Government & Politics

News about government and politics

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders say they’re not looking at more tax increases now that voters have approved Proposition 30. 

But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, tax credits could be on the table, like the controversial Enterprise Zone program.

California offers 700 million dollars a year in tax credits to businesses who add or retain jobs in economically distressed neighborhoods.  

The governor proposed eliminating Enterprise Zones last year but couldn’t win legislative approval. 

City of Fresno Public Utilities

It is a dirty job, picking up the trash of Fresno’s residents.

But it is also a job that has afforded 58 year old Joe Hill a decent middle income salary. Those at the top of the scale can make $22 an hour.

“I have a good job. I make a decent wage, but I don’t feel I am overpaid. I praise god for the job I have and how much I make. And I know there’s lots of people who make a lot less, but it’s not excessive,” says Hill.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.” 

CSU Board of Trustees Delays Decision On Student Fee Increase

Nov 13, 2012

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. 

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.

Hiring For Fresno Veterans Home to Begin Soon

Nov 12, 2012

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.

Jerry Brown
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. 

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.

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. 

Jerry Brown
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. 

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. 

High Stakes for Jerry Brown with Prop 30

Nov 1, 2012
Jerry Brown
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.

Jerry Brown
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.”

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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