Maria-Elena Talamantes taking the oath of office for the El Monte Union High School District, April 4, 2012
The California Legislature is adjourned for Spring/Easter break and will resume on April 9, 2012.
On to today’s California headlines:
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday urged support for his proposed tax increase to assure funding for local governments that have taken on increased public safety duties.
“To make realignment work, which is the most far-reaching change in our criminal justice system in decades, we need the money. In order to get the money, we need some more tax revenue,” Brown told media before addressing the California State Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference in San Diego. “But almost equally as important, we need the guarantee this money is going to be available at the local level for public safety.”
Brown is seeking to build support for his initiative that includes a constitutional provision guaranteeing state funding for counties that were given responsibility for some lower-level criminals. The proposal aimed for the November ballot would raise money for schools, public safety and various services by increasing the sales tax by a quarter cent for five years and hiking income taxes on a sliding scale for seven years on Californians making more than $250,000 annually.
The question I hear most frequently from those following Ventura County’s 26th Congressional District race is this: “What’s the story with David Cruz Thayne?”
Thayne is a relative newcomer to the area, having moved to Westlake Village about four years ago, has never run for or been elected to political office and has no apparent base in the district outside of the small network of tennis enthusiasts he has come to know as a tennis instructor, former professional player and parent of a player who competes in local youth tournaments. But he does have this going for him: a team of well respected and talented professionals working with his campaign.
So the big question has been whether he will be able to raise enough money to put this team to work spreading a message that would make him competitive in the June 5 primary.
Despite the high degree of partisanship in Washington and Sacramento, unaffiliated voters in California continue to increase their market share. Decline-to-state voters now account for 21 percent of the state’s electorate, up from the 19 percent of 2008 and double the 10.5 percent of 1995.
Over the last 17 years, both major parties have seen their share decrease. Democrats are now at 44 percent of the state’s voters, down from 48 percent. And Republicans, saddled by a growing Latino electorate that is largely turned off by the GOP, have lost an even bigger chunk as they’ve gone from 37 percent to 30 percent.
California’s dramatic growth in unaffiliated voters, at the current rate, would mean the group would surpass Republicans in 2026 and and Democrats in 2032. The growth is generally attributed to the major parties having a relatively weak organizational presence in California and young voters increasingly registering to vote without declaring a party allegiance.
The rise is not reflected on the national level.
Assemblyman Michael Allen remained on the payroll of two North Bay labor unions after he took office last year, raising questions for the Santa Rosa Democrat who previously ran afoul of state political conflict-of-interest laws because of his work.
State records show that unions representing health care workers at two North Bay hospitals paid Allen at least $20,000 last year for legal services.
The income, which Allen legally had to report under state political disclosure laws, was in addition to the $95,291 Allen earned as a state lawmaker last year.
Lawmakers generally aren’t prohibited from earning outside income so long as they don’t vote on matters that directly affect the companies or organizations that they are working for.
But some political observers said such work raises questions about a candidate’s independence.
“Appearances are everything in politics. It raises the specter of impropriety, whether or not that exists,” said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.
Have a good morning!
Here is Dan Walters talking about interesting politicians: