On to today’s California headlines:
California Democrats are starting 2012 with an $8.7 million fundraising advantage and 13-point voter registration edge over their rivals in the Republican Party.
The cash edge was reported in year-end campaign finance filings released Tuesday. The California Democratic State Central Committee ended 2011 with $9.3 million in the bank, after raising $2.77 million in contributions in the final three months of the year. The California Republican Party came close to matching Democrats in contributions, raising nearly $2.34 million, but reported having just shy of $439,000 cash on hand due to heavy spending on an effort to repeal the new state Senate maps via a referendum drive.
The campaign cash numbers were reported on the same day as Secretary of State Debra Bowen released updated voter registration figures showing that Democrats continue to hold a 13-point lead statewide, 43.63 percent to 30.36 percent. Both parties saw slight declines in registration in the last year, while the percentage of voters registered as decline-to-state rose to an all-time high of 21.24 percent.
California is running out of cash, the state controller warned in a letter to lawmakers Tuesday.
Controller John Chiang said lawmakers need to scrape together $3.3 billion by March — assuming the state’s financial situation doesn’t get any worse.
By Feb. 29, the state is expected to dip below its “safety cushion” of $2.5 billion. Then, in a little more than a week, it will burn through all its cash and drop $730 million into the red, Chiang said.
He urged the state to delay some payments, borrow more money and shift cash among various funds.
The looming problem is the result of another difficult budget year. Chiang said the state, as of Dec. 31, has spent $2.6 billion more than expected while collecting $2.6 billion less in revenue.
There’s another battle brewing in this year’s California ballot wars: The Yes on Proposition 29 campaign is cranking up.
Prop. 29 — called the California Cancer Research Act — would hike tobacco taxes by $1 per pack of cigarettes to fund research and smoking prevention efforts. It’s one of two measures on the June primary statewide ballot.
Expected to be on hand at proponents’ presser today are Jim Knox of the American Cancer Society’s state’s division, Kimberly Weiche Reusché of the American Lung Association in California, and American Lung Association volunteer Steve Larson, who has stage 4 lung cancer. The event runs from noon to 2 p.m. on the Capitol’s west steps.
Gov. Jerry Brown is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for his tax campaign from California Indian tribes at the same time many tribes are seeking to renegotiate lucrative gambling compacts with him.
The Democratic governor, who proposes increasing the state sales tax and income taxes on California’s highest earners, is considered more accommodating of tribal interests than his predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his administration is in compact talks “on various levels” with 15 to 20 tribes, Brown’s tribal negotiator, Jacob Appelsmith, said Tuesday.
Any compacts Brown signs could significantly affect a gambling industry that generates more than $7 billion annually and millions of dollars in payments to the state.
More than nine months ahead of the November tax election, a handful of tribes have contributed more than $300,000 to Brown’s tax campaign, a quarter of the $1.2 million Brown on Tuesday reported raising in 2011.
Enjoy your morning!