is used to expand state programs and provides major pay and benefit increases for state employees.

“Basically, this budget is balanced by a $50 billion tax increase, and Californians have yet to see any real, long-term plan to bring back jobs and help our struggling families.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Kamala Harris, Loni Hancock, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Rob Bonta, state budget | No Comments »

Brown vetoes fines for failing to report gun thefts

Besides extending the state’s “open carry” ban to long guns, Gov. Jerry Brown signed or vetoed several other firearms bills today as well.

Brown vetoed SB 1366 by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, which would’ve made it an infraction – or, on the third offense, a misdemeanor – to fail to report to police the theft of a firearm within 48 hours of the time the owner knew or reasonably should have known the weapon was lost or stolen.

“The proponents urge that the bill will improve identification of gun traffickers and help law enforcement disarm people prohibited from possessing firearms. I am not convinced,” the governor wrote in his veto message. “For the most part, responsible people report the loss or theft of a firearm and irresponsible people do not. I am skeptical that this bill would change those behaviors.”

Brown also vetoed AB 2460 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, which would’ve restricted law enforcement and military personnel from selling lawfully purchases handguns that haven’t been certified by the Attorney General’s Office.

“This bill takes from law enforcement officers the right to an activity that remains legally available to every private citizen,” he wrote in the veto message. “I don’t believe this is justified.”

Brown signed AB 1559 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, which will let California filmmakers use certain weapons in their productions and reduce fees for multiple gun purchases by eliminating double or even triple fees for gun purchases made at the same date and time.

He also signed SB 1367 by state Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, which revises archery provisions so an active or retired peace officer can carry a concealed firearm while engaged in taking deer with bow and arrow, but prohibits taking or attempting to take deer with that firearm.

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Jerry Brown, Mark DeSaulnier | 3 Comments »

New law ends broken-parking-meter confusion

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed into law an East Bay legislator’s bill that would make it a bit harder for cities or counties to ticket you for parking at a broken meter.

SB 1388 by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, lets drivers park for up to the posted time limit in any parking space served by an inoperable parking meter or payment center. Cities and counties can pass ordinances or resolutions to prohibit such parking, but such local laws wouldn’t become effective until those jurisdictions post signs or other markings notifying motorists of the restriction.

Until now, state law didn’t specify whether or not a city or county could cite a vehicle owner for parking at a broken meter; some did, some didn’t. According to a state Senate legislative analysis of DeSaulnier’s bill, a League of California Cities survey found that among cities that did issue such tickets, most would dismiss those tickets unless there’s some sort of pattern of mischief – but a motorist would only discover that if he or she challenged the ticket.

“Motorists should not have to wonder whether it is OK to park in a particular parking space and for how long,” DeSaulnier had said in February when introducing the bill on behalf of California’s American Automobile Association affiliates. “Motorists already think that increased parking enforcement is because of tight municipal budgets. Let’s not make things worse by wrongly ticketing motorists.”

Partisanship? What partisanship? The Assembly passed this bill June 18 on a 79-0 vote, and the state Senate passed it a week later 33-0.

Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2012
Under: California State Senate, Jerry Brown, Mark DeSaulnier | 3 Comments »

Legislative Counsel: MTA’s new HQ isn’t kosher

The California Legislative Counsel has determined that Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s purchase of a proposed office building in San Francisco, “was not authorized by law,” state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said today.

“This legal opinion by the respected Legislative Counsel is clear and unequivocal that MTC has overstepped its authority,” DeSaulnier, who chairs the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, said in a news release. “I call on MTC to comply with the law and to stop any and all expenditures and actions related to this property. MTC’s illegal actions have placed hundreds of millions of public dollars at risk.”

Randy Rentschler, MTC’s director of legislation and public affairs, declined to respond this afternoon other than to say the agency is “reviewing this opinion. We need to understand it before we can comment.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Counsel’s office concluded in an opinion issued Friday that because the Bay Area Toll Authority and MTC would occupy less than half the new building’s space, with other public agencies eventually moving into other parts of it, the “purchase and operation of a regional governance co-location facility is not among the purposes that BATA or MTC, is authorized to engage in or promote,” and that such a purchase “would exceed the statutory authority of BATA and MTC, and would be an impermissible use of bridge toll revenues.”

