Happy New Year!
Remember, as you're driving to Golden One to get a loan in lieu of a
legislative paycheck, don't call mom without a hands free device.
However, feel free to read The Roundup...
"California starts the new budget year today -- and once again no budget is in place," reports Evan Halper in the Times.
"Legislators are making little progress closing a $15.2-billion shortfall. Democrats demand new taxes. Republicans
say that is out of the question. Meanwhile, their inability
to strike a deal threatens millions of Californians
who rely on the government for healthcare and other
"Budget delays are not unusual. But the consequences
will be particularly harsh this year. Many of the healthcare
clinics and other service providers that have used
private loans to get by during past budget stalemates
are unlikely to have easy access to such cash this
year, as a result of the ongoing credit crunch brought
on by the mortgage crisis.
"Independent service providers aren't the only ones that could soon be scraping to find
money. Short-term bonds that finance officials rely upon to replenish
state coffers cannot be sold without a budget in place,
and getting them to market takes at least a month.
"The state may have to turn to a syndicate of investment
banks for short-term financing, on terms that could prove costly, said
, deputy director of the state Department of Finance.
The financing could cost $140 million more than bond borrowing would have, he said.
"'In this budget environment,' he said, 'I can think of a lot better uses for that money.'"
Monkey knife fighting?
"Despite the grim state of affairs at the Capitol, Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers Monday played down
their failure to get a budget together and the dim
prospects of reaching a deal soon.
"'I don't know at what stage they are in,' Schwarzenegger said at a news conference. 'I know one thing, they are all working. . . . Everyone
knows we are short on time. I think everyone knows
it is a complicated, difficult budget.'"
The Bee's Kevin Yamamura profiles the Big Four and the Governor, while Dan Walters yawns.
Meanwhile, from the Department of the Big Spin: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's fellow Republicans said Monday they will not support his lottery proposal to bridge the
state's budget deficit this year," reports Judy Lin in the Bee.
"The GOP's rejection and lukewarm Democratic support leave the
governor without the centerpiece of his proposal as
the state's fiscal year begins today.
"Democrats and Republicans remain locked in a political
battle over how to close a $15.2 billion deficit in the $101 billion general fund, the largest chunk of a $144 billion spending plan.
"Republican leader Mike Villines said Schwarzenegger's proposal to borrow billions against future lottery
revenues is a "tough sell" because it would trigger a temporary sales tax increase
if voters rejected the plan on the November ballot.
The GOP remains steadfastly opposed to tax increases.
"Villines, R-Clovis, said all four leaders, including Democrats,
think the plan is flawed."
The hands free law gets Joe Simitian a favorable write-up by Edwin Garcia in the Merc News.
"When he proposed seven years ago that California become
the first state in the nation with a hands-free cell phone law, the measure had little support
and no hope of passage. But as the landmark legislation
takes effect today, it stands as an impressive tribute
to the Palo Alto senator known for his far-reaching proposals, his brainy persona, and an occasionally
off-putting personal style.
"Bills he champions, such as a measure that bars companies
from implanting microchips in workers, often draw attention.
But they are slow to materialize for a number of reasons: Some of his concepts seem too novel for most legislators.
His proposals often draw strong opposition. And he
sometimes seems to value his own concepts above the
compromises needed to win the support of his colleagues."
"In a political career spanning 25 years, Simitian, who came to prominence as a school
board member, city councilman and Santa Clara County
supervisor, has carved a rare niche in a Capitol where
politics almost always matter more than ideas.
"Even as an education lobbyist opposed one of his bills
at a hearing last week she stated: "We really want to commend Senator Simitian for being
a man ahead of his time."
"The phrase fits well for the 55-year-old bespectacled Berkeley law school graduate. 'Some of the toughest challenges,' Simitian said, 'are when you try and lead a little ahead of the curve.'"
Go Go, Ocean Rangers!
Any budget ideas, Joe? Oh, and aside from that Proposition
98 idea that got you kicked off the budget subcommittee.
