MOORLACH UPDATE — Oblivious — June 28, 2016

The Governor signed the Budget last evening. KRON Channel 4 and the Los Angeles Daily News provides the coverage in the first piece below.

SB 1146 has finally achieved "e-mail forwarding" status. Thanks to the many who have sent or forwarded me e-mails concerning this legislation. For the record, I tried to tell you about it (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 899 and SB 1146 — May 27, 2016 may 27, 2016 john moorlach).

Western Journalism provides its perspective, in the second piece below, on the comments in a correspondence I placed on my website (see

With so many college campuses in California for a high school graduate to chose from, including the CSU and UC systems, that offer hedonistic freedoms, one wonders why someone preferring such a lifestyle would even select a campus that strongly emphasizes chastity. Oh, well. Get ready for headlines on the topic tomorrow.

There’s also a BONUS at the bottom. A photo with last week’s visitor to the Capitol.

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs budget of more than $122 billion

By Jonathan J. CooperAssociated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state budget Monday that uses a slice of California’s revenue surplus to boost assistance for the poor and send more money to universities but keeps other new ongoing spending commitments to a minimum.

The Democratic governor did not use his line-item veto authority to erase any specific budget items, leaving the budget the Legislature approved intact for the first time since 1982, when Brown was in his first spin as governor. It’s the fourth time since 1966 that a governor has declined to veto a portion of the budget, with vetoes sometimes reaching well over $1 billion, according to data from the Department of Finance.

In negotiating with Democratic legislative leaders on the $122.5 billion spending plan, Brown secured a commitment to boost the state’s rainy day fund, pay down debts and use cash instead of debt for building maintenance and construction.

Using billions for savings and one-time purposes is a victory for Brown, who warns repeatedly that California’s current budget surpluses are based largely on capital gains income of wealthy taxpayers. That revenue will quickly plummet during economic difficulties, he says, forcing the state to take back money approved during the boom times.

“This solid budget makes responsible investments in California and sets aside billions of dollars to prepare for the next recession,” Brown said in a statement announcing that he has signed the budget.

Brown has suggested that he’ll later be judged on how well the budget weathers the next recession. His predecessors saw their popularity plummet when they were forced to accept steep spending cuts, he said.

“I don’t want to repeat these errors, because we had two governors who were riding high. And paradoxically, that very moment when everyone’s feeling the best is the very moment when the recession is about to hit,” Brown said last month. “So instead of pulling back in the last two recessions, the state of California accelerated its spending and therefore made the budget cuts all the more painful.”

Brown’s signature allows state agencies to continue operating for another year after June 30.

But even as Brown signed 13 budget-related bills, several related measures remained in limbo. The Senate budget committee declined to endorse an energy spending bill Monday morning when lawmakers said they hadn’t had time to understand provisions Brown’s administration had added late.

The Senate and Assembly also have yet to agree on a natural resources budget bill.

Brown negotiated the spending plan with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles.

The package includes a $2 billion additional deposit in the state rainy day fund on top of the $1.3 billion contribution required by the state constitution, bringing the total balance to $6.7 billion. The budget also includes a regular reserve of $1.75 billion to cushion against a drop in revenue. Another $2 billion was earmarked for deferred maintenance and state building construction.

Brown also secured $270 million in bonds for jail construction, though he would have preferred to use cash. Democratic lawmakers fought unsuccessfully to cut the jail funds that they say would be better spent on rehabilitation programs.

Lawmakers agreed earlier in the year to reserve $240 million to fund future health care costs for state workers once they’re retired, a priority for Brown.

“Our final product means California is in stronger fiscal shape than we have been for years,” Rendon said in a statement.

However, Brown has made little progress in his quest to raise taxes or fees to fix crumbling highways.

And despite his reluctance to bless new ongoing spending, Brown gave in to several priorities for Democratic lawmakers, including an expansion of state-funded day care that will eventually cost $500 million a year. He also agreed to repeal a welfare policy known as the maximum family grant, which denies additional aid to families that have more children while receiving aid, at a cost of more than $220 million a year. A special account will take over the long-term cost, limiting the general fund hit to the next three years.

The main spending plan was approved by lawmakers June 15 with only one Republican vote. GOP lawmakers said the budget sets the state on the course for deficits despite Brown’s effort to limit recurring costs. They also criticized the lack of funding for road construction.

“It’s a budget that seems to pay lip service to an upcoming recession and doesn’t do anything aggressively to deal with our unfunded liabilities,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. “So it’s as if it reflects a rising economy with an oblivious legislature.”

The budget raises vehicle registration fees from $70 to $80 a year starting in April, to generate $400 million a year for the Department of Motor Vehicles, California Highway Patrol, Air Resources Board and other departments.

