Jerry Brown's Tax Plans Come into Focus
By Josh Goodman, Staff Writer
Brian Sandoval becomes governor of Nevada on Monday. His last day working for a law firm that lobbies at the state capital in Carson City is tomorrow, the Las Vegas Sun reports . After he resigned as a federal judge to run for governor in 2010, Sandoval was hired by Jones Vargas, a law firm that lobbies for some of the most powerful interests in Nevada, in fields ranging from gaming and banking to mining and health care. According to a Sandoval spokesperson, the governor-elect didn't participate in government relations activities. Jones Vargas describes his work at the firm as focused on "mediation, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution."
The Iowa Power Fund might receive a reprieve from Governor-elect Terry Branstad after all. The fund, which provides seed money to alternative energy projects, was championed by outgoing Governor Chet Culver, whom Branstad defeated last month. On the campaign trail, Branstad called it a "colossal failure." Incoming House Speaker Kraig Paulsen , who, like Branstad, is a Republican, indicated after the election that the Power Fund might be eliminated. However, the Des Moines Register reports that Branstad is now suggesting the fund may live on as a component of the Partnership for Economic Progress, the new joint public-private economic development entity the incoming governor plans to create. He's asked his choice to head the Partnership, Debi Durham , to study integrating the Power Fund into her efforts.
As Texas faces its first major budget shortfall in years, the state's Republican majority is looking to save money by loosening class size limits, the Dallas Morning News reports . Currently, classes from kindergarten through fourth grade are required to have 22 or fewer students. Under a proposal from State Comptroller Susan Combs and key Republicans in the legislature, the 22-student limit would become an average, not a requirement for every classroom. Combs estimates that the shift would save $558 million a year in a state with a budget shortfall projected at more than $20 billion in the upcoming biennium. Legislative Democrats plan to fight the change, but their ranks have been greatly diminished by electoral defeats and party switches.
After recent Republican gains, a majority of North Dakota 's legislature supports shifting newly hired public employees to 401(k)-style retirement plans, the Associated Press reports . In an AP survey, 51 North Dakota House members supported the idea, while 16 were opposed, and 24 senators supported the idea, while 9 were opposed. The House has 94 members, while the Senate has 47-some lawmakers indicated that they are undecided and others didn't respond to the survey. As in other states, the stock market's decline in the recent recession greatly reduced the assets held by North Dakota's retirement systems.