It's Tuesday, January 20, and the only Democrats left in town are the ones
who didn't get tickets to the party.
Of course, some of the Democrats who are back in DC
are doing their best to convince us that they're actually getting some work done.
"[S]tate legislative leaders, perhaps nervous over how
they'd be perceived celebrating amid a fiscal crisis at
home and during critical budget negotiations, have couched their trips this week to Washington, D.C.,
as a chance to make a crucial appeal for federal bailout
money for which California is in line," reports Steven Harmon in the Contra Costa Times.
"Both Senate leader Darrell Steinberg
, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass
, D-Los Angeles, put out reassuring statements proclaiming
that they will be hard at work pounding on President
Barack Obama's doors for money and pressing the California congressional
delegation for action.
"'Speaker Bass is meeting with our congressional delegation
and Obama transition team leaders Wednesday ... to
ensure California gets its fair share,' said Shannon Murphy
, Bass' spokeswoman, who stressed that Bass missed all of
California's inaugural balls Monday because she flew out late
Monday night after attending Martin Luther King Jr.
Day celebrations in Los Angeles. She did say she was
unsure whether Bass' schedule tonight includes inaugural balls.
"Some wonder if they should have even bothered with
"'It is a bit disingenuous,' said Corey Cook
, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco,
who is attending the inauguration. 'The spin of 'we're getting work done' is probably not one I'd encourage. That's not real. No doubt they will be working their deals,
but that's not why they're here.'
"There are critics who say the two leaders — and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
, who is also attending — should have stayed in Sacramento to work on the $42 billion budget deficit. But others say it's reasonable to allow the political leaders of the
nation's largest state a few days to attend the historic swearing-in of the nation's first black president."
Meanwhile, the fiscal timebomb is ticking...
"If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls a special election
this year, California voters might be forced to make the hard choices on the budget
and taxes that the Legislature won't," reports John Wildermuth in the Chron.
"State Controller John Chiang
said in an interview that he would support putting
a tax increase package to voters in an effort to break
the long-running legislative stalemate that has left California
with a $42 billion deficit and weeks away from delaying refunds
to taxpayers and grants to college students and low-income and disabled residents.
"If Republicans and Democrats can't compromise on budget cuts and tax increases, 'they may at least be able to agree to let voters make
a choice,' Chiang told The Chronicle.
, the state's new legislative analyst, made a similar suggestion
earlier this month in a critique of the governor's proposed budget for the fiscal year ending in mid-2010. A package of tax increases proposed by the Democrats
and vetoed by the governor could go on the ballot for
the voters to decide, he wrote.
"'If there were members who didn't want to vote on a tax increase but were willing to
allow the voters to make a choice, this could break
up the logjam,' Taylor said in an interview.
"Such a package could be presented to voters as early
Kevin Yamamura writes that business leaders are softening their anti-tax stance.
"California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg said this week that his group is "not opposed to all taxes" in the current budget environment.
"'There's going to have to be a combination of revenues and
real spending reductions,' Zaremberg said. 'But there are certain taxes that are going to hurt
the economy worse than others, and those are targeted
taxes that impact one industry disproportionately.'
"Zaremberg said the state chamber, which represents
16,000 businesses, opposes a proposed 9.9 percent tax on each barrel of oil extracted in California.
It also opposes extending the sales tax to a number
of services that the state currently does not charge,
such as veterinary care, car repair and amusement parks.
"Zaremberg and other business leaders have said any
new taxes should instead be broad in nature. While
he would not specify a particular proposal, his description
could apply to the state's annual fee on motor vehicles or Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's temporary 1.5-cent sales tax.
"'I think most businesses believe there will be tax increases
as part of a final deal, so the question is, what's the formula?'
said Joel Fox
, executive director of the Small Business Action Committee
and editor of the Fox & Hounds political blog. 'Businesses have concerns about all taxes, I think that
should be made clear. But we're working under the assumption that if there are taxes,
how should they be levied?'
The Bee's Steve Weigand looks at the challenge the budget fight creates for Democrats in
"Last month, [Alyson] Huber and [Joan] Buchanan were among four freshmen Assembly Democrats who abstained
from voting on two bills that called for massive tax
increases to help pull the state out of its deep budget
"The other two Democratic frosh, Assemblymen Marty Block of San Diego and Manuel Perez of Coachella, also won seats previously held by Republicans,
and also represent districts political experts think
can be won by either Democrats or Republicans.
"Republican lawmakers are almost certain to demand that
all of the house's 51 Democrats vote for any tax increase before they put
up the final three votes.
"'When I worked around the Legislature, we went through
the same thing, and before we gave votes on the budget
or other bills where they needed Republican votes,
we made them put up their (politically) weak members,' said Tony Quinn, a former GOP legislative staff member who is now
a political historian and analyst. 'That was part of the strategy.'"
