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THE NOONER for December 8, 2011

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DISTRICT UPDATES

  • SD03 (Napa-Solano-Yolo) - updated analysis
  • SD05 (San Joaquin) - updated analysis
  • SD07 (Concord) - updated analysis
  • SD09 (Oakland) - updated analysis

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PLAN B?

With Governor Jerry Brown announcement that he intends to take his tax plan directly to the voters, the big policy question for 2012 is whether Republicans will be engaged at all. Is he willing to discuss a bipartisan plan following last year's disappointing finish, or is the initiative the only plan to be pursued.

As George Skelton writes this morning, some Republicans see the opportunity to get any policy wins quickly diminishing. 

"'Stop whining and get back to the negotiating table,' Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) scolded. The senator told me he could vote to place a tax measure on the ballot if it included genuine tax reform, including extending the sales tax to some services while reducing rates."

Most insiders believe that there were enough Republican votes to place the tax extensions on the ballot last year. However, it would have taken deep concessions on environmental and pension issues and, with polls showing the voters were likely to nix the taxes, labor and other interest groups encouraged the governor and legislative Democrats to pull the plug. The last thing labor wanted to do was accept GOP demands on major policy issues, spend $60 million on a failed tax campaign, and live with policy concessions and no revenue.

Fast forward to 2012. Labor is facing a very difficult November 2012 election. In addition to turning out voters for the Obama re-elect and playing in several legislative races, labor will be engaged in a very expensive campaign ($40-$60 million) to defeat "paycheck protection" and remain relevant in California politics. There just isn't enough money to go around next year.

Some Democratic legislators and labor folks would like to see a bipartisan budget deal that gets prominent business interests (and, gasp, Republican legislators) supporting the tax package. With a bipartisan coalition, the thinking goes, the cost of the tax campaign could drop from $60-80 million to perhaps less than $50 million and the costs would be spread among more interest groups.

The Chamber and other business groups are willing to engage on the tax issue and understand the need for revenues. However, they can't simply jump on board, and need something to deliver to their conservative members in exchange for business support of taxes. A big piece would be pension reform, but changes to CEQA and a spending cap might also be on the holiday wish list.

So, does the governor plan on engaging Republicans? That's the big question, and one that might be answered in the governor's January budget proposal and by how hard he pushes on pension reform. The "pros" of doing so are increasing the likelihood of passage and moving some of the campaign's financial burden off of labor. The big downside is the possibility of a nasty fight that leads nowhere, highlighting a dysfunctional Sacramento government that voters don't want to invest in.

Skelton closes on the hazard of negotiating:

"But Brown got stuck in the mud following that route earlier this year. He thinks his only option is to head down a different risky road."

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SALT AS CURRENCY: Seeing a chance to raise money for the party, CDP executive director Shawnda Westly sent out a message with a link to watch party chairman John Burton video on The Daily Show. You have to wonder if all this poo-pooing of the initiative process helps the governor's plan to use that process to approve a tax increase.

BACK UP/BACKUP: The Secretary of State's Cal-Access website is back up, although it is unclear what happened to any campaign filings submitted between November 29 and December 7

TWEET DU JOUR: @BeatlesTweets: #RIPJohnLennon

POORHOUSE: The Great Recession and Income Distribution in California [PPIC]

RESPONSE: The gay atheist response to Rick Perry's latest ad [Second City]

EASY COME, EASY GO: Australia OKs laxative agent as wine additive [Susanne Rust @ California Watch]

OOPS: 'MythBusters' hosts: Sorry about that cannonball [Demian Bulwa @ SF Chron]

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eureka!, spin us out the stories people are reading the most today on aroundthecapitol.com...

TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Measure To Cut Union Political Influence Qualifies
JUDY LIN @
fresnobee.com
California Republican interests have qualified a ballot measure that would severely curb the political influence of public and private employee unions while depriving Democratic political candidates of a major source of campaign cash.

More Ballot Box Bureaucracy Heading Our Way :: Fox&hounds
foxandhoundsdaily.com
In June 2012, California voters will be asked to weigh in on a ballot measure that would raise $855 million in new taxes with the intention of funding cancer research programs. At first blush it would appear to be a well-intended effort to support cancer research but a closer look reveals that the so-called California Cancer Research Act bears a troubling similarity to previous well-meaning and ambitious ballot initiatives that have come up far short, leaving taxpayers with ineffective government bureaucracies and runaway costs.

Gov. Jerry Brown Can't Flub Taxes Again
George Skelton @
latimes.com
In his first year, Brown missed opportunities to 'knock heads together'

Remaking Community Colleges
Kathryn Baron @
toped.svefoundation.org
After a year of monthly meetings, town hall gatherings, presentations to dozens of community colleges and stakeholder groups, and an online discussion, the twenty members of the California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force (SSTF) can unpack their suitcases. In Sacramento on Wednesday, the panel held its final session, debating and ultimately reaching accord on lingering disagreements. Now comes the really hard part: implementing the 22 recommendations for increasing graduation and transfer rates.

