The empire strikes back

Apr 8, 2011

Gov. Jerry Brown, on the road to curry favor for budget-balancing taxes, heads straight into the heart of Republican territory -- California's Inland Empire. His first stop is a school in Riverside.


From the Bee's Kevin Yamamura: "With the budget stuck in neutral, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are leaving Sacramento to bolster their case for and against taxes.

The dueling roadshows reflect the fact that the parties remain at loggerheads after talks broke down last week. Facing a remaining $15.4 billion deficit, Brown is still seeking an election on taxes."


"Brown will visit an elementary school today in Riverside and a California Cadet Corps celebration Saturday in Los Alamitos. Both are in Republican legislative districts represented by senators who negotiated last month with the Democratic governor."


"The governor has spent a lot of time in Sacramento so far trying to allow people to vote on tax extensions," said Gil Duran, Brown's press secretary. "Those efforts have been blocked by Republican obstruction, so now he's going to talk directly to the people."

Brown's itinerary drew a response from Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, whose district includes the school Brown is visiting. Dutton, by the way, won't be joining the governor. The Times' Shane Goldmacher has the story


"Dutton did take the time to send Brown a matter-of-fact letter on “a few facts you should know about” his district before arriving. Among them: That 73% of voters there opposed extending taxes in 2009, the unemployment rate in Riverside County is 14.1% and that “your proposed budget does nothing to create jobs and, in fact, threatens many Inland Empire jobs.”

"Brown hopes to use his appearances in GOP districts to drum up public support to extend taxes increases to balance the budget. Republicans have opposed that plan...."

"The facts are that Riverside schools are facing 228 teacher layoffs and millions and millions of dollars in cuts. There are a lot of parents and educators who are very concerned about what further budget cuts will bring," said Brown spokesman Gil Duran."


Speaking of schools, the percentage of Latino children attending pre-schools is trending downward, a circumstance that has implications for the state's future. Louis Freedburg at California Watch has the story.


"Reversing a decades-long trend, the percentage of Latino children attending preschool across the U.S. declined between 2005 and 2009, with possible far-reaching consequences for California."


"That's the conclusion of a report by UC Berkeley researchers, to be released at the Education Writers Association's annual conference in New Orleans today."


"The drop in Latino attendance could be a result of multiple factors, the researchers say. One is that the unemployment rate of Hispanic women over the age of 20 nearly doubled between 2005 and 2009, mainly as a fallout from the Great Recession that began in 2007. That means that these women either were less able to afford preschool, or felt that it wasn't needed because they could care for their children themselves at no cost."


Meg Whitman -- remember her? -- is back in the news as she gets ready for her first major public appearance since losing last year's governor's race. Don't know if anybody cares, but the Chron's on it.

From the Chronicle's Joe Garofoli: "Meg Whitman is back! And in a big way, as part of Double-Republican Comeback Tour. She's one of only two keynoters at a conference Tuesday in Dallas that's sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute on how to grow the economy."

"Not only is this Meg's first major speech since losing the California Guv race last fall, this is W's first remarks on the economy as a former president. (Yes, that's the same George W. Bush who was president when the economy tanked.)"


"Meg and Dub are there to introduce the 4% Project. No, it's not named for the percentage of the Latino vote Meg received last November."


So what happens now with the budget? Talks are dead, Brown's on a road trip and the clock is ticking. The Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan takes a look.


"Democrats in the state Senate raised the prospect of closing some University of California campuses, shortening the school year and reducing the number of law enforcement officers as they began considering what California would look like if the Legislature took an all-cuts approach to solving the budget deficit."


"A hearing on the all-cuts option, the first of several in the coming weeks, was held as Gov. Jerry Brown prepared to travel to Southern California today and Saturday on the first leg of a statewide tour intended to pressure Republicans into allowing voters to decide whether taxes should be used to help erase the deficit."


"The Democratic governor will be at an elementary school in Riverside this morning - in the district of the Senate Republican leader - and in another Republican's Orange County district on Saturday. Republicans have launched their own tour of the state to make the case against taxes."

One piece of California's budget is the reliance on a relatively small amount of wealthy people, whose taxes serve as the crucial foundation of the spending plan. The OC Register's Brian Joseph tells the tale in HealthyCal.


"...Roughly a quarter of the state’s General Fund revenue comes from the personal income tax of Californians earning $300,000 or more — a group of tax filers that’s smaller than the population of Stockton."


"California faces another multi-billion-budget deficit in part because these rich taxpayers are making less money. Today, many of California’s wealthiest residents earn much of their money not from salaries but from the return on investments. When the economy is good and they’re recording capital gains from selling stocks or real estate, their personal income skyrockets. But when the economy is bad — like it is now — those capital gains dry up. And California suffers."


"For example, from 2007 to 2008, the most recent years for which tax data is available, Californians earning $300,000 or more saw their tax liability drop by $7.4 billion, according to figures collected by the Franchise Tax Board. That, of course, coincides with the collapse of the housing market and the larger U.S. economy."

Get the daily Roundup
free in your e-mail

The Roundup is a daily look at the news from the editors of Capitol Weekly and
Privacy Policy