Category: Kevin McCarthy

Flap’s California Morning Collection: July 17, 2012

Los Angeles Roadrunners November 26, 2011

Venice Beach, California

The California Legislature is not in session for a summer recess.

The California Assembly has adjourned until August 6, 2012 and the California State Senate is also in adjournment.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

No “T” word, dubious claims in Gov. Brown’s ad for Prop. 30

The campaign to pass Proposition 30 — Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax raising measure — released its first web ad Monday and guess what: Not once is the word “tax” mentioned.
The one minute, 39 second ad features people including Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin and California Federation of Teachers secretary treasurer Jeff Freitas, along with others, talking about Brown’s actions so far in office, such as his vetoing a budget last year and cutting back on state issued cell phones and cars.
Translation: You can trust Brown with your tax money, though, again, the T-word never comes up. In its place are “the plan asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share” and that it “asks everyone to do their part.”
Prop. 30 would increase the sales tax by a quarter of a percentage point for four years and increases the personal income rate on a sliding scale for those making more than $250,000 per year. The income tax increase would be in place seven years. You can read a detailed breakdown here.

Former Gov. Gray Davis: centrist politicians ‘are toast today’

Can centrist politicians survive and thrive in today’s political climate?

Former California Gov. Gray Davis doesn’t think so.

“Those people are toast today,” the California Democrat said in a taped interview that first aired yesterday, describing his own ideological score as governor as “left of center, maybe a moderate liberal.”

Davis made his comments in an interview that aired at the end of “Chasing the Hill,” a Web-based series that debuted Sunday. The political drama chronicles a fictional California congresswoman’s tough re-election fight in the primary.

Davis, who has been active in California politics since the 1970s, said he’s seen partisan gridlock get worse over the years, saying the “the heightened partisan divide has made governing extraordinarily difficult.”

“You have to either be on the left or the right or else you end up with both sides shooting arrows at you,” he said.

Howard Berman outraises Brad Sherman but still lags in cash on hand

The weekend brought good news and bad for Rep. Howard Berman, who is gripped in a tough race against fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman for a San Fernando Valley congressional seat.

The latest campaign finance reports showed Berman has outpaced Sherman in fundraising since the 2012 election cycle began. Berman added some $500,000 to his coffers during the latest reporting period, bringing the total raised to almost $3.5 million. Sherman has reported collecting more than $2.7 million altogether. But, because he had stockpiled funds raised earlier and lent himself $700,000, Sherman has much more money in the bank—more than $3 million, compared with Berman’s $447,000—as the competitors move into the final months before the Nov. 6 election.

The so-called “super-PAC” supporting Berman, the Committee to Elect and Effective Valley Congressman, reported it was down to $7,800 cash on hand and was nearly $48,000 in debt. The group, which is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts from donors so long as it does not coordinate its efforts with the candidate’s campaign, spent nearly $600,000 to support Berman during the primary.

Also Sunday, the Berman campaign fell just short of getting the 60% of delegates needed to win an official endorsement from the California Democratic Party. The 58.5%,  compared with Sherman’s 23.4%, certainly gives Berman bragging rights—Berman on Monday called the margin “a clear sign of our campaign’s momentum.” But it wasn’t enough to win him the money, campaign volunteers and other help an official endorsement could have brought.

Rep. McCarthy comes to town, trashes bullet train

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking House Republican, came to town for lunch at Costa Mesa’s Center Club and didn’t hesitate to trash the same high-speed rail plan supported by his lunch host.

The majority whip from Bakersfield spoke to the midday gathering of the Orange County Business Council and the OC Forum, displaying a sharp wit and offering an explanation for Washington’s high level of partisanship. But let’s start with his attack on California’s high-speed rail, which is endorsed by OCBC President Lucy Dunn.

“It’s not the right time or the right approach,” McCarthy said during the question-and-answer period, expressing particular concern about there being just $8 billion available at the moment for a project that will cost well over $50 billion. “I want a new house but I can’t afford one. So do I go buy a front door?”

After lunch, I asked Dunn about McCarthy’s comments.

“Having every dollar in the bank before you begin – that’s not how infrastructure gets built, ” said the Republican, who served as director of the state Department of Housing and Community Development under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I really admire Kevin McCarthy… but I’m much more realistic about infrastructure getting built and not so political.”

I  then got a chance to sit down with McCarthy and read him Dunn’s comments. He argued that highways and airports have ongoing funding sources to cover their costs, pointing to gas taxes and flight surcharges. (He didn’t mention local measures, like Orange County’s Measure M half-cent sales tax. Measure M raised $4 billion in its first 20 years and could raise $15 billion over the next 30 years and is a key source of funding for freeway improvements and other transportation projects.)

“If you’re going to build a road, you pay a gasoline tax,” he said. “If you’re going to build an airport, you pay taxes on tickets. High-speed rail will not pay for itself – it needs subsidies.”

