Government & Politics

Government & Politics
5:41 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Prop 13 Changes on the Table in New California Legislature

Asm. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco)
Credit 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.

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Government & Politics
6:18 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

New Lawmakers Sworn in, Giving Democrats Full Control

Lawmakers take their oath of office at the capitol on Monday
Credit 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:

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Government & Politics
4:19 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

California Lawmaker Proposes Changes to Proposition 13

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

California Democratic state Senator Mark Leno plans to introduce a constitutional amendment on Monday that will make it easier to pass local taxes for schools.

The amendment would allow voters to pass school parcel taxes with a 55-percent vote instead of the two-thirds vote required by Proposition 13.

Jon Coupal with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says the legislation isn’t surprising given that Democrats now hold a supermajority in the legislature.

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Governance
1:09 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

New "Top Two" Election System Causes Problems For Smaller Political Parties

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on the impact of California's new top-two election reform.

When California voters approved Proposition 14 in 2010, supporters hailed it as a way to make many races for Congress, the Legislature and state offices more competitive, thanks to a new top-two election system.

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Governance
5:02 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Electoral Reforms Led to More Close Races, Experts Say

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that the dust has settled after this month's general election, political observers from across the state are busy examining the results to see just what effect California's efforts at redistricting and electoral reform had in their first full test at the ballot box. Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore reports that in same cases, the result is too close to call. 

For most California voters, the trip to the ballot box this November looked much like it always has, albeit with longer lines at some polling places and a record number of "vote by mail" ballots.

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Government & Politics
2:40 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Speaker Pérez Wary of Overplaying Democratic Supermajorities

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

California Democrats have gained a supermajority in both state legislative houses for the first time in 70 years.  But as KPCC’s Julie Small reports, the Assembly Speaker says his party won’t exploit the power.

The two-thirds majority in the Assembly and Senate gives Democrats the power to raise taxes without Republican votes.  They’ll also be able to expedite bills and change legislative rules.  But Assembly Speaker John Perez downplays that new power.

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Government & Politics
5:13 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

State Analyst: CA Budget Deficit Drops to $1.9 Billion

Legislative analyst Mac Taylor released his office’s annual fiscal outlook today. He’s projecting a $1.9 billion deficit over the next year-and-a-half, followed by a growing surplus in each of the next several years.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s once-enormous budget deficit has shrunk to just under $2 billion, and the state could soon have a surplus.  But Mac Taylor, California’s non-partisan legislative analyst is urging caution as state finances improve.

Not long ago, California hit rock bottom, with a massive budget deficit. 

Nearly four years ago Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a crowd, “the $42 billion deficit is a rock upon our chest that we cannot breathe until we get it off.” 

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Government & Politics
5:33 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

CSU Board of Trustees Delays Decision On Student Fee Increase

California State University leaders have delayed a vote on a proposal to increase student fees.

The proposal would charge extra fees on so-called “super seniors,” students who take more courses than required, and course repeaters. Governor Brown asked the CSU Board of Trustees to postpone the vote.

"Let’s measure up to the expectation of the voters, and that means getting out of our comfort zone – whether we’re trustees or faculty or administrators or students or anyone else.  The taxpayers got out of their comfort zone, so we have to follow suit,” said Brown. 

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Government & Politics
4:00 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Strong Success for Tax Measures May Not Be New Trend

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

Before last week, California voters had rejected every statewide tax measure since 2004.  This election, they approved two of them.  They also said yes to more than 70 percent of the local tax and bond measures on last week’s ballot.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, this may not be the start of a new trend.

The passage of Propositions 30 and 39 snapped a seven-measure winning streak for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.  But President Jon Coupal says that doesn’t mean the attitudes of California voters are changing when it comes to taxes.

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Veterans Day
11:38 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Hiring For Fresno Veterans Home to Begin Soon

An artists rendering of the Fresno Veterans Home

Two new California veterans’ homes that currently sit empty in Fresno and Redding could start filling up over the next year.  The state has announced it’s beginning to recruit hundreds of employees for the homes.

Ever since April, veterans’ homes in Fresno and Redding have had lights, air conditioning and water, but no veterans, or staff.  This year’s state budget set aside money to start hiring, and now the California Department of Veterans Affairs says it’s ready to begin the recruitment process.

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Government & Politics
5:54 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Governor Brown Shares Priorities for Working with New Legislature

California Governor Jerry Brown - file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown shared a list of priorities for working with a new state legislature, which appears to be reaching a two-thirds majority in both houses. 

