• California,  California Budget,  California Economy,  California Unemployment,  Flap's California Morning Collection,  Jerry Brown

    Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 17, 2011

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

    The big news in California today is the Jerry Brown veto of the California State budget yesterday. A budget passed over the objections and votes of the California GOP. In other words, Brown vetoed (the first such veto in California history) his own Democratic Party’s majority passed budget.

    So, what is everyone concerned about in the Capitol today?

    Why, it is whether California Legislators will get paid.


    In the meantime, the California economy continues in a downward spiral and unemployment actually increased this past month.

    No word on the ridiculous Amazon Tax, but I assume that it was vetoed with the California Budget veto yesterday. But, I could be wrong. How convenient for the Governor though.

    On to the links…..

    California loses 29,200 jobs in May, a blow to recovery

    California’s economic recovery stumbled in May as employers shed 29,200 jobs from payrolls, a surprisingly large loss in a state that had been on the mend. The state’s unemployment rate still dropped to 11.7%,  from 11.8% the month before, according to numbers released this morning by the federal  Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The numbers follow a slate of bad economic news throughout the country. The nation added just 54,000 jobs in May, and its unemployment rate grew to 9.1%. The previous three months, it had added an average of 220,000 jobs a month. Home prices have dropped in California and the nation to surprising lows as sales slow.

    California has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, after Nevada, although Nevada’s unemployment rate dropped significantly in May, to 12.1% from 14.9% the year before.

    California had added an adjusted 14,900 jobs in April, after cutting a net 11,600 in March. It experienced five straight months of job growth from October through February.

    “We do know that the picture is not terribly rosy,” said Johannes Moenius, an economist at University of Redlands.

    Brown’s big budget bet

    Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of the new state budget Democrats passed this week represents a gamble that California’ deadlocked Legislature can find its way to a bipartisan solution that has evaded it all year.

    Brown, in his veto message, blamed Republicans for refusing to go along with his proposal for a special election at which voters would be asked to ratify the extension of about $10 billion in taxes due to expire at the end of this month.

    Brown also slammed his fellow Democrats, indirectly, by describing the budget they passed as filled with “legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings.” He noted that it would leave the state’s books unbalanced for years to come and add billions of dollars of new debt to the California’s already overburdened balance sheet.

    But Brown’s rejection of the budget does not guarantee he is going to get anything better from the Legislature in the days and weeks ahead.

    Republicans remain opposed to new taxes, and even to extending the temporary taxes that are about to expire. Democrats remain opposed to making the kind of spending cuts that would be required to balance the budget without those taxes. There appears to be very little middle ground.

    Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Marathon: Judge extends McCourt talks, deal might be close

    Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon on Thursday rescinded his finding that Frank and Jamie McCourt were at an impasse in their settlement talks, and he set a hearing for later today to determine if a deal had been reached. “I think we are close,” said Jamie’s lawyer Dennis Wasser, according to AP. “Hopefully, we can get it done tonight.

    Dan Walters: If California legislators get paid, vetoed budget is giant charade

    That presumes, of course, that the Democratic budget somehow put pressure on Republicans. In fact, it may have had the opposite effect of increasing their leverage on Brown to make concessions to get his centerpiece, an extension of expiring sales, income and car taxes, on the ballot.

    A complicating factor is that Steinberg, Pérez and public employee unions really don’t want the fall election that Brown seeks on taxes, fearing – with good reason – that voters would reject them.

    Still another is the new state law that strips legislators of salaries and expense checks, about $400 per day each, if a budget is not passed by June 15.

    Controller John Chiang has appointed himself the law’s enforcer. Legislative leaders contend that Wednesday’s budget action complies, but Brown’s declaration that the budget was unbalanced gives Chiang grounds to stop the paychecks if he wishes.

    Chiang was waffling Thursday, saying he wants “to complete our analysis” before deciding whether to pay lawmakers at the end of the month.

    If Chiang pays legislators, the rejected budget will look like a giant charade by Democrats to evade the law.

    Non-Californians at UC campuses get summer subsidy

    A taxpayer subsidy that out-of-state students enrolled in the University of California system have been receiving for years is under scrutiny as the schools search for extra revenue.

    During the regular school year, nonresidents pay up to three times as much as students from California, bringing the universities a few hundred million dollars. But partly due to measures taken to boost summer enrollment, they are spared from paying higher fees for summer classes.

    “It seems out of sync,” said Steve Boilard, director of higher education policy for the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

    Enjoy your morning!

