Third-term Gov. Jerry Brown gives his eighth State of the State address to a joint
session of the Legislature today, and he will focus on fiscal austerity, bipartisanship
and the need to act quickly. From Marisa Lagos and
Wyatt Buchanan in the Chronicle.
"The state's $25.4 billion budget deficit looms over every
conversation in Sacramento, and the new governor is
busy trying to sell his
proposed solution, a mix of spending cuts and tax extensions,
that has a little
something for everyone to hate. So it's unlikely that
Brown will be rolling out
any ambitious projects or plans because there's no
"And while those close to the governor expect him to
least touch on the need for pension reform - a rallying cry for Republicans -
it's doubtful that he'll propose anything too detailed.
Brown can't risk
alienating the powerful public employee unions he needs
to help persuade voters
to extend tax increases on a June ballot, a key part
of his budget proposal."
The Rancho Mirage retreat of Tea Party bankrollers Charles
and David Koch drew liberal protesters, many of whom were bused into the desert haven. The
LAT's Rich Connell and Tom Hamburger have the story.
"The protestors waved signs condemning "corporate
greed," chanted slogans and surged toward a line of
officers at the entrance to a resort where billionaires
Charles and David Koch
were holding a retreat for prominent conservative elected
political donors and strategists."
"Protest organizers said they hoped to raise awareness
about the Koch brothers and what activists portray
as their shadowy attempts to
weaken environmental protection laws and undercut campaign
A major Wall Street credit-rating house, in a departure from the past, is counting unfunded public pensions like bond debt, reflecting the concerns about the magnitude of pension
obligations. CalPensions' Ed Mendel has the story.
"The decision to add pensions to bond debt announced
by Moody’s Investors Services last week reflects concern about
public employee pension costs, which are growing as
state budgets plunge deep into the red during a lengthy
“Pension underfunding has been driven by weaker-than-expected investment results, previous benefit enhancements
and, in some states, failure to pay the annual required
contribution to the pension fund,” said Moody’s analyst Ted Hampton."
The proposed budget cuts to California's courts is upsetting quite a few people -- especially those in the courts. Howard Mintz in the Mercury News has the story.
"Judges who usually keep their criticisms under wraps
howled in protest, some forming a rebel group to resist
the move. Others, such as court employee unions, took
dead aim at the court system's ever-growing bureaucracy and spending on a $2 billion technology program. But for the largest state court system in the country,
that tempest may just be a prelude to what is coming
"Gov. Jerry Brown, as part of his plan to slash state
spending, has proposed cutting $200 million from the California courts in the next budget,
on top of the more than $100 million court officials have been forced to cut in
the past year..."
So close, yet so far: Gov. Brown needs five Republican votes to get a $9 billion tax extension through, but he's going to have to get around the no-tax pledge signed by GOP lawmakers.
"Like the other 26 Assembly Republicans, Nielsen signed
the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” pushed by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist,
founder of the Americans for Tax Reform organization
"All but two of the 14 Republican state senators have also
signed the pledge, Norquist's group says. Democrats are shy by two votes in the Assembly and
votes in the Senate of the two-thirds majority needed to put the tax measures
on a special election ballot — a linchpin in Brown's plan to solve California's
$25 billion deficit."
And now from our "On the Road" file, we learn about New Jersey's new method of dealing
with snow-clogged streets: pickle juice. Yep, and you know this is true because
it was reported in Time magazine.
"Bergen County is just across the Hudson from New York
– and despite being among the wealthiest counties in
the nation, this winter has busted their budget for
snow removal. Road salt comes at a hefty premium, and
being only halfway through winter, they've invested
in a new, and much cheaper, snow melter: pickle juice. (See pictures of snowstorms hitting the east coast — again.)"
"While it's unclear if the mixture ever once contained
the delectable deli snack, it's a green salty liquid
that executives say melts snow and ice just as well
as solid salt. And the price can't be beat: the briny mixture costs just 7 cents a gallon, compared to $63 a ton for salt. Quick math works the pickle juice
out to roughly $16 per ton, a substantial savings (though commenters on CBS's story seem to think the math is a bit more complicated)."
Hold the mayo....