Gov. Brown's uphill plan to raise income taxes on the wealthy and boost the statewide sales tax to help pay for schools and public safety just got harder: Two other groups are pressing forward with their own efforts to tax the rich on the November ballot. That could lead to a crowded, costly, confusing ballot that turns voters off on all the rival proposals.
From the Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan: "Backers of the so-called "Millionaires Tax" officially began a signature-gathering effort Monday, while the wealthy proponent of another measure, speaking to the California State PTA in Sacramento, pledged that she would spend millions to get her initiative on the ballot."
"Those actions could significantly undermine Brown's efforts, as voters are known to reject all tax measures when faced with multiple initiatives. Molly Munger, a wealthy civil rights attorney from Southern California whose family is worth billions, rejected the notion that she or others should show deference to Brown by letting his tax measure be the only one on November's ballot."
And now let us return to the days of yesteryear, when the Legislature met only part-time. A conservative Republican lawmaker, presumably outraged that the Legislature is dominated by Democrats,.is pushing a ballot initiative that would cut lawmakers' pay, eliminate the full-time Legislature and limit their employment. The LAT's Patrick McGreevy has the story.
"Grove is one of the organizers of an initiative that was approved Monday to begin circulating petitions toward qualifying for the ballot. The constitutional amendment would limit regular legislative sessions to 30 days each January and 60 days starting each May. In odd-numbered years, the legislative sessions would be devoted to budget issues."
"In addition to slashing lawmakers' pay, the measure would limit employment while they are in office. State financial officials say it could cut lawmakers' salaries, travel and living expenses and staff costs by tens of millions of dollars annually."
At CalSTRS, the teachers' pension fund, the gap between forecasts and earnings continues to widen. It's more than just a numbers game.
From CalPensions' Ed Mendel: "Closing a wider funding gap, the result of expecting less money from future investment earning, would require nearly doubling the current annual payments to CalSTRS if the goal is to reach full funding in the usual 30 years."
"But a half dozen ways to increase CalSTRS funding shown to the board last week seem to suggest that reaching full funding in three decades is now impractical, if not politically impossible.
Only one of the scenarios would get CalSTRS to 100 percent funding — but not until 2085. The other five scenarios never get the California State Teachers Retirement System to full funding, ranging from 32 to 14 percent funding after 75 years."
Today is the day when the 9th Circuit is scheduled to decide whether Proposition 8, which bans sames-sex marriage, violates the federal constitution.
From Maura Dolan in the LA Times: "The panel will decide whether Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban passed by voters in 2008, violates equal protection and due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution."
"Two same-sex couples challenged Proposition 8 just days before the California Supreme Court upheld it as a valid state constitutional amendment. The suit led to a historic federal trial that examined the nature of sexual orientation, the history of marriage, and discrimination against gays and lesbians."
In the Berman-Sherman shootout, AFSCME -- one of the state's most powerful labor groups -- has endorsed Howard Berman. It's the second major labor endorsement that Berman has picked up, and it means money and foot soldiers for this year's bruising campaign. Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad has the story.
"The California arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees announced it is backing Berman, who “has been a tireless advocate for the rights of public employees, defending workers’ rights in the courtroom as a labor lawyer and working to achieving collective bargaining rights for thousands of California public employees during his tenure in the state Legislature,” said Barbara Blake, an executive board member."
"The endorsement from AFSCME, which has 160,000 members statewide, comes just a few weeks after the Service Employees International Union endorsed Berman over Sherman in the redrawn 30th district. It also came just two days after Berman reported raising eight times as much money as Sherman in the fourth quarter of 2011."
And from our "Making Waves" file comes the tale of SeaWorld's killer whales whose constitutional rights allegedly have been violated because they are kept in tanks and forced to perform for the public.
"A US judge is considering a complaint by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (Peta) against SeaWorld."
"It is reportedly the first time a US court has heard legal arguments over whether animals should enjoy the same constitutional protections as humans."
"SeaWorld's legal team said the case was a waste of time and resources."
Aye, matey ....