When the new state Legislative session starts in January, Gov. Brown will again enjoy Democratic super-majorities in both houses.
That means Democrats will be able to put pass tax measures and put propositions to voters without Republican support.
Blue California, along with New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, stands in stark contrast to the rest of the nation which elected Donald Trump president. Legislative leaders already are facing off with the president-elect over a potential showdown on illegal immigrants.
Leading Democrats have embraced illegal immigrants through the sanctuary cities movement and have increased the pressure despite the death of Kate Steinle last year—a crime that a five-time deported illegal align has been charged with.
This week, state Senate leader Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles announced he would introduce SB 54 that would prohibit state and local law enforcement officials from enforcing federal immigration laws as well as creating “safe zones” for illegal immigrants. With Trump expected to take a hard line on illegal immigration and use the federal funds as the hammer, this could be a very interesting showdown should the bill pass as would be likely.
De Leon wrote in a statement reported by the Sacramento Bee, ““To the millions of undocumented residents pursuing and contributing to the California dream, the state of California will be your wall of justice should the incoming administration adopt an inhumane and overreaching mass-deportation policy. We will not stand by and let the federal government use our state and local agencies to separate mothers from their children.”
San Francisco elected officials are considering allocating millions of dollars to provide a legal defense fund for illegal aliens.
During the likely immigration battle as well as on other initiatives, the challenge for the governor and the very progressive leaders of both chambers will be keeping their members in the fold. Moderate Democrats and those representing districts with significant numbers of poorer people bolted in the last session when the progressives tried to jam through climate change legislation that would have further raised gasoline prices. Californians already pay the highest gas prices in the country because of the required custom blend to meet its state standards.
Despite paying those high prices, we have among the worst roads and bridges in the nation. The governor called a special session of the Legislature in the fall of 2015 and there still has been no action taken to deal with the huge funding shortfall. Republicans released a plan that showed funds could be diverted from existing sources, while the Democrats want to raise fuel taxes and other fees.
The governor and legislative leaders likely will receive plenty of pressure to get moving on this in January. Business groups and well as local governments have been lobbying for a solution, while the construction unions would also welcome a major increase in funding that would mean more projects.
For an interesting take on this issue, please see veteran Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters' thoughts.