* Updates

Gov. Jerry Brown: 'We're going to get $8 billion in cuts' -- Gov. Jerry Brown isn't backing down from his call for $8 billion in spending cuts, despite public push-back from Democratic legislative leaders. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/31/12

Former Republican spends $1 million on congressional race -- A wealthy Manhattan Beach businessman and developer has spent nearly $1 million—mostly his own money—on a campaign for a newly drawn congressional district seat in coastal Los Angeles County. Jean Merl and Richard Simon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Lawmakers decline to reduce penalties for meth, heroin possession -- State lawmakers on Thursday rejected a proposal to reduce the charge for simple possession of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine from a felony to a misdemeanor. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

John Edwards acquitted on one count as jury deadlocks on five others and judge declares mistrial -- Johnny Reid Edwards, a honey-voiced North Carolina lawyer who parlayed his boyish good looks and inspiring personal history as the son of a mill-worker into a meteoric political rise, was acquitted of one count Thursday in a corruption case, as the judge declared a mistrial on five other charges on which the jury was deadlocked. Manuel Roig-Franzia in the Washington Post -- 5/31/12

Jerry Brown on pay cut: 'I derive a lot of psychic income' -- Don't expect Gov. Jerry Brown to lose much sleep over the Citizen Compensation Commission's decision to slash his salary by $8,699. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/31/12

Senators vote to give up free tickets to games, concerts -- Under a measure approved Thursday by the state Senate, California lawmakers would no longer be able to accept concert and sports tickets, golf games and other gifts from companies lobbying the Legislature. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ Hannah Madans SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/31/12

Edwards not guilty on 1 count, mistrial on other 6 -- Former presidential candidate John Edwards was found not guilty on one of six campaign fraud charges Thursday, and the jury could not reach a verdict on the other counts, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on them. MICHAEL BIESECKER Associated Press -- 5/31/12

Panel cuts pay for Jerry Brown, lawmakers, other California officials -- Pay for California Gov. Jerry Brown, legislators and all statewide officeholders will be cut by 5 percent from current levels), the state's independent salary-setting commission decided today. Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert Michael Gardner UT San Diego JUDY LIN Associated Press Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Jurors in Edwards case reach verdict on 1 count -- The jury in the John Edwards campaign corruption trial has reached a verdict on one of six counts, but is apparently deadlocked on the others. MICHAEL BIESECKER Associated Press JOSH GERSTEIN Politico -- 5/31/12

Romney visits defunct Solyndra facility, says Obama squandered public funds -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra in Fremont on Thursday to underscore what he said was President Obama's squandering of public funds. Josh Richman in the San Jose Mercury Carla Marinucci Chronicle Politics in the San Francisco Chronicle David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/31/12

Storify: Mitt Romney Takes Reporters to Solyndra -- The Romney campaign only invited select reporters to the event and kept information embargoed, which led Doug Sovern of KCBS and others to joke on Twitter Jon Brooks and Ian Hill KQED News -- 5/31/12

Faux billionaires to offer Romney mock support -- At least a couple billionaires will be on hand at Mitt Romney‘s Newport Beach fundraiser Friday, but more than two dozen faux rich cats will be draped in their finest to offer satirical support outside the Balboa Bay Club event. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 5/31/12

Sean 'Diddy' Combs' son on UCLA scholarship: 'I put that work in' -- The 18-year-old son of hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs defended his acceptance of a full athletic scholarship to play football at UCLA after some questioned whether he should give the money back to the cash-strapped school. Kate Mather in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Burst of outside spending in CD08 -- In the last two days, a Super-PAC called Spirit of Democracy America has injected more than $90,000 more into the race for California's 8th Congressional district, in support of Inland Assemblyman Paul Cook, new Federal Election Commission filings show. Ben Goad in the Riverside Press -- 5/31/12

State denies $1.4 billion for Orange County Great Park -- State officials have declared that Orange County Great Park, a 1,300-acre project controlled by the city of Irvine, is not entitled to $1.4 billion in tax revenue because of the state's elimination of redevelopment agencies. BRIAN MARTINEZ in the Orange County Register -- 5/31/12

Solitary confinement at Pelican Bay targeted in lawsuit -- A federal lawsuit filed Thursday seeks to end the prolonged use of solitary confinement in California, calling the practice cruel and unusual punishment. Chris Megerian LA Times PolitiCal$ PAUL ELIAS AP -- 5/31/12

