Category: Howard Jarvis

Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 23, 2011

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Howard Jarvis, chief sponsor of the controversial Proposition 13, signals victory as he casts his own vote at the Fairfax-Melrose precinct –  June 1978

Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

The California Legislature is not in session and Governor Jerry Brown is continuing to sign or veto bills passed more than a week ago. The deadline for action on the legislation is October 9.

On to today’s California headlines:

Prop. 13 still highly popular, poll finds

Occasional rumblings around the Capitol about changing Proposition 13 aren’t likely to amount to much anytime soon: The landmark tax-limiting measure is about as widely popular today as when it passed in 1978, according to a new Field Poll.

By a greater than 2-to-1 ratio, with 63 percent support, California voters would endorse the measure if it were up for a vote again today, according to the poll.

“It’s still the third rail of California politics,” poll director Mark DiCamillo said. “It’s really an untouchable. Tinkering with Proposition 13 would probably be done at a politician’s own peril.”

Approved by a 65 percent to 35 percent margin 33 years ago, Proposition 13 drastically reduced property taxes and made it more difficult for lawmakers to raise taxes in general.

The level of support slipped slightly in later years, from as low as 50 percent in 1991 to 57 percent in 2008, and politicians seeking to raise revenue in a withering economy occasionally considered trying to change it.

The poll suggests how difficult that might be: Though support among Republicans is greatest, majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters all support the measure, as do majorities of both renters and homeowners, regardless of how long ago they bought their homes.

But a plurality of California voters for the first time since the proposition’s passage not only support the measure but oppose amending it to permit commercial property owners to be taxed at a higher rate. By a 50 percent to 41 percent margin, voters oppose such a change, according to the poll.

Study supports bill to end fingerprints for food stamp recipients

A new study provides support for a bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk that would stop the state’s policy of fingerprinting food stamp recipients.

California’s policy is meant to deter fraud, but it keeps people from seeking aid and creates high administrative costs, according to a study this month by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Participation in California’s food stamp program, CalFresh, is much lower than in other states but would rise about 7 percent if the state stopped fingerprint requirements. The state’s administrative costs for the program, which are some of the highest in the country, would drop about 13 percent, according to the study.

Legislation eliminating the fingerprinting process – AB 6 by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Arleta – is waiting for Brown’s signature. It passed the Legislature despite opposition from Republicans, who argued that the requirement deters fraud, making it harder to get food stamps from multiple jurisdictions or using multiple identities.

“I’m not sure there’s a reasonable argument to say we want to make it easier for more people to get on the welfare system,” said Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee. “We want to make it easier for people to get off the welfare system.”

In 2007, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill, saying it would provide “an opportunity for increased fraud.”

The California District Attorneys Association lobbied against the bill this year and asked Brown for a veto.

“Why are we getting rid of a deterrent that hopefully keeps people from seeking duplicate benefits?” said Cory Salzillo, director of legislation for the association. “Let’s make sure that when the government says certain people should be getting (benefits) that the ones that aren’t entitled to them aren’t accessing them illegally.”

LAUSD schools brace for new wave of layoffs

Angel Barrett, principal of Plummer Elementary in North Hills, stays busy at her campus, where she regularly supervises her nearly 1,000 students during meal breaks, answers parent phone calls, translates teacher conferences and even trims rose bushes.

Come next week though, her workload will be growing substantially.

Plummer is set to lose two office clerks and a plant manager Friday, as Los Angeles Unified School District lays off more than 1,100 non-teaching employees to help balance its budget. Plummer already lost a library aide last year, leading to a shutdown of the school’s library.

“I am not complaining … we will find a way to make it work,” Barrett said.

“But at some point we are going to have to look at our new education system and figure out how we continue to take care of our infrastructure when we are losing all of our supports.”

LAUSD officials closed a $408 million budget deficit for the 2011-12 school year using employee concessions and layoffs, including the loss of office clerks, library aides, campus aides and other school workers.

