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…
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California has a lot of water – for now

California may be dangerously low on money, but at least it has water – for now.

As was expected, Gov. Jerry Brown today proclaimed an end to the state’s drought after big increases in statewide rainfall and mountain snowpack. He urged Californians, however, to keep conserving water.

“While this season’s storms have lifted us out of the drought, it’s critical that Californians continue to watch their water use,” Brown said in a news release. “Drought or no drought, demand for water in California always outstrips supply. Continued conservation is key.”

Brown’s proclamation followed the Department of Water Resources’ fourth snow survey of the season, which found that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 165 percent of the April 1 full season average.

Most of California’s major reservoirs are also above normal storage levels. Butte County’s Lake Oroville – the State Water Project’s principal reservoir – is at 104 percent of average for the date, or about 80 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity. And Lake Shasta north of Redding – the federal Central Valley Project’s largest reservoir – is at 111 percent of average for the date, or about 91 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity.

DWR estimates it will be able to deliver 70 percent of requested State Water Project water this year, an estimate that probably will be adjusted upward as hydrologists make adjustments later for snowpack and runoff readings.

California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said that by some measures, California’s drought never really ends.

“Even with all this rain and snow, farmers in parts of the Central Valley still face water shortages because of conflicts over endangered species fish protection and other restrictions,” Wenger said in a news release. “The federal Central Valley Project is offering only two-thirds of contract supplies this year to many of its farm customers, and supplies from the State Water Project will be only slightly better. In Southern California, soaring water prices force farmers to cut down productive avocado trees. Farmers have made significant improvement in water efficiency—producing ‘more crop per drop’—and that will continue. But continued shortages force many farmers into tough decisions about whether they can sustain their crops and their businesses.”

Wenger said much of the water swelling California rivers and streams this spring represents “a lost opportunity.”

“All of us will wish we had that water available when we have our next dry winter. That could be next year, or the year after, but we know drought will come again, probably soon,” he said. “California needs more reservoirs to capture more of these flood flows when they occur, so we can both lessen the chances for catastrophic floods and bank that water for the dry years we know will come.”

To that end, he urged Brown to push for passage of the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012, an $11.14 billion bond ballot measure to bankroll an overhaul of the state’s water system. Big farm groups and some labor unions representing construction workers support the measure, while some lawmakers say its weighted down with pork-barrel spending and many environmentalists object to agricultural water subsidies, water privatization, dam construction and insufficient emphasis on conservation and recycling.

Read Brown’s proclamation, after the jump…
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Everyone’s talking about budget talks gone bust

Budget talks in Sacramento have been declared dead, and the wires are abuzz with posturing for whatever comes next.

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

Jerry Brown“Yesterday, I stopped the discussions that I had been conducting with various members of the Republican party regarding our state’s massive deficit.

“The budget plan that I put forth is balanced between deep cuts and extensions of currently existing taxes and I believe it is in the best interest of California. Under our constitution, however, two Republicans from the Assembly and two from the Senate must agree before this matter can be put to the people.

“Each and every Republican legislator I’ve spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever changing list of collateral demands.

“Let me be clear: I support pension reform, regulatory reform and a spending cap and offered specific and detailed proposals for each of these during our discussions. While we made significant progress on these reform issues, the Republicans continued to insist on including demands that would materially undermine any semblance of a balanced budget. In fact, they sought to worsen the state’s problem by creating a $4 billion hole in the budget.

“One glaring example is the taxation of multinational corporations. My budget plan requires that gigantic corporations be treated the same as individual taxpayers and not be allowed to choose their preferred tax rate.

“This is the so-called single sales factor. The Republicans demand that out-of-state corporations that keep jobs out of California be given a billion dollar tax break that will come from our schoolchildren, public safety and our universities. This I am not willing to do.

“Much is at stake, and in the coming weeks I will focus my efforts on speaking directly to Californians and coming up with honest and real solutions to our budget crisis.

Attached is my letter to Republican Leader Dutton last Friday that outlines in greater detail my position.”

