Dems Day 2: Brown Passes on Tax Pitch

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Brown skips any tax initiative pitch. (Photo: John Myers/KQED)

SAN DIEGO -- Well, so much for the notion that Governor Jerry Brown would use his big speech at the California Democratic Party convention to pitch his November tax increase initiative.

In a speech running a little more than 11 minutes, and after volunteers handed out glossy signs that proclaimed, "Stand With Jerry," the governor told the party faithful to stand down… for now… on the tax issue.

"You'll get your marching orders soon enough," said Brown in a muted comment about the proposal.
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Dems Day 1: Come Together, Right Now

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Hello, San Diego! (Photo: John Myers/KQED)

SAN DIEGO -- At every turn in the early hours of this 2012 California Democratic Party convention, you could hear party leaders urge the donkey-loving conventioneers to unite and fight. And yet even on day one, there were clear signs that there's a lot for Dems to sort out before it's all over... a lot of debating before they can come together for the election season ahead.

And the issues to debate come down to cash (as in taxes) and candidates.
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Podcast: America's Finest Podcast

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Okay, maybe that's an overstatement. But as California Democrats flock to the sunny environs of San Diego for their annual convention, it was hard to resist a borrowing of the city's famous moniker.

This week's Capital Notes Podcast offers a brief look at what we'll be watching for during the weekend donkeyfest... as well as the political currents swirling around a number of 2012 election issues.

Anthony York of the Los Angeles Times and I chat about the ongoing war of tax initiatives; the latest politics on pensions; and the shrewd move by the top Democrat in the Assembly on linking college affordability to corporate taxes.

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Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate

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Erasing a 2009' corporate tax break has been a target of Democrats for years. (Photo: KQED/John Myers)

For the last several years, Democrats have been relentless at trying to undo a hotly debated tax incentive for large corporations that was signed into law as part of the 2009 deal. And now they're launching another shot.

The 2012 edition of "Cancel That Corporate Tax Break" at the state Capitol kicks off with a novel, and perhaps politically powerful, proposal from Assembly Speaker John Perez: use the resulting $1 billion in extra tax revenue to dramatically downsize the cost of a college education for middle-class families.
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Brown Appears Unsuccessful at Blocking Other Tax Measures

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Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative may not be the only one on the ballot. (Photo: Getty/Justin Sullivan)

Somewhere out there is a crystal ball that can tell us whether multiple tax increase initiatives on the November ballot means voters will reject all of them en masse.

But until that clairvoyant device shows up, we're left to wonder about the answer. And for Governor Jerry Brown, there's not much success these days in convincing others that it's a recipe for disaster.
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Podcast: Show Your Cards

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At some point in most poker games, you've got to lay down your cards and see who wins.

This week, we saw a few of the cards floating around the 2012 election cycle when it comes to campaign cash. But there's still some tough poker being played on strategy -- both when it comes to ballot initiatives and tough policy debates in Sacramento.

On this week's Capital Notes Podcast, Anthony York of the Los Angeles Times and I talk about the money moves for the 2012 season as well as the debate over tax initiatives and public employee pensions.

We also touch on the buzz generated this week by the state's second highest-ranking official on his comments about the guy in job #1.

(And again, we get beaten by the news: just as we're musing on the bill to allow some internal state budget cash borrowing, Governor Brown signs the bill. Go figure.)

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Budget Dreams and Dangers of Facebook's IPO

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The smart estimate: an eventual budget bump of a "few hundred million dollars." (Photo: Getty/Ryan Anson)

In the world of state budget writing, the past is often prologue. And that's why news of a tech company's dazzling initial public offering is nothing new in Sacramento, and why there's both hope... and caution.

And the bottom line: the eventual capital gains from the 2012 Facebook IPO will no doubt help balance the state's books. But the smart bet is that it won't be enough to stave off the vast majority of the tough choices that lie ahead.
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Political Inside Game, Outside Game... All in One Day

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You don't get many political multi-tasking days like this one: heated debate over legislation down to its final day to survive, a new alarm over the state's finances, and public disclosure of all the campaign cash raised by candidates and campaigns in 2011.

Phew.
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Supremes Won't Block Redistricting Maps

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California's state Senate map is now set for 2012, after a 7-0 Supreme Court ruling. (Photo: CRC Map)

If the state Senate districts drawn by California's new citizens redistricting panel are going to be erased and redrawn this decade, it will only happen if a referendum qualifies for the November ballot and voters agree.

That's because the final legal attempt by GOP activists to block the map was resoundingly rejected Friday morning by the California Supreme Court.
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Podcast: Sales Pitch

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Maybe all those years spent on the rough seas of California politics help explain why, so far, Governor Jerry Brown has charted a pretty successful course for his November tax initiative.

But there's a lot more sailing to be done before the voyage is complete. On this week's Capital Notes Podcast, we discuss Brown's cruise so far -- from successful fundraising to a good showing in the latest statewide poll.

Anthony York of the Los Angeles Times and I also discuss this week's lawsuit filed by legislative leaders over the boundaries (or even existence) of the role for a state controller in the annual budget process.

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Note that we discuss the possibility of a redistricting ruling by the California Supreme Court (as we taped this on Thursday). Guess Anthony's source was right; that ruling is due at 10:00 a.m.