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The Nooner for Thursday, May 21, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
Normally, I'd say "You're almost there!" on a Thursday, particularly before a three-day weekend. However, that seems silly from many fronts.
For inside baseball geeks, are both houses having a check-in session tomorrow to ensure per diem flows through the three-day weekend even though there hasn't actually been an actual floor session since March 16?
Anyway, lots of folks will be working over the weekend as the Senate Budget subcommittees meet:
I'll be watching higher education get barbecued on Memorial Day (K-12 and ECE too).
As Chris Micheli and I talked about on the podcast we recorded yesterday [YouTube | Simplecast | Apple Podcasts], this is unlike anything we have ever seen in our combined 45 years in various roles around the Capitol.
These post-May Revision hearings would ordinarily take several days each. Like with the Assembly, subcommittee votes are not expected.
I wrote about the Assembly "Committee of the Whole" scheduled for Tuesday and Chris and I talked about it more yesterday. No votes will be taken as it's really just a show-and-tell and opportunity for presentations by the Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst's Office and questions by Assembly members. The green carpet version of the budget will apparently then be crafted behind closed doors, which may seem unusual but is actually more usual than the normal subcommittee to full committee process that you may think.
The Senate is using a different process. The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee will meet next Thursday upon adjournment of Governance and Finance Committee, which is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. The agenda in today's Daily File is simply "Budget Act of 2020: Overview of the Senate Budget Plan." As subcommittees haven't cast votes, this will be crafted behind closed doors like the Assembly.
Will there be a budget conference committee? Highly unlikely.
To my knowledge, all of the budget bills are still in their respective house of origin. To get to a conference committee, it takes three floor votes: house of origin, second house with amendments, and then back at the house of origin to refuse concurrence in the second house's amendments.
While it may seem as customary as a parade or barbecue on Memorial Day, there is no requirement for a conference committee.
I believe there are only two constitutional requirements that can't be waived by a legislative vote:
The budget need not be perfect. As you likely know well, it won't be. Both the state and federal income tax deadlines have been moved from April 15 to July 15, so the biggest component of state revenues won't be known until August. Other revenue sources have been similarly delayed and there are huge questions on the cost front related to the direct and collateral impacts of the pandemic.
We likely won't know what is in a compromise 2020-21 State Budget much before 72 hours ahead of the June 15 deadline. There is a lot of negotiating to be done within Democratic caucuses in each house, between houses, and with Governor Newsom's Administration.
Don't freak out. It sucks. Pretty much everything does right now.
However, this will be a spending plan to keep state government operating. By August, or perhaps a special session in September or even after the November election, we will be almost certainly revisiting this plan after tax revenues, expenditures, and federal assistance are known.
As I talked with Chris about his new book on California's legislative process, I joked that he was going to need an addendum already. He offered that there is plenty of new content for the second edition based on what we're observing.
COVID-19: While things are looking up in many counties, that's not the case everywhere.
- Los Angeles County: In the Times, a team reports that while many counties are being given permission to reopen more broadly, Tuesday marked the largest number of COVID-19 deaths in California since the pandemic began.
The highest number of deaths previously reported in a single day statewide was 117 in late April. Tuesday’s rise, which comes on a day when data from the previous weekend is typically released, pushed the state’s death toll past 3,400. The number of confirmed cases statewide has climbed to 83,864, according to data compiled by The Times.
While the death count continues to rise, other metrics show significant progress, enough that even some of the most cautious local health officials have agreed to begin slowly reopening businesses and public spaces.
Of the 132 deaths reported on Tuesday, 76 (57.6%) were in Los Angeles County. The county has about 26% of the state's population, but as the outbreak shifted from the Bay Area south, has become the state's hot spot.
- Orange County: In the Register, Kurte Snibbe writes that yesterday was the worst day yet in both confirmed cases and deaths in Orange County, which is clamoring to reopen.
The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 249 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday, May 20, increasing the total positive tests reported in the county to 4,742.
It is the largest number of new cases reported at one time since testing began. The county also reported the most deaths in a single day, 10, raising the total number of people in Orange County who have died of the virus to 98.
Seven of the 10 reported deaths were among skilled nursing facility residents.
REOPENING: Updating my list from Tuesday, 41 of the state's 58 counties have been approved for variances to move to Stage 2B including 18 new ones since the new criteria was announced Monday. They are:
Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Sutter, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.
- Tulare County: After being called out several times in Governor Newsom's press conferences, Tulare County has indicated that it's done listening to the governor. In the Times, Luke Money and James Rainey report:
Despite having one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in California, Tulare County officials have voted to reopen more businesses before meeting the health criteria set by the state. The county could lose state disaster relief money as a result.
Tulare joins several rural communities in rebelling against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plans for reopening the economy based on various health benchmarks designed to prevent new outbreaks of the coronavirus. Most of the counties to defy Newsom so far have been in remote areas with relatively few confirmed infections.
But Tulare, south of Fresno, is one of California’s hardest-hit counties. In all, it had confirmed 1,552 coronavirus infections and 73 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon.
