Good Friday morning!
The California Legislature is in session. But, both houses have adjourned until noon on Monday, July 2, 2012. Today’s schedule is here.
On to today’s Californa headlines:
The proponents of a tax measure on November’s ballot – a rival measure to Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative – have sued the secretary of state over what they say is a change in law that could “imminently threaten to alter the results” of the fall election.
Molly Munger, who is sponsoring the Our Children Our Future measure to raise taxes for education, filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court Thursday alleging that elections officials in Los Angeles and Alameda counties did not follow proper procedures and allowed Brown’s initiative to qualify before her initiative. Munger had submitted petitions for her initiative before Brown did.
Because Brown’s initiative qualified first, it will receive higher placement on the ballot than Munger’s. The suit also challenges the validity of a bill passed as part of the budget this week that would place all constitutional amendments at the top of a ballot, behind only bond measures. Brown’s measure is a constitutional amendment; Munger’s is not.
Gov. Jerry Brown sliced $195.7 million from the budget that lawmakers sent him, disappointing fellow Democrats by taking money from child care, college scholarships and state parks and adding more to a rainy-day fund.
In a series of line-item vetoes detailed Thursday, Brown brought general fund spending to $91.3 billion and the overall state budget, including dedicated funds and bond money, to $142.4 billion.
The governor did not explain his vetoes publicly. His finance director, Ana Matosantos, said he wanted a larger reserve to cushion the state against any financial turbulence in the coming fiscal year, which begins Sunday.
Although Brown reduced some park funds, officials said state operations would cease as of Sunday at only five of the 70 properties originally proposed for closure. Agreements with private donors, nonprofits and other government agencies will keep 40 of the natural and historic sites open; 25 others will continue operating as more funding agreements are negotiated.
I told you so. Or, more accurately, I was one of several commentators who warned voters two years ago that a ballot measure to reduce the legislative vote margin on the state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority could backfire.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who rode advocacy of political reform into his first governorship, is a more-than-willing participant in this subversion of legislative process. He’s implying to voters that he’s solely focused on achieving his political aims, such as raising their taxes, and doesn’t really care what it takes to get there.
Earlier, he had signed a measure requiring all initiative ballot measures to go on the November ballot, aimed specifically at making it easier for unions to defeat a pending “paycheck protection” measure that would restrict collection of campaign funds via paycheck deductions, reversing a policy he followed himself as secretary of state before becoming governor in 1975.
So why are Democrats wielding their newly minted budgetary power so ruthlessly? Because they can, one supposes, and perhaps because with the Legislature’s public approval ratings already at rock bottom, they have nothing to lose.
Lowering the budget vote threshold to a simple majority in 2010, may have, as its advocates said, enhanced democracy. But the way it’s been used is an anti-democratic regression to insular, arrogant and self-dealing governance.
A judge Thursday sentenced Russell Takasugi, the son of Nao Takasugi — a late assemblyman and Oxnard mayor — to six years and eight months in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from two elderly clients.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Colleen Toy White listened to 14 people, including friends, relatives and clients of Takasugi, address the court before sentencing. She also said she read more than 90 letters from supporters along with a letter from Takasugi.
She added that prosecutor Marc Leventhal submitted a document with details of the crime, giving a voice to the deceased victims.
White said she took into consideration that the Simi Valley lawyer had no criminal record, had paid more than $1 million as restitution and had been disbarred from practicing law for life.
Enjoy your morning!