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters Daily video: Will CalPERS’ low earnings boost Jerry Brown?


Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 3, 2012


El Cajon Hills, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session. California Assembly and State Senate Floor Sessions will begin at noon.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

California Governor Jerry Brown today takes the stage along with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Gov. Jerry Brown joins former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today at a big-ticket Bay Area Council event in San Jose.

The 2012 Outlook Conference will look at trends affecting business, the economy and politics. Rice is speaking at 1 p.m., while Brown is scheduled to start at 3:35 p.m. sharp. Clinton’s talk is set for 5 p.m. Other speakers include the CEOs of LinkedIn, DuPont, PG&E Corp., and Kaiser Permanente.

On to today’s California headlines:

Signatures for Molly Munger’s tax plan submitted in Los Angeles

Supporters of a tax measure backed by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger have started submitting the voter signatures they’ve collected in their qualification campaign.

The campaign announced late today that it is submitting 241,049 signatures to elections officials in Los Angeles County. Backers hope to submit signatures of 775,000 voters in all. Roughly 504,000 valid signatures are needed to qualify the proposal for the November ballot.

Campaign spokesman Nathan Ballard said supporters are wrapping up signature-gathering efforts this week. He said he is “optimistic” that they will hit that target.

Munger’s measure, which is supported by the California State PTA, would raise income taxes on a sliding scale on all but the poorest California workers for 12 years, with most of the estimated $10 billion in revenues going directly to schools and early development programs. A portion of the money would be used to pay down school bond debt for the first several years.

Supporters of the tax measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which would temporarily hike the sales tax and increase income taxes for Californians making more than $250,000 a year, sought earlier this year to persuade Munger to drop her effort so there would not be more than one tax measure on the same ballot. That campaign has not yet announced turning in petition signatures.

Brown’s tax hike finishes signature gathering

Supporters of Governor Jerry Brown’s tax increase initiative believe they’ve got the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, less than seven weeks after hitting the streets.

The initiative to temporarily raise income taxes on the most wealthy and sales taxes on everyone wrapped up its paid signature gathering on Wednesday, according to Democratic political consultant Gale Kaufman, a top advisor to the campaign.

It will likely take several weeks for elections officials to verify all the signatures, collected at a brisk pace following the governor’s eleventh hour compromise with liberal activists who were originally pushing a millionaires tax initiative.

Meantime, Brown’s fall tax hike competition also made news Wednesday.

Education activist Molly Munger and her PTA allies began submitting signatures for their temporary, virtually across-the-board income tax increase to help fund K-12 schools. The independently wealthy Munger has bankrolled the entire signature gathering effort — some $7.2 million. And as she said in a March interview, she’s prepared to self-fund the entire 2012 campaign.

Even so, the Munger measure continues to fare poorly in public statewide polls, though its backers remain adamant that it’s the best choice for voters who care about school funding.

SEIU drops initiatives as part of California hospital accord

A labor union that pushed a pair of ballot measures to rein in excessive hospital billing and expand healthcare for the poor has dropped them — in exchange for an agreement that, among other things, enlists the hospital industry in the union’s organizing efforts.

The agreement, announced late Wednesday, ends a months-long public battle between the Service Employees International Union and the California Hospital Assn. Private hospitals had accused the union of using the initiative process as leverage in contract negotiations to expand its membership, a charge the union strongly denied.

Under the new pact, dubbed a Partnership for a Healthy California, the hospital association pledges to facilitate meetings between the SEIU and CEOs of hospitals and health systems employing 100,000 non-union workers. (Those hospitals, the document notes, are not bound to sign organizing agreements.) In turn, the SEIU agreed not to file petition signatures with county election officials and the secretary of state’s office.

On Wednesday, both parties downplayed the organizing component of the deal, instead painting the agreement as the product of an unprecedented partnership dedicated to tackling the most pressing issues in modern healthcare. The SEIU and the hospital assn. vowed to form a labor-management task force to find ways to lower costs, improve quality and expand access.

The End of Illegal Immigration, and its Political Implications

There are two important political ramifications to these numbers.