"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who previously said the issue of gay marriage should
be left up to each state, has announced his opposition to a California ballot
measure that would ban same-sex marriages," writes the Bee's Aurelio Rojas.
"In a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic
Club read Sunday at the group's annual Pride Breakfast in San Francisco, the Illinois
senator said he supports extending "fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law."
"'And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory
efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar
efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of
other states,' Obama wrote.
"Obama had previously said he opposes same-sex marriage but that each state should make its own
"The company that built the first mass-produced, all-electric car will keep its manufacturing plant in California, thanks to a new tax break," reports the AP.
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Treasurer Bill
Lockyer worked out the deal for Tesla Motors Inc. after
learning that the Silicon Valley-based company intended to build its second-generation vehicle in New Mexico.
And, who was that influential lobbyist that arranged
the tax break?
"The financial break, announced Monday, allows Tesla
to avoid paying state sales tax on equipment it buys
to build its Model S. That will save the company 7 percent to 9 percent on each purchase.
"The five-passenger sedan is expected to cost about $60,000 and will be able to travel 225 miles between charges to its electric engine.
"Schwarzenegger says it drove him "absolutely insane" to learn Tesla planned to take its environmentally
friendly technology to another state."
"Capital punishment in California is too flawed to be effective and is crippled by an
appeals backlog that delays punishment for crimes, a state Senate- appointed panel has concluded," reports M.S. Enkoji in the Bee.
"The California Commission on the Fair Administration
of Justice issued an in-depth report on the death penalty Monday, the first
official review of the practice since it was reinstated
"The state's death-penalty system must undergo a multimillion-dollar upgrade – an investment that voters must weigh in on – to lessen the nation's longest time between conviction and execution, the
"'We've got to insist on these resources if we want a credible
death penalty,' said former Attorney General John Van de Kamp, commission chairman.
"Alternatives the commission offered were to narrow
the field of defendants eligible for the death penalty
or to abolish it. Both measures would ignite controversy,
Van de Kamp said, but would potentially save rather
than cost money.
"Keeping someone on death row costs $92,000 annually above the cost of a year at a maximum-security state prison, the commission found. The cost
of appeals can be three times the cost of the original
And, for those of you worried that the budget problems
may require you to become a medical assistant in twelve
short weeks, "[s]tate oversight of for-profit trade schools, which enroll 400,000 Californians a year, was set to vanish Monday, leaving students whose schools go out of business
without access to state-arranged tuition refunds," reports Jordan Rau in the Times.
"Republicans in the Assembly rejected a measure Monday
afternoon that would have replaced a law that expired
at midnight. Disagreements among lawmakers, the schools
and consumer advocates have led to a stalemate in the
Capitol on this issue for more than three years.
"The industry, which includes large chains such as the
University of Phoenix and Corinthian Colleges, offers
job-oriented education and training. But consumer advocates
say some schools misrepresent the value and quality
of their programs, leaving students deep in debt and
unable to find work.
"This year, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) proposed a new set of rules. Under the Democratic
bill, SB 823, new students with grievances would lose their right
to sue a school, and the schools would no longer be
required to place 70% of their graduates in jobs, as previously required.
"Betsy Imholz, an advocate for Consumers Union, said
the measure was "not by a long shot what the prior law had been." She said the group supported Perata's measure because it still would require schools to
disclose their placement rates and would allow the
state to continue a reimbursement fund, underwritten
by student fees, that would bail out those whose schools
"But lawmakers needed a two-thirds majority of the 80-member Assembly to pass the measure, and got only 41 votes.
"'Certainly we need to protect students, but we also
have to be mindful of the viability of the institutions,' said Assemblyman Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks)."
And finally, from our We Never Knew That Was Illegal Files, AP reports, "A Connecticut man has been arrested after he allegedly
along Interstate 291 wearing nothing but a thong, fake breasts and a
wig. Police say they received several calls about the
prompted an hour-long search over the weekend.
"Police said they found the suspect Saturday fully clothed
and collecting cans behind a business in Manchester. Police said they also found a wig and fake breasts
in the man's car."
As if he's the only one...