Good Wednesday morning!
The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.
On to today’s California headlines:
The vote count for the June 5 tobacco tax ballot initiative remained tight Tuesday as elections officials across California continued tallying hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.
The measure, Proposition 29, was losing by 17,534 votes – or four-tenths of 1% — a gap that narrowed from 63,000 on election night, according to the California secretary of state’s office.
More than 4.9 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The secretary of state’s office estimates that, as of Tuesday morning, just over 370,000 ballots across that state remained uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.
The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.
Majority Democrats may be able to crow over producing an on-time state budget, but that’s like claiming a trophy at half-time.
Though the Legislature passed the budget Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown and leading Democrats are still immersed in private talks to close out a number of divisive issues before they can seal the final deal.
Among those: So-called “trigger” cuts that would be automatically imposed if voters in November reject tax hikes, how to potentially erase 15 days from the school calendar, a 5 percent pay cut for thousands of state workers and ways to cushion blows to the poor and disabled.
Democratic leaders say their goal is to act on about 20 bills needed to implement the budget in the coming days, perhaps as soon as Thursday. Brown, also a Democrat, is reportedly sitting on the main budget bill until he sees the other so-called “trailer” bills. Then he can take his blue pencil and make deeper cuts, if necessary.
Brown has until June 27 to make up his mind on the budget and line-item spending vetoes.
Election seasons come and go, and with them public attention to the political process waxes and wanes.
“The really heartbreaking fact of the matter is that a lot of the excitement kicks in about two weeks before Election Day. But by then it’s too late, and a lot of people are left sitting on the sidelines,” said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “If we can engage people when they’re excited, we have an opportunity to create a lifelong voter.”
The Legislature on Tuesday moved closer toward embracing one way to help Californians seize that moment by allowing voter registration to take place through Election Day — an approach that has sparked sharp partisan divisions in the past.
On a party-line vote, with majority Democrats in support, the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved a bill to allow same-day voter registration as soon as a new statewide computerized database is operational. The system will let elections officials check the status of all voters statewide.
The measure — AB 1436, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles — has been approved by the Assembly and next heads to the Senate Public Safety Committee, which must consider the bill because it would increase the maximum penalty for voter fraud.
California’s long slow slog out of the Great Recession will continue for at least three more years amid tepid job growth and persistent high unemployment, according to a forecast released today.
And there is a critical component still missing in the state and national economies, said the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast.
“There has been no recovery,” economist Edward Leamer, the forecast director, lamented in his outlook for the nation.
The problem is that growth in both gross domestic product and jobs has been weak since the recession ended in the second quarter of 2009.
“More of the same is in the cards, although the housing market is turning around, promising there will be growth in the years ahead, even with frugal consumers and frugal governments holding things back,” Leamer said.
He points out that in each of the previous 10 recessions, GDP — the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. — returned to its previous peak within two years. This time it has taken almost four years.
He forecasts GDP growth of 2.4 percent by the end of next year, increasing to 3.4 percent by the end of 2014.
Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said that the state and local economies will likely play out as UCLA predicts.
Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video:’Two blows for open government’