Opinion

A budget, attorney general nominees, and the anti-vax movement

On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Our take

Editorials

Becerra, Sessions and the gulf that separates us: As nominees for U.S. and California attorneys general faced initial confirmation hearings on Tuesday, it was hard not to count the many differences between them.

With Trump unnamed, Brown offers cautious budget: A governor’s January budget proposal is, as always, the most educated guess about how much we collectively will pay in taxes in April. However, this year, more than others, there’s reason to worry about what might come out of Washington.

Columns

Dan Walters: As Jerry Brown says, the state is overdue for a downturn. His advisers calculate that even a moderate recession could drop revenue by $18 billion a year, considerably more than the rainy-day fund he’s building as a cushion.

Marcos Breton: Regrets, they have a few: Barack Obama’s Sacramento supporters on his farewell.

Op-eds

Jay Ziegler: Californians must act this year to achieve more sustainable long-term water management. Solutions for our water, groundwater and flood management won’t come easily, and they will require significant investment.

Gavin Baker: Citizen-funded elections have made our democracy more fair, open and competitive.

Take a number: $9.7 billion

Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget offers a rather droll assessment of the state system of levying fines. When the state penalty fund faces shortfalls, policymakers raise fines. Many scofflaws cannot afford to pay ever-larger fines. So the uncollected debt, which was $5.5 billion in 2009, grew to $9.7 billion this year. Brown proposes to do away with one of the more counterproductive penalties for failure to pay: the suspension of drivers’ licenses. Without a license, people who own fines can’t legally drive. If they can’t drive, they can’t work. And they still can’t pay.

Their take

Orange County Register: The DEA’s Confidential Source Program does an end run around the Fourth Amendment and facilitates abuses, with no assurances that it is effective or well managed. It should be eliminated immediately to prevent further waste of taxpayers’ dollars and abuses of travelers’ constitutional rights.

San Diego Union-Tribune: No state has more productive farms than California, but only twice since the secretary of agriculture position was established in 1889 has a state resident held the job. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board hopes former state lawmaker and ex-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado joins this select club.

Denver Post: Indeterminate sentencing for sex offenders is an outdated system that is not only costing the state millions but is failing to rehabilitate sexual predators and imposing lifetime sentences on those who would otherwise see a day of freedom.

Dallas Morning News: Most Americans – especially the working poor and those without access to employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts – have woefully undersaved for retirement. And despite bull markets since the 1980s, many with 401(k) accounts haven't amassed enough individual wealth to leave the workforce.

National Review: Those hoping for fireworks at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Justice, were treated instead to a slow Southern drawl of a day.

Syndicates’ take

Kathleen Parker: Tuesday, as Dylann Roof attempted to take on a battery of lawyers hell-bent on ultimate justice, he seemed ever the evil child who, rather than acknowledging the horror and the agony of what he did, was somehow above the process.

Dana Milbank: Nobody in recent memory has argued so frequently and so passionately against himself as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Read the case of McConnell v. McConnell.

Leonard Pitts: Donald Trump’s indefatigable apologist was at it again Monday, defending her boss against, of all people, Meryl Streep.

David Brooks: When Steve Bannon and others try to make Donald Trump into a revolutionary foreign policy president, they will be taking on the entire foreign policy establishment under a leader who may sympathize with them, but is inattentive, unpredictable and basically uninterested in anything but his own status at the moment.

Garrison Keillor: Hanging out down South with amiable sweet-talking right-wingers, enjoying a climate and the hospitality of gracious soft-spoken people, many of whom voted for Donald Trump.

Ruben Navarrette: Many journalists – who are supposed to hold people accountable – don’t like being held accountable by others.

Take your medicine

Tucked into all of the news out of Washington and Sacramento on Tuesday was word that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., famed vaccine skeptic, had emerged from a meeting with Donald Trump with the announcement that Trump had asked him to chair a presidential panel to review vaccine safety and science. You may recall Kennedy as one of the better known opponents of SB 277, the landmark bill by Sens. Richard Pan and Ben Allen tightening vaccine law in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak. And you may recall Trump’s fraudulent claim, during the GOP debates, that vaccines and autism were connected. Another match made in, well, someplace where you probably should cover your mouth when you cough. And wash your hands. – Shawn Hubler, @ShawnHubler

Tweets of the day

“Appointing RFK Jr. to head vaccine safety panel is like appointing David Duke to head panel on race relations.” – Seth Mnookin @sethmnookin, author of “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy”

“Or like appointing Jeff Sessions to lead DOJ, Civil Rights Division included.” – Ed Winstead @eswinstead

“Or appointing Scott Pruitt to head panel on climate change. Or appointing Rick Perry to head panel on energy conservation.” –Jonathan Schreiber @jondschreiber

“Looking forward to seeing who chairs the We Didn't Actually Land on the Moon committee.” – Dave Itzkoff @ditzkoff

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