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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

Pattern developing in reform bill killings

It’s the first day of May. If you haven’t noticed, the California Democratic Supermajority is killing all reform efforts. And the targets are not just Republican bills.

Just yesterday, the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality killed a bill which would have stopped the California Air Resources Board from assessing a very expensive administrative fee on California colleges for implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

SB 497, by Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, said the committee’s failure to approve the bill will likely result in fewer students being able to attend California’s higher education institutions, and higher tuition costs for those who do.

The Senate Education Committee killed SB 441, by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, which would merely have suggested school districts around the state to assess the performance of teachers and school administrators.

This week SB 453, by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, was also killed. SB 453 would have allowed school districts to make staffing decisions based on performance evaluations and factors other than a teacher’s simple date of… Read More

Katy Grimes

POW!!! California $127 billion in the red

Holy understatement Batman! California is more than $127 billion in the red!

The California State Auditor recently released a report detailing California’s “net worth” as a state.

California is $127.2 billion upside down.

Holy helplessness Batman!

The Assembly Republicans California Budget Fact Check project explains: “As is a common annual practice in the business world, the Auditor totaled up all of the state’s unrestricted assets and income, and then compared them against the state’s liabilities to determine net worth. Factoring all of these things together, California had a negative net worth of $127.2 billion in 2011-12.”

Holy dilemma Batman!

The Budget Fact Check… Read More

Katy Grimes

Really good state budget transparency bills – will they be killed?

In 2012, the state Legislature passed 80 budget “spot” bills — empty bills with no details. Such measures just sit on a shelf and await last-minute bill language, then are put forward for late-night passage on the last day of the budget session.

These are often the most controversial bills of each session. When lawmakers use them to avoid the legislative process, which requires committee hearings for all bills, it is clear that their goal is to avoid transparency and public involvement.

This has long been the norm. It has arguably been encouraged since the 2010 adoption of Propositions 25 and 26 into the state Constitution, allowing the Legislature to pass a budget on a simple majority vote and requiring a supermajority vote to pass fees and taxes by the Legislature, respectively. Lawmakers routinely take major policy changes and potential tax increases and drop them in trailer bill language.

Gorell and other Assembly Republicans target ‘waste, fraud and abuse’

To counter this practice, Assembly Republicans are pushing budget reform and transparency measures.… Read More

Katy Grimes

Caltrans boondoggles; director to be re-confirmed

Today, it appears the California Senate will reconfirm Malcolm Dougherty, the director of Caltrans. This will be done after only one Senate hearing, where instead of asking Dougherty to answer for the giant problems in his agency, lawmakers were silent or complimentary.

What timing. I hope Senators are paying attention today. Because yesterday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission announced the opening of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge may be delayed a few more weeks or even months. The latest delay of the 10-year construction project is due to the discovery of more than 30 faulty giant bolts holding the bridge together — apparently they need to be replaced before the bridge can open to the public.

Under construction for more than a decade, the Bay Bridge project has not only taken much longer to build than planned, cost overruns have escalated the total cost to build it… Read More

Katy Grimes

Caltrans director about to be quietly reconfirmed

Caltrans is an agency in trouble. The most recent buffoonery involves putting California motorists at risk, with the 30 broken bolts discovered on the newly renovated San Francisco Bay Bridge. And apparently Caltrans knew about this.

A recently released report from the California League of Cities , California State Association of Counties and other transportation organizations found only 56 percent of California’s local streets and roads were deemed to be in “good” condition, and 49 of the state’s 58 counties were rated “At Risk” or in “Poor’ condition.

“By ‘streets and roads,’ the report is also referring to bridges and essential components like sidewalks, storm drains, curbs and traffic signs,” the AllGov California website… Read More

Katy Grimes

Politicians seek special enviro deal on arena

This is Part One of a two-part series.

The unusually speedy approval of a new NBA arena for the Kings basketball team in the heart of downtown Sacramento leaves many details and unanswered questions on the table, including how this arena project possibly will be completed and ready for opening by 2015.

Approved by the Sacramento City Council, the latest plan uses overstated revenue projections, grossly overstated projected attendance numbers and city-owned parking garages to sweeten the finances. As with all of the previous schemes to keep the Sacramento Kings in town in a luxurious arena, neither city officials nor local news media have ever… Read More

Katy Grimes

Neighborhood Legislature could restore accountability

Big spending on California politics has become one of the state’s largest industries. But the return on investment is lousy.

California’s political system has become so heavily manipulated by labor unions and other big money interests that the system is broken. Legislators have become professional fundraisers instead of managing public policy. And the individual voter no longer has much voice or influence.

It may sound farfetched, but the only way to fix this system is to expand it. California needs more lawmakers.

For democracy to work, it must be representative democracy. It must be a government of, by and for the people.

The Neighborhood Legislature

Last year Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, pushed an initiative for a part-time Legislature. She succeeded in bringing much needed attention to the broken system. And… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento arena: A ‘Field of Schemes’

Sacramento officials have lost all ability to reason, and instead are letting emotions and delusions of grandeur drive their decision over a downtown sports arena.

Arenas are nothing more that fields of schemes, and the joke is on taxpayers. And Sacramento is hardly a bastion of economic splendor. Despite some of the highest unemployment in the country, escalating business closures, widespread home foreclosures and short sales, and declining tax revenue, arena talks are all the rage in Sacramento.

Judith Grant Long’s data on full public cost of stadiums and arenas is groundbreaking. “Where most ‘stadium cost’ charts just rely on self-reporting by teams, Harvard researcher Long has actually attempted to calculate the public and private costs of every major-league stadium and arena in North America, including hidden subsidies like free land, lease breaks, and tax exemptions,” Field of Schemes Neil deMause wrote.

It’s as if the Mayor is so enamored of the idea of driving away from the car dealership in a new Maserati, he’s forgotten he can’t afford… Read More

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