- San Diego County: Last night, San Diego County received the okay from the state to move to Stage 2B, although restaurants and retail shops can't immediately reopen until filing paperwork demonstrating compliance with required health precautions, reports Lori Weisberg for the SDUT.
more after the jump...
CHURCHES: Yesterday, more than 1,200 pastors from around the state signed a declaration aimed to Governor Newsom stating that they intend to hold services on May 31 to observe Pentecost Sunday in defiance of state and local public health orders, reports Matthew Ormseth of the LAT.
In a letter to Newsom, Robert H. Tyler, an attorney representing a Lodi church that has challenged the governor’s order in court, said more than 1,200 pastors have signed a “Declaration of Essentiality,” asserting their churches are as essential as any grocery or hardware store and should be allowed to reopen.
“We believe you are attempting to act in the best interests of the state,” Tyler wrote to Newsom, “but the restrictions have gone too far and for too long.”
By Wednesday, many counties in California had received approval to reopen establishments — retail business, office buildings, restaurants, shopping centers — as permitted in the second phase of Newsom’s plan to restart the state economy. Churches are not allowed to reopen until the plan’s third phase.
SCHOOL DAZE: Politico's Mackenzie Mays reports on Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond's statement that if K-12 schools want to return to in-person instruction, teachers and students will need to wear face masks. The challenge? Acquiring those masks.
"They need lots of personal protective equipment. There have to be masks and hand sanitizer and the ability for hand washing and other resources for our schools to open safely," Thurmond said in a news conference. "We know that having access to this personal protective equipment is a critical factor in the ability to reopen. Quite frankly, our schools cannot reopen without it."
The state Legislature passed Gov. Gavin Newsom's coronavirus relief package in March, which included $100 million for personal protective equipment and cleaning for schools that remained open, but more will be needed to accommodate all of the state's schools in the social distancing era, Thurmond said.
THE RENT IS TOO DAMN DUE: Theresa Clift II writes for the Bee that, although city residents continue to struggle to meet rent payments, the statewide moratorium and those in many localities including Sacramento on evictions for nonpayment of rent it about to expire.
The statewide residential eviction moratorium, in addition to local moratoriums in the city and county of Sacramento, are set to expire May 31, according to government officials. Those protections allowed renters to delay payment of their April and May rents if they could show documentation proving they were financially impacted by the virus. But for June, renters will need to pay on time or risk eviction.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants the city to extend its eviction moratorium for residential tenants.
“We are only at the beginning of this recovery, and the residential eviction ordinance must be extended,” Steinberg said in a statement to The Sacramento Bee. “Nobody should lose the roof over their head because of COVID-19.”
However, for those who did postpone their April and/or May rent and can't repay it all in June, it does not mean immediate evictions:
The California Judicial Council last month issued a set of rules prohibiting courts across the state from processing evictions until 90 days after the statewide emergency proclamation is lifted or unless the council amends or repeals the order. Newsom has not yet announced a date to lift that proclamation.
more after the jump...
At least a dozen additional posts from Howze’s account over a two-year period espouse conspiracy theories, suggest Hillary Clinton and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) are responsible for murder, or denigrate Dreamers, Islam and the Black Lives Matter movement. As of Tuesday afternoon, they were accessible on his personal Facebook account.
Howze, his party's nominee in a competitive central California district, is endorsed by the National Republican Congressional Committee and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy. He explicitly signed his name to one of these posts and tags family members in others. They were interspersed throughout frequent life updates that included pictures of Howze and his family celebrating holidays and attending sporting events.
In the recently uncovered posts, Howze accused the Clintons of leaving “a trail of bodies as long as the Mississippi River behind them.” He compared recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to pedophiles: “Surely they understand that pedophiles are ‘dreamers’ too.” Addressing the Black Lives Matter movement in a post, he wrote: “As a culture 95% percent of you vote in lock step for the same political party who held you as physical slaves and now wish to keep you as political slaves unable to effect any real change for the better.”
SACTOWN: For the Bee, Tony Bizjak and Dale Kasler report that, absent parking tax revenue from events, the City of Sacramento is facing a budget problem to service debt on its share of the construction costs of the Golden 1 Center. And, the hotel tax revenue paying for the expansion and remodel of the Sacramento Convention Center and Theatre is obviously also well behind projections.
It’s a scenario that the city insisted was highly unlikely when it agreed to invest in the new arena with the Kings six years ago. If the city uses general fund dollars to help pay off its arena debt, it would take money that otherwise would go for police, street work, parks, libraries, and other basic services.
The city also is facing potential problems on another multi-million dollar bond repayment as the economic shutdown from COVID-19 drains tax dollars: the renovation of the Sacramento Convention Center and the Community Center Theater.
The theater and convention center projects, which are well underway, are being financed largely with hotel occupancy taxes that have plummeted under the nationwide stay-at-home orders. At least two major downtown hotels, the Kimpton Sawyer and the Hyatt Regency, have temporarily closed.
Already the city is wrestling with an estimated $90 million general fund deficit for the second half of this fiscal year and all of next year because of tax revenue declines as the economy veered into sudden recession.
cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Robert Longer and Tom Rusconi!