Good Monday morning, California.

JJ Harris was enjoying some downtime before going to watch the Warriors game when he saw the jogger throwing the belongings of Jarew, who lives near Lake Merritt, into the lake: “I was sad about the whole situation and angry.” — San Francisco Chronicle.

Democrats’ election year budget

Gov. Jerry Brown, with his chart depicting budget deficits over the years.

California legislators will vote this week on a $200 billion budget that banks $16 billion in reserves and spreads huge sums across the state, but also rejects many more liberal, controversial and costly proposals.

Disappeared: No health care expansion for adult undocumented immigrants. No tax credit for low-income workers who are undocumented. No tax on water users to clean contaminated drinking water. No expanded tax credit for low-income renters. No big expansion for full-day kindergarten.

Added: Increase CalWorks payments for the poorest Californians by $300 million. Gov. Jerry Brown offered $250 million for emergency homeless shelters. Legislators doubled that, but it’s still short of what big city mayors sought. UC and the state university systems will receive an extra $160 million each, CALmatters’ Felicia Mello reports.

Lawmakers also gave plenty of money to museums, parks, state buildings and other perks for their districts.

Examples: $8.4 million for the Lassen Courthouse in Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle’s district; $250,000 for an LGBTQ museum in San Francisco, hometown of Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Phil Ting, a Democrat; $9.7 million for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry in Riverside, represented by Sen. Richard Roth, a Democratic member of the budget conference committee.

Bottom line: Democrats may be waiting for Gavin Newsom to become governor, figuring he will be more open to spending big than Brown. Democrats also may be looking over their shoulders, in the wake of the Republican-backed recall of Orange County Democratic Sen. Josh Newman for his vote to raise the gasoline tax by 12 cents per gallon to pay for road repairs.

The budget will head to the Assembly and Senate floor for votes on Thursday or Friday.


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PG&E fire problems mount. More ahead

Santa Rosa fire aftermath.

Cal Fire rocked Pacific Gas & Electric Co. late Friday, finding it was at least partly responsible for some of the most devastating fires ever to strike California.

The state gave its findings focusing on the October fire storm to county district attorneys for possible prosecution. The reports came out after stock markets closed. PG&E’s share prices fell in after-hours trading.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s count: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has found evidence in 11 of the 16 fires that PG&E violated state codes by failing to properly maintain power lines.

PG&E’s statement: “Based on the information we have so far we continue to believe our overall programs met our state’s high standards.”

What’s next: Cal Fire has not yet issued its findings on the Tubbs fire, which killed 22 people and destroyed more than 4,000 homes, most of them in Santa Rosa, or the Thomas fire, in Southern California Edison’s service area.

PG&E is seeking legislative relief. It also filed claims against Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, which permitted housing developments in areas where fires had struck in the past. The utility is seeking a delay from the California Public Utilities Commission in its regular request for a rate increase:

“The outcome of the legislative session may fundamentally change the plan that PG&E will present to the Commission for approval for 2020 and beyond.”

Bottom line: Legislators are split on whether to change laws governing liability and utilities’ responsibility. There’s talk of creating a disaster fund as California becomes more fire-prone because of climate changes. All this will dominate the legislative session this summer.

Newsom and Cox have big plans for housing

In their latest Gimme Shelter podcast, CALmatters’ Matt Levin and LA Times’ Liam Dillon chat about the primary results for governor. Democrat Gavin Newsom is promising 500,000 housing units a year, more than Republican John Cox’s 300,000 a year for 10 years. Either way, it’d be a huge increase from the roughly 100,000 units that get built annually now.

The question: How will either candidate make good on their promises, given building and land costs, environmental regulations, NIMBYism and more that slows housing.

Walters: Top-two primary is here to stay

CALmatters’ Dan Walters comments that the top-two primary complicated elections last Tuesday, but still allows business to cultivate business-friendly Democrats who have been pivotal on many issues. It also has empowered voters by giving them more choices than the closed primary system it replaced, and that’s not a bad thing.

Pomp, circumstance and ‘miserable conditions’

Gessell Adalin Briones; courtesy California Conservation Corps.

The commencement address by Gessell Adalin Briones illustrated the vision Gov. Jerry Brown had when he created the California Conservation Corps 42 years ago.

Briones, wearing her cap and gown at the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento the other day, told about herself:

She was raised by grandparents and isn’t sure where her father is. At 17, she was a high school drop-out, in an abusive relationship and working two jobs at fast food restaurants.

That’s when she heard about the CCC, started by Brown in 1976 for down-on-their-luck kids looking for a hand up. It’s motto: “Hard Work, Low Pay, Miserable Conditions and more!”

Briones: “To see that people who are not even my family show me love and support is amazing. … I feel as if everyone in the CCC is a good person. They just, somewhere in the road, fell down and joined the CCC to get help.”

Drop-outs who join must get their high school diploma. That means attending class after working 8 or 10 hours a day clearing brush, cutting trails or doing other hard work for low pay in miserable conditions. Having received her high school diploma, Briones told me she plans to start community college, and then get a four-year college degree.

“I never thought I’d be giving a speech in front of 200 people.”

She’ll be back on the job today, in miserable conditions for low pay.

 

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