The final cuts to schools were less drastic than “worst-case scenario” predictions district officials presented in February.

After most employee unions agreed to take four furlough days and the state budget appeared to take a turn for the better, many of the more than 7,000 layoffs that had been expected were prevented.

Obama’s Westside campaign office vandalized

Los Angeles police were investigating a Thursday night  incident in which someone shot BB-gun pellets and threw an object into President Obama’s Westside campaign office, authorities said.

The incident was reported at 7:25 p.m. at the office in the 6700 block of South Centinela Avenue.

The person who called in the incident “reported hearing glass breaking and noticed that windows were broken,” LAPD spokeswoman Sara Faden said.

No one was in the office at the time, Faden said. Police did not say what object was thrown into the office.

The LAPD had no immediate description of the vandal and it was not clear if the act was captured on video.

The incident comes days before the president is due to visit Los Angeles to raise money for what is expected to be a bruising 2012 reelection campaign.

Enjoy your morning!

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Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 15, 2011

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Mission San Juan Capistrano

The California Legislature is not in session. Governor Brown continues to consider bills recently passed, signing some and vetoing others.

On to today’s headlines:

California could pose problem for Obama’s healthcare reform

For more than a year, as conservative states have battled President Obama’s sweeping healthcare law, California was supposed to be a model that showed the law’s promise.

But the state is emerging as one of the biggest headaches for the White House in its bid to help states bring millions of Americans into the healthcare system starting in 2014.

Though still outpacing much of the nation, cash-strapped California is cutting its healthcare safety net more aggressively than almost any other state, despite billions of dollars in special aid from Washington.

And state leaders are pressing the Obama administration for permission to place some of the toughest limits in the nation on government-subsidized healthcare, including a cap on how often people with Medicaid — the healthcare program for the poorest Americans — can go to the doctor.

A decision on some of California’s requests is expected this month. If approved, the limits could open the door to deep cutbacks nationwide.

“There are states that are bellwethers. California is one of them,” said Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program. If the federal government approves California’s requests, other states are almost certain to seek similar treatment, setting off a “race to the bottom,” she said.

The stakes are unusually high for the Obama administration. “Health reform is badly in need of success stories, and early success in California could add decisive momentum,” said Drew Altman, president of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading health policy center. “But if California bogs down, or if there is an implementation failure, it would be a huge negative for the whole implementation effort nationally.”

Jerry Brown rips Republicans, says Jarvis Group is their jockey

Still smarting from the Legislature’s defeat of his tax and jobs plan, Gov. Jerry Brown accused Republican lawmakers Wednesday of an “unconstitutional delegation of power,” saying they are controlled by the anti-tax group Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

“The Republicans in Sacramento have one jockey,” Brown said in a fiery speech to about 1,000 nurses at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

In recent days, Brown has decried the GOP, rallied labor unions and called for “a war on unemployment” in an uncharacteristic spate of public appeals.

The public appearances – including three speeches in three days – are in sharp contrast to the low profile he kept after previous legislative failures, when budget talks with Republicans stalled in March and collapsed months later.

In the aftermath of that defeat, Brown went hiking.

The quiet approach, Democratic strategist Darry Sragow said, didn’t work.

“Now he’s trying something else,” Sragow said. “Plan B, or maybe Plan C, and that’s to engage, to be more confrontational and more visible, to call the question in public.”

The Democratic governor is likely to ask voters next year to raise taxes, and union support is expected to be critical.

Brown piled blame Wednesday on the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for the Legislature’s defeat of his tax and jobs plan, saying some Republican senators told him they would like to vote for the measure but couldn’t because of the association’s political clout.

Now, after months of failed negotiations with Republicans, Brown said, “At least I know who to talk to.”

Even in this blue state, Democrats are fretting

California is a Democratic state. There is virtually no chance that the Republican presidential nominee will spend money to compete here next fall, let alone win California’s 55 electoral votes. But Obama’s standing is shaky, and that could be prompting lesser Democrats to rethink strategy.

