What will Jerry do?

Jerry and Tom

A few good bills have emerged from the madness of the end of the Legislative session in Sacramento -- including measures by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Sen. Leland Yee -- and now we have to wait for the governor, who isn't thinking much beyond Prop. 30.

Jerry's always odd and unpredictable, but this year, I'm told, he's focused almost entirely on getting his tax measure approved. He's told everyone in the state how much everything will suck if we don't vote Yes, and he's made it something of a referendum on his leadership. If it goes down, he's facing almost unthinkable cuts to education and public services -- cuts that will make him hugely unpopular. When class sizes go up and UC rejects qualified students and cops get laid off, the voters won't blame themselves for rejecting Prop. 30; they'll blame the guv. And Jerry knows it.

So he's gone all in on this one -- and he's viewing everything he does, including every bill he might sign, through that lens.

Which leaves some very worth legislation up in the air -- or rather, since it's Jerry Brown, up in the ozone.

Ammiano managed to win approval for a measure that would allow the news media to interview inmates in state prisons -- something that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has blocked since 1996. Right now, the only way reporters get access to the inside of prisons is on special tours that CDCR sets up -- and the jailers get to decide which "random" inmates can talk to the press. It's pretty basic -- In San Francisco, the Sheriff's Department allows reporters to talk to any prisoner who consents to an interview, and nothing bad has happened. We spend so many billions of dollars on prisons, and we know so little about where it goes. Even the prison guard's union (Jerry's BFFs) supports this. Jerry? Who knows.

Another Ammiano bill, AB 889, would require that domestic workers (people who do child care, housecleaning etc.) get basic labor rights, including lunch breaks and overtime. Seems like a no-brainer (and no, it doesn't apply to your casual high-school babysitter). Lots of support, and it's hard to see what this has to do with tax policy, but nobody's sure about the guv.

And everyone's really unsure what will happen with Sen. Leland Yee's latest attempt to give juveniles who are sentenced to life without parole at least some opportunity to get out of prison before they die. SB 9 is pretty moderate -- it states that a person convicted of a crime as a youth who has already served 15 (FIFTEEN) years can petition a court to reduce the sentence to 25 (TWENTY FIVE) years. Nobody's getting out without serving some long, hard time, but since someone who is an accessory to murder at 15 almost certainly doesn't have the brain development of an adult, and no other industrialized nation in the world allows LWOP for anyone under 18, and since there are only 300 people in the who state prison system who would be eligible for sentence changes under this law, I can't imagine anyone opposing it. Seriously, Jerry. Can you veto something like this? The Jesuits would go batty.





to fund bloated pensions is NOT passing.

Stick a fork in Prop 30. Think the voters have read enough about government waste.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

All the polling I've seen says it's passing. You can look on Ballotpedia, plus there's a newer Pepperdine poll that has it passing by even bigger margins.

I'm lukewarm myself, because there's regressive taxation in it. OTOH, there's also a progressive component and the taxes do go to a good cause -education, not pensions as I understand it. Not that I mind pensions. People earned their pensions. I would actually favor a broader (and more progressive tax) -say one that taxes millionaires and spends the money to help provide a decent living standard to retired workers. This is not that measure, but it's still worth voting for.

But to say that it's not passing is just substituting wishful thinking for reality.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

about. The "millionaire tax" was scaled back and can be avoided by anyone rich and a good accountant. While the bulk of the money will come from sales taxes which mostly hit the poor - the rich buy out-of-state, over the internet or overseas, thereby paying no sales tax.

I agree with you that pensions should not benefit from it, and in fact that problem still hasn't really been tackled, although the layoffs will probably defer the day of reckoning on that.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

re pensions:

Our own "city family" pension pot is around $4 billion underfunded, according to the San Francisco Examiner. It reported this month that the "city family" will have to dip into the General Fund for an extra $400 million this year. That will mean more cuts to services for the poor.

Yes, Gregorio, these things do matter. The "city family" needs to start funding part of its own pension and more of its health costs.

The same applies to CALPERS. A lot of people are not going to vote for Jerry's proposition unless he starts tackling the pension problem. I will vote YES, because education should be a top priority.

But it cannot be separated completely from the pension problem.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 11:01 am

I don't disagree that pensions are underfunded. I disagree on the proposed "fix" that entials setting one group of working class people against another and having them fight for scraps, while the ones who caused the crisis in the first place accumulate more and more of the nation's wealth.

The "austerity" should be imposed on those who caused the crisis. Then we'd have enough both to educate our kids, and take care of our workers in their old age.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 11:16 am

Every great nation achieved greatness by doing that.

