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Your guide to California policy and politics
BY Emily Hoeven November 23, 2022
Presented by Climate-Smart Agricultural Partnership, Californians Against Higher Taxes, Save our Capitol and Sutter Health

California election results near final form

Note: The newsletter will pause until Tuesday, Nov. 29 for the holiday weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

And then there was one.

Just one California race for a U.S. House of Representatives seat remained too close to call as of Tuesday, two weeks after the Nov. 8 election: With about 335,000 unprocessed ballots left to count, Republican farmer John Duarte was leading Democratic Assemblymember Adam Gray by fewer than 1,000 votes in the new, open 13th District anchored in the middle of the Central Valley.

Two other California House seats went to Republicans this week: On Tuesday, GOP Assemblymember Kevin Kiley beat out Democrat Kermit Jones for the new 3rd district, which stretches from the Sacramento suburbs down the Sierra to Death Valley.

And on Monday, Republican Rep. David Valadao — the only member of California’s current GOP House delegation to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump — defeated Democratic Assemblymember Rudy Salas to win the 22nd District centered in the fiercely contested political turf of Bakersfield.

The key takeaway: If Duarte beats out Gray for the House seat, it will mark the GOP’s most successful push this electoral cycle into blue territory in California, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis. But otherwise, California’s House races were largely a wash: Neither side managed to unseat any of the opposing party’s vulnerable incumbents.

Moving on to the state Legislature: Although seven Assembly seats and two Senate races have yet to be called, one thing is clear: The group of lawmakers sworn into office on Dec. 5 will be the most diverse in state history, with a record number of women and LGBTQ+ members. The policy impact, however, remains to be seen.

2022 Election

Latest coverage of the 2022 general election in California

Other noteworthy election news:

  • Los Angeles voters sent conflicting messages, handing key wins to both progressive and centrist Democrats, the Los Angeles Times reports. One issue they don’t seem to be divided on, however: homelessness. Nearly 89% of city voters expect Mayor-elect Karen Bass to cut homelessness by at least half during her four-year term, according to a Tuesday survey from Loyola Marymount University and the Committee for Greater LA. And nearly 61% of voters said they would support a recall if the mayor “fails to effectively address homelessness” in her first two years in office. “These results show that Angelenos did not vote for Mayor-elect Bass to do more of the same,” Fernando Guerra, director for the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, said in a statement.
  • Sheng Thao, a progressive Democrat backed by labor unions, was elected mayor of Oakland. Thao will be the first Hmong-American woman to lead a major U.S. city and, at age 37, will also be Oakland’s youngest mayor in 75 years, according to her campaign. “Fifteen years ago, I was living in my car with my baby,” Thao said in a statement. “Moving forward, we are going to work to make Oakland the most proactive city in California on housing and homelessness. … I have never felt more hopeful about Oakland’s future, or more determined to lead the fight for it.”

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1 Checking in on California revenues

Meta’s logo on a sign at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park on Nov. 9, 2022. Photo by Godofredo A. Vásquez, AP Photo

California collected more than $7 billion in tax revenue in October, a whopping 179% above projections — but much of the money is the result of “one-time revenue gain,” the state Department of Finance announced Tuesday. The upshot: “For the fifth consecutive month, cash receipts related to tax year 2022 … continue to indicate considerable ongoing weakness.” Due to lower-than-expected revenues amid a potential recession, California could face an estimated $25 billion budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal advisor. And tech layoffs continue to roil California’s economy, with more than 6,000 Bay Area tech and biotech jobs slated to be slashed by February 2023, according to a Mercury News analysis.

In other financial news: California’s film and television tax credit — a once-controversial program that has since become a budget mainstay with $330 million in annual funding — has generated $6.2 billion of in-state spending since July 1, 2020, according to a Tuesday progress report from the California Film Commission. Among the 106 projects accepted for credits since that date, 22 were feature films including “The Gray Man” and “Bullet Train,” and nine were TV projects that relocated filming to California. But 16 of 28 projects that didn’t receive a tax credit ended up getting produced outside of California, representing $951 million in lost revenue, according to the report.

  • The commission wrote: “With increasing costs of production, many companies rely heavily on tax incentives to maximize the return on investment, thus, the availability of incentives is one of the primary factors when it comes to determining where projects are filmed.”
  • Another hurdle: California is the only major production center without a standalone tax credit for visual effects, pushing $6 billion worth of work out-of-state in the last five years, according to the report.
  • Nevertheless, as CalMatters has reported, policy analysts say there’s conflicting evidence the tax credit pays for itself.

