We have a budget.
Lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown agreed on a spending plan Tuesday, a day after the Legislature passed its version, and the Legislature passed it Friday morning. Depending on your perspective, either Brown’s version massively undercounted revenues, the Democrat-led Legislature version massively overcounted revenues OR there wasn’t that much difference between the two versions and everyone should just stop running their soup-coolers about it.
— David Dayen (@ddayen) June 16, 2015
— Kristin Olsen (@KristinOlsenCA) June 16, 2015
Difference in spending between legislature’s budget and final budget is relatively tiny. Just FYI. https://t.co/nqJpwIdeCD
— David Rolland (@drolland) June 16, 2015
The big takeaways:
The item getting most attention nationally is the fact that California will become the first state to extend Medicare benefits (using the state version, Medi-Cal) to undocumented children.
Speaker Toni Atkins’ budget statement shouted out the Earned Income Tax Credit, something Dems have been trying to make happen for years. (She and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber wrote about why they love it in this Union-Tribune op-ed.)
Sen. Marty Block focused on the fact that more money is coming into the CSU system – he objects to it being treated as the redheaded stepchild (OK fine, his statement calls it the “underappreciated Cinderella”) of California education when it serves more students than the University of California.
Not everyone was happy, of course. Advocates for the developmentally disabled staged a large protest in Sacramento after a rate increase for caretakers was left out of the budget.
By far the best budget-related takeaway, though: Friends don’t let friends Facebook and vote. That was how Republican Assemblyman Scott Wilk, who represents Simi Valley, ended up accidentally voting for a budget he opposes.
My wife is right – I can’t multitask! Accidentally voted for Budget while Facebooking against AB 93. The perils of social media #CABudget
— Scott Wilk (@ScottWilkCA) June 15, 2015
San Diego-area Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, however, did end up splitting with Republicans to vote for the final version of the budget Friday — but he seems to have done it on purpose.
Brown Sidesteps CEQA Reform
We’ve been thinking about CEQA a lot lately, as it’s unsurprisingly become the latest wrench in the plan for a new Chargers stadium. The city and the team keep bickering over whether a December stadium vote is too soon to get all the CEQA-required environmental studies done.
CEQA has been on Gov. Jerry Brown’s mind too, but not in the way he said it would be. When Brown reclaimed the governor’s office he “vowed to ease California’s landmark environmental restrictions,” reports the L.A. Times, but since there’s virtually no hope of reforming CEQA in the Legislature, “Brown and Democratic lawmakers have instead struck deals giving special consideration to certain projects rather than confront the political difficulties of overhauling the law.”
San Diegans in the Headlines
• Sen. Joel Anderson and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez rallied against the vaccine bill in Oceanside.
• Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has been active on The Huffington Post lately. Her latest post explains why the state budget includes a provision allowing the Coastal Commission to fine property owners who block public beach access.
• Rich people in Rancho Santa Fe once again became the target of national scorn thanks to this piece in the Washington Post, which features gems like “we’re not all equal when it comes to water.” That follows this New York Times piece from last November that similarly focused on how Rancho Santa Fe residents were using more water during the drought while others cut back.
Pro-tip: If you don’t like the idea of blaming wealthy residents for the drought, you can always do what this Bakersfield assemblywoman did and blame abortion.
• The Sacramento Bee calls Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez “queen of the kids table.”
• SDG&E and other private utilities charge more for power than government-run utilities, an analysis by the Union-Tribune’s Jeff McDonald found.
Two Big Housing Decisions
In a closely watched case in the development and affordable housing worlds, the California Supreme Court ruled this week that cities were within their rights to make developers sell or rent a share of homes in new projects at below-market rates. Cities have broad leeway to regulate real estate development for specific public interests, the court said.
San Diego has a similar law on the books that requires developers either pay into a fund that helps build low-income housing, or set aside a share of a project reserved for those price points. San Diego Housing Commission officials said before the ruling they were confident the city’s law was written in such a way that it would stand regardless of the ruling.
In another high-profile housing suit, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled this week that Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature illegally used $331 million from a settlement with the country’s largest mortgage lenders meant to provide direct relief to foreclosed homeowners and other housing-related purposes, to instead help balance the state’s budget over a three-year period.
Golden State News
• A new report shows state lawmakers rake in millions in donations from drugmakers, a fact that is certain to make the ongoing debate over the vaccine bill even nastier. San Diego Assembly members Toni Atkins, Shirley Weber and Brian Maienschein were among the top recipients, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis.
• EdSource has a good roundup of the education-related bills still alive in the Legislature.
• The California Labor Commission ruled that Uber drivers should be considered employees of the company, not contractors. (Reuters)
• A “scathing” audit found the California state bar routinely failed to protect people from bad lawyers by rushing to settle complaints and offering less severe punishments in order to cut down on its backlog of complaints. (AP)
Andrew Keatts contributed to this report.