Steinberg Apologizes for Blocking Ballot Measure Hearing Telecast
On Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) apologized to the public and the media for cutting off television access to a Senate hearing on certain November ballot measures, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
The Senate Finance and Governance Committee hearing -- which took place last week -- is required by law to assess factual information and arguments about ballot measures dealing with taxes and the state budget.
Among the measures discussed at the hearing were:
- A compromise tax hike plan developed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and supporters of the "Millionaires Tax;" and
- A tax increase proposal by attorney Molly Munger (Walters, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/13).
Details of Compromise Tax Hike Plan
The compromise tax hike plan -- listed as Proposition 30 on the November ballot -- would:
- Increase the personal income tax by one percentage point for individuals who earn $250,000 annually or couples who earn $500,000 annually and by two percentage points for individuals who earn $300,000 annually or couples who earn $600,000 annually;
- Extend the income tax increases on wealthy residents from five to seven years; and
- Increase the sales tax by a quarter of a cent.
The sales tax hike would expire in four years.
The tax would raise an estimated $9 billion over the next fiscal year.
In June, Brown signed the fiscal year 2012-2013 budget agreement, which includes revenue from the compromise tax hike plan (California Healthline, 8/8).
Details of Munger's Tax Hike Plan
Munger's tax hike proposal -- listed as Proposition 38 on the November ballot -- aims to raise income tax for all residents, with highest earners seeing the largest hike. Most of the revenue would support education programs (California Healthline, 8/3).
Details of Media Blackout
A cable television channel that broadcasts legislative hearings and other public affairs programming -- called California Channel -- planned to air the hearing. However, it was ordered by an unnamed Senate staffer not to air the hearing just before it began.
A spokesperson for Steinberg originally said the order aimed to prevent parts of the hearing from being used in campaign commercials.
On Friday, Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), chair of the committee, criticized the order. She said the media blackout embarrassed her because she began the hearing with a statement saying that she hoped it would help voters make informed decisions on the ballot measures.
On Monday, Steinberg said, "I want to apologize to the press and public," adding that the order "was a mistake, and it won't happen again."He said the original rationale for the blackout "wasn't a good reason" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/13). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.