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Capitol Roundup: Credit Upgrade, Immigration Debate

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, January 31, 2013
S&P Boosts California's Credit Rating
California no longer has the worst credit rating of any state in the nation.  The independent ratings agency Standard and Poor's has upgraded the state from an A-minus to an A.
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S&P dropped California to an A-minus three years ago at the height of the state's budget crisis.  Now, says S&P analyst Gabriel Petek: 
Petek: "The state is in a stronger position to pay its debt obligations under a variety of economic scenarios."
…even if the federal government jumps off the fiscal cliff.  So S-and-P now gives California an "A" rating.  That's up from its previous "A-minus," where Illinois now stands alone with the worst state credit rating in the nation.  And Petek says California could even be headed for an A-plus sometime soon - if lawmakers resist pressure to increase spending.  On the other hand… 
Petek: "What could put them in a weaker position is if they revert to the previous higher levels of spending - and then you had a revenue shortfall - that is what we think could cause another round of credit pressure." 
Calif. Lawmakers: "It's Time" for Federal Immigration Reform
There appears to be significant bipartisan support in the California legislature for the proposed federal immigration overhaul under discussion in Congress. But some Republicans still have concerns.
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Twenty Democrats and five Republicans stood together to say they want Congress to get something done after years of putting it off.  Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez: 
Pérez: "We're not going to sit here and say, if it fails to do this, that or the other thing, this party's to blame or that person's to blame.  It is our job, collectively, to get success here."
Republican Senator Anthony Cannella expressed confidence that this will be the year: 
Cannella: "This is going to happen.  And if anybody wants to get in the way, they're gonna be steamrolled over.  So there's a lot of momentum, it's the right thing to do, and it takes a long time in this country to do the right thing, but eventually it happens - and I believe now is the time."
The lawmakers spoke on the same day a California Department of Finance report projected the state's Latino population would equal the number of whites later this year and surpass it next year.
Still, not all GOP lawmakers think the federal proposal is on the right track. 
Jones: "The main thing I'm concerned about is the whole amnesty conversation."
Assemblyman Brian Jones says immigrants in the country illegally shouldn't be allowed to cut in line ahead of people going through the legal immigration process.  And he's upset that border security efforts are involved in the Congressional talks at all. 
Jones: "Why isn't that just already being done?  Why do we have to negotiate that border security?  Why does that have to be a deal point on immigration reform?  We should already be doing that."
California is a border state, and it also has a higher percentage of immigrants than any other state.  So it's likely that state lawmakers in both parties will keep a close eye on any federal legislation for how it affects California.
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