From state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, who was among the five GOP Senators bargaining with Brown:

“I fully recognize that doing what’s right for my constituents and getting California back on track will entail tough decisions to fundamentally change the way our government works for the people it serves. That’s the reason I joined my colleagues in pushing for pension reform, a hard cap on state spending and measures to spur job creation – all of which we believed would help address the ongoing structural problems that contribute to our state’s persistent multibillion-dollar deficit.

“I appreciate Governor Brown’s willingness to engage on these issues and the progress that was made as a result. However, finding agreement required an equal willingness from the public-employee unions, trial attorneys and other stakeholders to join our effort to get California moving again – a willingness that was stunningly absent from our conversations. As a result of these groups’ refusal to challenge the status quo, it has become clear the governor and legislative Democrats are not in a position to work with us to pass the measures necessary to move California forward.

“Thus, I do not foresee a path to compromise.”

From California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

“Gov. Brown’s balanced approach to solving our state’s budget crisis offered California a much-needed pathway to stability and an end to our long budget nightmare. It’s truly sad that Republican legislators have put their own narrow interests above the needs of our state by blocking a vote of the people on solving our budget crisis. It appears the Republicans were never negotiating in good faith. Their ever-growing list of inflexible demands – most of which had nothing to do with our current budget crisis — frustrated any hope of compromise.

“By refusing to allow a vote of the people on issues that profoundly impact us all, Republicans have completely abdicated their responsibility to their constituents and our state. Instead of governing responsibly, they continue to take their marching orders from out-of-state ideologues and radio talk show hosts. Republicans have shown they are more willing to protect tax handouts for billion-dollar corporations than protect our kids’ schools. Their failure to make any compromises shows how out of touch they’ve become.

“If the Republicans aren’t willing to govern, Gov. Brown and the Democrats must do so without them. There’s simply too much at stake. We urge Gov. Brown to move forward with a fair budget that saves our schools, public safety and other vital services from even deeper, more devastating cuts.”

From state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, another of those five GOP senators:

“Recent polling clearly shows Republican reforms have the backing of the majority of Californians. It is a sad commentary that the best interests of California play second fiddle to the self-serving interests of public employee unions. Unfortunately the go-to answer for Democrats always seems to be more taxes. Nothing has changed.”

UPDATE @ 6:02 P.M.: From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“Democrats have made the tough decisions necessary to close an historic budget deficit. While Republican rhetoric suggests they are open to working with us, their actions have not reflected their public statements. In fact, over the past several days, they have shown their true priority is demanding tax cuts for huge, out-of-state corporations, and other costly proposals that would have put a four billion dollar hole in the budget. I am deeply disappointed they have refused to let the people of California have a say in how we close the deficit and put our fiscal house in order.

“Regardless, we must move forward on finding solutions that reflect the spirit of the Governor’s budget proposal. We have approved more than 14 billion dollars in solutions to close a 26 billion dollar deficit, and we will meet our constitutional obligation to approve the budget by June 15. One thing is clear: the people of California would be well served if Republican actions matched their rhetoric, because we need to move forward together, as a state, to close this deficit.”

UPDATE @ 6:07 P.M.: From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“I want to commend the governor for putting out an honest budget and trying to reach across party lines. Unfortunately, the Republican Party as a whole appears to want to be irrelevant when it comes to governing in California and it seems intent on achieving that objective.

“The only responsible way to resolve the state’s structural deficit once and for all is to make deep cuts and extend existing revenue. We stepped up with cuts, passing legislation that erased $14 billion of the deficit. On the revenue question, all we asked was that the minority party give Californians the right to vote on whether to double those cuts or instead extend existing taxes for five years. The Republicans denied the people that opportunity. In doing so, they put corporate tax breaks ahead of our children and students, and put private-sector developer subsidies ahead of public safety. I don’t believe their decision reflects the will and the values of the majority of Californians.

“The deadline to pass a balanced budget is June 15 and we will meet that deadline. We have a job to do and we’ll do it.”


Brown names Dem ex-lawmaker to SCSA post

Gov. Jerry Brown today nominated former Democratic Assemblywoman and former Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero to serve as Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency.

