On politics in the Golden State

Category: Education

After election, what's next in California? [Google+ hangout]

Times reporter Evan Halper will join city editor Shelby Grad in a Google+ hangout at 2 p.m. to discuss the passage of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure and the likely Democratic supermajorities in the Assembly and Senate.

From Halper and The Times' Anthony York's story Thursday:

The supermajorities would mark a dramatic shift in Sacramento's balance of power, where GOP legislators have aggressively used their ability to block state budget plans and prevent revenue increases to scale back the scope of state government.

Coupled with the approval of Brown's tax plan, Proposition 30, the Democrats now have not only the power but also the money to break free of the deficit that has paralyzed state government for years.

The pressure on Democrats to restore funding for the many services slashed to balance the budget in recent years will be intense.

Already, activists are pressing lawmakers to pump new money into such programs as college scholarships, dental care for the needy and, of course, public schools.

But the first move Brown and legislative leaders made Wednesday was to reassure voters that they would show restraint.

They promised there would be no frenzy of tax hikes.

"Voters have trusted the elected representatives, maybe even trusted me to some extent, and now we've got to meet that trust," Brown said at a Wednesday news conference in the Capitol. "We've got to make sure over the next few years that we pay our bills, we invest in the right programs, but we don't go on any spending binges."

Still, lawmakers can appear to hold the line on revenue generation without actually doing so.


Secret Arizona donation failed to dent Democrats and unions

California 'moved further to the left,' state GOP chairman says

More than 792,000 ballots uncounted in L.A. County, registrar says

Brown found path to Prop 30. victory in a divided California

Brown election night

On Tuesday night, a triumphant Gov. Jerry Brown told supporters in Sacramento that his tax-hike measure was a “unifying force.” Californians were coming together, he said, to support schools and patch the state budget.  

But Brown’s victory may not have been possible without the deepening divisions that have characterized American politics. Even as support for his ballot measure slipped, the governor was able to rely on a firewall of hard-core allies that eventually carried Proposition 30 to victory.

The measure will increase the state sales tax by a quarter of a cent for four years and raise income tax rates on the wealthy by 1 to 3 percentage points for seven years. Without the new taxes, Brown said, the state would have had to make nearly $6 billion in budget cuts, mostly to public schools.

In October, while Brown was largely absent from the campaign trail, public opinion polls showed Proposition 30 leading with a shrinking margin, then dropping below 50% support for the first time.

The slide led to a round of hand-wringing among some of the Proposition 30 resultsgovernor’s allies, since Sacramento operatives have long cautioned that it’s very difficult to pass a tax increase with less than 60% support.

But members of Brown’s team said they were not concerned. They said such benchmarks were relics of a time where the political landscape was populated with Reagan Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans -– moderate voters who could swing either way on an issue like taxes.

Ace Smith, the campaign manager, said that “conventional wisdom has become stale.”

Today, ideological schisms have hardened both sides of the political spectrum, and Brown's team said it didn’t need such a wide margin because its base had become more reliable.

Polls showed that voters who were undecided on Brown’s tax plan were more likely to be Democrats than Republicans, and campaign operatives said they eventually lined up behind the governor’s measure.

Brown began a series of rapid-fire campaign events in the final weeks before the election, and Kevin Gordon, a lobbyist for schools, said the strategy paid off.

"People were really doubtful about its ability to pass," he said. "The governor gets incredibly high marks for his political genius, no doubt about it."


California Democrats emerge more powerful after election

Bond-rating agency sees a fork in the road for California finances

Voters approve Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure, Proposition 30, AP says

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to reporters about Proposition 30 during an election night party in Sacramento on Tuesday. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Jerry Brown, California Democrats appear to be big winners in election

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

Gov. Jerry Brown’s $6-billion-a-year tax initiative to rescue California schools and the state's finances appeared to squeak by with a victory early Wednesday, and Democrats' grip on Sacramento tightened as the party crept toward winning a super-majority in both houses of the Legislature.

Tuesday's election also brought an end to the three-decade-long congressional career of Rep. Howard Berman, who early Wednesday morning conceded defeat in his political slugfest against fellow Democrat Brad Sherman in the San Fernando Valley.

The bitter contest between Sherman and Berman, awash in more than $13 million in campaign spending by the candidates and independent political groups, was triggered when California's newly drawn political boundaries put the two incumbents in the same district.

"I congratulate Brad. ... I will do whatever I can to ensure a cooperative and orderly transition," Berman said in a concise concession statement early Wednesday.