Fox: CSAC Considers Governor’s Tax Proposal -- Interesting reading the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) put forth as one of its committees decides on whether to support the governor’s tax initiative today. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 5/31/12

Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, appeals court rules -- A federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Denise Lavoie Associated Press -- 5/31/12

Pelosi defends $1M tax-cut threshold proposal from liberal critics -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is pushing back against liberal critics of her proposal to extend the Bush-era tax rates only for those earning less than $1 million per year. Mike Lillis The Hill -- 5/31/12

 

   California Policy and Politics This Morning

Field Poll finds slipping support for California tobacco tax measure -- California voters still favor a ballot measure to raise the state's tobacco tax, but the margin is slipping, suggesting a potentially close finish in the election Tuesday. David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/31/12

Senators reject fee on their campaigns to improve state website -- State lawmakers balked Wednesday at levying a fee against their own campaigns and lobbyists to upgrade the state’s fragile and aging database for campaign finance reporting. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

State program for struggling homeowners has helped few -- As banks resist, mortgage relief program has distributed just 5 percent of its fund. AARON GLANTZ Bay Citizen -- 5/31/12

Sacramento County braces for flood of low-income housing applicants -- The last time Sacramento County's housing authority offered poor people the chance to join a waiting list for subsidized rental homes and apartments, 35,000 applications poured in. Cynthia Hubert in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/31/12

Candidate Maldonado and family business involved in tax dispute -- The former California lieutenant governor is running for Congress on the Central Coast. The IRS says he and his firm owe more than $4 million in taxes. Nicholas Riccardi and Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Prop. 8's author challenges GOP assemblywoman in new district -- Conservative Andy Pugno is running against Beth Gaines. Their stands are similar, but Pugno says a Bay Area billionaire is trying to buy the election for her. Michael J. Mishak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

California pay commission to vote on cutting lawmaker's salaries -- California's compensation commission will vote today on a 5 percent pay cut for Gov. Jerry Brown, legislators, and state constitutional officers from controller to treasurer to Board of Equalization member. Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee BRIAN JOSEPH in the Orange County Register -- 5/31/12

Bills in Legislature may bring tuition relief -- Students in California's public colleges and universities, who have seen their tuition and fees rise continuously, could see some relief as early as this fall under bills passed in each house of the Legislature on Wednesday. Wyatt Buchanan in the San Francisco Chronicle Jim Sanders SacBee Capitol Alert Kathryn Baron TopEd -- 5/31/12

Myers: Tricky politics in Assembly speaker's middle class scholarships -- It was a rare moment of bipartisanship Wednesday afternoon in the California Assembly -- an agreement to create $1 billion in new scholarships for college students from middle-class families. Trouble is... there's no such deal on how to pay for it. And therein lies the strange politics ahead, especially in an election year. John Myers News10 Capitol Connection -- 5/31/12

Federal judge lays out plan to return control of state prisons to California -- A federal judge proposed a plan Wednesday to relinquish control of California’s prison medical care after nearly seven years. Julie Small KPCC LA -- 5/31/12

CA Senate OKs bill creating retirement plan for private sector employees -- The California state Senate today approved a bill 23-13 to create a statewide retirement program for private workers who do not contribute to a different retirement savings plan. Hannah Madans SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/31/12

California Senate rejects 'fracking' legislation -- The California Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have required energy firms to notify property owners before using hydraulic fracturing to tap oil deposits on or near their land. Michael J. Mishak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Cities lose in court battle over redevelopment funds -- A Sacramento County Superior Court judge Wednesday afternoon refused to side with a group of California cities in their battle with the state over hundreds of millions of property tax dollars that used to flow to local redevelopment agencies. Jessica Garrison in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Lawmakers to amend specialty license plate bills -- California lawmakers trying to establish new specialty license plates this year said Wednesday they are moving quickly to amend their bills and enact safeguards to ensure the money is spent as promised after an Associated Press investigation raised questions about oversight of the program. HANNAH DREIER Associated Press -- 5/31/12

