Good morning, California.

“State and local governments have a huge influence on citizens’ daily lives. They spend people’s tax dollars. They decide how schools operate and what constitutes a crime. And yet, few people seem to care these days.”— Dan Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, for FiveThirtyEight.

Passing the Democrats' torch

Gavin Newsom hugs Jerry Brown at Democrats' unity rally on Wednesday. (Photo: Robbie Short)

Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Democratic front-runner Gavin Newsom in the governor’s race at a unity rally outside the state Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento—and promised to leave him plenty to do.

“There is a time for an old guy, and there is time for a young guy,” Brown said, wisecracking about his lack of hair and the lieutenant governor’s “really nice hair.”

Perils ahead: An initiative that would raise the threshold for passing new fees and taxes appears headed for the November ballot, as does one to split the state into thirds and repeal the 12-cent-per-gallon gasoline-tax hike for road repairs.

Brown, framing the campaign against the repeal: “I don’t think people are going to say ‘no’ to all the projects up and down California.” The initiative “won’t put more money in your pocket. It will put money into the profits of foreign oil companies. They’re not going to lower the price of gasoline.”

Newsom on Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tim Draper’s “Calexit” initiative to carve up California: “I’m an old friend of Tim Draper. He’s an incredibly bright and capable person, and that’s not exampled in this initiative.”

Bottom line: Newsom is the front-runner against Republican businessman John Cox. Republicans seem to be on the ropes. California voters have shown a willingness to revolt by initiative.

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Welcome, San Francisco Mayor-elect London Breed

London Breed will become San Francisco’s first African-American woman mayor, after her closest challenger conceded Wednesday.

Things change: In 2011 Breed, referring to young women with whom she worked, told San Francisco newsman Phil Bronstein: “I wouldn’t advise any of my girls to get into politics.”

In 2012, Breed won a supervisor’s seat. She became a candidate for mayor after the death in December of Ed Lee.

The Chronicle profiled her in 2012: “I looked around and we had so many homicides, so much loss in the community, and I started to feel lonely—I started to feel that I shouldn’t be the only one from this community that’s successful, that’s here to help.”

And this: Peers have been “pushed out of the city. And sadly a lot of them have been killed, sadly a lot of them are in jail.” Of her four siblings, a younger sister died in 2006, and her older brother has done prison time.

A moderate: In her younger day, Breed, now 43, was office manager during Willie Brown’s 2000 mayoral reelection campaign. She invariably is described as moderate. In San Francisco, that means she advocates tougher steps to help mentally ill homeless people get into care and sometimes sides with developers.

A new definition of ‘moderate’ income

The California Housing Finance Agency, created when Jerry Brown was governor the first time, is supposed to help low- and moderate-income Californians buy their first home. Amid skyrocketing housing prices, that goal is so hard to attain that the agency has redefined what it means to be “moderate-income” in California.

Now, an individual making up to $150,000 a year in Sacramento or $220,000 in San Francisco could be eligible for down-payment assistance, CALmatters’ Matt Levin reports in our latest installment of the California Dream project.

The cost of California’s graying population

California pays almost $1.2 billion a year to house 53,000 Medi-Cal patients in skilled-nursing facilities, otherwise known as nursing homes. At $22,000 per individual, that’s unsustainable.

CALmatters’ David Gorn homes in on legislation that could allow thousands to live in more homelike assisted-living facilities. You might think there’d be cost savings. But a staff analysis of the bill by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San Jose, says that’s tough to calculate because of complicated federal rules.

Demographics: By 2030, there will be be 8.6 million Californians 65 and older, more than twice the 2010 number. The Central Valley will experience a 117 percent increase. California’s graying population will make a change imperative, whether or not Kalra’s bill is the right prescription.

For a deep dive into some of what’s ahead, read the California State Plan on Aging.

Walters: How legislators help locals hide tax reality

In his latest commentary, CALmatters’ Dan Walters, no fan of the current budget process, seized on a 17-word addition to budget-related legislation. With little or no public hearing, the bill would allow local officials to keep voters in the dark about how their property taxes would be affected by bond measures headed for the ballot between now and 2020.

Walters: “The Capitol’s politicians should be ashamed of their…sneakiness, but that’s simply not in their DNA.”


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