FULL RESULTS: California races

In a similar high-profile mash-up between Democrats, Rep. Janice Hahn of San Pedro was cruising to an easy win against Rep. Laura Richardson of Long Beach in a newly drawn district that includes many minority, working-class communities, election results showed.

Among other closely watched races for California House seats, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Oak Park) narrowly defeated state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) in Ventura County, and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) bested former Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, according to results with all voter precincts reporting in those districts.

California's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, won an easy reelection victory over nonprofit executive Elizabeth Emken, her underfunded, little-known Republican challenger.

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

The governor woke up Wednesday as one of the biggest apparent victors in Tuesday’s election, however.

Facing well-funded opposition, Brown campaigned heavily for Proposition 30 as a way to restore fiscal sanity to Sacramento and to stave off deep cuts to public schools and universities. The initiative calls for a quarter-cent increase to sales taxes for four years and a seven-year tax hike on California’s highest earners.

Californians have not approved a statewide tax increase since 2004.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a competing measure bankrolled by millionaire civil rights lawyer Molly Munger -- Proposition 38 – which would have increased income taxes for most Californians to raise funds primarily for schools and early childhood education.

In one of the highest-profile state ballot measures, labor unions appeared to defeat Proposition 32, which would have reduced their political influence by barring unions from using paycheck deductions for political purposes.

Californians also soured on a measure to abolish the death penalty -– Proposition 34 -- which was trailing badly with most of the voter precincts reporting Wednesday morning.

Other law-and-order measures were greeting more warmly. Voters favored Proposition 36, which would change the three-strikes sentencing law so offenders whose third strikes were minor, nonviolent crimes could no longer be given 25 years to life in prison.

Voters also supported Proposition 35, which promoted increased punishment for sex trafficking of a minor. Both led by wide margins with most ballots counted.

With most ballots tallied across California, initiatives to label genetically engineered foods and change state law to create a new car insurance discount appeared headed for defeat.

One of the biggest surprises of the election was the Democrats' strong showing in legislative races. Democrats appear on the verge of winning a two-thirds majority in the state Senate and Assembly, enough to approve tax measures without Republican support.

In Los Angeles County, veteran prosecutor Jackie Lacey became the county's first female and first African American district attorney after defeating Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson. Jackson conceded early Wednesday morning.

Lacey, 55, touted herself as the only candidate with the experience to run the office. She had the support of her boss, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who is retiring after three terms.

Los Angeles County voters also approved a local measure requiring adult film actors to wear condoms. With most precincts reporting, a measure to fund transportation projects by extending a countywide sales-tax increase for an additional 30 years remained just shy of the two-thirds vote required for approval.

Some races remained too close to call, including the San Diego congressional race between Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R-Carlsbad) and Democrat Scott Peters, a San Diego environmental attorney. In the Coachella Valley, Democratic emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz was leading Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) with just under two-thirds of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning.


Munger’s Proposition 38 fails, according to AP

Prop. 40, on state Senate districts, passes, per AP

Proposition 36 on three-strikes law passes, AP says

-- Phil Willon

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown addresses supporters of Proposition 30 and 32 at the Sheraton Hotel in Sacramento Tuesday. Source: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Voters approve Brown's tax measure, Proposition 30, AP says

FULL RESULTS: California races

California voters have approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure to temporarily increase the state sales tax by a quarter-cent and income taxes on the wealthy by 1% to 3%, according to the Associated Press.

Brown had warned that if voters rejected the measure, billions of dollars would be cut from public education.

The reductions were written into the budget the governor signed over the summer, scheduled to take effect if Proposition 30 failed.

FULL RESULTS: California races

During the campaign, Brown faced opposition from the left and the right.

On the left, millionaire civil rights attorney Molly Munger pushed her own tax-hike measure, Proposition 38, and criticized the governor’s plan. Her proposition was rejected by California voters.

Meanwhile, anti-tax activists and wealthy conservative donors said the state government could not be trusted with more tax money.


Munger’s Proposition 38 fails, according to AP

Prop. 40, on state Senate districts, passes, per AP

Proposition 36 on three strikes law passes, AP says

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento


Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown thanks supporters for their work on his temporary tax-hike initiative, Proposition 30, during an election night party in Sacramento. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Munger’s Proposition 38 fails, according to AP

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

Voters have rejected Proposition 38, a tax hike to raise money for schools, according to the Associated Press.

The measure was created by Pasadena civil-rights attorney Molly Munger, daughter of Berkshire Hathaway executive Charles Munger. Her ideas on how to fund schools competed with those of Gov. Jerry Brown, who pushed his Proposition 30.