  •     The explosive growth in Latino voters may have already happened.  Latinos accounted for about 20 percent of the California electorate in 2010, and that percent has risen dramatically since 1994 and Proposition 187, the anti-immigrant measure.  It will probably continue rising, but not as rapidly as it has.  There are 4.5 million under 18 Latinos; they will reach voting age in the next two decades, and most are citizens and were born here.  But that may not be enough to maintain the current levels of growth of the Latino electorate, and that electorate will join the rest of Californians in growing older.  As Josh Kraushaar of the Nation Journal wrote recently, “For Democrats, the expected long-term explosion of Latino voters may not end up materializing.  While there was a significant spike in the Hispanic population at the first half of the last decade, the economic recession and tighter immigration crackdown have slowed that to a trickle.”
  •     The second is the passing of immigration as a political issue.  Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute recently wrote that, ”The illegal immigration problem is going away.”  Illegal immigration became a political issue because, as Barone put it, “Mexican immigrants tend to be younger, poorer, less educated and less fluent in English.  They are also more likely to be illegal.”  With this flow stopped, many observers see the political issue eventually fading away.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters in his Daily Video: Budget season is here


Flap’s California Morning Collection: January 12, 2012


Petco Park, San Diego

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Number of millionaires in state surged last year

The number of Californians reporting incomes of more than $1 million increased sharply last year, as did their share of the income stream, a new report from the Franchise Tax Board reveals.

There were 10,000 taxpayers in the million-dollar income club during the 2009 tax year – just one-third of 1 percent of all returns – but that number jumped 27 percent to more than 13,000 for 2010, based on tax returns filed in 2011.

California GOP needs more like Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Listening for two hours to House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, I didn’t once hear the word “Obamacare.” And in an election year. How refreshing!

Not that the Bakersfield congressman doesn’t oppose President Obama’s sweeping healthcare act. He does and voted against it.

He just is not as nauseatingly trite about it as, say, Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota tea party bore who can’t seem to get through two sentences without regurgitating “Obamacare.” But I’m getting off track.

Anyway, Iowa caucus-goers booted her out of the presidential race.

I’m sitting wondering why McCarthy — savvy, substantive, sane and civil — and other Republican members of Congress don’t run for higher office in California: U.S. senator or governor.

Landing in one of those slots would put them in position to run for the White House from a state possessing the nation’s most potent political arsenal: roughly one-fifth of the necessary convention delegates to nominate, and electoral votes to elect, a president.

I’m not saying that McCarthy would be a great senator or governor, let alone a president. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

But he certainly has a track record in office that shows he’s plenty qualified to be a senator or governor. And that’s a long step ahead of our most recent Republican nominees for those offices.

California legislative analyst expects lower revenue than Gov. Brown, raising specter of more cuts

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office on Wednesday questioned whether Gov. Jerry Brown has put more state programs at risk of further cuts by projecting overly optimistic tax revenues.

Mac Taylor, the legislative analyst, also suggested that the Legislature should consider providing more certainty to schools, which will be on tenterhooks through the year waiting to see whether they can avoid the nearly $5 billion in cuts that would be “triggered” if voters reject Brown’s November tax-hike initiative.

Taylor said the governor, who released his $92.6 billion budget last week, is counting on taxes from investments by the wealthy that might not materialize.

“What we’re concerned about is that his capital gains assumption is a little bit optimistic,” Taylor said at a news conference unveiling the LAO report. “We’ve looked historically, we’ve considered what’s happening in housing, which is fairly stagnant, we’ve looked at projections of where we think the (stock) market will be, and we do get considerably lower numbers from capital gains.”

The LAO’s annual review of the state budget provides an alternative to the governor’s proposal. It’s used by legislators as a key guideline as they move through the first stages of their budget work.

The governor responded by saying that the report backed up his call for tough measures to close the deficit. Brown is proposing $4.2 billion in cuts — many to social programs that serve low-income residents. The cuts would take effect whether or not voters pass Brown’s tax measure, which would temporarily raise sales taxes by a half-percent and the income tax of individuals who make $250,000 a year or more.

“The Legislative Analyst’s Office report underscores the fundamental uncertainty of our time and, therefore, the financial imperative to be prudent, make the tough cuts now and give the voters a choice on additional revenues,” Brown said in a written statement.

‘Facebook Effect’ Shows California Budget Reliance on Capital Gains Taxes

The potential for California (STOCA1) to see a tax windfall from a Facebook Inc. public stock offering this year demonstrates how much the state relies on capital-gains taxes, a volatile revenue stream that hampers its credit rating.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, the world’s most- used social-networking site, is considering the largest initial public offering for an Internet company on record, a person familiar with the plans said last year. Estimated at $10 billion, the offering would make instant millionaires of company employees and require the state to adjust its revenue forecast to reflect additional capital-gains taxes they’d pay, the state’s legislative analyst said yesterday.

That kind of unanticipated boost shows the boom-and-bust cycle that capital gains taxes often inflict on California’s budget. In fact, capital-gains tax revenue as a percentage of the state’s general fund plummeted from 12 percent to just 3 percent between 2007 and 2009 as investors pulled away from the stock market, a decline of $9.3 billion, according to state finance department figures.

“It is a significant concern,” said Gabriel Petek, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s, which ranks California’s credit the worst among its peers at A-. “It’s probably one of the things that presents a structural impediment to the rating and makes it hard for the state’s credit rating to move up into the AA range that the typical state is.”

Enjoy your morning!