  • California,  California Budget,  California Legislature,  Jerry Brown

    Video: Governor Jerry Brown Vetoes California Budget – Now What?

    I am returning Senate Bill 69 and Assembly Bill 98 without my signature

    Who knows?

    Brown announced the veto in a press release Thursday. “Unfortunately, the budget I have received is not a balanced solution,” his statement said. “It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur.”

    Read the governor’s official veto message here.

    The plan contains higher taxes, billions of dollars in delayed payments to schools, and various accounting maneuvers to balance the books. Brown had previously warned that he would not sign a budget containing such accounting gimmicks.

    Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate said the plan they passed Wednesday was crafted without input from the administration.

    It is unclear whether state lawmakers will receive their paychecks in the wake of the veto. Under a  law passed by voters last year, legislators lose pay if they fail to send the governor a budget by June 15. Lawmakers said Wednesday they believe the budget they passed meets that test, but Controller John Chiang, California’s chief financial officer, will decide whether to issue their paychecks.

    Brown’s veto is the latest twist in a budget process that has been just as divisive and partisan as it was under his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    The ball is back in the California’s Legislature’s court, which I am positive they do not appreciate, especially if the California Controller decides to withhold their paychecks.

    The Democrats who control the Legislature will either have to make more cuts or make some sort of deal with the Republicans to raise revenue – but in return for something. The likelihood of a deal with the GOP is extremely unlikely.

    Plus, the unions who own the Democrats don’t want a tax election before 2012, because they wish to use their campaign cash to win a 2/3’rds super majority in the Legislature at the November 2012 general election.

    So, it is the Schwarzenegger years all over again = budget gridlock and accounting tricks. But, Brown vetoed THAT budget today – so, what is next?

    All eyes and ears in the California Legislature today will be on California Controller John Chiang to see if they get paid.

    Bet they move fast, if their paychecks are withheld.

  • Amazon Tax,  California,  California Budget,  Internet Sales Taxes,  Jerry Brown

    Amazon Internet Sales Tax Legislation Passes as Part of California Budget

    So, on to California Governor Jerry Brown for either his signature or veto.

    For only the second time in 25 years a California spending plan was passed on time. One interesting part of that balancing act is an online sales tax, something lawmakers have been reluctant to approve in the past.

    It seems like a no-brainer, the state needs money, so why not tax purchases online? We pay a tax when we buy the same products in the store. But critics say this tax could actually hurt some businesses in California. Those big online retailers, like Overstock and Amazon, have found a way around this law in other states. They just sever ties with businesses they deal with in the states with the tax. So companies that sell product to Overstock could lose Overstock as a client. This has put some small companies out of business.

    The California state legislature needed to close a $9.6 billion deficit and this is expected to bring in $200 million a year in revenue. Some so called brick and mortar stores support this; they think it’s unfair that their product is taxed, but the same items online are not. The big question is do the benefits outweigh the possible side effects?

    So, what happens next?

    California Governor Jerry Brown can either sign the legislation, veto or allow it to become law. Brown has scheduled a 12 noon PDT new conference on the California budget and maybe we will know more then.

    No word from Amazon or Overstock.com, but I bet their attorneys are preparing to file the lawsuits as soon as Brown makes his decision.

    There will probably be a few court challenges. 

    One in federal court regarding the constitutionality of the nexus and the Commerce Clause. The other in California State Court regarding the imposition of a new tax without the 2/3’rds vote requirement of California Proposition 26.

    Stay tuned…..and in the meantime, read this piece about yesterday’s legislative vote and what may portend for California.

  • California,  California Budget,  Flap's California Morning Collection,  Jerry Brown,  Tom McClintock

    Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 15, 2011

    All eyes are on California Capitol today, as the the Legislature faces a 11:59 PM deadline to pass a balanced budget or have their own paychecks affected. Any odds at some sort of “balanced” budget will pass when legislator’s own bank accounts are on the line?

    The answer is: YES.

    Both the California Assembly and Senate have morning sessions this morning and the poop is that they will pass a majority vote “balanced budget.” Remember California Democrats hold overwhelming majorities in both houses, but lack the 2/3’rds super majority in order to raise taxes.

