Good Monday morning!
The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.
On to today’s California headlines:
The state budget will freeze tuition rates for the state’s two university systems if voters approve tax hikes in November, University of California student groups said this evening.
Charlie Eaton, a leader with the UC student workers’ union, said Capitol officials told him that the budget bills will add $120 million each for the UC and California State University systems to avoid tuition hikes. But that is contingent on voter passage of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hikes in November, he said.
The tuition freeze announcement could not be immediately confirmed by Capitol officials.
Lawmakers have yet to make budget language publicly available. Legislative floor votes have been delayed one day to Wednesday because drafting of bills is taking longer than Senate leaders predicted, according to sources who were not authorized to speak publicly.
A group of about 15 left-leaning protesters gathered in downtown San Diego on Sunday morning to criticize the political influence of the billionaire Koch brothers.
Charles and David Koch are widely reported to be meeting in San Diego this weekend to help raise hundreds of millions of dollars for conservative causes. The supersecret affair isn’t publicized, but has been speculated to be at top-tier digs such as the Manchester Grand Hyatt downtown or the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad. Efforts to verify the location have not been successful.
Sunday’s anti-Koch rally at the corner of First and Island avenues (and later along Harbor Drive) drew several sign-carrying protesters, including Mark Thomas of Occupy Phoenix. He helped organize the event “because I felt like there was a hole here. Nobody was going to do anything, and I didn’t feel like that was ethical for there to be a non-response.”
Edward Headington, the moderate Democrat who calls himself the “purple choice” in the heavily Republican 38th Assembly District, today announced what he called a “game-changing” endorsement — that of former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican. In addition, Headington announced the support of Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander, another Republican.
The high-profile GOP endorsements will no doubt help Headington try to make his case that he is in fact a moderate choice in his race against conservative Republican Scott Wilk.
With the state budget more-or-less completed for the time being, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators must turn to other business, particularly to three very big and very immediate issues – water, pension reform and the bullet train – that may be even more contentious than the budget.
What the politicians do has potential effects beyond the issues themselves by influencing the November election, particularly the fate of competing tax increases.
Another Republican politician has bolted the GOP, protesting that the party is too rigid.
In fact, both major parties — all partisan politics — have become too strident and stifling, he says.
So Bruce McPherson, 68 — former California secretary of state and centrist legislator and current candidate for the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors — has re-registered as an independent, or “no party preference.”
In doing that, McPherson is fitting into the pattern of millions of Californians who have snubbed the parties and become nonpartisans.
More than one-fifth of registered voters, 21.3%, are listed with no party preference, according to the Secretary of State. That’s double the 10.7% in 1996 and more than quadruple the 5% in 1972.
In the last 16 years, the GOP’s slice of the electorate has fallen from 37% to 30.2%. The Democrats’ share also has declined, but less precipitously — from 47.1% to 43.4%.
“I walk precincts door to door and people tell me they’re looking for an independent voice,” McPherson says. “They see partisan politics as paralyzing the governing process. They see no movement or communication. They’re frustrated and fed up.
Enjoy your morning!