Battling Brown

Jan 26, 2015

Governor Brown is set to tangle with the state’s public employee labor unions over his plans to cut costs for state employee health care.  Taking bets on who will prevail?  Former Department of Finance chief Mike Genest says, “Governors get 90 percent of what they want.”


Jon Ortiz at the Sacramento Bee: “Some proposals are clearly outlined in his budget plan: Active employees would split the cost of medical insurance 50-50 with the state. New hires would have to work longer to receive retiree health benefits. CalPERS, which is not under Brown’s control, would offer a high-deductible option with a health savings account.


“Making employees pay more could be a tough sell for labor leaders after years of furloughs and pension contribution increases that cut into their members’ take-home pay. Bruce Blanning, executive director of the state’s civil engineers’ union, one of the groups with a contract expiring this year, downplayed the unfunded liability projections during a recent interview.


“’Well, in general, health insurance premiums are paid at the time you need health coverage,’ Blanning said, ‘So that $300 billion sounds ominous. If the governor wants to set aside money ahead of time, that’s fine. But if he wants to take a chunk out of employees’ paychecks now, that’s a problem.’”


And, when he’s done fighting with the unions, he can take up a row with Dems in the legislature over taxes.  From Juliet Williams at the AP:


“Proposition 30 taxes are supposed to phase out by 2018. However, social welfare groups and Democrats in the Legislature, eager to expand programs that suffered cuts during the economic downturn, are already eyeing an extension along with a host of other taxes. They include sales taxes on services, increasing taxes on oil and tobacco as well as a restructuring of the Proposition 13 property tax limits.


“The proponents are likely to meet resistance from Brown. Since returning to Sacramento four years ago, the 76-year-old Democrat has successfully positioned himself as a fiscal moderate with a firm hold on the state's check book, an image that propelled him to another term that began this month… Brown has repeatedly said he still views [Prop 30] as a temporary measure.”


Should Antonio Villaraigosa run for Senate?  Depends on who you ask; Willie Brown says noTrounstine and Roberts say yes, and George Skelton thinks the former Los Angeles Mayor (and Assembly Speaker) has a lot to offer

“During his two years as speaker, Villaraigosa was persistent, often productive and normally pleasant.


“He cut delicate deals on two big bond issues for schools and parks. He pushed through legislation enacting a Healthy Families Program that provided medical care for children of the working poor. He flexed his muscle to force passage of a bitterly fought bill limiting handgun purchases to one a month.


“And he delivered many millions in old-fashioned pork for L.A., including $5 million for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Californians probably aren't very squeamish — at least shouldn't be — about accepting pork from Washington. And Villaraigosa has shown he knows how to grab it.”


Orinda city council member Steve Glazer was at the heart of a bitterly-fought Assembly race that delivered the Bay Area’s first Republican representative to Sacramento in nearly a decade. On Friday, he launched a campaign for Mark DeSaulnier’s state senate seat.


“Glazer, who last year finished third in a contentious and costly Assembly primary, pulled nominating papers Thursday and turned them in ahead of Friday’s 5 p.m. filing deadline, according to the Contra Costa County elections office.


“Glazer is the third high-profile Democratic candidate for the 7th Senate District, where Democrats hold a 15-percentage point registration advantage over Republicans and more than a fifth of voters have no party preference. Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, declared their candidacies several weeks ago.”


Two Central Valley Republicans are part of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s woes as the GOP struggles to define their agenda in DC.


From Carolyn Lockhead at SFGate: “House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield was forced to substitute a different abortion bill at the last minute after GOP women rebelled over language requiring women to report a rape before being allowed to legally terminate a pregnancy…


“The imbroglio followed a rebellion on immigration a week earlier, when GOP moderates, including Jeff Denham and David Valadao, Central Valley Republicans with large Latino constituencies, voted against a bill to to deport “Dreamers,” young people whose parents brought them across the border illegally as children.”


Last week, Jerry Brown and University of California President Janet Napolitano formed a committee of two to form a state funding strategy for the University system.  One problem: an important tool for the work is the annual report from UC – months overdue and still nowhere in sightSamantha Gallegos has the story in Capitol Weekly:


“At Wednesday’s meeting Napolitano said they would be filing that report in the next few weeks, but emphasized the challenges they’re facing in completing it.


“’It’s asking now the university go back and disaggregate all of the things that had been aggregated pursuant to that (previous) understanding,’ Napolitano said at the regents meeting. ‘That has been… a key difficulty, which is kind of a shift in the paradigm in the process by which all of these financial records are maintained.’”


And from Fort Lee, New Jersey, this story of a man with real chutzpah: I don’t think we’d have the nerve to think of using kidnap victims to qualify for the carpool lane.  Not a problem for Luis Moreno Jr.:


Port Authority cops pulled over Luis Moreno Jr. because he appeared to be alone in his silver 2002 Toyota Sequoia as he entered an HOV lane approaching the George Washington Bridge on I-95 in Fort Lee, N.J., at 8:05 a.m. Friday, officials said.


“’I have two passengers in the back,’ Moreno protested, rolling down his rear driver’s-side window to show the cop…. one passenger tried to jump out the back window, screaming for help…”


“Moreno, who lives in Elizabeth, N.J., was driving with a suspended license and was wanted on numerous parole violations in Texas, Port Authority police said.


“He was hit with charges including kidnapping, criminal restraint and receiving stolen property, officials said.”