    The California Legislature is facing an almost $ 10 Billion budget shortfall and is required by law to balance the books. Some of the proposals leaked out of the Capitol for the Democrat majority only plan include:

    • Increasing the state sales tax by 1/4%
    • Increasing car/vehicle registration fees by $12 each
    • Imposing the “Amazon Tax” or internet sales tax collection requirements for online retailers who do not have a physical presence in California
    • Charging rural homeowners a fee for firefighting services
    • Cutting the budget of the California Court system by $150 Million

    There are others, but the Democrats are floundering since most of the above will face certain court challenges or have no realistic ability to either cut spending or raise revenues. In other words, it is a SHAM and GIMMIC budget. Whether Democrat Governor Jerry Brown will go along with this Democrat majority only budget is uncertain.

    Brown will continue to negotiate with the Republicans and hope for a better deal. The Republicans have no incentive to deal with the Governor unless some real reforms become reality – if even that.

    So, on to the links:

    Field Poll: Support Slipping for Jerry Brown, Tax Extensions

    Gov. Jerry Brown still has public support for his tax plan, but the margin has slipped, and so has his public approval rating, according to a Field Poll released today.

    The poll comes as legislative Democrats – frustrated by months of failed budget talks between Brown and Republican lawmakers – prepare today to take up a budget of their own.

    Though Brown’s public approval rating has slipped just two percentage points since March, to 46 percent, many Californians who previously were undecided about Brown made up their minds against him. Thirty-one percent of voters disapprove of Brown’s job performance, up from 21 percent in March.

    Fifty-two percent of registered voters surveyed said they would be willing to extend temporary tax increases to close the state’s remaining $9.6 billion budget deficit, a drop of nine percentage points from March.

    Highlights of the Democratic budget plan

    Highlights of the Democratic budget package that lawmakers plan to vote on Wednesday, according to Assembly budget staff:


    $900 million –- Raise local sales tax rate by 0.25 percentage point

    $300 million –- Raise annual car registration fee by $12

    $200 million –- Require online retailers, such as Amazon.com, to collect sales taxes

    $160 million –- Impose fee on residents in fire zones


    $500 million –- Cut spending on a local law enforcement program (could be offset by a vehicle tax hike, if GOP agrees)

    $300 million –- Reduce spending on University of California and California State University systems by $150 million each

    $150 million –- Reduce court spending


    $2.85 billion –- Delay paying schools and community bills until the next fiscal year

    $540 million –- Delay paying some UC bills until next fiscal year


    $1.2 billion -– Revive a new version of proposal to sell state buildings,and then lease space back

    $1 billion –- Assume state wins lawsuit to take money from early-childhood programs

    $800 million -– Additional unanticipated tax revenue

    $750 million -– Cancel repayment of old school debts

    $700 million -– Assume federal government will pay some Medi-Cal bills

    Conservative heat to end redevelopment

    Who would have guessed that California conservative icon Tom McClintock, the former longtime legislator from Ventura County and current congressman representing a district in Northern California, would step up at a critical time to give Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown a boost in promoting one of his controversial budget proposals?

    The answer is, anyone who paid attention to McClintock’s position as a legislator on the issue of redevelopment. As a property rights advocate, he was a leading foe of redevelopment. Now he’s stepped up and released a You Tube video in which he calls on supporters to urge their state lawmakers “to abolish these rogue agencies.”

    The video comes just as city governments and other redevelopment advocates are sounding the alarm about a potential vote in the Legislature on two developing bills to accomplish most of what Brown is seeking. One bill would abolish redevelopment agencies; the other would allow specific agencies to stay in business, but only if they agreed to turn over most of their current flow of property tax revenues to their local school districts.

    Enjoy your morning!

  • California,  California Budget,  Dana Rohrabacher,  Flap's California Morning Collection,  Jerry Brown

    Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 13, 2011

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

    This week the California State Assembly and State Senate face a Wednesday constitutional deadline to pass a budget. California Jerry Brown is looking for Republican votes for tax extensions and so far has not obtained them.

    California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. provides an update on state budget negotiations as the June 15 deadline for a balanced budget approaches.

    The question everyone is asking: will a Republican legislature sell out their party and no tax increase pledge?

    Now to the links:

    Jerry Brown offers state budget update in new video

    Gov. Jerry Brown said in an online video Sunday that he wants changes in pensions regulations and state pensions to be part of a budget deal, but he still lacks the support from four Republican lawmakers to place those reforms and billions in taxes before voters this fall.

    Brown said his plan “will put California’s finances on a firm footing for many, many years to come…but what we don’t have are the four Republican votes necessary to put it to a vote of the people of California.”