State Senate OKs ban on voice-over-Internet phone regulation -- A controversial bill that would ban state agencies from any future regulation of voice-over-Internet phone service won easy passage from the state Senate. Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Nuclear plant operators haven't reassessed quake risk -- PG&E and Southern California Edison, operators of California's two nuclear power reactors, haven't done a comprehensive risk assessment of their plants' vulnerabilities to earthquakes for nearly two decades, according to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday. DANIEL J. GOLDSTEIN Bay Citizen -- 5/31/12

Cities lose in court battle over redevelopment funds -- A Sacramento County Superior Court judge Wednesday afternoon refused to side with a group of California cities in their battle with the state over hundreds of millions of property tax dollars that used to flow to local redevelopment agencies. Jessica Garrison in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Agency Closings Pinch California Cities -- Cities across California are grappling with the economic fallout from the state's closure of redevelopment agencies, the municipal organizations that try to turn around blighted areas. The shutdowns—aimed at aiding the cash-strapped state—have resulted in layoffs, lawsuits and the loss of millions of dollars in municipal tax revenue. BOBBY WHITE in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 5/31/12

Howard Berman's Last Stand -- The chickens are coming home to roost for U.S. Rep. Howard Berman and his little brother, Michael. For four decades, the Berman brothers dominated California's backroom gerrymandering — a much-pilloried process in which politicians drew up their own voting districts in order to guarantee victories at the ballot box. Hillel Aron LA Weekly -- 5/31/12

Assembly OK’s GPS bill named for Carlsbad mom -- The state Assembly approved a bill Wednesday that would permit judges to allow suspected perpetrators of domestic violence to be fitted with GPS monitoring devices if a restraining order has been issued against them. Dana Littlefield UT San Diego -- 5/31/12

Checking up on democracy in action -- On Tuesday, a small band of state workers will fan out across California to give democracy the white-glove test. Jon Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/31/12

Facebook's stock price dives, and California could take hit -- Facebook's stock has nosedived since the social media giant debuted on Wall Street earlier this month, and that's bad news for California's budget. Chris Megerian in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Some teens aren't liking Facebook as much as older users -- For these youngsters the social networking giant's novelty has worn off. They are checking out new mobile apps, hanging out on Tumblr and Twitter, and sending plain-old text messages from their phones. Jessica Guynn and Ryan Faughnder in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

The New Cap & Trade Battlefront: How to Spend the Revenues -- Since the enactment of AB 32 in 2006, California’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction law, analysts have speculated about how to spend the money generated from the law’s cap-and-trade carbon allowance auctions, the first of which is set for this November. Jeremy Miller KQED Climate Watch -- 5/31/12

CalBuzz: Field Poll: Term Limits Reform,Tobacco Tax Leading -- California voters look like they’re about to do the right thing: partially repeal one of the worst “reforms” they’ve ever adopted: term limits for members of the Assembly and State Senate. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 5/31/12

   High-Speed Rail

OCTA takes skeptical view of high-speed rail -- The Orange County Transportation Authority wants to slow down the rush to high-speed rail. In a draft letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, OCTA questioned the finances and the schedule for the giant, voter-approved project. Ronald Campbell in the Orange County Register -- 5/31/12

   Economy

San Francisco mayor budgets for more cops, fire personnel -- More San Francisco police officers would be walking the beat and fewer firefighters would be forced to work mandatory overtime under Mayor Ed Lee's plan to bolster the city's depleting public safety ranks. Rachel Gordon in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/31/12

Governor's budget proposal could be 'catastrophic' for San Bernardino County -- San Bernardino County stands to lose $60 million in funding for its welfare and food stamp programs and would likely have to eliminate hundreds of positions under Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget proposal, officials said. Joe Nelson in the San Bernardino Sun -- 5/31/12

Funding for Orange County's planned Great Park is in jeopardy -- California officials have ruled that $1.4 billion in property funds can't be spent to transform the former Marine base into urban parkland. Jeff Gottlieb in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

   Taxes - Fees

Metrolink riders will pay $20 more for a monthly pass, part of largest fare increase in history -- The $20.25 hike in the monthly pass - the most common method of payment used by the 40,000 daily passengers - was part of an overall 7 percent fare hike approved by the Metrolink Board Wednesday by a 9-1-1 vote. Steve Scauzillo in the San Bernardino Sun -- 5/31/12