The “purchase is substantially related to a purpose other than the administrative needs of the two agencies for office space,” the opinion said, finding it “could be argued that the contract between BAHA (the Bay Area Headquarters Authority, a joint-powers entity created by BATA and MTC for this purpose) and the seller of the building is void, if, … it is determined that acquisition of the building with toll bridge funds was not an authorized use of those funds…”

DeSaulnier has been an outspoken opponent of the purchase, and has authored a bill – SB 1545 – that would halt the move until the State Auditor has reviewed the project. His committee approved the bill in March, but that was the last action on it.

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee in August unanimously approved DeSaunlier’s request for the State Auditor to probe the proposed move of MTC’s headquarters; that audit is scheduled to be done by June. Yet BATA voted in October to spend $93 million to buy the new building, and BAHA voted in December to spend $1 million for architectural and engineering services plus $140,000 per year for property management services.

Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2012
Under: California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 1 Comment »

DeSaulnier seeks criminal probe of Caltrans

An East Bay lawmaker asked Attorney General Kamala Harris today to open an criminal investigation into accusations of falsified inspections of the new span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge now under construction.

State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, wants Harris to probe Caltrans’ Foundation Inspection Branch, which was the targeted in a committee hearing he chaired last week following a Sacramento Bee investigation that raised the allegations.

“The committee believes that failure to conduct reliable inspection tests on the foundations of bridges, freeway ramps, retaining walls, and other structures may erode the public’s confidence in Caltrans’ management of the state highway and bridge program,” DeSaulnier wrote in his letter to Harris. “State government cannot be a safe haven for employees who shirk their public safety duties and who steal state property for private purposes. To this end, I am requesting that your office investigate the allegations of professional and managerial improprieties in the Foundation Inspection Branch of Caltrans for any criminality.”

Specifically, DeSaulnier wants Harris to look into Caltrans employees’ alleged theft of state materials and use of state equipment as well as the use of employees on state time to transport the materials to a construction site on private property; alleged falsification of inspection data; Caltrans managers’ failure to fire anyone for these alleged offenses; Caltrans’ workers possible intimidation of the Foundation Inspection Branch’s manager; and the possibility that allegedly bogus inspection data was meant to benefit one or more contractors.

UPDATE @ 5:41 P.M.: Spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill says Harris’ office has received DeSaulnier’s letter and is reviewing the request.

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Under: Attorney General, California State Senate, Kamala Harris, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 3 Comments »

State Senate to probe Bay Bridge claims

State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, will hold a public hearing at the State Capitol next Tuesday to take testimony from Caltrans officials on the agency’s quality assurance practices for bridge construction inspection.

The hearing follows up on the Sacramento Bee’s investigative report on falsified inspections of the new span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, now under construction. The Bee reported that a Caltrans inspector falsified reports and, “did not follow a Caltrans requirement to check that his testing gauge was working correctly to ensure its accuracy before testing portions of the bridge’s tower foundation.”

“These are serious allegations, and the Committee will be asking Caltrans about its inspection policies and safeguards,” said DeSaulnier. “We need to know that inspections are reliable and that our bridges are safe.”

The Bee’s new report is especially worrisome in light of an ANG Newspapers investigative series and resultant FBI probe in 2005 based on more than a dozen bridge workers’ claims that a hurried schedule had led to defective and inadequate welds.

The committee’s hearing will convene at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 in Room 112 at the State Capitol.

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Under: California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 1 Comment »

State Auditor to probe MTC’s proposed move to SF

The Legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee today approved state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s request for an audit of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s proposal to move its headquarters from downtown Oakland to San Francisco at toll-payers’ expense.

“Bay Area motorists travel some of the busiest bridges in the nation. They pay tolls with the expectation that those moneys are used for transportation and congestion related purposes,” DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said in a news release. “I have serious concerns about using these revenues for real estate deals. When the Legislature created MTC, I do not believe it ever intended MTC to use toll moneys for these kinds of real property investments. This audit will provide some clarity on what the law allows toll moneys to be used for.”

The audit was approved by a unanimous bipartisan vote. The Bureau of State Audits, under the direction of State Auditor Elaine Howle, will conduct the audit.