Brown and legislative leaders agreed to set aside $400 million for low-income housing, assuming lawmakers and Brown can agree on a plan to bypass construction review processes in certain neighborhoods. The policy has drawn strong opposition from neighborhood activists who fear it will allow developments that change the character of their communities.

Calif. Senate Bill Would Severely Restrict Religious Freedom For Universities

"… a freedom that is constitutionally protected.”

R. McKinley

A bill currently in the California Senate would strictly limit the freedom of religious schools to admit and teach students, hire professors, and engage in religious practices in line with their beliefs.

Senate Bill 1146 was sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, who represents the 33rd district of California. His purpose in drafting the legislation was to prevent religiously affiliated schools from obtaining exemptions from Title IX, a federal law that was originally intended to prevent discrimination against women in educational programs that receive federal funding. The U.S. Department of Education has recently attempted to extend the protections to transgender students.

Schools can currently get exemptions from certain requirements that, if followed, would undermine their religious beliefs. The bill would force schools that have obtained exemptions to inform the California Student Aid Commission, as well as students and staff.

Under current law, schools do not have to disclose this information. The bill would also allow students who claim to have been discriminated against under the exemption to file a lawsuit.

“All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether they are public or private,” Lara said in a statement. “California has established strong protections for the LGBTQ community and private universities should not be able to use faith as an excuse to discriminate and avoid complying with state laws. No university should have a license to discriminate.”

Organizations supporting the bill include the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Equality California and the Transgender Law Center.

“Students and staff have a right to know when their school requests a license to discriminate against the LGBT community,” said Dave Garcia, director of policy and community building for the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “This bill will protect LGBT people who work and study at private universities and will allow all Californians to be more informed.”

Equality California also supports the measure. “Prospective students have a right to know if a university they are considering attending discriminates against LGBT people,” said Rick Zbur, the organization’s executive director. “This bill would let any school seeking to skirt federal anti-discrimination protections know that its policies would be public.”

Not every state senator is in agreement. Sen. John Moorlach of the 37th district wrote in a letter to constituents, “Senate Bill 1146 goes far beyond the appropriate role of government designed to provide protections against discrimination. In fact, Senate Bill 1146 discriminates against private and independent universities that hold themselves and their student body to a certain moral code that is thousands of years old. Punishing private institutions for adhering to long-held codes of conduct consistent with their beliefs is inappropriate and destructive to our education system. This legislation unfairly targets the beliefs of the schools, their students and community.”

Moorlach based his stance on constitutional rights, such as the freedom of religion. “Senate Bill 1146 does not safeguard against discrimination, but rather is a form of discrimination against religious liberty itself,” he wrote. “Restricting private institutions from adhering to its religious beliefs is a violation of their First Amendment rights and an act itself of intolerance.”

It should be noted that the California Constitution expressly protects both freedom of religion and freedom of speech, as well as guaranteeing the right to “assemble freely.”

The consensus among religious schools that would be affected by the bill is that it would severely limit their religious freedom and educational mission.

Jon R. Wallace, president of Azusa Pacific University, said he listened to the testimony on the bill and believes those involved all want the same things for students — “care, love, safety, and security.”

“The California higher education system has always been robust,” Wallace said. “I really think this is a solution looking for a problem.”

Wallace discussed the diversity of the Los Angeles area, which has dozens of cultures and languages, as well as many religious institutions. He described religious schools as filling a need in the area. “The church wants a place to send students,” he said. “The danger [with the bill] is that the important voice of religious schools could be silenced. This bill guts student choice. [These schools] are safe places for students [to explore their beliefs] in Christian environments.”

Concordia University Irvine concurs. “As written, the bill would severely limit our schools’ ability to faithfully live out our religious mission,” Kurt J. Krueger, president of Concordia, said in a letter written to the Assembly’s judiciary committee chairman. “The ability of a Lutheran Christian university like ours to act in a manner consistent with our religious tenets and mission is not a problem to be solved, but a freedom that is constitutionally protected.”

Richard Kriegbaum, president of Fresno Pacific University, pointed out that the issue the bill purports to address seems to not be an issue on religious campuses.

“The bill would be bad public policy in part because the bill seeks to force schools to address an issue that does not exist on our campus or at other similar schools,” he stated in an email. “No data-based or even anecdotal evidence supports the existence of mistreatment or lack of educational success among the LGBT students who choose our school(s).”

Holly Scheer, writing in The Federalist, makes the point that no one is forcing students to attend universities whose beliefs and teachings they disagree with. “It seems sensible that if you don’t want an education imbued with the values of a religion—any religion—attending classes at a religious school would be a poor choice for you,” Scheer writes. “This is not a day or age of limited academic choices.”

The bill will go before the state Assembly Judiciary committee on Tuesday.

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

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