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THE NOONER for June 8, 2012

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DISTRICT UPDATES

  • CD07 (East Sac County): From Swing to Leans Republican
  • CD09 (San Joaquin): From Safe Democrat to Leans Democrat
  • CD21 (Kings): From Swing to Leans Republican
  • CD26 (Ventura): From Swing to Leans Republican
  • CD31 (San Bernardino): From Leans Democrat to Safe Republican
  • CD41 (Riverside): From Leans Democrat to Swing

District ratings will be updated throughout the cycle. Obviously, Tuesday's voters were far more conservative than we'll see in November. Nevertheless, my current thought is that this is going to be a pretty disengaged electorate come the fall and we'll be looking at a turnout lower than November 2004, in the neighborhood of 10 million voters. That's a big increase from Tuesday's 5 million, but not enough to overcome advantages that Republican candidates have (money, name ID) in many of the above races.

Will hot ballot measures (Paycheck, taxes) turn out large numbers who didn't vote on Tuesday? We don't know yet. There are 2.2 million members of labor unions in California who will overwhelmingly turn out to oppose Paycheck. However, how many of those already turned out on Tuesday in the "hot" races?

Julia Brownley has a very tough hill to climb to capture a large share of Linda Parks's vote in CD26, as well as turn out 2 Democrats for every 1 additional Republican that turns out. The math is tough, unless there is a big surge in interest about the November election.

CONTEST UPDATE: There were 577 possible points in the election contest, and nobody got a perfect score. As of right now, two participants are tied for first with 391 points. Of course, with around 1 million ballots outstanding, nothing is final yet. Participants were e-mailed a link earlier this morning to check their scores. If you checked before 7:30, I had a couple of errors and scores have been re-calculated. Please let me know if you see any errors! Also, I need to add the points for correct top two in the wrong order (2 points per district). So, some folks may move around a bit.

Here are the preliminary Top 25 participants and scores.

OH, THAT... The passing of the June 5 primary means another date looms. The Legislature must pass a budget by next Friday or else lawmakers don't get paid. The urgency is a little less heightened than last year, after a judge ruled that as long as they pass a spending plan that is somewhat balanced, the paychecks will continue.

However, it's still a tough budget for which to put together the votes.

While Proposition 25 provided authority to lawmakers to adopt a budget on a simple majority vote, it also changed budget politics in Sacramento. It is now simply a majority party operation, which changes the dynamics significantly.

In the current situation, Democrats are balking at around $2 billion in cuts--CalWORKs, IHSS, Child Care and Cal Grants--that the governor proposes, even if the tax measure passes. They also don't like the triggers that mostly hit K-12 schools (including a never-going-to-happen three week reduction in the school year), but that's something that doesn't need to be decided in the next week.

Democrats are having a hard time supporting the cuts from both policy and political reasons. In the Senate, 14 members of the Dem caucus can be given a pass from voting on the budget, as can 11 in the Assembly. However, some of the most passionate members are leaders of the caucus expected to put up votes.

There aren't many alternatives to the cuts, however. The governor added some of the last remaining "options/gimmicks" to the May Revise plan, including delaying debt repayment, borrowing from special funds, and assuming a $1.4 billion cash grab from the wind-down of redevelopment agencies that the Legislative Analyst says is "highly uncertain."

If this was a normal budget year (remember those?), Democrats could simply go with an optimistic revenue assumption and carry forward any deficit into 2013-14, assuming Lockyer and Chiang can continue finding cash to pay the bills. This year, though, the November tax measure adds a twist--public perception.

The public doesn't care about the state budget--except for people in school, jail, or bed. But, in November, the public will be asked to cough up between $6.9b-9b in additional taxes to close the systemic gap. It's currently a 50/50 prospect (certainly wouldn't have passed on Tuesday). However, to the extent that the story about the budget is that there is any smoke and mirrors or false assumptions in the budget, the chance of passage drops dramatically. Also, to the extent there is a public dispute between the governor and Democrats, the measure is hurt.

I don't envy the job of the governor, Darrell Steinberg and John Perez in this extraordinarily challenging budget dance. In the end, I would guess Democrats swallow about half of the $2b in cuts, eliminate the $1b reserve included in the governor's plan and let the governor line-item veto some of the spending.

John Myers outlines the challenge Democrats face in a nice teevee spot with pretty pictures.

UNPROCESSED BALLOTS UPDATE: With 38 counties reporting, there are 829,683 unprocessed ballots. Of these, 672,537 are absentees received on Election Day (in mail or at polls), 128,256 are provisional ballots, and 29,070 are damaged.

Top counties:

  • Los Angeles - 176,287
  • San Diego - 135,000
  • Sacramento - 84,000
  • Riverside - 49,200

Big counties who haven't reported:

  • Orange
  • Santa Clara
  • San Mateo
  • Kern

WHAT IF? Remember that Joe Baca lives in CD31, which the Democrats fumbled on Tuesday. He ran in the easier CD35 to the west and faces off against fellow Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod in November. Had he run in his home district, Baca would be facing off against Miller and McLeod would be running against a Republican rather than giving up a swing seat and having an intra-party fight for a safe Dem seat.

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TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
California State Workers Ask: Will Minimum Wage Issue Return?
Jon Ortiz @
blogs.sacbee.com
Several jittery state workers have called and emailed in the last week asking whether their pay might be withheld if lawmakers don't reach a budget deal by the June 30 fiscal year-end.

What Kind Of California Budget Will Emerge?
Dan Walters @
sacbee.com
There was no chance that Democratic legislators would fashion a new state budget before last Tuesday's primary election, since budget votes could have become campaign ammunition. However, that leaves just a week before the June 15 constitutional budget deadline – with legislators' salaries at risk if they don't make it. And with at least a $16 billion deficit to close, they can't skate by merely assuming voters will pass new taxes in November.

Unions Protest Ihss Budget Cuts At California Capitol
Hannah Madans @
blogs.sacbee.com
A little under a thousand people gathered at the Capitol Thursday to deliver 75,000 petitions and ask legislators to reject cuts to the in-home care system.

As California Budget Talks Heat Up, Public Remains Skeptical
David Siders @
sacbee.com
Nearly two-thirds of registered voters – 65 percent – have little faith in lawmakers to satisfactorily resolve California's $15.7 billion budget deficit, and their confidence in Gov. Jerry Brown is declining, too, according to a Field Poll released today.

13,000 California State Workers Win Back Pay In Furlough Lawsuit
Jon Ortiz @
blogs.sacbee.com
An Alameda County judge has ruled that state engineers and scientists are owed back wages because they were excessively furloughed last year.

Presidential Primary Election Results | June 5, 2012 | California Secretary Of State
vote.sos.ca.gov
© California Secretary of State

State Budget Deadline Looms, Deal Points Still TBA
John Myers @
news10.net
California's last chief executive loved the ticking budget clock he placed outside his Capitol office -- one that added dollar after dollar for every second the Legislature was late in delivering a state spending plan.

California's Top-two Primary Backer Says Campaign Finance Next
Torey Van Oot @
blogs.sacbee.com
An architect of California's new top-two primary system has turned his attention to shaking up how campaigns are funded.

At Least 800,000 Ballots Still Uncounted In California
contracostatimes.com
The votes are all in for the California primary, but many remained uncounted Wednesday, leaving some contests still up in the air, notably the statewide question on whether to increase the tax on tobacco to fund cancer research.

Outcomes Remain Uncertain In Some California Primary Contests
Jean Merl @
latimesblogs.latimes.com
Several California congressional and Assembly races remained too close to call. Local election officials are still counting some ballots.

Fresno County After-school Programs In Jeopardy
Heather Somerville @
fresnobee.com
The future of after-school programs throughout Fresno County that serve thousands of teens and help struggling students stay on track to graduate is in question.

Democrats, Gov. Brown discuss bridging $2B divide
JUDY LIN, Associated Press @
utsandiego.com
Democratic leaders are meeting privately with Gov. Jerry Brown to try to avoid about $2 billion in proposed welfare cuts as next week's budget deadline approaches, the state Senate leader said Thursday.

Bill Clinton 'Very Sorry' About Tax Remarks, Agrees With Obama
Michael A. Memoli @
latimes.com
WASHINGTON – Bill Clinton said Thursday that he's "very sorry" for comments he made days earlier that appeared to undermine President Obama 's position on extending certain tax rates, chalking it up to a misunderstanding over when lawmakers needed to act ahead of a looming "fiscal cliff."

Prop. 29 backers hold out hope as gap narrows
Phil Willon @
latimes.com
Updated tallies show the cigarette tax increase losing by about 53,000 votes, down from 63,000 on election night. More than a dozen congressional and Assembly contests remain undecided as well.

Yes On 29 Campaign Refuses To Concede On Tobacco Tax Initiative
latimesblogs.latimes.com
On politics in the Golden State

California To Get $15.6 Million From AIG Tax Settlement
Marc Lifsher @
latimes.com
SACRAMENTO -- American International Group Inc. , a giant insurance company, will pay $15.6 million in penalties to California to settle allegations that its affiliated companies underreported how much business they did to state regulators.

San Mateo County's Measure T tax measure hanging on in win column
Bonnie Eslinger @
mercurynews.com
A ballot measure that would tax car rental companies in unincorporated areas to pump $8 million a year into San Mateo County's budget is holding onto a slim lead for approval, according to updated election results released Thursday.

Final taxpayer tab to redraw political districts
Jim Sanders @
blogs.sacbee.com
The bottom line is in: Taxpayers spent more than three times the projected cost to redraw the state's political districts.

3 health care scenarios for the president
Jennifer Haberkorn and Glenn Thrush and Darren Samuelsohn @
politico.com
Obama's brain trust believes public opinion about the law is already locked in.

AM Alert: It's T minus one week for passing California budget
Micaela Massimino @
blogs.sacbee.com
The Legislature has until next Friday to pass a state budget. The Senate and the Assembly convene next on Monday. It promises to be a long week.

Editorial: San Jose, San Diego raise bar on pension reform
sacbee.com
Look no further than pension reform results in San Diego and San Jose. As the Legislature dithers, fed-up voters in the state's second- and third-largest cities overwhelmingly approved ballot measures that roll back benefits for current and future city workers.

Bill to Repeal Tax on Medical Devices Clears House
nytimes.com
s health care law appears to have little chance of approval in the Senate.

Coast Guard Plans For New Fleet Continue To Face Trouble
californiawatch.org
A massive undertaking by the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase new ships and aircraft continues to be plagued by tens of billions of dollars in cost overruns, poor budget planning and scheduling setbacks, according to congressional investigators from the Government Accountability Office.