The MTC unanimously voted last week to rescind its earlier vote approving the move, and decided to have a six-member committee comprised of former commission chairmen, the current chair and vice chair look into the questions and concerns raised by public officials and others opposed to the move. The committee will report back within 60 days.

Posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Under: California State Senate, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 15 Comments »

Officials crow over State Route 4 Bypass

A flock of federal, state and local officials took a victory lap out in Brentwood this morning at the site of the State Route 4 Bypass project, which they said will create hundreds of jobs, reduce traffic congestion and improve driver safety.

The project recently received $25 million in funding from the California Transportation Commission, which will be spent on converting a 2-lane, 2-way expressway to a 4-lane freeway from north of Laurel Road to south of San Jose Avenue, as well as the construction of an interchange at the intersection of the SR 4 Bypass and Sand Creek Road.

The SR 4 Bypass is an approximately 12.5 mile long transportation corridor in Eastern Contra Costa County starting at the SR 4 Bypass/SR 160 interchange in Antioch, passing along the western edges of the cities of Oakley and Brentwood, then rejoining SR 4 in unincorporated Contra Costa County east of Brentwood. Its purpose is to remove the existing SR 4 from the historic downtown areas of Oakley and Brentwood.

Officials toured the area and then proclaimed victory.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, called the project “critical to the future of East Contra Costa County. The construction of the latest phase of the bypass project will create hundreds of jobs and the completion of the overall project will help spur economic development throughout the region, decrease traffic and make our roads safer to drive. I was glad to be a part of the effort to secure $25 million in funding for the State Route 4 Bypass project.”

Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor said “never in my wildest dreams did I think this project was going to happen, but it’s “a great day to be mayor.”

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who chairs the state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, said the project “will help Contra Costa commuters spend less time in traffic. The $25 million award recognizes that this project reduces congestion on a highly travelled corridor and improves traffic safety. I am pleased that the California Transportation Commission and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority were able to make this happen.”

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, praised “effective management and leadership demonstrated by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority” that has led to taxpayers saving about $32 million from the Highway 4 widening and Caldecott Tunnel projects combined. “I will continue to work with the California Transportation Commission to ensure these savings are reinvested back into the community.”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, said it has been “an honor to support the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, under the leadership of Randy Iwasaki, and the many local leaders who have worked hard to secure this funding.”

And Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier, who chairs the State Route 4 Bypass Authority, said it’s been “pleasure working with the Building Trades on this. They were instrumental in getting the funding for this project.”

Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Contra Costa County, Jerry McNerney, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Susan Bonilla, Transportation, U.S. House | No Comments »

Gov. Brown signs CC pension bill

A cheaper, third pension tier for Contra Costa sheriffs deputies is now permanent under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown today.

Authored by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, SB373 eliminates the Jan. 1, 2012, sunset clause for the less expensive Tier C, which sets the pension formula of employees hired Jan. 1, 2007, or after, at the average salary of the highest three years of wages and establishes a 2 percent annual cost of living increase. The more generous benefit pays based on an employee’s highest single year of salary and a 3 percent annual cost of living adjustment.

The county and Deputy Sheriffs Association negotiated the deal in 2006 but the legislation contained an expiration date.

Both sides wanted time to evaluate the financial impacts. The county wants to lower its pension costs, while deputies have struggled to pay their share of contribution rates.

The Senate and the Assembly voted unanimously in favor the bill.

Read the full bill as signed here.

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Mark DeSaulnier, pension reform | No Comments »

Senate passes DeSaulnier good corp. bill

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Corporations with an eye on doing good may find hope in a bill by State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, that passed the Senate on a 37-1 vote today.

SB 201 creates a new form of  for-profit corporation that may pursue societal and environmental goals in addition to making money.

The lone “no” vote came from state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach.

DeSaulnier says the idea originated during a lengthy discussion with former Knight Ridder and Contra Costa Times publisher George Riggs about how companies must put the financial interests of their shareholders above all other interests. Knight Ridder, a well-respected international news organization, was split up and sold after a few shareholders demanded a higher return on investment.

“Being profitable and socially responsible are California traditions,” DeSaulnier said.

Friday is the deadline for legislators to pass bills out of their respective houses. The legislation must pass in the Assembly and receive the governor’s signature before it could go into effect.

Read on for DeSaulner’s release.

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Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
Under: Mark DeSaulnier | 2 Comments »