"Poverty experts say one in three California children on the state's welfare rolls could be cut under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget plan, which calls for restricting eligibility
in the program designed to serve working-poor families," writes Karen de Sa in the Merc News.
"And those who continue to receive grants would be hit
as well: Despite soaring food prices and burgeoning unemployment,
maximum monthly payments for a family of three would
equal $43 less than what a similar-size family received in 1989.
"As budget battles continue raging in Sacramento, parent
protesters took to the Capitol steps last week, demanding
resolutions for the state's $40 billion deficit that will not pummel the poor. But
so far, deep cuts to the welfare-to-work program known as CalWORKS appear inevitable, even
Democratic leaders agree.
"'Arnold, he has children, so I think he should understand
children have needs,' said Sandra, a 39-year-old San Jose mother recently laid off after 10 years at a local school district. Citing the stigma
of being on welfare for the first time, she declined
to give her last name."
"Democratic lawmakers are moving forward with legislation expanding rights
and recognition for gays and lesbians in California while the state Supreme Court considers
the fate of same-sex marriage," reports Aurelio Rojas in the Bee.
"Assembly Bill 103 by Assemblyman Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, would allow two people, including same-sex couples, who co-own a home to avoid having their property tax reassessed
and raised when one dies.
"Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Leno plans to re-introduce legislation – vetoed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – that would designate each May 22 as Harvey Milk Day and encourage schools to commemorate
the life of the late gay-rights activist.
"Leno and a fellow San Franciscan, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, also are carrying identical, nonbinding resolutions
that would put the Legislature at odds with voters
who last year approved Proposition 8.
"The measure that banned same-sex marriage in California is being challenged by opponents
in the state Supreme Court.
"Senate Resolution 7 and House Resolution 5 would make it official state policy that Proposition
8 was an invalid revision to the California Constitution.
It would also set forth that any change to the constitution
that would eliminate a fundamental right from a minority
group must be passed by the Legislature before being
placed on the ballot.
"'Fortunately, the constitution cannot be lobbied,' said Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com."
"Tribal revenue-sharing payments to the state will total a third less
than expected this fiscal year and are expected to fall further short of projections
for the following year, according to new state budget
estimates," writes the Bee's Peter Hecht.
"The forecasts raise doubts about the anticipated windfall
from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pursuit of new casino deals and unprecedented expansion
of Indian gambling.
"'It was oversold,' said I. Nelson Rose, a Whittier College professor specializing in gambling
law. 'He (Schwarzenegger) thought the deals were good for the tribes and the
state. But he was wrong in predicting the future. And
the tribes were wrong, too.'
"Running against Gov. Gray Davis in the 2003 recall election, Schwarzenegger railed against California's failure to tap Indian casinos.
"Davis signed gambling compacts in 1999 that let 61 California tribes develop casinos of up to 2,000 slot machines each without contributing to the state's general fund.
"New tribal gambling deals negotiated by Schwarzenegger
will pump $362 million into the state's general fund this year. That is $123 million less than the Governor's Office had expected.
"Projected casino revenue-sharing payments to the state for the next fiscal year
– $393 million – are expected to be $192 million short of forecasts."
The LAT's Cara Mia DeMassa looks at today's election in the City of Industry to fund a stadium
in hopes of drawing an NFL team.
"Skeptics abound. But [City of] Industry is taking a first step today, when the city's 84 registered voters will consider a $500-million bond that would pay for stadium-related infrastructure bonds. And two days later, the
City Council is scheduled to certify the project's environmental impact report.
"Those plans, which include the construction of four
practice fields, restaurants, banquet facilities, offices
and an NFL attraction, have divided the valley.
"Some neighboring cities, including West Covina and
La Puente, passed resolutions in favor of the stadium,
citing its potential economic effect on the area. And
earlier this month, the Independent Cities Assn., a
nonprofit that represents 52 cities in Los Angeles County, endorsed the plan.
"But two of the stadium's closest civic neighbors, Diamond Bar and Walnut,
oppose the plans. They cite concerns about traffic
and the effect that thousands of visitors to the stadium
could have on their streets and quality of life.
"By contrast, Industry's focus is primarily on, well, industry. In the early
1950s, as the Los Angeles area was quickly urbanizing,
residents in the area feared that the city of Los Angeles
might annex their land for industrial use. The city
charges no business taxes but instead relies on revenue
from various retail outlets within its boundaries,
including the Puente Hills mall. And it is unabashedly
business-friendly: Factories and other facilities are allowed to operate
24 hours a day, seven days a week."
And from our Ready Or Not, Here We Come Files, AP reports,
"A Fort Pierce woman
ended up in jail because of a little girl with a big
mouth. Police went
to the home of 22-year-old woman on Friday to serve warrants for
assault, harassing phone calls and violation probation carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
said two men and a woman at the house told officers
that the woman had
left, but then a 4-year old child approached one of the officers and
revealed that the woman was under a bed.
"Officers found the woman exactly where the child said
she would be."