2 Castro teaching job sparks controversy over ‘retreat’ rights

Joseph Castro, former California State University chancellor, during a press conference in 2016. Photo by Silvia Flores, The Fresno Bee

It will now be more difficult for California State University executives to “retreat” into faculty positions once they leave their administrative roles — the result of the system’s board of trustees last week passing the second of two measures restricting their use, Oden Taylor reports for CalMatters’ College Journalism Network. However, the changes don’t apply retroactively — meaning they won’t affect Joseph Castro, who in February resigned as Cal State chancellor following accusations that he mishandled sexual assault and workplace intimidation claims against a former colleague while president of Fresno State University. Castro used his “retreat” rights to accept a professorship in leadership and public policy at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which he plans to begin in spring 2023. This has angered some students and educators, including Cal Poly’s Academic Senate, which represents faculty.

  • Thomas Gutierrez, chairperson of the Academic Senate: “It makes people very nervous about having someone who has a potential history of not managing Title IX issues very well now put into the classroom as a mandated reporter.” (Title IX is the federal law banning sex-based discrimination that governs campuses’ handling of sexual harassment claims.)
  • Fresno State’s Academic Senate adopted a no-confidence resolution in Castro’s ability to teach at CSU, which Castro disputed in a letter obtained by the Fresno Bee: “Your resolution’s statement that I am unqualified to be a professor at Cal Poly is wrong and misleading. … As scholars, we are trained to look at all issues with a critical eye and to base our conclusions on available evidence. The Academic Senate resolution is trusting that media reports are true without benefit of the documented evidence of what occurred.”

3 Thanksgiving travel rebounds to near pre-pandemic levels

Cars drive along Highway 101 through downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 7, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Relatively high gas prices and expensive plane tickets aren’t stopping Californians from traveling for Thanksgiving: About 7.3 million are expected to travel more than 50 miles by plane or car for the holiday, according to AAA estimates shared with the Mercury News. Drivers will see some relief at the pump — gas prices in California fell by 18 cents over the last week, according to AAA — though the country’s average Thanksgiving prices are the highest recorded by the association since it started keeping track in 2000.

Airports also expect to see high levels of passengers: About 5 million people are projected to travel through San Francisco International Airport between Thanksgiving and Christmas, marking the busiest holiday travel season since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oakland’s airport is preparing to reach 90% of pre-pandemic travel levels, while San Jose’s airport and Los Angeles International Airport are expected to see their highest volume of Thanksgiving travel since 2019.

Meanwhile, Southern California is bracing for dry, powerful Santa Ana winds and warm weather on Thursday, which could heighten the risk of wildfires after a relatively calm season.

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CalMatters Commentary


CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Democrats hoped to make some big gains in California’s congressional elections this year, but the outcome was a virtual draw — and an indirect win for Republicans.

And, as a Thanksgiving treat, here’s another column from Dan: California has recovered the millions of jobs that vanished during the COVID-19 recession, but the future of employment in the state is cloudy.

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Other things worth your time


Some stories may require a subscription to read

Editorial: State political ethics watchdog losing its bite. // Los Angeles Times

‘Deeply troubling’: How a police union worked to undermine California’s landmark police shooting law. // San Francisco Chronicle

California launches first state-funded basic income program. // Sacramento Bee

State employment officials side with union’s unfair labor complaints against UC. // San Francisco Chronicle

‘We’re paying not to go to class’: Amid UC instructor strike, some students are feeling left behind. // San Francisco Chronicle

Housing shortage, worst in California, is moving to America’s heartland. // Mercury News

Work-from-home culture takes root in California. // California Healthline

Chinese developer sells Los Angeles luxury tower at steep discount. // Wall Street Journal

‘Health and safety are at risk’: Only one California safety inspector is bilingual in Chinese or Vietnamese. // KQED

U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs California dispute over nursing home COVID suits. // Reuters

Eastern Riverside County child dies from RSV-associated illness. // The Desert Sun

Federal regulator issues warning for Santa Cruz-based Onewheel. // Mercury News

How you can ride new Waymo robo-taxis for free as they roll out in the Bay Area. // San Francisco Standard

Robots authorized to kill in San Francisco Police Department draft policy. // Mission Local

Whales off California coast delay commercial crab season. // Associated Press

See you tomorrow

Tips, insight or feedback? Email emily@calmatters.org.

Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven

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