May 02 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 2, 2012

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Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Oceanside, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session. California Assembly and State Senate Floor Sessions will begin at noon.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

California Governor Jerry Brown is in Los Angeles today promoting a Pet Lover’s License Plate.

California’s first dog, Sutter Brown, has a barking gig in Los Angeles today.

Sutter is joining Gov. Jerry Brown, actor Pierce Brosnan and dog whisperer Cesar Millan to promote the state’s Pet Lover’s License Plate, which would help fund spay and neuter programs. The presser starts at 2:30 p.m. at Petco, 1873 Westwood Blvd.

How is Sutter getting to L.A.? “FedEx,” joked Brown spokesman Gil Duran via Twitter.

Yeah, right. The Humane Society’s Jennifer Fearing tweeted: “Gas up the @HumaneSociety Prius! Road trip with @SutterBrown! I’m bringing sandwiches, per his request.”

The governor, who recently signed Assembly Bill 610 to extend the period of time for pre-ordering the plate, will take part later this afternoon in a Milken Institute 2012 Global Conference discussion on attracting and keeping out-of-state investment.

On to today’s California headlines:

California tax revenue $3 billion less than target, report says

The legislative analyst’s office has a new number that is adding to California’s financial headache: $3 billion. That’s the total amount that tax revenue has lagged behind goals set by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration in the current fiscal year.

The shortfall was detailed in a report released on Tuesday by the nonpartisan office, which provides budget advice to lawmakers.

Much of that gap comes from a disappointing April, the most important month for income taxes. Income taxes were $2.07 billion short of the $9.43-billion goal, and corporate taxes fell $143 million short of an expected $1.53 billion, according to the report.

When April’s poor results are tacked on to earlier shortfalls, the state has fallen about $3 billion behind tax goals, the LAO said. The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s already cautioned Tuesday that poor tax revenue was imperiling California’s financial recovery.

Dan Walters: California’s school finance system is both convoluted and irrational

Thousands of California teachers were given layoff notices a few weeks ago because state law requires the slips to be sent out each spring if administrators and trustees believe cuts are needed to balance their budgets.

Later this month, the districts must decide whether to continue or rescind those layoffs on the assumption that by then they’ll know the state of their 2012-13 finances.

That’s problematic in any year, because the Legislature, which supplies most of the schools’ money, typically doesn’t settle the state budget until weeks or even months later.

A law passed by voters in 1988 is supposed to govern what schools receive, but its numbers are subject to annual manipulation, such as “deferring” payments for a year or more.

State and local school financing has dropped by about $700 per pupil since 2008 and 20 percent of state appropriations are being deferred, thus requiring districts to use their reserves or borrow money.

24 San Fernando Valley schools seek charter status

Two dozen high-performing Los Angeles schools are seeking to become charter campuses in search of more money and increased flexibility.

The list reads like an honor roll of academic excellence. Every school has surpassed the state’s target score of 800 on the Academic Performance Index, which is based on standardized tests.

Although many of the schools considered the move in hopes of greater funding, campus officials said they also began to see the benefits of increased freedom over such things as curriculum, testing and schedules.

“Finance is one key factor but not the only one,” said Jose Cole-Gutierrez, who directs the charter school division of the L.A. Unified School District.

The Board of Education heard from several supporters of the schools’ plans Tuesday; it’s expected to vote on the proposals in June.

Charter schools are free from some restrictions that govern traditional schools. Independent charters sever most ties with the school system; L.A. Unified provides periodic oversight.

The 24 San Fernando Valley schools don’t want to go that far. They are seeking to become “affiliated” or “dependent” charters. Affiliated charters are still bound by the district’s union contracts, for example.Becoming a charter of any sort results in a key advantage: The schools get a block grant from the state — about $385 per student — that can deliver more dollars with fewer rules.

“It’s quite positive” for the schools, said L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy, adding that the increased money comes from the state, not from district resources, during a period of sweeping budget cuts.

Herdt: Attack of the independent voters?

Steve Peace is a former Democratic lawmaker from San Diego, producer of the cult satire film “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” and co-chairman of the Independent Voter Project.

He also was the behind-the-scenes architect of Proposition 14, the measure that created the top-two primary system in California that will debut in June. Under its rules, the major parties are no longer guaranteed a ticket on November’s general election ballot.

Only the top two finishers in each race will move on, and candidates’ party labels guarantee them nothing. Every voter can vote for any candidate. It is a jungle-style system that Democratic and Republican party leaders abhor.

Peace likes that last aspect just fine. In fact, it’s largely what led him to embrace the independent voter movement and to advocate for the top-two primary.

Unless they adapt, Peace believes that political parties are destined to go the way of landline telephones and 2D movies.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters Daily Video: The Golden State’s population slows:

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