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THE NOONER for June 13, 2012

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PAYCHECK PROTECTION: The Legislature has 60 hours to approve a budget.

Yesterday, the Senate Budget Committee met for eight hours yesterday to close out most items in the largely Democrat spending plan. Three cheers for Mark Leno and Dept. of Finance Deputy Michael Cohen, who held up strong with amazing bladders, while those of us in the audience were getting delirious

In an unexpected twist, the Assembly convened at 3:30, announced it was an informational hearing only, and took no votes. While nothing was officially announced, most observers believed the lower house will wait for bills sent to it by the Senate on Friday, rather than the usual process of having two separate bills that must be reconciled via a conference committee. Guess it's the sign o' the times. Republicans could do nothing but stand by and ask "Why you wanna treat me so bad?"

As expected, the Senate's plan rejected or modified many of the most controversial cuts, including to CalWORKs, Child Care, IHSS, and Cal Grants, and balanced the spending plan through a smaller rainy day fund and other solutions. Democrats also tabled the governor's proposal to change K-12 school funding to a weighted pupil formula aimed at making a simpler formula that met the needs of urban districts. The governor however, provided some purple rain on the Democrats' parade, issuing an e-mail statement about halfway through the Senate's work. The message praised the work of Democrats, but proclaimed "We're not there yet." Because, you know, we needed some controversy.

In the statement, the governor made it clear that he was unhappy that Democrats didn't go along with his welfare reform reform, citing MPD (most popular Democrat) Bill Clinton's embrace of welfare reform in 1996. Of course, that's when Democrats hated Clinton and saw him as Benedict Arnold colluding with Newt Gingrich, before falling back in love with Clinton by 1999.

While this disagreement could sometimes be solved through line-item vetoes, the CalWORKs rewrite requires trailer bills to change the statutes governing the program. Since the Democrats aren't willing to pass the trailers, they have negotiating power.

Was it just theatre, sincere difference, or a little of both?

I'm guessing a little of both. With the tax measure looming, the governor doesn't want to be seen as having his "toughest" cuts rolled by Democrats in the Legislature, particuarly with plenty of dissenting Republican quotes in every story. Further, with revenues (including Faceplant IPO revenues) questionable, the approval of Wall Street rating agencies is important, which is one of the reasons the governor is pushing for a $1 billion reserve. I don't know how much is planned for this fall, but California borrowed $5.4b last fall to get through the lean months. 

Some observers think/want the Democrats to send down a budget Friday that the governor will veto. This would keep the paychecks coming, garner front page headlines about the tightwad governor and his strange relationship with the Legislature, and require Dems to trim their plan and send another one before the July 1 beginning of the fiscal year. In other words, repeat last year's game plan sans the phantom revenue. This would provide the perfect setup, the thinking goes, for a path to November's tax initiative that showcases Jerry Brown's willingness to confront fellow Democrats over spending, welfare reform, and the pension reform package emerging from conference at the end of session in August. 

Others think that voters will just see more Sacramento gridlock and gimmickry and that anything except a smooth budget process will doom an already precarious tax initiative. 

Let's face it. Nobody knows how voters will react to scenarios, but the good news is that the budget will be done soon, and then we can all go play in the sunshine.

[the purple explained]

WEST SIDE WAR: It is now clear that the November showdown in AD50 will be between Assemblymember Betsy Butler and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom. The big question is whether Democrat Torie Osborn, many of whose supporters are passionately against Butler, or Republican Brad Torgan endorse in the race. With 48.5% of the vote between them, they likely can decide who the next Assemblymember from the west side is.

For those watching the four-vote margin (doubled from two votes) in AD46, the next Los Angeles update is not expected until Friday.

UNPROCESSED BALLOT REPORT: 499,824 (316,557 absentees, 159,736 provisionals, 23,351 damaged/other)

COMING TO AIRWAVES NEAR YOU: @mikeallen - "breaking from @HJacksonAP: @NRCC IE reserves $18m+ in ad time for 26 districts --CA: $3m+, Boston: $2.2m, CO: $1.6m+, WI: $1.3 m"

GOOD GUY: Dem Pollster Ben Tulchin is looking for a project associate (San Francisco).

KUDOS: It is no secret that the Secretary of State has had a difficult year with technology, as the Cal-Access database struggles on an ancient platform. However, the election data has been outstanding, with no downtime and flying server speeds. Congratulations Debra Bowen and tech team!



The 2012 American Association of Political Consultants Conference in Sacramento June 27-28 provides key networking opportunities with those that have been in the trenches as well as topical and relevant information related to what is going on in California this year, including open primary, redistricting, ballot initiatives and how top consultants are utilizing all the tools available to them to reach and engage voters. Register today!

