Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 7, 2012


El Cajon Hills, California

Good Morning.

The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Anti-tax groups put brakes on California spending cap initiative

Fiscal conservatives seeking a constitutional cap on state spending suggested Tuesday they likely will wait until 2014.

Proponents have been concerned that the state spending cap would be buried on the November ballot with tax initiatives and a proposal to limit union dues collection, said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

The California Taxpayers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Small Business Action Committee want to reset the state’s spending limit at the 2010-11 level. They would cap spending growth based on a formula tied to population and cost-of-living increases. The measure was cleared for circulation on Feb. 8, but proponents have yet to gather signatures.

Waiting until 2014 could be a blow for the California Republican Party. Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in recent weeks has touted the spending cap initiative as central to motivating GOP voters to polls in November and winning targeted legislative races.

“There was no question we had the resources to qualify,” Coupal said. “The issue was whether the business community was having second thoughts about whether we’d have the resources to run a credible campaign. I think they looked at the political landscape much like we did and saw some of the tax measures on the ballot and some of the proposals in the Legislature and felt like the timing was not right for spending cap.”

Some Initiatives Flush With Cash, Others Bare

It’s by no means a perfect way to measure the eventual outcome at the polls, but money often talks loudest in campaigns for or against ballot measures in California. And at this juncture, the money recorded in publicly filed fundraising reports has some interesting things to say.

In a nutshell: tobacco is king… and Governor Jerry Brown’s dialing for dollars is paying off.

First, a look at the two initiatives on the June 5 statewide primary ballot. Neither has received much attention — in part, perhaps, because of all the focus on the looming November initiative war.

When it comes to money, one June campaign stands out: opposition to the Proposition 29 tobacco tax increase.

Prop 29 seeks to add $1 in taxes to each pack of cigarettes sold in California, with the money (backers estimate $700 million a year) earmarked for cancer research. As you might expect, the battle lines here are drawn largely between anti-smoking groups and Big Tobacco.

The main campaign in support of Prop 29 has had only one significant contributions so far in 2012, a $1.5 million check from cycling champion Lance Armstrong. The campaign reported less than $250,000 in cash at the end of 2011, and will clearly need more big bucks like those from Armstrong… as the anti-Prop 29 campaign has come in with guns blazing. In just the first eight weeks of 2012, the campaign collected $12 million — most of which came from two large checks, one from Altria/Philip Morris ($7 million) and one from R.J. Reynolds ($3 million).

Thousand Oaks City Council picks Joel Price to fill vacant seat

After 16 interviews over the course of three hours, the Thousand Oaks City Council selected Joel Price on Tuesday night to fill a vacant seat on the council.

The vote was 3 to 1 to appoint Price to the seat vacated by Dennis Gillette, who has retired due to health concerns. Price will serve out the remainder of Gillette’s term beginning March 22 and ending in November 2014.

Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Peña cast the dissenting vote, calling an appointment the worst solution to filling the vacancy. The two other options the council passed on were to leave the seat empty until the city held a special election in November or to adopt an ordinance allowing the council to appoint someone until a special election in November.

During his interview, Price told the council his priorities were public safety, particularly in light of the shift of certain inmates from prison to local jails, along with maintaining open space and stabilizing the economy.

Price, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, told council members he had considered running for council once he retired.

Jerry Brown: ‘It’s good that we have old politicians around’

Gov. Jerry Brown, who will turn 74 next month, found himself last night in the company of an older politician, a rare enough occurrence Brown’s thoughts turned to age.

“It’s good that we have old politicians around,” said Brown, in San Francisco to welcome Israeli President Shimon Peres, 88, to Temple Emanu-El. “There’s a lot of these young ones, and they give us a lot of energy, but we need the wisdom of those who’ve gone through all the struggles.”

The Democratic governor recalled meeting Peres some 40 years ago, when Peres was promoting Israeli bonds.

Enjoy your morning!


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