    He did not outline what those policy changes would entail, but said he was “really perplexed at why a package of this magnitude and this permanence … cannot be allowed for you the people to decide on.

    Brown posted the video to his YouTube channel Sunday, just three days before lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass a budget, to give his budget status report to voters.

    This year, for the first time, lawmakers’ pay will be docked if no spending plan is in place by Wednesday’s deadline.

    Brown plans to hold a Capitol press conference Monday with representatives from many of the various groups that have backed his budget, and the idea of placing higher vehicle, sales and income tax rates before voters, along with changes to state pensions and a limit of future state spending.

    GOP attacks bill that would ease local tax votes

    Now that Republican lawmakers have voted against a renewal of expiring tax hikes, Democrats are turning to another, more complex way to generate revenue.

    A bill proposed by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and narrowly approved last week would dramatically expand the taxing powers of local governments, school boards and other jurisdictions.

    But the bill, SB23-1X, would lead to such a complicated latticework of taxes that opponents say Steinberg is merely pulling a stunt to ramp up pressure against Republican lawmakers.

    The Sacramento Democrat said his legislation would give public schools and law enforcement agencies a firmer source of funding if lawmakers don’t come up with one directly.

    It would grant sweeping authority to local governments to raise money, with voter approval, through taxes on income, vehicles, alcohol, tobacco, medical marijuana, soda and companies that pump oil in California.

    Steinberg introduced his local tax proposal on Friday, soon after the defeat in the Senate of the main bill to renew temporary increases in the statewide sales and vehicle taxes that will expire June 30. It passed, but with only the bare 21-vote majority needed. One Democrat voted against it and three others abstained.

    The bill applies to counties, school districts, community college districts and county offices of education. Critics said it would create a logistical nightmare of inconsistent tax policies that likely would be challenged in court and with a ballot referendum seeking to repeal it.

    Redistricting: Rohrabacher says he’s staying put

    With the release of a round of redistricting maps Friday, I mentioned that GOP Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, John Cambpell, Ed Royce and Gary Miller could be playing musical chairs.

    Rohrabacher may be busy in the Middle East, but he found time to make it clear he doesn’t plan to look for a new district to run in.

    The latest drafts throw Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, and Campbell, R-Irvine, into the same coastal district (“OCCOAST” on the map). Campbell could run for the proposed Orange-Rancho Santa Margarita district instead – but Dave Gilliard, the consultant for Royce, R-Fullerton, says that Royce has been looking for a home in Orange and considers that the heart of his district.

    If Royce stays in Fullerton and the new district surrounding that city, he could face Miller, R-Diamond Bar, since proposed map eliminate the GOP-advantage in Los Angeles County portion of his district. I’d give Royce the edge in that race, since Miller doesn’t live in the county.

    Here’s the statement that came last night from Rohrabacher’s camp:

        Congressman Rohrabacher announced today that whatever the end configuration of the districts, he will be running in the area of Orange County that he has represented for many years.

        “I share a bond both philosophically and personally with these people. This is the area where people want limited government and personal liberty, which is something we share. I am raising my family here and feel very comfortable with the values of the people of this part of Orange County and they feel comfortable with me.”

        Rohrabacher believes there’s likely to be shifts in the proposed district lines between now and the election but points to his long standing relationship with the people of the area.

        “However the districts are shaped, I’m sure that the candidates and the voters will use this as a way of getting to know each other better. So we end up with districts that are more equal in population and voters who are more fairly represented.”

    Enjoy your morning!


    Flap’s California Morning Collection Archive

  • California,  Jerry Brown,  United States Supreme Court

    California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro Slams Democrats on SCOTUS Decision to Force Prisoner Release

    California State Prison in Lancaster
    Photo from Los Angeles Times

    You remember the story from this morning?

    Now, the California Republican Party is weighing into the issue.

    From the press release:

    California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to force California’s prisons to release 46,000 convicted felons:

    “The reason for this unfortunate Supreme Court decision lies with those in charge of the California legislature for the last two decades.  While the Democrat leadership has wasted $23,000 per Assembly and Senate bill on thousands of unnecessary bills each year, not to mention wasteful programs, they have failed in their most basic obligation to keep Californians safe by building adequate prisons. Now that neglect is taking the form of the forced release of 46,000 prisoners. It is a dereliction beyond shameful.”

    Well, yeah. The Democrats have had a hammer lock on the California Legislature for decades and now hold all of the statewide Constitutional offices.

