Good morning, California.
California has a new $215 billion budget with plenty of winners and not many losers. Negotiations continue over aspects related to taxes, with votes to come next week and perhaps beyond.
“I am confident in these ongoing negotiations.”—Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, as quoted by the L.A. Times’ John Myers.
It ain't over till it's over
Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, left, and budget chair Holly Mitchell during the vote.
Lawmakers passed a $215 billion budget Thursday with big chunks of change for public schools, health care, poor people, early education, housing and a $4 billion pay-down of public employee pension obligations.
- Taxes appear mostly strategic and more surgical than expected, CALmatters’ Judy Lin writes. But details are TBD.
Lin: “Though Democrats met their deadline for a balanced spending plan, most of the underlying policy to enact the budget wasn’t taken up—and may not be for weeks. Call it a learning curve: This was the new governor’s first time negotiating with seasoned legislative leaders who know how to count votes.”
The budget passed on party-line votes. All Democrats cast aye votes, and all Republicans voted no.
A $2.8 million earmark
The budget includes $2.8 million for five acres of land in Placerville.
As they denounced the new budget, Republican legislators decried the hundreds of millions earmarked for pork projects. Not all that money went to Democrats, however.
Among the GOP gets: $2.8 million to buy five vacant acres in Placerville for what could become a new El Dorado County courthouse. But the judiciary did not request the money. An old politician did.
Cheryl Miller of The Recorder tells the story:
El Dorado County acquired the land adjacent to its jail in a 2014 land swap with John V. Briggs. Briggs, 89, is a former Republican legislator from Orange and San Bernardino counties, and still owns land near the future courthouse.
Remind me: In 1978, Briggs carried an initiative that expanded the death penalty, and one to bar gay people and lesbians from working in public schools; that one failed.
Miller writes that Briggs asked Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen about securing funding to buy courthouse land. Nielsen, vice chair of the Senate budget committee, served with Briggs in the Legislature.
Briggs: “While I won’t be here to see the courthouse standing, I will know that it has begun and will serve the county from Lake Tahoe to El Dorado Hills.”
Nielsen joined other Senate Republicans in voting against the spending plan, saying: “Our budget is precariously balanced.”
CA: Less blue than it seems
The progressive legislative wave was smaller than it might appear.
California’s budget may be lefty from a national perspective (see this take by L.A. Times sage George Skelton), but it wasn’t as far out as some expected early in the year, when tax proposals were popping up like June wildfires.
- Almost halfway through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first year in office, lawmakers have killed or downsized many liberal priorities, Ben Christopher and Laurel Rosenhall write for CALmatters. This despite a devoutly blue governor and Democratic giga-majority in the Legislature.
Christopher and Rosenhall: “They rejected bills to rein in charter school growth, curb oil production, expand data-privacy rights and regulate e-cigarettes. They drastically scaled back ambitious agendas to protect renters and limit soda consumption.”
Other liberal goals—more paid time off to care for a new baby, health care funding and more child care—have been whittled down, making them more incremental than revolutionary.
- The reasons? Well, money. Also, as Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Holly Mitchell puts it, “all Democrats aren’t created equal.”
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One liberal win
Juveniles at a state facility in Stockton graduate behind razor wire.
Tucked into the budget is a move by Gov. Gavin Newsom to shift juvenile justice out of the adult corrections bureaucracy and into the realm of social services.
- The swing back toward rehabilitation is driven partly by cultural change and partly by finance, CALmatters contributor Charlotte West writes.
- California has turned away from the tough-on-crime era, and the fixed costs of what’s left of the old, troubled California Youth Authority—a model of rehabilitation in its early years, before a forced an overhaul amid lawsuits—are expensive.
- Today, county probation officials handle most juvenile offenses, and the state takes only the kids with the most serious charges and acute needs.
- The last four juvenile detention facilities run by the state CDCR’s Division of Juvenile Justice house only about 750 young people in a system that, in the mid-1990s, held more than 10,000.
The plan is to reorganize juvenile justice under the state Health and Human Services Agency into a new department called the Department of Youth and Community Restoration.
Juvenile Justice Director Chuck Supple: “The governor has said that the juvenile justice system does not belong in the adult prison system. … [We] should be a last stop for a young person in their journey towards becoming responsible and successful adults.”
Why prison officers win
The state Assembly will vote on a contract for correctional officers next week.
Count California’s 27,000 correctional officers as being winners in the new budget.
- Veteran officers’ base pay is $88,932.
- That will rise 5% on July 1, thanks to a contract negotiated by then-Gov. Jerry Brown last year. Annual cost: $200 million.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration struck a new deal with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association last month, granting a 3% raise that will kick in on July 1, 2020. Annual Cost: $131 million.
The Legislative Analyst Office has criticized CCPOA contracts as overly generous.
The Assembly Budget Committee approved the contract Thursday, sending it to the full Assembly for a vote next week.
CCPOA remembers its friends at election time, as happened in the just-completed special election for a far Northern California Senate district involving two Assembly Republicans.
- Brian Dahle, a rancher from the Lassen County town of Bieber, joined 73 Assembly members voting for the CCPOA’s 2018 contract.
- Kevin Kiley, a former deputy attorney general from suburban Sacramento, was one of five Assembly members who voted against it.
Fast forward to the campaign: CCPOA spent $116,000 on independent campaigns to elect Dahle. Dahle won with 53% of the vote last week.
Sen. Dahle, who represents High Desert State Prison in Susanville, talks of touring prisons and hearing stories of the abuse officers take from inmates. They deserve a good salary, he believes.
“It’s a rugged job.”
CCPOA President Kurt Stoetzl: “Dahle has always been supportive of public safety, and we are proud to support him.”
Judges win, too
A $39.3 million payout to judges is included in the state's budget.
Call it a hang-over from budget crises during the Great Recession.
Retired California Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mallano and other judges sued claiming the state failed to give them mandatory raises between 2008 and 2013. Gov. Jerry Brown, who originally appointed Mallano, fought the suit. But the judges prevailed.
- The new budget includes $39.3 million pay-out to judges whose pay was shorted.
- There’s more: $30 million for 25 new judgeships. Each is paid $207,424 a year.
Commentary at CALmatters
Lori Freedman and Rebecca Griffin, University of California, San Francisco: A new Trump administration regulation puts the full force of the government behind individuals and institutions that refuse to provide care in the name of religious beliefs. This unnecessary overreach emboldens people to discriminate and has dangerous implications for people’s health. California is not immune.
Karen Baker, California For All Emergency Preparedness Campaign: California’s emergency planning in the traditional sense is held up as a model. But we face many barriers, given our size and diversity. We must change our approach by investing in people power to complement traditional emergency services, which is why a new grassroots strategy has been adopted to connect people to each other and build inclusive resiliency.
See you Monday.