February 22, 2012 archive

California Poll Watch: Rival Tax Increase Measures Blocking Jerry Brown


California Governor Jerry Brown speaks during the California Democrats State Convention Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, in San Diego

Yeah, those rival two tax increases have thrown a monkey wrench into the California Governor’s plans, a new poll shows.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s political aides on Wednesday continued a public campaign to convince rival tax proponents to back off, releasing a poll summary that showed that none of three proposed ballot measures will pass if they’re all before voters in November.

Both Brown’s temporary tax hike — a half-cent rise in the sales tax coupled with increased levies on higher earners — and a proposed tax increase on millionaires sponsored by some unions score more than 50% on the poll. Brown’s measure is at 53% while the millionaire’s tax polls at 55%, according to a statement from Sacramento-based pollster Jim Moore.

The third proposed tax hike, an across-the-board income tax hike to fund public education pushed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger, lags with only 31% support.

But if all three appear on the ballot, the release states, none cross the 50% threshold. Brown’s wins 43% support, the millionaire’s tax 42% and the income tax 17%.

The survey of 500 registered California voters has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

I have talked to many Democratic friends down in Los Angeles County and they are not voting for ANY tax increases.

Brown’s proposal is likely to fail anyway since after former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s many promises that increased or new taxes were temporary, they never seem to be.

By the way, I saw Arnold walking in Santa Monica on Sunday morning. I said good morning and he grumbled back the same.


Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 22, 2012


Moorpark College, Moorpark, California

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Community colleges hit by $149-million shortfall

California community colleges were struggling Tuesday to absorb an unexpected $149-million budget shortfall that will mean more class cuts, layoffs, borrowing and probable elimination of summer programs affecting thousands of students.

In the latest fallout from California’s ongoing fiscal crisis, the state’s 112 community colleges reported that revenues from students’ fees are $107 million below projections for the current fiscal year as more economically strapped students seek and receive fee waivers. In addition, property tax revenues also fell short of estimates by about $41 million.

The news has caused more angst and numbers-crunching in a system that has seen its budget slashed by $809 million since 2008. The new cuts pose a particular challenge because most colleges have begun spring session and have little flexibility to change course offerings or make other adjustments that could minimize the effects.

In California, Mitt Romney holds lead, but Santorum gains

While challengers rise and recede in the Republican presidential primaries, Mitt Romney’s sail remains full in California.

Rick Santorum, the most recent alternative to surge, remains six percentage points behind the former Massachusetts governor among California Republicans, according to a new Field Poll.

Newt Gingrich, who came within striking distance of Romney three months ago, has fallen nearly 20 points behind.

Though the Republican nominee is widely expected to be decided before California holds its primary election on June 5, the poll suggests a potential backstop for Romney should the race reach the Golden State.

California Field Poll results graphic is here.

Dan Walters: California’s red light cameras in jeopardy

The battle over the cameras that many California cities and counties use to nab motorists who blow through red lights or – more commonly – make rolling stops for right turns has raged in the Capitol for several years without resolution.

Critics of the cameras – which are installed and operated by private companies for shares of the resulting traffic fine revenues – say they are used primarily to generate income for local government coffers and serve little or no traffic safety purpose.

The critics found a friendly audience for their complaints in the Legislature. Two years ago, they finally won legislative approval of a bill that would have reduced fines for rolling red light turns caught on camera, overcoming stout opposition from lobbyists for local governments.

California city and county pensions in trouble, report says

Many of California’s biggest local governments spend an average of 10 cents of every dollar covering pension costs, according to a study of the largest independent pension plans released Tuesday.

The study, by Stanford professor and former Assemblyman Joe Nation and a junior at the school who is a member of a nonprofit that studies California governance, examines plans for cities and counties that do not rely on the state’s largest public pension group, CalPERS. They include the city and county of Los Angeles, the cities of Fresno, San Jose, San Francisco and San Diego, and other jurisdictions. The pension plan unveiled by Gov. Jerry Brown last year is intended to change these plans, as well as thousands of other local ones run by CalPERS.

The study found that pension spending grew by 11.4% over the past decade in the 24 largest independent pensions, larger than any other category of government spending. “That rapid growth,” the report states, “is likely to accelerate over the foreseeable future, exerting pressure on spending in other categories.”

The report pinned the debt of the plans at between $36 billion and $136 billion.

Enjoy your morning!


CA-30: Sen Barbara Boxer Endorses Rep Howard Berman


Rep. Howard Berman

California Senator Barbara Boxer has entered the Democratic Party intra-fight in the San Fernando Valley by endorsing Rep. Howard Berman.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) has decided to endorse Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) in his bruising intraparty fight with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley congressional district seat.

In a letter  to Berman dated Monday, Boxer said she was abandoning her position of neutrality because of a mailer the Sherman campaign sent out which Boxer said “outrageously tries to connect you to the San Bruno tragedy.”

The Sherman campaign sent the mailer to call attention to an independent expenditure by a PG&E, which has contributed $10,000 to support Berman.  PG&E is operating as a “super PAC” — a corporate campaign organization that can spend unlimited amounts for or against candidates so long as they do not coordinate with the candidate they are supporting.  At least one other super PAC has contributed to elect Berman.

Sherman has urged Berman to sign a pledge aimed at neutralizing Super PACs, which Sherman expects to play a big role helping reelect Berman over himself.  Berman so far  has ignored Sherman’s entreaty to “sign the pledge.”

The mailer refers to 2010’s PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people, injured others and leveled homes.  “Instead of spending money to make their pipelines safer, PG&E is donating to a Super Pac set up to elected Congressman Howard Berman,” the mailer says.

California’s senior Senator Democrat Dianne Feinstein has already endorsed Rep. Berman.

One has to wonder at this point whether Rep. Brad Sherman may be reconsidering his decision to not move to Thousand Oaks or Oak Park and run in CA-26?


Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-02-22


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