    So, what say you Jerry Brown?

  • Card Check,  Jerry Brown,  United Farm Workers Union

    California “Card Check” Legislation for Farm Wokers Passes the Assembly – Goes to Governor Jerry Brown

    Guess the California Farm Workers don’t deserve an election to unionize,, like everyone else.

    Legislation to allow farmworkers seeking union representation an alternative to secret-ballot elections passed the Assembly on Monday.

    The measure, Senate Bill 104, cleared the Assembly by a vote of 51-26, with Republicans opposed. It now goes to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not yet announced whether he will sign it.

    Proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, the bill would let farmworkers bargain collectively if a majority of employees submit petition cards to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

    Provisions also would stiffen penalties for employers who seek to thwart farmworkers’ efforts to unionize. The bill was sponsored by the United Farm Workers union.

    I would suggest that California Members of Congress concentrate on passing E-Verify. But, that would hurt the United Farm Workers Union membership, now wouldn’t it?

  • California,  Caltrans,  Jerry Brown

    Video: California Transportation Department Rejects Veterans Memorial Because of American Flag

    Well, there is a remedy for this Orcutt, California dilemma.

    From the press release:

    SB 443 authored by Sen. Strickland (R-Simi Valley) would authorize the Old Town Orcutt Revitalization Association (OTORA) to plan, construct, and maintain a veterans’ memorial in a park-and-ride lot located in Orcutt, California. No state money will be used to build or maintain the memorial.

    SB 443 passed out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on an 8 to 1 vote and is now waiting to be heard in the Senate Appropriations committee.

    But, there should not have to be special legislation for this display.

    Remember the last time California Governor Jerry Brown had control of Caltrans?

    Remember Adrianna Gianturco?

    But, this is simply stupid and reflects the state of California politics today.

  • Death Penalty,  Jerry Brown,  Kamala Harris,  Michael Morales,  Terri Lynn Winchell

    California Says NO Excutions in 2011

    The old San Quentin Prison Gas Chamber

    What a shocker and from anti-death penalty Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, too.

    California corrections officials have put off until at least next year any attempt to resume executions among the 713 condemned inmates on death row, according to court documents.

    The request by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to delay review of newly revised lethal-injection protocols until January at the earliest follows a decision last week by Gov. Jerry Brown to scrap plans to build a new death row facility at San Quentin State Prison.

    The steps have stirred speculation among death-penalty opponents that California might be drawn into the national trend away from seeking new executions.

    The most recent postponement was due to San Quentin warden Michael Martel’s decision to replace the execution team that had been assembled and trained last year. That team had been ready to carry out executions last September. Corrections officials have declined to say why Martel is assembling a new execution team.

    The internal corrections department revisions were disclosed during a meeting of the department’s lawyers last week with U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel. The San Jose judge overseeing a federal case that has halted executions for the last five years expressed frustration with the protracted process and concern that the public doesn’t understand why it has taken so long to correct flaws in the execution procedures.

    UC Santa Cruz professor Craig Haney, who opposes capital punishment and has tracked public attitudes on the death penalty for 30 years, said Brown’s decision to scuttle new death row construction to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and the corrections department’s slowing down of its efforts to resume executions are “examples of the increasing signs that the death penalty’s days are numbered in the United States.”

    I think it is time for California voters to ask why there has been such a protracted delay in enforcing the law. If there are problems with the lethal injection method, even after spending close to a $ million on a new execution chamber, then why not resume use of the gas chamber. Photo below:

    The newly renovated San Quentin Prison Death Chamber

    AP Photo

    If the California legislature needs to change the capital punishment law to facilitate a return to the gas chamber or hanging, so be it. My best guess is that Jerry brown would veto such legislation. The only recourse would be an initiative campaign by the voters of California – which of course, will take years or an election cycle.

    So, don’t count on any executions to be held in California any time within the next few years – at least while Jerry Brown is governor.

    No justice yet for Terri Lynn Winchell.

    An attorney for death row inmate Michael A. Morales, whose February 2006 execution was called off by Fogel over concerns that the former procedures could inflict unconstitutional pain, said the latest delays reflect a more cautious approach in the exercise of capital punishment by Brown’s administration.

    “It appears that the state is attempting to be diligent in their obligations under the law, which would be in stark departure from what was the case with Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger,” said David Senior, one of Morales’ attorneys.

    Terri Lynn Winchell