Good morning! How about that debate, huh?
FIRST UP — Don’t miss our election disinformation event, today at 12:30 p.m. Get the details here. Sen. Richard Pan is on the panel with Sacramento Bee President and Editor Lauren Gustus.
HOMELESSNESS, HOUSING BILLS ARE VETOED
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday night vetoed nearly a dozen bills. Among them were a pair of bills focused on homelessness and affordable housing, something Newsom has said in the past is a top priority for the state.
The governor used his veto pen on a bill, AB 1845, that would have created an official Office to End Homelessness under the Governor’s Office, along with, at long last, an official homelessness czar.
In his veto message, Newsom wrote that since taking office in 2019, the state has invested more than $2 billion in new, direct aid for the homeless. He touted Projects Roomkey and Homekey, aimed at helping homeless Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he also wrote that, “Homelessness must not be considered in a vacuum.”
“Separating policy development on homelessness from that on health care or housing will lead to more fragmentation, not less. Looking at homeless spending through a separate lens, divorced from our health care and housing budgets, will lead to more duplication and inefficiency,” Newsom wrote.
In response to the veto, bill author Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, D-Arleta, said in a statement that, “while I am disappointed that AB 1845 was vetoed, I am honored we had strong support from my Democratic and Republican colleagues, four big city mayors and 90 organizations from across the state.”
Rivas said she welcomes Gov. Newsom’s commitment to work with her next year to advance needed reform.
Newsom also vetoed AB 2405, which would have declared a state policy that every Californian has a right to safe, decent and affordable housing.
In his veto message, Newsom called that “a laudable message” but said he couldn’t get behind the bill’s $10 billion annual cost implications.
“Moreover, I have always maintained that our efforts must come with greater accountability and better results. Although well-intentioned, this bill is duplicative of existing efforts and may ultimately force us to expend resources without commensurately creating new housing or services for people experiencing homelessness,” he wrote.
In a tweet, bill author Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Marina Del Rey, wrote in response, “It’s disappointing to see that California is only willing to set mandates on environmental policies. We are the 5th largest economy in the world and, for many, the only roof over their head is a freeway off-ramp. We are better than this!”
NEW RECESSION, SAME PROBLEMS
Via David Lightman and Wes Venteicher.
Ten years and still a mess. Today’s loudly voiced criticisms of California’s unemployment insurance system have a familiar ring to those who have been around a while.
“The problems in the state unemployment insurance program are major,” said a state Assembly Insurance Committee report from 2010 describing a state agency overwhelmed by demand from jobless Californians.
Skip to 2020: “The State must deliver this benefit to those who qualify within a time frame that’s relevant to the well-being of the claimant, and it was failing to do that for too many Californians,” said a report by the strike team Gov. Newsom appointed to investigate recurring problems at California’s unemployment department.
Phone lines are jammed. Confusion persists over benefits and eligibility. The technology is a relic. Just like a decade ago.
Why can’t anyone fix the state’s Employment Development Department?
Ask those involved and they often cite others as the problem, or point to a broken political system that makes it difficult to get things done.
Improving the unemployment department is like fixing “a 12-link chain where you’re trying to replace two links not related to each other,” said David Lanier, who led California’s labor agency during Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.
Agency budget documents, which The Sacramento Bee obtained through a records request, show a pattern of short-term fixes for staffing and technology problems that cause backlogs and delays.
The department’s headcount swelled from 8,739 approved positions to 12,334 between 2009 and 2010 when the Great Recession sent the state’s unemployment rate past 12%.
History is repeating itself. The department expected to add 1,904 jobs by the end of September and 3,000 by the end of October, according to the strike team’s report. That’s on top of the 7,732 people the department employed a year ago.
Check out more of what we found in those budget documents in our story today.
BIG SPEND BY YES ON PROP 16
With just over a month until Election Day, the Yes on Prop 16 campaign is spending big to get the message out.
The campaign to restore affirmative action in California announced that it is making a “high seven-figure” ad buy for broadcast and cable TV, as well as digital platforms, statewide.
The group is running an ad titled “We Rise Together,” which touts an endorsement from junior California senator, and Democratic vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, and ties opposition to the ballot measure to “those who have always opposed equality,” accompanied by footage from the 2017 white nationalist march on Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We either fall from grace, or we rise. Together,” the ad says.
You can watch it here.
The Yes on Prop 16 campaign receives major funding from the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and the Hospitals, though funds from that group were not used with this ad. Other major funders include M. Quinn Delaney, founder and board chair of the social justice nonprofit Akonadi Foundation, and Patricia Quillin, philanthropist and wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
The ad campaign comes as Proposition 16 is down in the polls. A Public Policy Institute of California poll from earlier this month put support for the ballot measure at just 31% of likely voters, with 47% opposed and 22% undecided.
A poll from Berkeley IGS showed similar numbers.
Even the Yes on Prop 16 campaign’s internal polling shows support for the ballot measure in the mid-30s. However, support rises to 53% “after voters hear our messaging and endorsements,” according to a statement from the campaign.
“To that end, we’re extremely excited about these ads going up,” campaign spokeswoman Amelia Matier said.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Me with all 6 of my bills still unsigned on the Governor’s desk and only 36 hours until the bill signing deadline.” [Cute video of monkey meditating]
– Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, via Twitter. (One imagines he is not alone.)
Best of the Bee:
California is suing the federal government over its definition of a firearm in attempt to make it easier to track and confiscate so-called “ghost guns” that are often bought online and built at home without a background check, via Hannah Wiley.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Tuesday that seeks to protect mountain lions and other wildlife from being poisoned by a popular form of pesticide. The move raises questions about how the state will manage its growing urban rat population, which some experts say is surging due to the spread of homeless camps across California, via Ryan Sabalow.
A Southern California city’s attempt to offer 401(k)-style retirement plans to firefighters has led to a new law prohibiting similar efforts to exclude public workers from CalPERS pensions, via Wes Venteicher.