“There are a lot of people who are gnashing their teeth,” Democratic consultant Andrew Acosta said, adding that candidates can’t count on Obama for much help. “You’re not going to have the same passion that you had in 2008.”

Rep. Joe Baca, a Democratic congressman from San Bernardino County, calls himself “Working Joe.” But he probably won’t sweat much in 2012. He decided to seek a safely Democratic seat, rather than take on Republican Jerry Lewis, who has been in Congress since 1978.

In the seat where Baca plans to run, Democrats hold a 20 percentage-point registration advantage, compared with a four-point edge in the district where Lewis likely will run.

Closer to home, Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, a Democrat from El Dorado Hills, thought about running for the congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, and probably would have given him a fight. But she told me that she has opted to seek another Assembly term.

There were multiple reasons for her decision. Huber would have had difficulty raising money for a primary fight against Democrat Ami Bera, a well-funded physician who is seeking a rematch against Lungren.

There’s probably another reason. Obama’s unpopularity complicates any Democrat’s chances of winning in the 7th Congressional District, which includes eastern and southern Sacramento County.

Lawmakers depart, but bills remain for Brown to ponder

The lawmakers are out of town, the Capitol is quiet and the governor is back at his desk after a Vegas trip.

But as the lawmakers fled back to their districts, they deposited scores of bills on the desk of Gov. Brown, who has a month to sign them, veto them or let them become law without his signature. Since he actually reads the bills – not all governors do, believe it or not – and actually writes his own veto messages, he’ll be at his desk quite awhile.

Here are some thumbnail descriptions of what he’s looking at.

There’s SB 397, by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, that would start to bring civic participation into the digital age, allowing Californians to securely register to vote online. While still necessary to leave the house on Election Day, it’s one less convenient excuse for not voting, especially for those pesky 18- to 24-year-olds who like to talk a big game about participation and engagement but can’t seem to back it up with action outside their Twitter accounts. Who knows: Maybe a text-in-your-vote proposal is just a few sessions away.

There’s more than one way to create a green economy, as suggested by Sen. Mark Leno, D- San Francisco, whose SB 676 allows hemp cultivation for industrial purposes. Not to be mistaken with marijuana, industrial hemp contains no more than 3/10 of 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s psychoactive, munchies-inducing compound. A sustainable crop mired in stigma for years, hemp is already used in plenty of healthy food, textile, and natural body care products on the market. Just ask the nearest hipster on the nutritional benefits of hemp milk. According to the bill, California is already home to 55 percent of the nation’s hemp product companies, part of a $400 million industry growing at a rate of $26 million per year. 

Women make up more than half of California’s labor force, according to the Economic Development Department, and a batch of bills by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, Assemblymembers Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Roger Hernandez, D- West Covina, addresses one of the workplace’s greatest gender challenges: pregnancy. SB 222 by Evans would assure individual health insurance policies provide coverage for maternity services. Hernandez’s AB 210 would do the same for group policies.  SB 299 by Evans prohibits an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes pregnancy leave. And Lara’s SB 592 closes a gap in California law that failed to define employer “interference” with an employee’s ability to take pregnancy leave as an independent basis for liability. The bill would match California law to the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) standard.

Enjoy your morning!

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Howard Jarvis Killed Jerry Brown Tax Plan?

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Howard Jarvis, chief sponsor of the controversial Proposition 13,
signals victory as he casts his own vote at the Fairfax-Melrose
precinct –  June 1978. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Well, Howard Jarvis passed away more than two decades ago (1986), but his legacy which is driven by California taxpayers remains. I guess Jarvis’ legacy is giving angst to left-wing Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton.

The problem with Jerry Brown is that he peeled off two GOP Assembly Members (Nathan Fletcher and Cameron Smyth) at the end of the legislative session to pass his plan and really did not let his proposal have a thorough vetting. If Brown were to call a special legislative session, and the matter could be discussed and amendments considered, Brown and the voters of California may have better success.

But, I doubt George Skelton will be mollified. Oh well.

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