Oh wait, they didn't.

Posted by JCCourt/Lilli/ChrisCraft on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

That's exactly the way that every nation worth living in has achieved a decent quality of life. The "winners," the ones who've gained the most from society's riches, should be the ones who give the most back. That way you maximize the opportunity for everyone to become a "winner." That's the way you achieve a decent quality of life.

We need to get away from this winners and losers mentality, and build a system that maximizes quality of life for the most people.

What you are suggesting, taking resources from the neediest and concentrating them in the hands of the already rich, leads to a spiral of wealth concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer "winners," a rapidly declining middle class, and eventual societal collapse.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

Of course pensions are underfunded. Hugely so.

"City family" members pay $45 a month for full healthcare benefits. They retire early on pensions that are guaranteed to rise 7.5% a year. Their benefits are completely unsustainable (same for CALPERS on 7.0%).

Those of us counting on dribbling social security benefits when we retire do not look kindly on these obligations whilst public hospital services, summer school, street cleaning, and library hours get cut year after year.

Yes, taxes need to rise. And I hope Jerry's proposition passes for the sake of our children. But pulic-sector workers (cops and firemen are the worst of all) are living in a dream world.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

solved i.e. the politicians showed some spine.

Why should I pay more tax so that city and state workers can keep their ludicrously generous gravy train?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 3:09 am

Jerry's milktoast pension reform plan:

1. It only applies to future hires (in other words, kicking the can down the road for 20 years)

2. State employees get to retire on full pensions at 58 instead of 53 (the horror!).

3. Defined-pension plans (guaranteed 8% annual increases in pension payments to continue.

In other words, bankruptcy still looms ahead.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

union parasites. If it takes bankruptcy or reneging on pension contracts, I'll vote for that rather than pay more taxes to keep this gravy train going.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

The Chron reports that state pension funds are $500 billion underfunded.

A half trillion dollars.

California is on shaky ground.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 02, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

AB 889 is not a "no-brainer". It's going to force the elderly to either break wage and labor laws or go into a facility. Right now, there are thousands of people with 24 hour caregivers and the vast majority of them work less than 8 hours per day.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 8:42 am

AB889 does hurt the tax situation as it and several other union sponsored bills promote the use of independent contractors or agencies that use them while penalize companies especially home care that employ their workers. While all companies are forced to comply with minimum wage and all other labor regulations, AB889 has home care agencies providing off site lunch and breaks for caregivers in private homes who care for demented clients. It also eliminates affordable live-in care. It specifically exempts the domestic referral agencies that look identical but just issue 1099s. That means that the workers do not get Medicare, social security, disability, unemployment or workers compensation benefits and the state and federal government do not get payroll tax revenues. Ironically, AB889 demands that employers even families carry workers compensation but exempts the agencies that use ICS to avoid the cost of workers compensation. The housekeepers and others who are working in the grey economy are not getting any protections under this bill that are not already covered in the law. There are laws that demand that all workers get the minimum wage but unfortunately, many workers especially illegal aliens are working for private families in abismal situations and they are exploited every day. There are also many workers brought into this country to work in small board and care facilities that are also exploited. A better guest worker program would enable them to come out of the shadows and more readily report abuses. SB411 the home care licensure bill also exempts the referral agencies from all its specific regs but allows them to claim to be home care agencies providing home care services. AB1744, the Paystub law has employment agencies that employ workers listing the clients names and addressses on their paystubs but not the workers used as independent contractors who really should be able to go back to the client if a work place injury or problem exists. These three bills were all written by the unions to penalize the companies in the industries that have not readily unionized. By exempting the companies that look identical but who do not technically employ their workers, the unions and the legislators who went along with them are attempting to close the employer-employee based businesses - all two to ten thousand depending which industries are affected. It means that hundreds of thousands of workers will go into the underground economy and the state will lose billions more. If any of these three bills are signed into law- the state will suffer major tax revenue losses. Similiar laws exist in other states but in those state the laws do not favor agencies that use independent contractors but actually prohibit their use. In New York State, were a Domestic Workers Rights Law exists, third party agencies such as employer-employee home care are exempted. In every state where there is home care licensure, referral agencies are treated differently and in no other state is a clients confidentiality so violated as the AB1477 Paystub bill . If the state wants to eliminate all employer-employee businesses it should state so. But it says it wants to eliminate misclassification. I wonder however, as my own assemblyman has a pool service that uses independent contractors.

Posted by Kathy Janz on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 11:03 am

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