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Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 14, 2011

A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

The California State Budget deadline looms tomorrow for the California Legislature. If a state budget is not passed, legislators have their pay docked – now, you see the urgency. In the meantime, California Republicans are not moving to support tax extensions which means the Democrats who are in the majority may pass a budget with accounting gimmics – like the under former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now, the links:

Faced with loss of pay, Democrats are crafting alternative state budget

Facing a Wednesday deadline for passing a budget or forfeiting pay, Democrats in the Legislature are quietly drafting a spending plan they could pass without the GOP votes needed for tax increases or extensions.

The alternative plan would keep paychecks coming even though talks between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republicans have snagged on the issue of taxes.

“We will have a budget,” said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Barankin and others close to the process declined to provide details. But a fallback blueprint would almost certainly rely on accounting moves and other measures that would merely paper over the state’s remaining $10-billion shortfall: Democrats, who have sharply cut back many programs already, have little appetite for further reductions.

Chronicle will not be pool reporter for Michelle Obama visit

Remember a couple of weeks ago when The White House got ticked off at Comrade Marinucci for posting video of activists protesting President Obama inside a San Francisco fundraiser? To Team Obama she was violating an unwritten rule on a print reporters posting video and they threatened to exclude The Chronicle from being the pool reporter in the future.

To other sentient beings, Comrade Marinucci was — and pardon the technical term here — “reporting the news.” News that MANY other non-journalists who were there at the fundraiser were recording with various camera phones. And she was perfectly within her rights to do so, The Chronicle has asserted.

Why we’re re-telling you this story: First Lady Michelle Obama comes to the Bay Area Tuesday and neither Comrade M — nor anybody at The Chronicle — will be the local pool reporter. Handling that gig will be two reporters from the Oakland Tribune. One is the Trib’s hunky, bearded political reporter Josh Richman and the other is a higher education reporter.

So just to get this down for the record, we asked the White House what was up. And with all due respect — as we’re sure he’ll do a terrific job — why was a higher ed reporter chosen to do the pool reporting on a political event in San Francisco?

The White House responded that pool reporters are chosen on a rotating basis.

More competitive seats under draft political maps, PPIC says

The number of competitive seats in the Legislature and in California’s congressional delegation would jump significantly under draft maps released Friday, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

More competitive seats could give Democrats a better chance of securing the two-thirds legislative majority needed to raise state taxes in future years, which would require capturing two additional seats in both the Assembly and Senate.

Under tentative proposals by California’s new redistricting commission, the number of competitive Assembly seats would rise from nine to 16; competitive state Senate seats, from three to nine; and competitive U.S. House of Representative seats, from four to nine, PPIC concluded.

No formula is considered foolproof in calculating the number of competitive seats. Analysts use different approaches and reach differing conclusions, serving as grist for lively debate.

PPIC defined a competitive seat as one that falls between a five-point registration advantage for Republicans and a 10-point advantage for Democrats, which it said reflects the fact that Democrats are more likely to cross party lines.

Democrats currently hold 52 of 80 seats in the Assembly; 25 of 40 seats in the state Senate, and 34 of 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dan Walters: The Big Stakes? Two-thirds Margin

There are many ways to view the new congressional and legislative district maps released last week by the state’s new independent redistricting commission, from the personal to the cultural to the geographic.

But to Capitol insiders, the most meaningful aspect is whether the Democrats can gain two-thirds majorities in both legislative houses and thus hegemony over tax policy.

Democrats are two seats shy of two-thirds in each house now, and that’s why the state budget is, as usual, stalemated. Republicans are refusing to vote for nearly $10 billion a year in tax extensions.

“We need four Republicans,” Gov. Jerry Brown declared Monday as he assembled a gaggle of business, labor and local government leaders to support extending the temporary taxes a few extra months and then asking voters to continue them for five years.

However, the tax extensions don’t play very well with voters in recent polling. Some Democratic leaders and their union allies have mused about plugging the budget gap with accounting gimmicks, loans and other one-time revenues, and concentrating political resources on getting two-thirds majorities in 2012 elections.

Enjoy your morning!

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