Backed by the California State PTA and financed with more than $47 million of Munger's money, Proposition 38 was drafted to raise income taxes on virtually all state taxpayers to generate an estimated $10 billion annually for schools, early childhood development programs and paying down state debt. 

LIVE RESULTS: California election | National election

Many of the California’s largest education groups opted not to back Proposition 38, throwing their support behind the governor’s initiative instead. Much of the state's Democratic establishment followed suit.

Unlike Brown's proposal, Munger's initiative was designed to send money directly to individual schools, bypassing the Legislature. Her advertisements had an anti-Sacramento message that threatened to erode support for Brown’s measure.

Some education leaders, saying she was jeopardizing the chances of both measures, publicly urged her to take the ads off the air, which she did within days.


Feinstein reelected, Associated Press reports

Voting ends in California, and the waiting continues

 Proposition 35, on human trafficking, passes, per AP

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: Molly Munger. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

Jerry Brown launches final push for Proposition 30

Gov. Jerry Brown embarked Monday on a five-city swing across California in a last-ditch effort to persuade voters to support Proposition 30, the temporary tax-hike plan that he says will help balance the state's books and prevent billions of dollars in cuts to public schools and universities.

Brown began his day in San Diego with a 7:30 a.m. rally and pep talk in front of Hoover High School, one of the oldest, most racially diverse schools in the city. The tax increases in Proposition 30 -- a quarter-cent sales tax hike for four years and a seven-year surcharge on annual incomes of $250,000 or more -- are small and targeted toward to the wealthy, Brown told a cheering crowd of 100-plus students, teachers and others.

"Do we want our schools to cut $6 billion more or do we ask those who have enjoyed the greatest benefits to give a little more to California in our time of need?" he asked the crowd.

In the final days before Tuesday's vote, Brown has hammered the populist message -- something that has been missing from the campaign's paid advertising.

The proposition has opposition among the rich, he said. "Even people in Arizona are sending secret donations and when we ask 'who are you?' They say 'we don't have to tell you,'" the governor said, referring to an out-of-state group that has anonymously dumped $11 million into a campaign committee opposed to Proposition 30.

Brown was joined on the stump by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assemblyman Marty Block (D-San Diego). He is scheduled to make stops in Burbank, Fresno, Sacramento and San Francisco later Monday.


California sets new record for voter registration

Gov. Jerry Brown has no patience for "dystopians and declinists"

California Supreme Court orders Arizona nonprofit to turn over records

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

2 lawmakers call for probe of Cal State's legislative report card

California State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) is one of two state lawmakers who have demanded an investigation into have demanded an investigation into a legislative report card produced by the California State University system.Two state lawmakers who received poor grades in a legislative report card by administrators at the California State University system have demanded an investigation into who approved the critical score sheet and how much it cost to produce.

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who received a "D" grade for his legislative votes, and Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego), who was given an "F" grade, wrote to CSU Board Chairman Robert Linscheid to express their displeasure and demand answers.

"We are deeply concerned with the recent actions of retiring CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, specifically his inappropriate use of state tax dollars and CSU employees for the research, development and distribution of his '2011-12 Legislative Scorecard,'"  the two legislators wrote.

"Reed’s poor judgment and apparently unchecked access to CSU personnel and tax dollars is troubling," they added. "Equally troubling is that this scorecard attempted to paint legislators negatively, even going so far as to give a poor record to those who voted to limit executive compensation -- legislation that was supported by CSU students and faculty, but opposed by the administration."

CSU spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp said the information sought by the lawmakers on the cost was not immediately available. "We are looking into it, but I don’t have a dollar figure to share at this point," he said. An introduction to the scorecard said it was produced because the university "holds the state's elected officials accountable to support the CSU in achieving its mission and goals."


California sets new record for voter registration

Authorities racing the clock to identify Arizona donors

L.A. Democrats decry outside group's mailer slamming elected officials 

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). Credit: Ben Margot / Associated Press

Gov. Brown's Prop. 30 losing support, poll shows [Google+ Hangout]

Times reporter Chris Megerian will join city editor Shelby Grad at 10:30 a.m. for a Google+ Hangout on plunging support for Proposition 30, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed measure would temporarily raise taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 a year and impose a quarter-cent hike in the state sales tax. Brown has warned that billions of dollars will be cut from public schools and universities if Proposition 30 fails.

