Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Neel Kashkari, Jerry Brown debate tonight

Tonight is the night that Neel Kashkari has been waiting for: his first, and probably only, opportunity to debate Gov. Jerry Brown.

If too many folks aren’t distracted by the opening game of the regular NFL season, the event could be a boon to the Republican gubernatorial candidate, who remains largely unknown to Californians two months from the election. In a new Field Poll, fewer than 60 percent of likely voters had an opinion of Kashkari.

On the biggest stage he has yet had in his underdog campaign, expect Kashkari to hit on Brown’s support for California’s controversial $68-billion high-speed rail project, which Kashkari has dubbed the “crazy train,” and Brown’s recent appeal of a court decision ruling the state’s teacher tenure and dismissal laws unconstitutional.

Even a successful debate appearance by Kashkari is unlikely to stop Brown from winning a historic fourth term, however; the governor leads by 16 percentage points in the latest poll.

David Siders has an in-depth debate preview in today’s paper.

The Sacramento Bee will be streaming the debate on its website at 7 p.m., courtesy of the California Channel. Go to sacbee.com/live starting at 6:30 p.m. for discussion, fact-checks and analysis of the debate.

VIDEO: At this rate, state Sen. Rod Wright may die of old age before he pays the penalty for lying about where he lived, Dan Walters says.

WHO’S IN CONTROL?: Debate over how to regulate spending under California’s new Local Control Funding Formula, which allocates millions of extra dollars to school districts with large numbers of low-income and English-learning students, has stretched all year long. Advocates are pushing for stricter oversight, while school officials seek greater flexibility. A key vote today at the State Board of Education meeting, 8:30 a.m. at the Department of Education on N Street, could add several additional accountability measures to the program and potentially set up the Board to adopt final regulations in November.

The stakes have attracted the attention of 26 lawmakers, who sent a letter to the Board last week urging it to “preserve the intent of the Legislature in creating the Local Control Funding Formula” by ensuring that the additional funding is spent on educating the students who generate the money for districts. The letter, from Democratic Assembly members Phil Ting of San Francisco and Shirley Weber of San Diego and signed by 24 others, applauds several of the proposed changes to the program and asks for further efforts to increase transparency in order to assess whether school districts are “following state law by providing increased or improved services to high need students.”

STAY IN SCHOOL: Earlier this year, Attorney General Kamala Harris teamed up with lawmakers to introduce a package of bills aimed at reducing truancy among young students. The bills, which focus on increasing data collection and reporting, are now on the governor’s desk awaiting action, so Harris will be promoting them with a visit to East Oakland Pride Elementary School in Oakland at 1:15 p.m.

RAISE IT UP: As part of their campaign to raise wages to $15 an hour and secure the right to unionize, fast food workers in Sacramento will walk off the job in protest starting at 6 a.m. State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson are among those who will be supporting striking workers at events around the city throughout the day.

SWITCHING LANES: The California State University system is already working with community colleges to smooth the transfer process for students. Now the University of California is getting on board. UC President Janet Napolitano will meet with Central Valley community college presidents, 11 a.m. at Merced College, to discuss the university’s latest efforts to improve and increase transfer to its campuses.

MR. UNPOPULAR: A new Field Poll this week revealed that President Barack Obama’s ratings have fallen to a record low in California. But he is not alone; almost all recent presidents have ultimately lost the approval of the Golden State. Phillip Reese has more.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, who turns 50 today.

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