democrats

Senator Yee Withdraws from Secretary of State Race

Mar 27, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Democratic State Senator Leland Yee has dropped out of the race for California Secretary of State. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the announcement came a day after Yee was arrested and charged with wire fraud and gun trafficking.

Senate Dems Call For Disgraced Yee To Resign

Mar 27, 2014

Another California State Senator is facing criminal allegations. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on accusations that surfaced Wednesday against Senator Leland Yee.

In what the Senate President says sounds like a bad movie, a federal complaint alleges Yee, a Bay Area Democrat, committed wire fraud and gun trafficking. Undercover FBI agents say Yee set up meetings for them on topics ranging from legislation to arms dealing. In return, the agents made contributions to Yee’s Secretary of State campaign.

California Democrats Focused on Financial Recovery

Jan 6, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California legislature is back in session and Democrats remain firmly in control. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, leaders are starting the year with a focus on the economy.

Democratic leaders are pushing a message of restoring the state’s economy by creating a rainy day fund and paying down debt. But projects like high speed rail and the Delta water tunnel plan could put pressure on the budget.

Democrats hold a super majority in the legislature, but Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett says the party will continue to act responsibly.    

Rosy California Budget Projections Prompt Calls for New Spending

Dec 3, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California’s non-partisan budget analyst has declared the state’s structural deficit a thing of the past and projected multi-billion dollar surpluses for years to come.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, that’s prompting calls from some Democrats and progressive groups to reinvest in programs hit hard by recession-era budget cuts.

When Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor released his budget projections a few weeks ago, he tempered the good news with words of caution:

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

A new version of term limits, a new way to draw voting districts, a new system for running primary elections. Those three changes all took effect in 2012. Each was intended to moderate the California legislature. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there is hope the changes have been effective, but so far there’s no proof.

New lawmakers are frequently sworn in at the California State Capitol. But the class taking the oath of office last December faced a different legislative future from classes who came before them.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

If California’s elected officials are a microcosm of the state’s population, they proved it after Wednesday’s same-sex marriage rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Democrats rejoiced – including many gay lawmakers who’ve led the push for marriage equality.  Many Republicans searched for an appropriate response, and some expressed frustration.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Parties Clash Over Budget Transparency

Jun 13, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Lawmakers will begin voting on the California budget on Friday. But Republicans say they’ll also have to vote on several bills they know little about.  Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The budget is the big picture bill. It dictates where the state’s money will go. Trailer bills are attached to the budget and spell out how the money will be allocated.

Typically trailer bills are published a few days before the budget vote. This year the earliest of at least 15 came out Wednesday morning.

Andy Vidak

On Tuesday night Hanford Republican Andy Vidak scored what many are calling a surprise victory in the special election to replace former state senator Michael Rubio in the 16th senate district. Despite a sizable voter registration edge for Democrats, Vidak carried over 50 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a July runoff with the top Democrat, former Rubio staffer and current Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

As California budget talks head into their final weeks, supporters of programs suffering from years of cuts are asking for help.  Governor Jerry Brown opposes any new spending.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, Assembly and Senate Democrats have different programs in which they'd like to invest.

Democrats Pushing to Limit Prop 13

May 16, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Some Democrats at the Capitol are attempting to chip away at California’s fabled Prop 13. But supporters of the property tax limiting measure are digging in to fight back. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Proposition 13 limits property taxes in California. But it also requires a two-thirds vote of the public to increase any special taxes. Six Democratic sponsored bills making their way through the Senate would lower that voter requirement to 55 percent approval.

Lawmakers React to Brown's Budget Revision

May 14, 2013
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Republicans at the State Capitol are pleased Governor Jerry Brown is taking a more moderate approach to spending California’s budget surplus. But they still have some criticisms. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

No formal rainy day fund, no acknowledgement of possible union pay raises, high taxes that hurt business. State Republicans listed those as among their top concerns with the Governor’s May budget revision.

Office of the Governor

 California Governor Jerry Brown says California has “confounded our critics.”

“We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget and by God, we will preserve and keep it that way for years to come," said Brown.

In a wide-ranging State of the State Address today Brown quoted the bible, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Franklin Roosevelt, and laid out a blueprint for his next two years in office.  He included a warning for Democrats who might be eager to spend more on social programs now that the state no longer has a deficit.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

The most important members of the California legislature this year might not be the two Democratic leaders - despite the two-thirds supermajorities they hold in each chamber.  And it almost certainly won't be the Republicans. 

They've been courted for key votes in recent years but now don't have the numbers to block any bills on their own.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the leverage in this legislative session may well lie with a newly-critical voting bloc: moderate Democrats.

Brown Budget Proposal Marks New Era at Capitol

Jan 11, 2013
Pauline Bartolone / Capital Public Radio Network

Governor Jerry Brown’s new California budget proposal marks an end to the crippling deficits that have plagued California for years.  It’s also an attempt to make major policy changes – without big increases in spending.  But the governor’s message of fiscal restraint could find a warmer reception from Republicans than from his fellow Democrats.  Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler and Amy Quinton bring us this two-part report from Sacramento.

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Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Most California lawmakers say they agree with Governor Jerry Brown that now is the time for fiscal discipline in light of a balanced budget.

But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Democratic lawmakers have not ruled out restoring some cuts.

Legislative Democratic leaders expressed relief at the announcement of a balanced budget. They say the extra $2.7 billion in education funding is also a step in the right direction.

Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno says lawmakers are now in a position to talk about policy rather than cuts.

California Lawmakers Return To State Capitol

Jan 7, 2013
Amy Quinton

The start of the New Year brings California lawmakers back to the Capitol. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Democratic leaders anticipate a heavy work schedule.

Reforming California’s Environmental Quality Act, restoring cuts to education, fixing the state’s ballot initiative process and campaign finance reform, those are just a few of the issues lawmakers will likely contend with this session.

Democrats return with a supermajority in both chambers, even with two Senators recently resigning to serve in Congress.

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Now that Democrats hold a supermajority in both chambers of the California legislature, activists want them to use it to push a more progressive agenda. 

Progressives say they want lawmakers to restore cuts they say hurt the most vulnerable Californians, such as cuts to education, social services, and health care.

Joshua Pechthalt is President of the California Federation of Teachers. He says elected officials shouldn’t worry about a voter backlash similar to what happened in the 2010 elections.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s only the first week of the new California legislative session.  But three Democrats have already signaled they’re ready to adjust the “third rail” of California politics – the landmark property tax measure known as Proposition 13.  

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is the latest Democratic lawmaker to call for a change to Prop 13.  He wants to stop large companies from disguising changes in ownership that would normally trigger reassessments – something homeowners can’t do.

Amy Quinton

California’s newly-elected legislature is now officially sworn in, and Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, legislative leaders are making a point of being modest.

The entire Assembly and half the Senate took their oaths on Monday, giving Democrats the power they’ve long craved – the ability to raise taxes.  But voters just did that for them, approving Prop 30 last month, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says that’s enough for now: