Friday, December 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

California Democrats begin reign with supermajority

By
From page A3 | December 05, 2012 |

By Don Thompson

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Democratic legislative leaders began laying out an ambitious agenda for their nearly unprecedented power as California’s new Legislature was sworn into office on Monday, promising caution on new taxes but willingness to bypass Republicans as they seek to borrow billions of dollars and ask voters to make sweeping changes to the state Constitution.

“The voters do not want us to burst out of the gate to raise more taxes,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who was re-elected by senators to that leadership post Monday.

But he added that “there is an equally compelling danger. It is the danger in being so cautious, so worried about creating controversy that we fail to take advantage of unprecedented opportunities. Power is, by definition, fleeting. Misuse it and you’ll lose it. Fail to use it, and it withers away,” he said.

Democrats won two-thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate in last month’s election for the first time in 130 years and will be working with a governor of the same political party. The supermajorities will allow them to raise taxes if they choose and to unilaterally put constitutional amendments before voters.

In quick succession, Steinberg backed proposals by two Senate Democrats to introduce constitutional amendments that would lower the vote threshold to raise taxes for school districts and some other local governments from the current two-thirds to 55 percent. The proposals by Mark Leno of San Francisco and Lois Wolk of Davis would tinker with Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 property tax initiative that increased the number of votes needed to pass tax increases.

Steinberg said Democrats are now free to rewrite an $11 billion water bond set to go before voters in 2014, rearranging its priorities and lowering the borrowing by at least $1 billion. Republicans had insisted on including the possibility of building new dams when the bipartisan package was approved by lawmakers in 2009, while Democrats generally favored alternatives such as cleaning up contaminated groundwater and increasing conservation efforts.

Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who also was re-elected to that post Monday, said the new legislative session marks a turning point as the state recovers from the housing and economic collapse of 2008.

The state’s independent legislative analyst has said the state could even see a budget surplus next year, and lawmakers will have an additional $6 billion a year after voters approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s November initiative raising the state sales tax and income taxes on the wealthy.

Perez said it is time to restore California as a land of opportunity.

“And for the middle-class Californians who have weathered a very difficult period in our history, we must deliver,” he said. “The next generation of Californians will have their future determined, in no small part, by the actions we take over the next few years.”

Perez signaled his willingness to work with Republicans, which Assemblyman Eric Linder, a newly elected Republican from Corona, applauded.

“This might provide a lot of opportunity for us,” Linder said. “We can stay united. We can actually look for really good solutions to the problem and we have our place. I think it’s an important one.”

Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, who will remain as minority leader, noted that the tax increases voters approved with Proposition 30 are temporary, and the state could set itself up for future problems if Democrats spend the money too quickly.

“We will be setting the stage for our own fiscal cliff,” Huff said. “… Now is not the time to go on a spending spree.”

Steinberg proposed splitting new revenue in roughly equal portions to retire debt, build a rainy day fund and restore cuts to social and education programs.

And he said Democrats should ask voters in 2014 to consider changing an initiative process that critics say has been hijacked by wealthy individuals or special interests.

Monday’s events were mostly ceremonial before the Legislature adjourned for the holidays.

Nearly half the 80 Assembly members are new to the Legislature. In the three races that officials consider too close to be called, the current front-runners were sworn in, including in Assembly District 36, which spans parts of Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Democrat Steve Fox was sworn in Monday, but Republican Ron Smith has said he will seek a recount.

Perez said the oath of office would be rescinded if the results were overturned by the final vote tally.

For the first time, new lawmakers will be able to serve 12 years in either the Assembly or the Senate, or a combination of both. Voters approved that change from previous term limits, which limited legislators to eight years in the Senate and six in the Assembly.

Lawmakers, along with California’s statewide officeholders, also are working for less pay starting Monday. The California Citizens Compensation Commission voted in May to reduce their salaries by 5 percent.

Even with the reduction, California lawmakers remain the nation’s highest paid with a base salary of $90,525 a year. Unlike lawmakers in some other states, they do not receive pensions.

The salaries for the Assembly and Senate leaders will be cut to $104,105.

“I think it kind of is punitive, but we have to do a better job of showing that we have the state’s interests at heart and not our own interests, and when we do that I think they (commissioners) will respond accordingly,” Huff said in response to the pay cut.

The governor’s $174,000 salary will drop to about $165,000. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $130,000 salary will fall to about $124,000, and Attorney General Kamala Harris will be paid less than $144,000, down from about $151,000.

Commissioners justified the action by pointing to years of state budget deficits. The independent panel previously reduced salaries for California’s statewide officeholders and its 120 legislators by 18 percent in 2009.

Comments

comments

The Associated Press

.

News

There’s a plate for you at the Davis Holiday Meal

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UCD, UC team up to study effects of climate change

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Teens’ goal? Helping other soccer players around the world

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Police seek suspect in hit-and-run collision

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Help sought in search for runaway Davis teen

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Feds release ‘framework’ to rate colleges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Gunfire leads to DUI arrest

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Creative women share food, friendship

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Konditorei presents free holiday concert

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Welcome 2015 with Mumbo Gumbo at a gala bash

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Luminaria display planned in West Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Blue Christmas service planned at Davis churches

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Willett bench is a labor of love

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

 
Author! Author! UCD hosts talks, Q and A on Asia-focused books

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Libraries will be closed around the holidays

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
See diving ducks at city wetlands tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Downtown gift cards get a new perk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
A home for the holidays?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Nobel Prize winner will discuss research related to autism

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Explorit: Experience nano this spring

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Soup’s On will benefit NAMI-Yolo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Supplies collected for victims of abuse

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Grandmothers support group meets weekly

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
.

Forum

He needs them to pay up

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Cheers and Jeers: Have you ever seen the rain?

By Our View | From Page: A14

Defeating Ebola involves medicine, and prayers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14 | Gallery

 
Kudos to Central Park Gardens donors and volunteers

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

 
.

Sports

Cousins is back in lineup but Kings fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil boys hold off scrappy Rio Linda

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lady Blue Devils rout an undefeated Liberty squad

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD RB coach Wright heads to Florida; what next?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Aggies nab junior college defensive lineman

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Nostra-Dunning makes his college bowl picks

By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

Tennyson’s first goal is the difference in Sharks win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
.

Features

Name droppers: Trio elected to academy of inventors

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Arts

 
DMTC announces auditions for ‘Sweeney Todd’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
‘Before Midnight’ screening is tonight

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

DMTC plans New Year’s Eve party

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
Tom Rigney and Flambeau to play

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
.

Business

After 19 years, Alfa Romeo returns

By Ann M. Job | From Page: A16

 
.

Obituaries

Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
.

Comics