Good morning, California.
“We need to start engaging people. People are not going to re-register as Republican as long as they think that we are one thing.”—Jessica Patterson, the new California Republican Party chairwoman.
California GOP goes post-Trump
California Republican Party Chair Jessica Patterson.
California’s outgoing GOP Chairman Jim Brulte, a former legislator, smart campaigner and big fund-raiser, couldn’t stop the downward slide of the state’s Republican Party.
- Maybe Jessica Patterson can lead it back to relevance, CALmatters reporter Ben Christopher writes.
For all the hand wringing within the party establishment about how a win by former gubernatorial candidate and Trump acolyte, Travis Allen, would lead to an exodus of the GOP’s remaining moderates, Patterson won easily in the first round at the state GOP’s convention in Sacramento.
- Patterson, a 38-year-old party operative, was the choice of U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, most Republican legislators and donors. She is the first Latina to lead the GOP and the first woman. (see correction below.)
Consultant Cassandra Pye, a Republican delegate to the GOP’s weekend convention in Sacramento, to The L.A. Times: “We’ve been a party that’s essentially got a face that is primarily white and male and old. It’s time we turn the party over to another generation and to some folks that look more like the rest of California.”
Allen wrapped himself around Trump, though that support was unrequited. Trump endorsed John Cox for governor over Allen last year.
Money matters: Patterson starts in a deep hole. The California Republican Party had $324,012 in the bank as of its most recent campaign finance filing. The California Democratic Party had $11.7 million.
Correction: Democrats elevated Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker as interim party chairwoman after Eric Bauman resigned in November. The party will elect a new chair at its convention later this year.
Trump's $1 abortion bill
Covered California customers would get an extra bill for $1 under a proposed rule.
Another front in the abortion wars may be opening in California: The Trump administration wants insurers on California’s health exchange to start sending their customers a second premium bill every month, for $1—the amount the state requires to cover unrestricted abortion benefits, CALmatters Elizabeth Aguilera reports.
- About 1.5 million Californians are insured through the exchange, Covered California, which is pushing back. State officials fear the tiny second bill will confuse prompt confused policyholders to risk their coverage by failing to pay it. Insurers warn that the extra cost and labor could drive up premiums.
Gary Cohen of Blue Shield of California: “People are not going to understand why that’s happening. It’s singling out this one procedure, abortion services, for reasons that have nothing to do with health care for women.”
Wynette Sills, Sacramento-based Californians for Life: “If the opposition is all about choice, then the insured individuals should be made aware of their premium— even a small amount of it being utilized for abortions. Over time, the discussion could be raised about people’s choice in the matter.”
For a deeper dive into the issue and the state and federal mandates behind it, click here.
Oregon's rent control alternative
What if lawmakers focused on rent gouging instead of just rents?
A California neighbor may have a compromise for lawmakers trying to fix the state’s housing crisis and keep tenants in their homes, CALmatters’ Matt Levin writes.
- Californians rejected rent control expansion by a wide margin in the November elections. But legislators working on housing say they’re intrigued by a pending Oregon bill to ban “rent gouging.”
Rent gouging bans focus on the most flagrant rent hikes—typically 10 percent or more, according to this Oregonian primer. Though critics characterize it as statewide rent control by another name, Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, is expected to sign legislation banning gouging for most of Oregon’s rental properties.
Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco: “As California policymakers we like to think we’re leading, but in this instance, hats off to our Oregon counterparts.”
A UC Berkeley housing think tank released an anti-gouging proposal after consulting with landlord and tenant groups.
- Meanwhile: In the latest episode of their Gimme Shelter podcast, Levin and the L.A. Times’ Liam Dillon explore the issue of upzoning—building denser, multistory housing—as a way to ease the housing crisis. Spoiler alert: It’s not a simple answer.
Making sense of the charter school debate
Charter school enrollment is booming, but only in some parts of the state.
Charter public schools are concentrated in a few urban districts including Los Angeles and Oakland. Not coincidentally, teachers unions all but shut down schools in those cities.
But as charter school curbs zip through the Legislature and the Oakland teachers’ strike continues, CALmatters’ Ricardo Cano dug into the data and found charter school growth has mainly occurred in a few densely concentrated spots, generally correlated to poorer parts of the state.
Among Cano’s findings:
- More than half of the state’s charter enrollment is in districts where most students get free and reduced-price lunches.
- More than half of California’s school districts—650, of all sizes—authorized zero charter schools over the past 10 years.
- In some districts, charter enrollment has spiked, not because of community demand but rather because of a loophole that allows small, mostly rural districts to draw students from outside their boundaries. That, in turn, allows them to collect more state money.
- It’s hard to know how just much charter growth is impacting traditional schools’ budgets, in part because state law doesn’t let districts consider the potential fiscal drain when authorizing new charters.
Cano’s full report includes a searchable database of charter growth in school districts statewide over the past decade, and links to even more enrollment data. You can find the whole package here.
How housing costs fuel school strikes
Higher wages are among the demands of striking Oakland teachers.
California’s housing crisis is connected to its transportation problems, says Gov. Gavin Newsom. Also in that mix? California’s public school strife, via the issue of teacher pay.
California suffers persistent shortages of teachers and housing prices are a big reason, writes Phillip Reese, The Sacramento Bee’s data specialist and an assistant professor of journalism at Sacramento State University.
Reese: “In some California communities, the annual mortgage payments on a typical home equals the average yearly salary of teachers. In many of those same places, typical rent payments each year are equivalent to half of average teacher pay.”
For example: With 20 percent down on a 30-year mortgage, payments on a median-priced home in San Mateo County would be about $82,000 a year, including taxes and insurance. The average teacher salary before taxes in San Mateo County is $86,000.
Take a number: 2,576
Who knew California had 2,576 problems? That’s how many bills had been introduced by members of the Senate and Assembly by the Friday deadline, according to Sacramento lobbyist Chris Micheli, who has been keeping count.
- That beats the most recent high of 2,495, logged in 2017 by lawmakers, but it’s just a preliminary number. More bills can be introduced later in the two-year session in a variety of ways.
Commentary at CALmatters
Adnan Khan, Re:store Justice: Rehabilitation can work. When I arrived at San Quentin State Prison in 2014, I experienced a culture shock. Incarcerated men were passing by in full conversation, about their college essays, victim impact statements, remorse letters, and their childhood traumas.
Dan Walters: CALmatters: The San Joaquin Valley sees itself as a poor civic stepchild in California. Despite his relatively poor showing in the region last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom clearly wants to be known as its champion, especially in lowering poverty.
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See you tomorrow.