   Education

Lawsuit over ‘nonsense’ EL program -- In a special state Senate hearing last month, California’s system of classifying, reclassifying and teaching English learners came under heavy criticism from educators and advocates who cited inconsistent and ineffective policies and practices for teaching students who comprise one-quarter of the state’s schoolchildren. John Fensterwald educatedguess Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

State preparing to fund new round of school construction projects -- State officials are preparing to fund another round of shovel-ready school construction projects with $619.5 million received from last month’s sale of general obligation bonds. Kimberly Beltran SI&A Cabinet Report -- 5/31/12

California lawmakers pursue affordable textbooks on Internet -- California college students who have been hit by tuition increases may get a financial break from the state after lawmakers approved twin measures Wednesday to make textbooks more affordable. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 5/31/12

   Health Care

Medi-Cal users struggle ahead of expansion -- As California's Medi-Cal program readies for an influx of 2 million to 3 million people when national health reforms kick in, major challenges lie ahead, including finding enough specialists who will see participants. Sandy Kleffman in the Oakland Tribune -- 5/31/12

Medi-Cal works for most enrollees, survey finds -- Still, those in the state program report having more trouble finding doctors who accept their insurance than those with other coverage. Medi-Cal enrollees also use the ER more often. The survey results come at a critical time, as California prepares for the 2014 healthcare expansion. Anna Gorman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

   Environment

California Senate rejects 'fracking' legislation -- The California Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have required energy firms to notify property owners before using hydraulic fracturing to tap oil deposits on or near their land. Michael J. Mishak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

California poised to require 'solar ready roofs' on new homes and buildings -- State regulators with the California Energy Commission are expected to approve stringent energy efficiency standards for new residential and commercial buildings Thursday. Dana Hull in the San Jose Mercury -- 5/31/12

Kehoe drops copper-based boat paint bill -- State Sen. Christine Kehoe has shelved her hard-fought legislation aimed at forcing boat owners to stop using copper-based paints believed to be a troubling source of pollution in the San Diego Bay and congested marinas all along California’s coast. Michael Gardner UT San Diego -- 5/31/12

   Immigration

Details emerge as ex-Border Patrol brothers fight corruption charges -- Days before U.S. Border Patrol agents Raul and Fidel Villarreal abruptly quit their San Diego posts in June 2006, the brothers scrambled to get their finances in order. Andrew Becker California Watch -- 5/31/12

   Also..

Most California voters don't support legalizing pot, poll finds -- Eighty percent support doctor-recommended marijuana use for severe illness, a poll finds. But only 46% support legalization of 'general or recreational use by adults.' Joe Mozingo in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/31/12

Saunders: When Pelosi says 'free,' reach for your wallet -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi explained to the Commonwealth Club Tuesday the reason Washington had to pass Obamacare. Even if everyone in America "loved" their health care plans, Pelosi argued, Congress had to pass President Obama's Affordable Care Act if for no other reason than that American health care was "unsustainable financially. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 5/31/12

One current, one former employee file lawsuit against agency charged with care of developmentally disabled -- One current employee and a former employee of Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino have filed a civil lawsuit against their employer alleging retaliatory practices for patient advocacy. Jim Steinberg in the San Bernardino Sun -- 5/31/12

Joe Benvenuti, developer and Kings co-owner, dies at 91 -- Joe Benvenuti, a prominent developer and visionary entrepreneur who helped bring the Sacramento Kings to town and built Arco Arena and downtown landmarks, died Wednesday. He was 91. Robert D. Davila in the Sacramento Bee -- 5/31/12

   Beltway

Romney begins West Coast fundraising visit -- Less than 24 hours after clinching his party's nomination for president, GOP candidate Mitt Romney launched a lucrative California fundraising swing Wednesday that included an event at a French-style chateau that is one of America's most lavish private homes. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle Josh Richman in the San Jose Mercury -- 5/31/12

Romney to raise funds in Newport Beach on Friday -- Mitt Romney will return to Orange County to raise money Friday evening, when he stops at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 5/31/12

To GOP, blatant bias in vetting -- On the front page of its Sunday edition, the New York Times gave a big spread to Ann Romney spending lots of time and tons of money on an exotic genre of horse-riding. The clear implication: The Romneys are silly rich, move in rarefied and exotic circles, and are perhaps a tad shady. JIM VANDEHEI and MIKE ALLEN Politico -- 5/31/12