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Remember this prediction from our very first Sacramento Report? “(Gov. Jerry) Brown will veto one major piece of legislation approved by the Legislature and will cite costs as the reason.” It happened – and the veto represents the first major defeat of Toni Atkins’ reign as Assembly speaker.

Brown this week finished acting on the hundreds of bills passed by the Legislature at the end of August. Among then was Assembly Bill 1476, a sprawling piece of legislation that would make a multitude of adjustments to the Budget Act of 2014. Bills like this are common in Sacramento – the annual budget act is huge, there’s always something that needs correcting after the fact – but this bill in particular was noteworthy because it included $50 million in additional funding for both the University of California and California State University systems.

Out on a Limb

Atkins put the full weight of her office behind it, despite knowing the governor has become something a spend thrift in his old age. But Atkins thought there was wiggle room in the budget, and took a big political risk.

Privately, there was concern that Atkins had gone too far out on a limb. But there was also a sense that she was shooting for the moon; if the governor allowed more funding for higher education it would mean a win.

It was not to be. Brown line-item vetoed the entire $100 million to the UC and CSU systems. His reason? Costs.

“This year’s budget would have provided $200 million for critical deferred maintenance at University of California, California State University and other state facilities if property tax revenues exceeded budget estimates at the time of the second principal apportionment in July,” Brown wrote in his veto statement. “Unfortunately, property tax revenues were below budget estimates and the additional $200 million was not available for deferred maintenance this year.”

Brown also cited unanticipated costs, such as extreme wildfires.

Atkins, as you might imagine, was disappointed.

“In the budget the Legislature and governor agreed UC and CSU deserved more funds,” the speaker said in a statement. “Given California’s continued economic rebound, we disagree with denying this funding simply because the money involved comes from Pot B instead of Pot A. The Assembly will continue to make investing in UC, CSU and their students a priority in the upcoming budget process.”

And with that, battle lines are drawn and the political honeymoon is over.

San Diego in State News

• Before he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, Sen. Ben Hueso told officers he had not been drinking, according to an arrest report. (Sacramento Bee)

• Assemblywoman Marie Waldron’s bill on synchronizing traffic signals is signed into law. (Press release, Waldron’s office)

• Sen. Marty Block’s bill to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees is also signed into law. (Sacramento Bee)

• A foster care bill signed by the governor began as a class project for grad students at the University of San Diego. (U-T)

• Assemblyman Brian Mainschein’s bill to increase fines from $150 to $15,000 for deaths at assisted living and other community care facilities is signed by the governor. (Press release, Mainschein’s office)

• The governor vetoed a bill to create a registry of medical interpreters, which VOSD’s Megan Burks explained here.

• VOSD’s Mario Koran has more on a new law that prevents school districts from suspending young students for “willful defiance.”

• VOSD contributor Clare Leschin-Hoar explains how new food laws will impact farmers markets in the San Diego area.

• The governor vetoed an anti-corruption bill sparked by a scandal at Sweetwater Union High, San Ysidro school district and Southwestern College. (U-T)

Jerry Brown’s Been Busy

• The governor signed legislation to change elements of the direct democracy, initiative process. (KQED)

• Brown also signed legislation to provide legal aid to the thousands of immigrant children who have come to the country illegally this year. (L.A. Times)

• Brown declined to say whether he’ll maintain his 2010 pledge not to raise taxes without a public vote if he’s re-elected. (Sacramento Bee)

• The governor signed a bill banning state agencies from selling or displaying the confederate flag. (KQED)

• He also signed legislation creating an official “Native American Day” in California. (L.A. Times)

• Brown signed a ban on plastic grocery bags. (Sacramento Bee)

What’s Next?

Prediction: Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ effort to boost funding for the University of California and California State University ultimately will buy her political points with students and the higher education community, despite the veto. In the end, it’ll help her, not hurt her.

Brian Joseph

Brian Joesph is a Voice of San Diego contributor. He has covered the state capitol for more than seven years. You can reach him at bjoseph1@gmail.com.

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