Good morning, California.
“A child nursing with her mother was removed from the mother at the border and taken God-only-knows where. To me, the United States has reached the depths of immorality I never thought possible.” — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, referring (at the 4:30 mark) to a Honduran mother’s account of what happened to her and her baby at the Texas border.
A new budget and a high-speed rail skirmish
Sen. Steve Glazer questions a budget-related bill he says cedes too much power to the governor.
The Democrat-dominated Legislature approved a $200 billion budget Thursday that would increase spending on child care for low-income families, raise welfare grants and all but cut Republicans out of the discussion.
Background: Voters decided in 2010 that the budget could pass with a simple majority vote, rather than a two-thirds supermajority. Ever since, Republicans have been irrelevant to the debate, and budgets have passed by the June 15 deadline with little drama. Previously, budget fights lasted long into the summer.
Winners: There are plenty. Public schools and universities get billions more. There are major increases for parks and fire prevention, and for child-care for low-income families, including a pay raise for child-care workers.
A protest: Sen. Steve Glazer, a Democrat from Orinda, felt the Legislature was ceding too much power to the governor’s office with one piece of the budget, a $3.5 billion fund.
He said the money could be spent with no legislative oversight on such projects as high-speed rail, one championed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Glazer called the project “over budget, behind schedule, with no credible plan for how it will operate without a massive subsidy.”
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Beall, a San Jose Democrat, said no, the money would be used for commuter rail. The measure passed, with Glazer casting the sole Democratic vote against it.
Brown must sign the budget into law by July 1. He can veto line items, perhaps including projects championed by Glazer.
P.S. Before winning a Senate seat, Glazer was a top political and policy aide to Brown.
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Special rules for some projects
Oakland A's are seeking an exemption from environmental law for a new stadium.
California legislators once again are preparing to waive environmental regulations to expedite construction of sports facilities for pro team owners.
CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall’s reports there’s a twist this year. Lawmakers are preparing to exempt the state itself from red tape as they approve a $1.2 billion project to rebuild the Capitol and build a new office nearby.
Background: Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the California Environmental Quality Act into law in 1970. It has been use to protect the environment and limit development’s impact. Development foes also use it in lawsuits to delay and derail construction.
Legislators previously fast-tracked the San Francisco 49ers stadium and arenas for the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, and approved bills to speed new football stadiums in Los Angeles and San Diego that never came to pass.
Check out the video by CALmatters’ Byrhonda Lyons; it explains all.
Why not housing? On Thursday, Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat, sought to block the budget-related bill granting the environmental law exemption for the new state buildings, noting fellow Democrats rejected an exemption he proposed to speed construction of housing. His effort failed.
Politics in the three Californias
CAlmatters’ Ben Christopher wondered what would have happened in the June 5 primary if California had been split into thirds, as envisioned by political eccentric Tim Draper’s November “Calexit” initiative.
Turns out Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who finished first in the governor’s race last week, would have won the top slot in only two of the three new “states.” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, first in her contest last week, would have swept all three.
ICE seeks to one-up California cops
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, annoyed at California over its “sanctuary” laws intended to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation, are refusing to turn over suspects wanted here for such crimes as sexual assault and drug possession.
CALmatters’ David Gorn, citing a Los Angeles Times story, writes that the new approach breaks long-established custody protocols. That’s the story of protocol in many areas under the Trump administration.
Kevin de León’s high hurdle
State Sen. Kevin de León estimates he must raise up to $5 million to be competitive in the fall against incumbent, and fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
A high hurdle: Federal law caps individual donations at $2,700. That means he needs as many as 1,850 individual donations, unless a rich person funds an independent campaign on his behalf. No indication of that.
Where they stand: Feinstein had 2.5 million votes to de León’s 661,000 at last count. Feinstein also had $7 million in the bank to de León’s $694,000.
What’s the plan? As he prepared to vote on his last budget as a legislator, de León told me he hopes to secure the California Democratic Party endorsement at next month’s executive committee meeting. He also wants “as many debates as possible.”
“We’re definitely going to debate,” Bill Carrick, Feinstein’s strategist, told me. The timing depends on the U.S. Senate’s schedule.
What’s ahead: Democratic donors are unlikely to spend money to help de León oust Feinstein, the clear front-runner. Instead, they’ll aim their cash at states where they could help defeat a Republican or defend a Democrat who might lose.