Capitol Alert

Gas tax increase side deals celebrated with Jerry Brown visit to Riverside County

Gov. Jerry Brown joined legislators and labor leaders during a rally on the east steps of the Capitol on April 5, 2016.
Gov. Jerry Brown joined legislators and labor leaders during a rally on the east steps of the Capitol on April 5, 2016. hamezcua@sacbee.com

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After scoring a major political victory last month by raising the gas tax and vehicle fees to fund road repairs, Gov. Jerry Brown has a few loose ends to tie up.

Passing the deal through the Legislature was a heavy lift that required some good old-fashioned political incentives, including half a billion dollars to extend a popular commuter rail line from the Bay Area to Merced. To secure the votes of two crucial members in swing Riverside-area districts, lawmakers also approved $427 million for several major freeway projects in the region.

Brown will travel down to Riverside County today to sign the last of those sweetener measures, Senate Bill 130, which reverses a 2011 funding cut to California’s four newest cities. Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar – all of which are in the county and were incorporated in the past decade – will again receive extra state money to help them get established.

Joining Brown at the signing ceremony, 10:30 a.m. at Jurupa Valley City Hall, will be Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside, whose support for the gas tax increase was so highly sought after. Cervantes, a freshman lawmaker who won an upset victory in November and is considered among the most vulnerable Democrats in 2018, anguished particularly long about the decision, but has since leaned into her vote, touting her role in bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the district.

Brown’s visit comes three days after he appointed former Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez to a seat on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors that had been vacant since December. Cervantes, whose father served as Pérez’s district director while he was in office, said she was “delighted” by the selection.

While in Southern California, Brown is also scheduled for a stop in Irvine, where he will take a private afternoon tour of proposed sites for a new state veterans cemetery with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. The Fullerton Democrat, who carried the bill to create the cemetery, is also a priority for the party to defend in the next election after she lost her battleground seat in 2014. Brown and Quirk-Silva will hold a joint press conference at 2:30 p.m. at the Great Park Gallery.

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VIDEO OF THE DAY: Get a frog’s eye view of the annual Capitol jump competition.

DON’T HAVE A COW, MAN: Under its ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, California is targeting a 40 percent cut in methane discharges by 2030. That will require some major changes at the state’s 1,400 dairy farms, where cow farts really start to add up. So officials are trying to encourage the adoption of methane digesters, which turn the gases emitted by manure into a source of renewable energy. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is making between $29 million and $36 million from cap-and-trade revenues available to farmers this year to subsidize digester purchases. It will hold a workshop on how to apply for grants of up $3 million, 1 p.m. at its office on Gateway Oaks Drive.

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VETS THREATS: Fresh off Brown’s revised budget proposal, which had him warning that “cuts are coming,” the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee on State Administration and General Government are jointly hosting an informational hearing to “address threats to Veterans resources,” 1 p.m. in Brea. The panel – chaired by Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, who is facing a recall drive after voting for the gas tax increase, and Roth, and including Cervantes – will discuss the Work for Warriors job placement program and Veterans Treatment Courts.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, who turns 66 today. Early well wishes to Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, who will be 67 on Sunday, and Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, who will be 55 on Sunday.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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