Government & Politics

News about government and politics

Task Force Says California's Finances Unsustainable

Sep 20, 2012
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould /

A non-partisan State Budget Crisis Task Force is recommending that California develop a two-year spending plan. The report released today called the state’s current financial structure unsustainable.

California High Speed Rail Authority

The federal agency that oversees the nation's railroad system has officially approved plans for the first leg of California's controversial high speed rail system.

The Federal Railroad Administration's approval on Wednesday was a necessary step to allow construction to begin early next year on the Fresno to Merced component of the system. 

The approval by the FRA will allow the California High Speed Rail Authority to proceed with purchasing right-of-way from landowners for the system. 

California Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative has dropped a couple of points in new Public Policy Institute of California and Field Polls out this morning.

State Capitol reporter Ben Adler says Proposition 30 still has majority support – and it’s still ahead of a rival measure, Proposition 38.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that makes changes to the state’s worker’s compensation system. The changes were part of a compromise between labor unions and businesses.

The law is designed to increase benefits to injured workers while reducing workers’ compensation costs for employers. It passed the legislature on a bipartisan vote despite some lawmakers’ complaints that there was little time to discuss it.

Californians can soon register to vote completely online. Paperless registration will be available to anyone who has a California driver’s license or ID.

Since 2009 Californians have been able to go online and fill out a form as part of the voter registration process. But signatures had to be mailed or delivered to county elections officials. Secretary of State Debra Bowen will soon roll out the next step, which would allow Californians who have a driver’s license or ID to hit “send” at the end of their online form.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

A bill sitting on California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk could provide a retirement savings plan for private sector employees who don’t have one.

It passed on a party line vote the last day of the legislative session, after the Governor requested changes.

The bill establishes a board to make sure it doesn’t cost taxpayers money. And last minute changes to the bill give the legislature final authorization.

Democratic Senator Kevin DeLeon (Day-lee-OWN) authored the bill. He says more than seven million private sector employees don’t have access to a retirement plan.

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new survey shows that two critical issues in California – pension reform and high speed rail– are not sitting well with voters.

The survey shows that more Californians are opposed to high speed rail and think the recently-signed pension legislation doesn’t do enough to address unfunded costs.

The survey was conducted by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University. It showed that only 39 percent of voters support high speed rail. 43 percent oppose it.

A new study says California’s two electoral reforms resulted in more competition and more open seats, but not in significant change.

The Public Policy Institute of California looked at the impact of two reforms. First, the new legislative and congressional districts drawn by an independent citizens’ commission. And second, the “top-two” primary system. That allows voters to cast ballots for any candidate regardless of party, but only the top two candidates advance.

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that he called the biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the state’s history.

Governor Brown says the changes in the state’s pension system will save taxpayers billions of dollars in the future. The legislation will increase the retirement age for new public employees and require them to pay at least half of their pension costs. It also caps the salary amount that can go toward pensions.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown was on national TV over-the-weekend weighing-in on the presidential election.

He was among the guest line-ups for the Sunday TV news shows, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Brown said President Obama has laid a foundation for economic recovery and job creation.

And he argued against Mitt Romney’s “supply-side” economic plan of lowering taxes on corporations to help spur job growth.

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Bills

Sep 7, 2012
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a package of bills into law today. The Governor signed 59 bills in all.

One will prevent landlords from requiring online-only rental payments. Another will require sports facilities to post written notices with the text and phone numbers of security so fans can report violence. That law stems from a Los Angeles Dodgers fan beating up and causing brain damage to a San Francisco Giants fan on opening day last year.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

It’s often said that Labor Day marks the traditional kickoff to campaign season.  And as California voters begin to turn their attention now to the 11 statewide ballot measures this fall, one initiative is by far drawing the most attention.

Proposition 30 is Governor Jerry Brown’s bid to raise the sales and income taxes to help close the state’s festering budget deficit. The governor has a big fundraising advantage – and he’s managed to keep some powerful opponents on the sidelines. Mark DiCamillo runs the non-partisan Field Poll, and he says Prop 30 holds a steady lead.

North Fork Rancheria

California Governor Jerry Brown announced Friday that he has approved plans by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build a casino along Highway 99 in Madera County. 

The proposed casino would occupy 305 acres on Highway 99 at Avenue 17, near the Madera Municipal Airport. The proposed casino is around 40 miles from the tribe's headquarters in North Fork. 

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

If there’s any last-minute wheeling or dealing on this final day of the California legislative session, Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez will surely be involved. The speaker’s top priority is a pair of bills he calls the “Middle Class Scholarship.” They would raise a billion dollars by ending a tax break for out-of-state businesses and put that money towards helping some families pay for college. Pérez spent a few minutes Thursday discussing that and more with Capitol reporter Ben Adler.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers have approved a bill designed to improve the state’s accounting practices in hopes of avoiding the kind of scandal that happened with the parks department.

In July, an unreported surplus of $54 million was discovered in two special funds accounts in the parks department. A later audit found accounting discrepancies in other state special funds.

California lawmakers have sent a ban on openly carrying unloaded shotguns or rifles in public to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. The measure follows a similar ban approved last year on openly carrying unloaded handguns in public.

Republicans strongly opposed the bill. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly argued many Californians are simply expressing their fundamental right. “They’re not criminals! Do not criminalize more Americans because they believe in the 2nd amendment!

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to accept a $100 million state grant that would help fund construction of a new jail at the existing Lerdo pre-trial facility. As a condition of the grant, the county also committed over $22 million in matching funds to support construction of the facility, which will house around 800 mostly medium security inmates.

The county had previously been awarded a similar grant in 2008, but had to reject the funding because it was unable to allocate the matching funds required the state. 

Brown Announces Pension Deal; Vote Coming Friday

Aug 28, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown says the pension deal he announced today will save the state billions of dollars. But it’s drawing criticism from unions and Republicans.

Here is some of what’s in the plan: A cap on the salary that a public employee in California could use to calculate a pension. Higher retirement ages, with reduced payments. And a requirement for employees to pay at least half of their pension costs.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Talks between the Central California SPCA and the City and County of Fresno on continuing the organization’s contract for animal control services beyond October 1, 2012 have fallen apart.  County and city leaders had hoped to reach an agreement to extend the current contract on a temporary basis through the end of the year to give more time to find a permanent solution.

The organization's executive director Linda Van Kirk issued the following statement today:

Guns, dog hunting, Election Day voter registration are all issues the California legislature dealt with on Monday. California lawmakers kicked off their busiest week of the year by debating dozens of measures ahead of Friday’s end-of-session deadline.

Some measures still need one more vote to pass the legislature, such as a ban on openly carrying shotguns or rifles in public, and a bill that would require a three-foot buffer zone when a car passes a bicyclist.