Republicans Rumble, Reconcile at Confab

March 20, 2011 · Filed Under Political Parties and Independents · Comments Off 

KQED/John Myers

Republicans are fond of invoking just about everything Ronald Reagan, but their biannual state convention routinely sees shattered into tiny pieces what Reagan liked to call the party's 11th Commandment: thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

This weekend's confab here in Sacramento was no exception. In fact, even though the end of the weekend saw reconciliation on a few fronts, a larger question may linger on: can the state GOP be right... and win... at the same time?
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Prisons Debate: A Numbers Game?

August 12, 2009 · Filed Under CA Budget, Prisons · Comments Off 

Quick, jot down the following numbers: 167,000... $1.2 billion... $3 million... 4%... 37%... 2.4. They're going to come in handy when lawmakers soon wrap themselves in a one of the most complicated and controversial areas of public policy: prisons.

The return of the Legislature next week will feature an intense debate on not just how to reduce prison overcrowding in response to the recent ruling by federal judges, but also on how to save cut prison spending as part of the state's budget crisis. A lot. And fast.
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Prison Hot Potato

June 26, 2008 · Filed Under CA Budget, CA Government, Prisons · Comments Off 

If you only remember two things about the crisis in California prisons, might I suggest the following: (1) the prisons are overcrowded and in the crosshairs of the federal courts, and (2) the prison system is apparently in need of billions of dollars to solve problem number 1.

The above Problem (2)... the money... was the focus of today's announcement by GOP legislators of a proposed "fix" to the landmark $7.7 billion prison construction bond signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in May 2007.

The new proposal, SB 1705, gives the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation more flexibility over how to spend the bond money, and attempts to expedite the design and construction process of expanding prison capacity.

It's somewhat unclear as to just who asked for the changes included in the new GOP bill. Republicans legislators said today that many of the changes were requested by Attorney General Jerry Brown, but a spokesman for Brown declined to comment on any requests that might have been made in "legal advice" between the state's lawyer and his clients.

Also unclear is whether these modifications to the 2007 prison bond will have any impact on the stalemate over a separate $7 billion bond to pay for prison health care needs, a bond measure blocked by Republicans and demanded by the federal court-appointed receiver for prison health care.

"I believe that, combined with this fix, that out of the Senate there are votes in order to move the receiver's bond forward," said Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster).

But there wasn't the same level of confidence from Assembly Republicans. "I think we would just have to look at [the receiver's proposal] and see what it looks like," said Assembly GOP Leader Mike Villines (R-Fresno). Villines said he'd like to see some of the prison health care needs paid from the first bond package before borrowing more.

And even then, Democrats in the state Senate say that all of this still ignores the need for actually reducing the population behind prison walls.

In other words, the endgame in the prison crisis is still unclear, and the issue is the hottest of hot potatoes under the Capitol dome... looming large over an already ominous budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins next Tuesday.

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