From an analysis by Megerian and the Times' Anthony York:

Support has plunged for Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to raise billions of dollars in taxes, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows, with less than half of voters planning to cast ballots in favor of the measure.

Only 46% of registered voters now support Brown's initiative, a 9-point drop over the last month, and 42% oppose it. The findings follow a lackluster month of campaigning by the governor, who had spent little time on the stump and found himself fighting off attacks from backers of a separate ballot measure that would raise taxes for schools.

Although Brown recently launched a frantic push for votes, both proposals could fail. Tax measures rarely gain support in the closing days of a campaign.

Proposition 38, which would increase income taxes for most Californians to raise funds primarily for schools and early childhood education, sank 6 points in the poll and continues to lag behind Brown's. Just 28% of voters support Proposition 38, down from 34% in September.


Food labeling initiative draws most mentions on Twitter

Support plunges for Prop. 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative

Two young Democrats square off over East L.A. Assembly district

Cal State report card on higher-ed votes angers many lawmakers

Administrators at the California State University system, including retiring Chancellor Charles B. Reed,  have put out a first-of-its-kind report card indicating how much support state legislators gave priority bills on higher education

Administrators at the California State University system have poked a stick in a hornet's nest by putting out their first-of-its-kind report card indicating how much support state legislators gave priority bills on higher education.

The report card was sent out by the office of retiring Chancellor Charles B. Reed and quickly had the Twitter-sphere buzzing about what some saw as a bold last move as he heads for the door. Others thought it was inappropriate and misleading.

The report card gave "F" grades to 20 Assembly members and five state senators, all of them Republican. Senators receiving an "F'' were Joel Anderson of San Diego, Tom Berryhill of Modesto, Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel, Bob Huff of Diamond Bar and Doug La Malfa of Richvale. 

It graded lawmakers on their handling of 24 bills CSU supported or opposed during the 2011-12 session, including some directly affecting the university system's funding. Other measures it supported provide scholarships to illegal immigrants and would have plugged a corporate tax loophole to increase student aid.

"The intent of the legislative scorecard is to inform the public on lawmakers' support of the CSU and public higher education,'' the report card explained in an introduction, adding that the university "holds the state's elected officials accountable to support the CSU in achieving its mission and goals."

Senate Republicans said the scorecard left out key votes on the budget and was not a proper use of taxpayer resources. "The main objection is they are a state agency and they should be focusing on getting students to graduate from college,'' said Hector Barajas, spokesman for the Senate Republican caucus. "To spend all this time and effort on a scorecard seems a bit absurd.''

The scorecard was also blasted by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who was given a "D'' grade after he authored a measure, opposed by CSU, that would have limited pay raises for university administrators within two years of student fee increases.

"Rather than fighting for students and faculty, the CSU administration used taxpayer funds to fight for themselves and their fellow top executives,'' Yee said. "The chancellor's report card is a sham."


Skelton: Proposition 39 fixes lawmakers' tax mistake

Ex-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez takes hit in real estate

Berman, Sherman mix it up -- again -- in congressional race forum

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.  Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Bill Clinton endorses Jerry Brown's tax-hike plan

Former President Clinton gave Gov. Jerry Brown a hand, firing off a quick endorsement of the governor's tax-hike ballot measure, Proposition 30

Two decades ago, Bill Clinton beat out Jerry Brown in a bruising battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

On Tuesday, Clinton gave his former rival a helping hand, firing off a quick endorsement of the governor's tax-hike ballot measure, Proposition 30. 

The former president made the comments during a rally for Democratic congressional candidates in Davis. Clinton also urged voters to oppose Proposition 32, which would curb unions' political influence.  

The remarks come at a time of increased tension surrounding Brown's tax initiative. Millionaire lawyer Molly Munger, who is pushing a rival tax measure, released a video Tuesday targeting Proposition 30, raising the possibility of open warfare between the two campaigns. 

Anthony York has the story in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times.

"This is the political equivalent of attempted murder-suicide," said Jason Kinney, who is working with a committee of Democrats fighting Munger's tax measure. "If she can't win, she wants everyone else to lose, including schools."

Proposition 30 would raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years and increase levies on the wealthy for seven years. The governor says that if it doesn't pass, he'll cut nearly $6 billion from the state budget, mostly from public schools.


Molly Munger blasts Jerry Brown's tax plan in new ad

Molly Munger pushes Proposition 38 despite blowback 

Bill Clinton endorses four in tight N. Calif. congressional races

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Photo: Former President Clinton addresses delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Michael Reynolds / EPA


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