The California Legislature is in session, but there are no floor sessions scheduled until Monday.
An important deadline to remember for today:
- February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.
Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.
On to today’s California headlines:
- Carl Washington, a former assemblyman, to plead guilty to fraud – A top L.A. County Probation Department executive who once was a state assemblyman has agreed to plead guilty to federal bank fraud charges, admitting he bilked financial institutions out of nearly $200,000 by falsely claiming to be an identity theft victim. Carl Washington, a division chief of intergovernmental relations and legislative affairs, has agreed to plead guilty to three counts of bank fraud for causing losses of $193,661 to financial institutions, including Farmers and Merchants Bank, First City Credit Union and L.A. Financial Credit Union. Washington, 47, of Paramount, began in the summer of 2011 to run up large debts and file bogus police reports with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, blaming his debts on identity theft.
- LAO has ‘serious concerns’ with governor’s Prop. 98 calculation – The State Legislative Analyst’s Office is calling into question the legality of Gov. Brown’s proposal to count new revenue from Proposition 39 toward funding for education. In a report released Thursday, the LAO warns that the governor’s plan for the initiative, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, violates the intent of the law. Proposition 39, which won with 61 percent vote last November, is projected to raise up to half a billion dollars in revenue this fiscal year and as much as a billion per year starting next year for clean energy projects. It does this by changing the tax formula for multistate corporations doing business in California to one used by most other states.
- California faces rising bill for retiree healthcare – First the good news: The state controller says the cost of providing healthcare to retired public employees did not rise as fast as expected. Now the bad news: Over the next three decades, the bill is expected to be $63.84 billion more than Sacramento has set aside to pay for it, and state officials don’t have a clear plan to cover those costs. The updated figures were released Thursday by state Controller John Chiang. “The current pay-as-we-go model of funding retiree health benefits is shortsighted and a recipe for undermining the fiscal health of future generations of Californians,” Chiang said in a statement. “However, today’s challenge won’t necessarily become tomorrow’s crisis if policymakers can muster the fiscal discipline to invest now so that we can pay tens of billions of dollars less later.” The unfunded liability for retiree healthcare, considered one of the most troublesome threats to California’s financial health, was previously pegged at $62.1 billion.
- Brown may forge alliance with GOP governors on health plan – When Gov. Jerry Brown meets with the nation’s other governors this weekend in Washington, D.C., he will find common ground with some unlikely counterparts on an unlikely issue: President Obama’s healthcare plan. Among the governors now moving nearly as aggressively as Brown to implement the federal healthcare law are conservatives who have long fought to unravel it. They are finding that they cannot afford to pass up Obama’s offer of billions of dollars in federal aid to cover expansion of their Medicaid programs for the poor. Arizona’s Jan Brewer, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez and Nevada’s Brian Sandoval — all Republicans — have bucked the GOP trend on the Obama law by opting to accept the new federal money. In Florida, where 20% of residents do not have health insurance, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he is joining the renegade group.
- Field Poll: California voters want driver’s licenses, other privileges for illegal immigrants – Californians in record numbers want to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, not charge them extra for college, and offer a path to citizenship, a new Field Poll shows. Attitudes are changing fast: This marks the first time a majority of voters have turned thumbs-up on driver’s licenses since the Field Poll began asking the question in 2005. But voters indicated the welcome mat should extend only to immigrants already living in the state. “Voters are in favor of liberalizing some of the laws toward undocumented immigrants, but at the same time, they don’t want to diminish border control,” said Mark DiCamillo, Field Poll director.
- Freer home sales market draws Californians to Texas – What draws working and middle class Californians to states like Texas is mostly a freer home sales market, which brings lower prices. A zero state income tax rate and lower business tax rates that provide incentives for job creation also matter, but to a lesser extent. The Texas advantage occurs even though its property base tax rates are double or triple those in California. However, although the tax rates are higher, because home prices are lower, the rates are applied to the lower values. That is the conclusion of Jed Kolko, the chief economist for Trulia, an online home sales listing company. Kolko found that net California out-migration (those leaving minus those coming in) is higher for the working and middle class than it is for the wealthy. Kolko’s statistical analysis actually found that high-income households making $200,000 per year or more were holding steady in California.
- Garcetti and Greuel have spent $6.6 million and it’s pretty even – Thursday’s latest filing of campaign finance reports in the mayoral race shows the top two candidates essentially as matched in fundraising as they are in positions on the issues. There’s no real news in the numbers, so to sum up: Total raised: Garcetti:$4,138,938 Greuel: $4,078,547 Total spent: Garcetti: $3,501,589 Greuel: $3,154,086 Cash left for final 12 days: Greuel: $1,668,319 Garcetti: $1,504,723
- Kristin Olsen to move to smaller office after failed GOP move – Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen was ordered to move immediately into a much smaller office in the wake of a failed effort within the Assembly Republican Caucus to oust its leader, Connie Conway. The move was widely regarded as punishment for Olsen, R-Modesto, who had been touted by some Assembly Republicans as a potential successor to Conway. The caucus decided nearly unanimously Thursday to retain Conway, with only one person voting no, members said. “I don’t know the exact circumstances of the reason for the move, but I do know that Assembly member Olsen was not the vote to vacate the chair,” said Kim Nickols, Olsen’s spokeswoman. Nickols declined substantive comment about the caucus leadership turmoil, saying only that “I know that the only thing that’s important to her is that the party unifies, refines its message and implements winning strategies.”