Around The Capitol

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THE NOONER for February 16, 2012

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RUH-ROH: The Department of Finance confirms the State Controller's conclusion that January was abysmal for state revenues. DOF reports that revenues were off $630 million (-8.6%) for the month. This includes significant underperformance of both the personal income ($-679m) and corporate (-$127m) taxes. Oh, and that's below the already projections that were already lowered as part of the January budget.

Personal income tax revenues came in at $7.173 billion compared to $7.852 billion projected in the governor's January budget. In contrast, the originally enacted 2011-12 state budget assumed $8.552 billion in personal income tax revenues for the month, with an additional $172 million in uncategorized tax receipts that were tacked on as part of the $3.6 billion in assumed extra revenues.

The bean counters are perplexed and the budgeteers are worried. January is second only to April (barely) in personal income tax revenue, as large quarterly payments are paid on non-payroll income, particularly the highly volatile taxes on stock options and capital gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 5.2% in the fourth quarter alone, which would ordinarily fuel a whopper of a month. 

It's unclear whether the state's cash scramble earlier this month completely accounted for this shortfall in revenues. If not, more money probably needs to be found to avoid IOUs or slowdowns in tax refunds through the month of March. Also, unless someone forgot to open some envelopes or a handfull of wealthy taxpayers forgot to make their January payments, there is likely at least another $500 million that needs to be cut from next year's already austere state budget. With lawmakers scrambling to restore health and human service cuts amidst the tax ballot measure cluster, this is not a good situation.

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CITY WOES: John Howard writes about the political problem that has plagued California's municipalities since the Bell scandal broke and the website aimed at providing a PR counterweight. My question...without Bell and the Speaker's overt fight with the City of Vernon, would the Legislature have eliminated redevelopment?

JUST ASKIN': Tomorrow is a per diem session day, when the Legislature holds an unusual Friday session for the sole reason of ensuring that per diem checks continue through the weekend (which requires a session at least once every three days). Will part-time Legislature advocate Shannon Grove reject her per diem? Will liberals who will consider the governor's proposal to cut the average CalWORKs payment from $463 to $392 PER MONTH in this year's budget take the $567.44 for the FOUR DAYS that they otherwise would be out of session?

Seriously, several members rely on per diem to afford the cost of living to maintain two households. But, others are doing fine and there's always a scent of hypocrisy floating around on all sides...

FREE UNSOLICITED POLITICAL ADVICE: To the well intentioned backers of the oil severence tax for education...stop referring to it as "Proposition 1522." There is no such thing and never will be, as that's just the tracking number for the initiative. So, instead of sending e-mail with subject lines like "Proposition 1522 Debate," I might suggest "Tax Big Oil for Education Debate."

WHO WOULDA THUNK: . . . Keith Smart would be coaching the Kings and getting his clock cleaned by a team that is spirtually led by a 6'3" Asian American from Palo Alto? Our animator friends in Taiwan have some fun with J-Lin.

OBAMA <3 XI: Xi Jinping and his delegation have left the Marriott Wardman Park yesterday, and I had fun passing as a Secret Service agent to use an unauthorized exit yesterday. Xi reportedly may be taking in the Lakers game tonight, while Obama is collective dough in a no-media-invited event in San Francisco. Oh, yes, we have a Taiwanese take.

That's it. Heading to the airport. The bartenders at the Marriott, following CPAC (big drinkers), community colleges (medium drinkers), and the Chinese delegation (hidden, in-suite drinkers) are preparing for a drought as the AA convention is coming in house tomorrow.

If you're ever in DC and need a good driver, Melvin is great. E-mail me to get his number. For my community college readers, I pay for the transportation myself.

Gov. Jerry Brown Changes Route, Restores Bus Money Next Year
Kevin Yamamura @
Gov. Jerry Brown reversed course this week by restoring $496 million in school bus money in his budget proposal for next fiscal year after facing criticism from education groups.

Lance Armstrong Campaigns For California Cigarette Tax Measure
Anthony York @
The pitchman for Proposition 29, which will appear on the June ballot and would raise taxes on a pack of cigarettes by $1 to fund cancer research and other causes, is seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

Capitol Family Feud: Name the Votes When GOP Senators Matter
Republican legislators picked up a big win last night at the YMCA’s “Legislators Family Feud.” Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff bragged on Twitter that it was Republicans’ fourth consecutive win at the annual charity fundraising event. Yesterday, prior to the Capitol’s Family Feud fun, the Senate Rules Committee quietly moved forward the confirmation of embattled Cal State University Chairman Herbert Carter.

