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Democrats Propose Universal Pre-K Programs

Jan 7, 2014
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Providing transitional kindergarten for all the four-year-olds in California would cost about a $1 billion, but supporters say it would be worth it. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a new proposal introduced today.

In an elementary school near Sacramento, students in a transitional kindergarten class practice saying the date.

These kids are among several thousand California four-year olds enrolled in pre-K programs. Now state Senate Democrats want to make transitional kindergarten available to all four-year-olds.

California GOP Lawmakers: Build Reserve, Pay Down Debt

Jan 6, 2014
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Minority Republicans are calling for spending restraint, paying down debt and putting a portion of the state’s one-time revenues into infrastructure projects.

Assembly GOP Leader Connie Conway says Governor Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats should resist the temptation to spend the money that’s coming into state coffers well above budget projections.

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.    

Major Changes Proposed for California Elections Rules

Jan 2, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Two big changes to California elections could come up for debate in the state legislature in 2014.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on proposals that would eliminate special elections and require cities and counties to hold their votes at statewide elections.

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:

After Years of Deficits, Budget Surpluses Projected for California

Nov 20, 2013
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

  California’s structural deficit is history – and the legislature’s non-partisan budget analyst is projecting growing surpluses for the next several years.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the welcome budget news still comes with words of caution.

UC's Napolitano Calls for 2014-15 Tuition Freeze

Nov 14, 2013
Ben Adler

University of California students could see a third straight year without a tuition increase.  New UC President Janet Napolitano says she hopes to extend the current tuition freeze through the 2014-15 school year.  Ben Adler has more on Napolitano’s first UC Regents meeting as president Wednesday.

Six weeks into her new job, the former Arizona governor and Secretary of Homeland Security is putting forth a four-pronged agenda.  First: a tuition freeze.

California Legislature Holds Joint Fast Food Wages Hearing

Nov 14, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are looking at the cost fast food jobs might pass on to state taxpayers. As Max Pringle reports from Sacramento, Wednesday’s hearing was based on a recent UC Berkeley Labor Center study.

The study estimates that more than half of full-time fast food workers rely on public assistance, which costs California taxpayers more than $700 million per year. The Center’s Ken Jacobs says the study contradicts a lot of assumptions about the average fast food worker.

Courtesy Peter Gleick

Peter Gleick is one of California's leading water experts. In an op-ed piece recently published in the Sacramento Bee, Gleick  criticized the draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for what he calls a lack of specificity.

With Donnelly's Entry, 2014 Governor's Race Begins to Take Shape

Nov 8, 2013
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A tea party California Assemblyman has become the first Republican to officially enter the 2014 governor’s race.  Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown is widely considered the frontrunner, assuming he decides to run for a record fourth term.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the race to face Brown in California’s new “top two” primary system is wide open.

Campaign Finance Fight Could Shape 'Dark Money's' Future In California

Nov 1, 2013
YouTube/Small Business Action Committee

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission is trying to collect $15 million in penalties from two political action committees that accepted “dark money” contributions last year.  The PACs won’t pay, saying they’ve done nothing wrong.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento that in this dispute, there’s a lot at stake.

The illegal donations last fall paid for ads like this from the Small Business Action Committee:

Yes on 32 TV ad: “Sacramento doesn’t work for our family.  Instead, it works for the big unions and corporations.”

FBI Affidavit: State Senator Took Bribes in Undercover Sting Operation

Nov 1, 2013
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

An undercover FBI agent poses as a Hollywood executive to lure an elected official into taking bribes for legislation.  It sounds like a story Hollywood could have made itself – but in fact, it’s the story laid out in an affidavit that’s sent shockwaves through the California state Capitol.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

This TV report from Wednesday night is the first big development in the case since the FBI raided Democratic State Senator Ron Calderon’s Capitol office earlier this year.

On Recall's 10-Year Anniversary, Schwarzenegger's Legacy Up for Debate

Oct 7, 2013
Capital Public Radio

Ten years ago today, Arnold Schwarzenegger unseated Gray Davis in a unique election in California history.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the debate over Schwarzenegger’s legacy – and the Recall itself – persists to this day.

Schwarzenegger in 2003 TV Ad: “I want to be the people’s governor.  I will work honestly without fear or favor to do what is right for all Californians.”

Announcer: “Join Arnold and let’s bring California back.”

Bill to Increase California's Minimum Wage Passes Legislature

Sep 13, 2013
Valley Public Radio

  A bill that would gradually increase the California minimum wage to $10-an-hour has passed the State legislature and is on its way to the governor. It would be the first increase in the minimum wage in six years.

Democratic Senator Bill Monning says if you’re a Californian subsisting on the current state minimum wage, you’re living a second class existence.

"You are in a second hand economy, second harvest food bank, second-hand clothing, second-hand hand-me-down everything," says Monning.

Driver's License Bill Passes California Legislature

Sep 13, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Undocumented immigrants in California will soon be able to get driver’s licenses after the legislature approved a bill on the final day of session. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, concerns over what the licenses would look like nearly derailed the effort.

California Lawmakers Adjourn for Year After Busy Final Day

Sep 13, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are done for the year.  They adjourned just past midnight Friday after a busy and at times chaotic final day – and night – of action.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

A minimum wage increase, California Environmental Quality Act changes, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, a state prisons deal – all among the hundreds of bills lawmakers passed in this last week of session.  Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says that caps a “great year” – on top of a budget that restored some of the deep cuts from previous years.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Cattle rustling or crop raiding might seem like a relic of the Wild West, but in the San Joaquin Valley surrounding foothills, cattle theft is on the rise. So much so that it's inspired a new bill by a local legislator that passed the Senate earlier this week. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports on the Livestock Theft Prevention Act.

A bill that would beef up fines for stealing livestock passed through the Senate Tuesday with unanimous, bi-partisan support. The bill would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.

Prisons Battle Heats Up at California Capitol

Sep 4, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California Senate Democrats have approved their own plan to deal with the federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding.  They pushed their proposal through the Senate Budget Committee today over the objections of Republicans and Governor Jerry Brown.

Corrections Secretary Jeff Beard lobbied strongly for Brown’s plan, known as Senate Bill 105.  It would increase capacity by contracting out beds from county, private and out-of-state facilities.

Crunch Time Begins for California Lawmakers

Sep 3, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California legislature enters its home stretch today. Lawmakers have just two weeks left to debate hundreds of bills.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on some of the major issues still on the table.

Electric Bill Increase or Fairer California Power Rates?

Aug 29, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Legislation that could add a flat fee of up to 10 dollars a month on some California electric bills is up for a key committee vote Friday.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure has support from utilities and consumer groups – but it’s sparking pushback from environmental advocates.

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