State officials are still waiting for the written decision of an oral superior court ruling that invalidates some of the school funding shifts that were a key feature in balancing the last two state budgets.
Until the written decision is available and any appeals are decided, the ruling's "fiscal implications are not clear," says a recent report prepared by Bob Loessberg-Zahl in the California Legislative Analyst's Office.
"What does appear certain is that the decision, if upheld on appeal, would make the state's general fund condition at least $1.8 billion worse than it would otherwise be," Loessberg-Zahl continued. "This is because ... $1.8 billion in prepayment loans would likely be treated as expenditures on the state's books, and there would not be any repayment to the state "
On Nov. 12, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James T. Ford provided an oral decision in the California Teachers' Association et al. v. Gould case, which challenged the constitutionality of the state's recent school budget accounting shifts.
The shifts stemmed from an intricate funding formula required under Proposition 98, which provides constitutionally protected minimum spending guarantees for schools.
The impact of Ford's ruling "could be significant from a budgetary standpoint," said H.D. Palmer, an assistant finance director for the state. He cautioned, however, that "until we get a look at the fine print, it's difficult to say what the impact is."
A written ruling may be released in a matter of days.
Lobbyists at the state Capitol in Sacramento will soon have a new way to indicate that they are not willing to write checks to help California lawmakers win re-election.
The 1,049 lobbyists registered with the California Secretary of State's Office received a letter from chief deputy Tony Miller last week announcing a new program designed to lower the number of unsolicited requests lobbyists receive for campaign contributions.
In the letter, Miller said the Secretary of State's Office would begin compiling a list of lobbyists who "no longer wish to be solicited to make, to serve as an intermediary or agent for making, or to arrange for campaign contributions."
To have their names added to the list, lobbyists must file a "contribution non-solicitation" form stating their desire not to be solicited for campaign contributions by members of the Legislature or the governor.
The list will be a public document available from the Secretary of State's Office.
Miller's letter was sparked by the convictions earlier this month of a lobbyist and former legislator, said Shirley Washington, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's Office. "The lobbyists were concerned," Washington said.
On Dec. 8, a federal jury in Sacramento found high-profile lobbyist Clayton R. Jackson guilty of multiple counts of political corruption in an influence-peddling case. Also found guilty was former state Sen. Paul B. Carpenter.
The Port of Oakland, which is planning at least $500 million to $1 billion of new capital projects, is looking for a financial adviser to develop a strategic financial plan that will cover the next five years.
Port officials want an adviser to examine the issuer's debt structure, develop new funding strategies, and introduce some flexibility into the port's financings through such means as interest rate swaps and hedge products.
The chosen firm may not underwrite deals, said Sonali Bose, port director of finance. The selected firm will sign a two-year contract that includes the possibility for two one-year extensions, she said.
Over the next five or so years, the port expects to double its maritime capacity now that President Clinton has authorized Oakland officials to speed up dredging projects.
The accelarated dredging, which port officials expect to start and complete during the fourth quarter next year, will permit entry to ships that have 42-foot drafts, compared with the 38-foot drafts now allowed. A draft is the depth of water a ship needs to float in. "We're at a competitive disadvantage with Los Angeles, Seattle, and Long Beach, which already can take ships that have 42-foot drafts," Bose said.
Port of Oakland officials also have two major development projects in mind for 200 acres of new land. The land, formerly a naval supply center adjoining the port, has been sold by the federal government to the port for $1. Officials plan to build six new berths and terminals and to develop a facility that will bring together three train lines and consolidate them into one berth.
The port also plans to enlarge its aviation facilities. And Federal Express is interested in expanding its business into the Port of Oakland, which already serves as the West Coast hub for the overnight freight carrier, Bose said.