Ex-Sacramento Sheriff John McGinnis To Lobby For CPOA
Torey Van Oot @
Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness has agreed to work with the California Peace Officers' Association as a lobbyist, according to a statement on the organization's website.

Pension Measure Autopsy Shows Multiple Causes Of Death
We're in the ballot initiative wing of the California Political Causes Morgue. On the table, two public pension reform plans that died last week. Scalpel, please:

Accentuate The Positive: Cities Target Aftermath of Bell
John Howard @
As scandals tarring officials at the city of Bell began emerging in newspaper probes two years ago, municipal authorities across California felt the fallout. A suspicious public wondered whether Bell’s problems – pension boosting, voter fraud, expense abuse, salary spiking – had seeped into other cities as well.

California Lawmaker Proposes Tougher Sanctions In Corruption Cases
Tougher laws for public corruption proposed by California lawmaker.

Little Initiative For Change
George Skelton @
California's ballot measure system needs two major changes. But that's unlikely.

Texas Primary Could Face New Delay Over Redistricting Lawsuit
A federal judiciary panel is considering postponing the election for the second time in two months amid a redistricting dispute between the state and several minority groups.

Lance Armstrong To Give $1.5 Million To Push California Tobacco Tax
Former Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong will announce a $1.5-million donation to Proposition 29, the June ballot measure in California that would create a new $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to pay for cancer research. The donation...

Head to Head: Should California go back to having a part-time Legislature?
Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, a Bakersfield Republican, is circulating petitions for a November ballot initiative that would reduce the state Legislature to part-time status for the first time since 1966, as well as slash lawmakers' pay to $1,500 a month.

House, Senate reach deal on payroll tax measure
WASHINGTON -- Calling quits to a bruising election-year fight, negotiators on Capitol Hill sealed an agreement late Wednesday on legislation to renew a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for millions more.

Congress nears deal on payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits
Lisa Mascaro @
Despite discomfort in the GOP ranks, House and Senate negotiators were close to striking a deal that would extend a payroll tax break, continue unemployment benefits and ensure Medicare doctors do not see a pay cut this year.

Study: Calif. Taxes High, But Not The Highest
By some measures, California’s tax burden lands the state in the nation’s top 10 – but you can’t blame Sacramento alone for the ranking.

Approval Of National Guard Head Moves To Full State Senate
Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, left, listens as Brig. Gen. Charlotte Miller testifies at his Senate Rules Committee confirmation hearing. Miller was critical of Baldwin, who fired her last summer over recruiting system payments.

Before current birth-control fight, Republicans backed mandates
Kim Geiger and Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau @
Republicans are fighting a birth-control rule in President Obama's healthcare law, but several states have enacted contraceptive mandates with the support of GOP lawmakers and governors.

Pandas, Policy And Fundraising: Newt Gingrich Lingers On The Money Trail In California
Newt Gingrich feeds a panda Tuesday at the San Diego Zoo. The GOP presidential candidate focused on fundraising in the state.

Shannon Grove releases video pitch for part-time CA Legislature
Jim Sanders @
Making a personal pitch for donations and help, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove has posted an online video designed to bolster her campaign to switch California's Legislature to a part-time body.

Candidate filing period begins for Hayward City Council election
Eric Kurhi @
Four seats will be up in June, with three incumbents seeking re-election and one campaigning for a state post

Vote Expected Soon On $150 Billion Economic Package
In a pact early Thursday morning, congressional negotiators gave final approval to an economic plan worth more than $150 billion that would extend a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits.

New Senate GOP leader means new committee posts for some
Torey Van Oot @
The Senate Rules Committee approved some committee membership shuffling yesterday, including some changes made at the request of the new Senate GOP leader Bob Huff.

Obama Campaign Launches First In Sf: Technology Campaign Office
Wyatt Buchanan, Michael Collier, Richard Dunham, Bob Egelko, Joe Garofoli, Marisa Lagos, Carolyn Lochhead, Carla Marinucci, @
Obama campaign launches first in SF: Technology campaign office

Hearing To Consider Brown's Plan For New School Funding Formulas
At what may turn out to be a landmark hearing in Sacramento today, state senators  will review a sweeping proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to reform California’s notoriously complex school finance system that distributes funds based more on decades-old formulas than on student needs.

Obama's budget cuts bacteria testing in produce
GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press @
President Barack Obama's proposed budget sent to Congress this week would eliminate the nation's only program that regularly tests fruits and vegetables for deadly pathogens.