Anna CaballeroCaballero, 56, of Salinas, served the 28th Assembly District from 2006 through last year, when she lost her bid for the 12th State Senate District seat to Republican Anthony Cannella.

Earlier, she was executive director of Partners for Peace, a nonprofit specializing in violence prevention work, from 2000 to 2006; Salinas’ mayor from 1998 to 2006; and a Salinas City Council member from 1991 to 1998. She was a partner at Caballero, Matcham and McCarthy from 1995 to 2007 and at Caballero, Govea, Matcham and McCarthy from 1982 to 1995. And she was a staff attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance, representing farm workers in consumer matters, from 1979 to 1982.

Caballero holds a law degree from University of California, Los Angeles and a Bachelor’s degree from UC-San Diego. This position, which requires Senate confirmation, would have an annual salary of $175,000.


Brown declares emergency in tsunami counties

Gov. Jerry Brown has just issued an emergency proclamation for Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan, which generated a water surge along the California coast, causing damage to ports, harbors and infrastructure.

Such proclamations clear the way for state and federal emergency aid.

Read the proclamation’s full text, after the jump…
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Political statements on Japan quake/tsunami

From President Barack Obama:

“First and foremost, our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of Japan. This is a potentially catastrophic disaster and the images of destruction and flooding coming out of Japan are simply heartbreaking. Japan is, of course, one of strongest and closest allies and this morning I spoke to Prime Minister Kan. On behalf of the American people, I conveyed our deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families and I offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed.

“We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed. The Defense Department is working to account for all of our military personnel in Japan. U.S. Embassy personnel in Tokyo have moved to an off-site location and the State Department is working to account for and assist any and all American citizens in the country.

“Tsunami warnings have been issued across the Pacific and we’ve already seen initial waves from the tsunami come across the shore in Guam and in other U.S. territories, in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as along the West Coast.

“Here, in the Unites States, there hasn’t been any major damage so far but we are taking this very seriously and we are monitoring the situation very closely. FEMA is fully activated and is coordinating with state and local officials to support these regions as necessary. And let me just stress, if people are told to evacuate, do as you are told.

“Today’s events remind us of just how fragile life can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region and we are going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people in the aftermath of this morning’s earthquake. We do not yet know the full extent of the damage and casualties caused by this disaster, but the images from Japan this morning have been heartbreaking.

“We also must be vigilant about the possibility of aftershocks and tsunami waves extending from Japan all the way to my home state of California and the Pacific Coast of the United States. I encourage my constituents and all those in affected areas to take warnings and advisories seriously and follow the instructions of emergency management personnel and local officials.

“I echo the President’s commitment to stand with Japan as they begin the difficult task of recovering and rebuilding from this disaster.”

From California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“I send my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the people of Japan, especially those families that have experienced loss since the devastating earthquake and tsunami occurred. As a member of the California Emergency Council, I continue to monitor the situation closely and assure all Californians that we are prepared should our state face any disaster.”

From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

“I extend my deepest condolences to the people of Japan and to all those in California who have loved ones living, visiting, or stationed in Japan. As we have often done with other international catastrophes, our community in the Bay Area and throughout the state stands ready to help. I have called the Consulate General of Japan to express my concern and willingness to provide any possible support in the days and months ahead.”

UPDATE @ 11:26 A.M.: From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Our thoughts are with the people of Japan as they endure this tragedy. I have directed California’s Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) to make state resources available to the Japanese government, and we stand ready to assist them. Cal EMA has been on full alert since early this morning, and tsunami warnings were issued for the state’s coastal areas. I urge Californians living in affected areas to follow all instructions from state and federal response agencies.”

UPDATE @ 11:30 A.M.: From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., whose staff has reached out to officials at the Japanese Embassy in Washington and the Japanese Consulates in San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as to Japanese-American community leaders to discuss ways to assist in the relief effort:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan and the Japanese-American community following this horrific tragedy. We stand ready to assist the Japanese people as they work to recover and rebuild.

“I commend federal, state and local officials for their vigilance in alerting residents along the West Coast to the threat of a tsunami and helping those in low-lying areas to evacuate to higher ground.”

More after the jump…
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