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THE NOONER for August 17, 2011

[jump to the headlines]

Welcome to the many new subscribers to The Nooner (at 2,339 this morning).  This is not meant to copy Rough and Tumble, nor imitate The Roundup (which I co-founded). Instead, this is a geek's look at the Capitol and a crib sheet for the changes on aroundthecapitol.com.  Some days, I may focus on elections; others, like today, may be focused on the state budget (ugh).  It's a buffet...take what you want, and e-mail me with feedback.  The headlines that follow my update are the top 20 in the last 24 hours on aroundthecapitol.com, based on clickthroughs, placement on other blogs and other magical algorithmy stuff.  

TODAY'S DISTRICT UPDATES

  • AD29 (Monterey): Added Santa Cruz councilmember Linda Robinson (D)
  • AD57 (Whittier): Added non-profit consultant Kevin Perez-Allen (D)
  • AD69 (Santa Ana): Dropped Vince Sarmiento (D)
  • AD64 (Carson): Added Carson councilmember Mike Gipson (D)
  • AD77 (North San Diego): Added legislative consultant Dustin Steiner (R)

DAN WALTERS:  Would Antonio Villaraigosa challenge Jerry Brown from the left?

BILL COMMENT DU JOUR: "I paid taxes my entire adult life, and now I am reduced to living off $200.00 a month in food stamps, If I want a soda or cupcake I deserve it."

SELF-INTERESTED TWEET DU JOUR: @CABudgetProject: Community College Students Pay Higher Fees To Support Film Tax Credit? http://t.co/1u3X6oX  #cabudget

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MONEY BLUES: Remember last week when John Chiang released the July cash figures and found that revenues were $539 million below projection for the month? Several people jumped on the report, claimed he failed to include revenues to grab headlines by being Mr. Gloomy and Doomy, and the "real" report would come out when the Department of Finance released its numbers. Well, that happened yesterday, and the DOF found that revenues were $541 million below forecast.

Finance broke out the numbers a little bit more than the Controller, and put a little light on the final budget deal.  The "$4 billion" in trigger-associated revenues are not attributed to a particular tax source, but just as "unallocated revenue increase."  Well, not only did we not achieve the $229 million in this revenue, but were also $133 million short in the "regular" non-inflated tax revenue.  

As a reminder, the first triggers hit if less than $3 billion of the $4 billion of added revenue fails to materialize.  These mainly hit higher education and developmental services.  Tier 2 hits if less than $2 billion of the $4 billion in revenue is collected.  These are in addition to the Tier 1 trigger, and the biggest target is K-12--$1.5 billion to shorten the school year. And, that's where the political showdown begins.

DECEMBER SESSION? The triggers are set to be pulled on or after January 1, based on revenue collections through mid-December.  Thus, the Legislature will be considering whether or not kiddoes will be released for summer 7 days early.  And, this is where the revenue play could be.  From the academic standpoint (our kids are falling behind enough already) or just the vision that the brats will be home early (requiring costly child care), this will be a "throw the bums out" moment

Here's the ideal play:  if the revenues are looking bad after the October cash reports come out in early November, Jerry Brown calls a special session for December in time to get the tax collected beginning January 1.  It is framed as a half cent sales tax to keep our kids in school.  

This is something that never gelled last year.  It was never a tax extension or increase for something in particular, but rather a perceptively huge amount of money being dumped in a state government that is still painted as filled with fraud, waste or abuse.  While Brown has done a good job cosmetically changing that (cell phones, cars, a picnic table), John and Ken still hound on it every day. However, if it was framed as a restoration of a smaller sales tax increase to avoid shortening the school year, that's a 60% issue in swing districts.  The challenge would be avoiding every other entity that has been or will be cut from trying to add to the Christmas tree.  

Of course, taxing the wealthy is more popular with (non-wealthy) voters, but any chance of getting Republican support must keep it simple and broad.  That leaves sales tax or VLF, but VLF doesn't yield as much as sales tax.  And, by a December special session, legislators will have decided whether to retire and whether to run in competitive seats. With a simple message--1/2 cent to keep kiddoes in school--those two Republican votes in each house just might be a little easier to get.  And, it could be placed on the ballot next November--justified as ensuring school funding continuity through the school year--for voter ratification.

Just to be clear, I haven't talked to anybody in the Horseshoe or Finance, the budget committees or leadership about this...just the personal assessment I'll be sharing with my college folks.

On to the headines...

Temperence, Methodists, Compton and Richland Farms - Greg Lucas @ californiascapitol.com
Compton is the second oldest city in Los Angeles County.It is named after Griffith Dickenson Compton, a Methodist minister who led a group of 30 pioneers to the area in 1867.

Villaraigosa Takes Aim At Jerry Brown In Sacramento Speech - latimesblogs.latimes.com
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to Sacramento on Tuesday and called out Gov. Jerry Brown for "aiming low" and being unwilling to challenge Proposition 13.