Rod Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison
Bob Secter, Jeff Coen and Annie Sweeney @
latimes.com
Rod Blagojevich , Illinois' 40th governor, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday for the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, illegal shakedowns for campaign cash and lying to federal agents.

Field Poll: California voters support Brown's pension overhaul
Jon Ortiz @
mercurynews.com
A majority of California voters support Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to dial back public employee pensions and a plurality think that state and local government retirements are "too generous," according to a new Field Poll.

Alyson Huber's Home Default Comes Amid Tangled Fiscal, Personal Events
Jim Sanders @
sacbee.com
Democratic Assemblywoman Alyson Huber is in default on a million-dollar mortgage in El Dorado Hills as she copes with a contentious divorce, political redistricting and a rocky real estate market.

Measure to cut union political influence qualifies
JUDY LIN, Associated Press @
signonsandiego.com
California Republican interests have qualified a ballot measure that would severely curb the political influence of public and private employee unions by depriving Democrats of a major source of campaign cash.

Staff Cuts Proposed At California's State Mental Hospitals
David Siders @
blogs.sacbee.com
The California Department of Mental Health today proposed eliminating about 600 state hospital positions to shed costs, reducing the department's authorized workforce by about 5 percent.

Report: Bay Area Incomes Drop 12 Percent In Recession
Aaron Glantz @
baycitizen.org
Bay Area residents have seen their incomes drop an average of 12 percent since the recession began — while incomes fell 6 percent on average on across the nation.

4 O.C. School Officials Get Pay Increases Of Up To 7.2%
SCOTT MARTINDALE @
ocregister.com
Four top administrators for the Orange County Department of Education have received pay increases of as much as 7.2 percent – or $12,996 annually – a move that officials say stems from job promotions, but which some education leaders are questioning as fiscally irresponsible.

Jerry Brown serious on pensions; senator in hurry-up mode
Jon Ortiz @
sacbee.com
Some observations from the recent legislative committee hearing that considered Gov. Jerry Brown's 12-point public pension reform plan:

Court Supports San Diego Water Transfer | Signonsandiego.com
web.signonsandiego.com
A state Court of Appeal Wednesday ruled in favor of a landmark agreement that for years has delivered a vast new supply of water to the San Diego region while under a legal cloud.

Sacramento Supervisors Outlaw Medicinal Pot Dispensaries In The County
sacbee.com
Sacramento County supervisors said they wanted to make it unambiguous that they won't permit medical marijuana dispensaries.

California's Healthcare Spending Per Person Among Lowest In U.s.
Duke Helfand @
latimes.com
For more evidence that the Golden State has lost some of its luster, consider this news from the federal government: California spends less per person on healthcare than all but eight states.

Recession Has Created More Economic Polarization In California
blogs.sacbee.com
California's worst recession since the Great Depression has hit all economic classes, but has had a particularly harsh effect on those in the lower income brackets and has exacerbated the state's socioeconomic polarization, a new study by the Public Policy Institute of California determined.

CA health care systems pay $2M in federal claims
The Associated Press @
signonsandiego.com
Federal authorities say two California health care operators have paid $2.3 million to settle claims that they overcharged the government for medical services.

Pension Reform: Does San Jose Know The Way?
Ed Mendel @
calpensions.com
The San Jose City Council voted 6-to-5 this week to place a pension reform measure on the June ballot that takes on what the Little Hoover Commission called “the elephant in the room,” a way to reduce the cost of pensions promised current workers.

Poseidon Trying To Clear Another Environmental Hurdle For Hb Desal Plant - Voice Of Oc | Orange County's Nonprofit Investigative News Agency: Oc Coast: Desalination Plant, Poseidon Resources, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Boar
voiceofoc.org
Address: 207 N. Broadway Suite H, Santa Ana, CA 92701

California's healthcare spending per person among lowest in U.S.
Duke Helfand @
latimes.com
Healthcare spending in California is well below the national average, according to new federal data -- largely because of high numbers of uninsured and low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, analysts say.

Behind Budget Jargon, Numbers Real Pain Lurks
Cindy Baker @
capitolweekly.net
Behind the angst of state budget jargon is the pain of real people. The latest example: “trigger cuts.”

Viewpoints: Do election results show end of Egypt’s democracy rebellion?
sacbee.com
The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood and the even more fundamentalist Salafist Nour Party have garnered some 65 percent of the votes in the first round of Egypt's free parliamentary elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak should hardly come as a surprise. Given the way that the military regimes in the Arab world decimated all independent secular political parties over the last 50 years, there is little chance of any Arab country going from Mubarak to Jefferson without going through some Khomeini.

Sacramento city execs agree to pay share of their pensions
Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Bee @
mercurynews.com
With the annual cost of employee pensions rising, top management officials at Sacramento City Hall have agreed to pay the entire employee share of their CalPERS retirement contributions.

California's Healthiness Ranking Improves A Bit
Grace Rubenstein @
sacbee.com
Compared with the other 49 states, California's overall healthiness could be worse. But it also could be better.