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L.A. Unified Parcel Tax Postponed, Board Set To Vote On Furlough Days
Howard Blume @
The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday voted to postpone putting a local tax increase for schools before voters until after the November election. If successful, the measure would have placed a levy of $298 per parcel on property...

Jerry Brown Moves To Eliminate Retiree Workers
Jon Ortiz and Phillip Reese @
As Friday's state budget deadline approaches, a little-noticed provision in Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal would cut off thousands of retirees who return to work for the state.

Governor, Legislature Remain Divided On Budget
Steven Harmon @
Gov. Jerry Brown signaled late Tuesday that he and Democrats remain apart on the budget, and chided them for continuing to insist on softening his cuts to the poor, elderly and disabled.

Csu, UC Pushed To Cut Programs With Low Graduation Rates - Oc Watchdog : The Orange County Register
At the same time, the report said, thousands of students could be denied for admission because of budget cuts. The CSU announced it would freeze spring 2013 admission depending on the results of a tax-hike initiative in November.

California Redistricting Commissioners Paid Varied Amounts For Work
Jim Sanders @
The members of the commission that drew California's new political boundaries made as much as $68,400 in per diem fulfilling their task, records show.

Michael Ward Tops Redistricting Commission In Per Diem Pay
Jim Sanders @
It was an honor system: California's redistricting commissioners received $300 for each day they reported working, often from home.

Jerry Brown Meets With Top Democrats Again; Still No Budget Deal
On politics in the Golden State

SEIU Local 1000 Pushes For Trade
Jon Ortiz @
SEIU Local 1000 negotiators resumed bargaining with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration this morning, and are seeking cuts in outsourcing and ending the use of retired annuitants and student employees as conditions to accept a pay reduction.

Ten Arrested In Protest Outside Jerry Brown's Office
Ten protesters were detained outside Gov. Jerry Brown's office Tuesday, injecting some drama into a day of hearings and closed-door meetings on the state budget. The protesters were criticizing Brown's proposal to cut spending on home care for the elderly...

California School Aid At Center Of Wrangle Over Tax Measures
Dan Walters @
California's 6 million-student public school system is not only the largest chunk of the state budget that will be enacted this week – by far – but the major component of Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign for sales and income tax increases as well.

The Caucus: Budget Office Director: Health Law Hasn't Hit Economy
Disputing a Republican meme, the head of the Congressional Budget Office says that the new health care law isn't hurting the economy.

We're 99 Percent In Sync On Budget, Say Democrats
John Myers @
Legislative Democrats kept their budget train rolling down the track on Tuesday, even as Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement that casts some serious doubt on whether he'll ultimately jump on board with their alternative solutions.

10 Arrested In Budget Protest At Calif. Capitol
Gov. Jerry Brown demanded legislative Democrats make deeper cuts to help close California's $15.7 billion deficit even as state lawmakers rejected some of those reductions during two legislative hearings Tuesday.

Gov. Brown demands legislators make deeper budget cuts
Anthony York @
The governor calls the Democratic proposal presented in the Senate and Assembly fiscally irresponsible. He seeks more cuts in welfare spending.

Dianne Feinstein's War
Robert Gammon @
California's senior senator has been fighting for Drakes Bay Oyster Company at Point Reyes National Seashore -- and against the creation of the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.

GOP adjusts health care strategy
Jake Sherman and Jonathan Allen @
Republicans are ready to pounce with legislative responses to the health care law and tax cuts.

State Labor Negotiations Could Extend Past Budget Deadline
Even though Friday is the deadline for lawmakers to pass the state budget, critical negotiations with state workers may not be finished by then. Nonetheless, Gov. Jerry Brown plans to include a 5% cut in compensation to state workers in the final budget, even as administration officials continue talks with union officials.

10 arrested at California Capitol protest on budget cuts
Torey Van Oot @
Police arrested 10 demonstrators for protesting proposed budget cuts to in-home care for low-income elderly and disabled Californians at the Capitol this afternoon.

Dueling Sf Tax Plans Focus On Receipts, Not Payroll
Heather Knight @
The next heated political fight at San Francisco's City Hall will center on whether businesses pay more local taxes - or just pay them differently. Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor John Avalos plan to introduce at the Board...

Dan Walters: California school aid at center of wrangle over tax measures
California's 6 million-student public school system is not only the largest chunk of the state budget that will be enacted this week – by far – but the major component of Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign for sales and income tax increases as well.

Internet Poker Bill Faces Long Odds, Sen. Lawmaker Says
Patrick McGreevy @
State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) said late Tuesday that he would continue negotiations to try and reach a compromise on legalizing Internet poker in California, but he estimated the odds of success this year are "less than 50-50."

Report Sees 4.5 Million More Potential Latino Voters In California
Dan Walters @
California election officials estimate that 23.7 million Californians could potentially vote - i.e. they are citizens over the age of 18 -- and know that 17.2 million of them are registered to vote.