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Capitol Roundup: Revenue Projections, GOP Upset Win, Distracted Driving

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Brown Skeptical of LAO's Higher Revenue Projections
California Governor Jerry Brown is dismissing calls from Democrats to increase spending after the state's non-partisan legislative analyst's office projected higher budget revenues than he did.
The governor said it's too risky to spend money that might never materialize.  "One thing we know about economists - they can't predict the future," he told the California Chamber of Commerce's annual Host Breakfast Wednesday.  "Somehow, we have to plug in a number.  But that's not money you can spend!"
The LAO believes California will bring in slightly more than $3 billion above what the governor projects in his updated budget proposal.  Legislative Democrats are expected to call for some limited spending increases when they release their budget proposals as soon as Thursday.
GOP Wins State Senate Special Election in Upset
Republicans have picked up a California State Senate seat with Tuesday night's special election upset in a heavily Democratic Central Valley district.
Farmer and former congressional candidate Andy Vidak has defeated Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez for the seat formerly held by Democrat Michael Rubio.  Rubio resigned earlier this year to work for Chevron.
Vidak ended Election Night with 52 percent of the vote - just enough to avoid a runoff.  With his win, Senate Democrats hold just one more seat than they need for a supermajority.
Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats regained their supermajority Tuesday night as labor leader Lorena Gonzalez won an open San Diego seat.
Distracted Driving Down, Number of Citations Unchanged
California law enforcement agencies wrote 57,000 tickets last month as part of a publicity campaign to reduce distracted driving.  The citations were for talking on cell phones without a hands-free device … or using the phones to text, email or surf the web.
Chris Cochran with the state's Office of Traffic Safety says law enforcement is getting a lot better at figuring out which drivers are using their cell phones - even if the phones aren't visible through car windows.  "If at night they see a car swerving or slowing down, likelihood it's a DUI.  If it's in the daytime, likelihood it's somebody on their cell phone.  And they're able to just drive up right next to them and see it," Cochran says.
Cochran says the number of tickets during last month's distracted driving campaign is about the same as the previous year.  But he says a recent study suggests fewer drivers are using their cell phones illegally than last year.
He also says the number of tickets for texting while driving has gone up.
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