Steinberg Pledges To Target Regulatory Process In Final Weeks - Torey Van Oot @ blogs.sacbee.com
With less than four weeks left in this year's legislative session, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says his top priority will be putting Californians back to work.

Dan Walters: Villaraigosa Drops Hint About Ambitions - sacbee.com
Thirty-four years ago, as first-term Gov. Jerry Brown was preparing for his re-election campaign, Tom Hayden, the philosopher-prince of California's political left, dropped a bomb.

CalSTRS Lobbies For Gradual Increase To Underfunded Pension - latimesblogs.latimes.com
A plan by the giant state teachers' pension fund to ask the Legislature and governor this year to boost their financial support has been sidetracked by California's continuing budget shortfall. As the current legislative session winds down, leaders of the...

2018 Update: Tony V Looks For Life After L.A. - calbuzz.com
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who flirted with and ditched a run for governor in 2010, threw himself back into the center of California politics Tuesday, proposing to close Proposition 13′s gaping corporate loophole and limit its controls on property taxes to residential homeowners.

Amazon Tax Referendum Drive Going Gangbusters - Joel Fox @ foxandhoundsdaily.com
Despite radio commercials that try to scare voters not to sign ballot petitions, signatures calling for a referendum on the so-called Amazon tax law requiring out-of-state Internet companies to collect sales taxes from California buyers are piling up. The necessary signatures to put the referendum on the ballot will likely be in hand well before the 90-day deadline.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Wants To Lift Prop. 13 For Commercial Property - sacbee.com
Antonio Villaraigosa may be considering a statewide run for office, but he didn't seem particularly concerned Tuesday about controversial tax positions coming back to haunt him.

Long-time Senate Staffer Peter Detwiler To Retire - blogs.sacbee.com
Detwiler is considered to be the Legislature's top expert on local government finance and land use issues, and among insiders, is known for his unusually witty -- and usually exhaustive -- analyses of bills before the committee. He also, as a hobby, has compiled and distributed data on the number of bills, passed and vetoed each year.

Villaraigosa Talks Financial Sense; Now It's Brown's Turn - Steve Lopez @ latimes.com
L.A.'s mayor goes to Sacramento to tackle the tax issue, including Prop. 13. Where is everyone else?

Hospital Owner's Charity May Have Avoided Taxes Through Gift, Experts Say - californiawatch.org
A foundation controlled by Dr. Prem Reddy, the driving force behind Southern California’s fast-growing Prime Healthcare Services hospital chain, may have avoided hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal taxes through a questionable charitable gift, tax experts said.

Why A Six-figure Public Pensioner Wants Pensions Changed - Jon Ortiz @ blogs.sacbee.com
Capitol Matrix Consulting's Mike Genest has come under some harsh criticism from public labor unions for receiving a six-figure pension while arguing for public pension roll backs.

Health Plan That "Fleeced The State" Stands To Grow - Christina Jewett @ californiawatch.org
A Southern California health plan that state Controller John Chiang said "fleeced the state" out of an estimated $300 million stands to gain hundreds of members who are losing services as a result of state budget cuts.

Villaraigosa Against Waiving Environmental Rules For NFL Stadium - Patrick McGreevy @ latimesblogs.latimes.com
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed skepticism Tuesday that the Legislature would give a proposed NFL stadium downtown an exemption from environmental lawsuits.

Parents Know Better Than Lawmakers What’s Best For Their Children - toped.svefoundation.org
Maureen Schultz, president of California Parents for Public Virtual Education, a non-profit organization made up of volunteers whose primary objective is protecting access to a quality, virtual public education in our state. For more information about California Parents for Public Virtual Education, please visit: www.calvirtualed.org.

State Singes More From Cal Fire Budget - Michael Gardner @ signonsandiego.com
A fresh round of budget cuts threatens to weaken the state's already-strained fire protection network, even with the peak fall fire season fast approaching in Southern California.

Ex-Wilson Appointee Recounts Two Weeks Lost In Wilderness - Torey Van Oot @ blogs.sacbee.com
The walk Marty Dyer decided to take around Henthorne Lake late last month began like many others the 67-year-old former political appointee had taken during his dozen previous visits to a friend's encampment in a remote area of Trinity County.

Federal Prosecutors Looking Into 'run, Ed, Run' Campaign - baycitizen.org
Federal prosecutors in San Francisco have requested documents related to the "Run, Ed, Run" campaign, raising the possibility of a ...

Lake Tahoe 65-year Pact Made To Improve Clarity - Wyatt Buchanan @ sfgate.com
Gov. Jerry Brown and the governor of Nevada signed a pact with the federal government near the shore of Lake Tahoe on Tuesday intended to increase the clarity of the lake by half a foot per year for the next 65 years....

Sacto 9-1-1: State Prison Officials Report Progress Toward Cutting Inmate Population - Sam Stanton @ blogs.sacbee.com
California prison officials expect to fall just short of a court-ordered reduction in inmate populations by December, but say they will be in compliance by next June and do not expect to have to ask federal courts for more time to achieve a lower inmate population.