Now that his Prop 30 campaign is over, Governor Brown says he’s turning his attention to other matters.

“We ought to calibrate our regulations to ensure that they encourage jobs as well as protect other aspects of the public interest like the environment, health and good working conditions,” said Brown. 

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Government & Politics
11:57 am
Wed November 7, 2012

S&P: Prop 30 Outcome Good for California's Credit Rating

The ratings agency Standard and Poor’s is calling Proposition 30’s passage “favorable” for California’s struggling credit rating.

“It keeps the state’s prospects for a credit rating upgrade alive going forward. Had the measure gone down, I think it could have added pressure in the other direction,” says S&P analyst Gabe Petek.

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Government & Politics
9:55 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Fresno County Voters Approve Library Tax Renewal, While Measure O Trails

Voters line up outside the Fresno County elections office in downtown Fresno on Tuesday
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A sales tax that for over a decade has helped fund much of the budget for the Fresno County Public Library system appears to be headed to approval. 

While some absentee ballots remain to be counted, Measure B holds a lead of 72-percent to 28-percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. That's well above the two-thirds vote required for passage. 

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Government & Politics
8:50 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Voters Approve Brown's Tax Measure

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s been the cornerstone of Jerry Brown’s agenda since the day he returned to the California governor’s office: win voter approval of a tax measure to bring an end to the state’s years of never-ending budget deficits.  After a campaign full of twists and turns, voters approved the governor’s sales and income tax measure, Proposition 30, by 54 percent to 46 percent – but not without a suspenseful Election Night. 

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Government & Politics
6:00 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Final Field Poll Estimates Voter Turnout Below 2008 Levels

A record number of Californians have registered to vote. But the latest Field Poll estimates there likely will be a million fewer voters today than in the Presidential election of 2008.

The poll predicts 12.75 million Californians or about 70 percent of registered voters will cast ballots.

And for the first time in a statewide election the majority, 51-percent, will vote by mail.

Mark DiCamillo is Director of the Field Poll.  He says many people wait until Election Day to drop their ballots at polling places. 

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Government & Politics
11:14 am
Thu November 1, 2012

High Stakes for Jerry Brown with Prop 30

Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a rally for Proposition 30 in October.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

When the results for Proposition 30 come in on Election Night, California voters won’t just have returned a verdict on whether they support raising taxes to reduce the state’s budget deficit. They will also have handed Governor Jerry Brown a victory or defeat on his signature policy issue. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the outcome, and Brown’s reaction to it, could shape the rest of his time in the governor’s office.

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Government & Politics
6:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

New Field Poll Shows Prop 30 Just Short of 50 Percent

California Governor Jerry Brown speaks at an October rally in favor of his tax measure, Proposition 30.
Credit Andrew Nixon

The final Field Poll before Election Day on California’s two rival tax measures shows Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 leading by 10 points and education advocate Molly Munger’s Proposition 38 trailing by 15 points.

Prop 30 has lost support over the last several weeks and is now just shy of the 50 percent support it needs to pass. But Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo says it still has a “decent shot.”

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Government & Politics
5:59 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Judge Tentatively Rules State Can Examine $11 Million Mystery Donation

A California judge has tentatively ruled that the state can examine the sources behind an Arizona nonprofit that made an $11 million political contribution. 

The Phoenix-based group Americans for Responsible Leadership made the donation to a committee working to defeat Proposition 30 and support Proposition 32.

Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission can conduct an audit to determine if the donation was made in compliance with state regulations.

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Sacramento
5:18 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Conway Says GOP Could Back Off Education Cuts if Prop 30 Fails

California’s budget calls for six billion dollars in automatic education cuts if voters reject Proposition 30 next week. But legislative Republicans say they would support reversing those cuts if the governor’s tax measure fails.

Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, who represents portions of the Central Valley, says the elimination of up to three weeks of school would be “devastating” – and if Prop 30 doesn’t pass, both parties should work together to find alternatives.

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Government & Politics
7:53 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Presidential Race: What If There Are Two Winners?

Kimberly Fisher cast her ballot Wednesday at a polling place at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 1:10 pm

Even before Hurricane Sandy came roaring up the East Coast, political prognosticators were worried about next week's election being thrown into chaos and confusion.

The reason is that with the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney so close, there's a possibility of something other than a clean outcome.

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