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California lawmakers announce placeholder budget agreement

 June 3, 2022 at 4:27 PM PDT

S1: A proposed budget and the latest developments in California politics.
S2: And the big picture really is driven by the enormous tax revenue surplus that the state is looking at.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS Midday Edition. A preview of this year's San Diego International Fringe Festival. What God you believe in.
S2: I just have to say honestly , guys , sorry , but I'm.
S1: European and we don't really need gold because we.
S3: Have lot milk.
S4: Pole dancing to opera.
S1: And a look at how the Old Globe is kicking off its Summer Shakespeare Festival. That's ahead on Midday Edition. California state legislators reached the halfway point of their legislative term while negotiations on the state budget continue and political power plays reveal infighting in Sacramento. That's at least some of what's been happening in Sacramento over the last week or two. Here to talk about all of that and more is John Myers , Sacramento bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. John , welcome to Mid-day Edition.
S2: Thank you. Happy to be here.
S1: So state legislative leaders in Sacramento , including Senate pro-tem Toni Atkins from San Diego , announced a legislative budget proposal Wednesday.
S2: The first thing I think we should do is establish the fact that the Democratic legislative leaders of both houses of the legislature agree on a budget is probably not too huge. But it's going to really be interesting to see how they sit down and iron out a few differences with the governor. That said , the governor and these Democrats , pro Tem Atkins and the speaker of the assembly , Anthony Rendon , they generally agree on the big picture here. And the big picture really is driven by the enormous tax revenue surplus that the state is looking at. And the governor estimates that somewhere in the magnitude of more than $90 billion by next summer , some of that money automatically goes to schools. But that provides a lot of money for a lot of other programs. The number one thing they have disagreed on that I think people are going to be watching here is the size of what I would call a tax relief or a tax rebate program. Governors talked a lot about giving money back to the owners of vehicles because of high gas prices. It's talked about $400 per vehicle. The legislative leaders want a smaller rebate plan , about 200 bucks per family , per person , but they want to tie it to someone's income. They basically want to talk about middle income and low income Californians needing some help during these high prices , inflation and everything. Governor's talked about it more about gas prices and drivers. I think they will ultimately resolve this. I don't know where the number is going to come down , but across the spectrum of state , government , health care , education , environmental protection , social services , there's a lot more that they agree on. I think they disagree on.
S1: What steps remain before a state budget is finalized.
S2: It requires only a majority vote of both House the legislature. Democrats strongly control the majority in both houses. So really it's about those two legislative leaders , Senator Atkins and Assemblymember Rendon , striking a deal with the governor. There is an incentive to do it by June 15th , because if they don't do it by that day , they don't send a budget to the governor. By then , they don't get paid. The legislature doesn't get paid. That , remarkably , is an incentive for them to get their work done. So I think over the next couple of weeks , we're going to see more intense negotiations , and I expect we will see some kind of framework of a deal by the middle of June. And , of course , the state's fiscal year begins on July 1st and then they should have it wrapped up by then. But again , I think they agree on a lot more here. And I do think Californians are going to watch a lot about how that surplus is spent , more cash reserves , more long term debt repayment , and again , this idea of tax relief.
S1: Recently , there seemed to be some political wrangling going on about who would be assembly speaker , the current speaker , Anthony Rendon , or Salinas Democrat Robert Rivas.
S2: Speaker Rendon has been speaker for quite some time. He is termed out of office after the next cycle and inevitably people want to know who's going to leave it there. And so we had some wrangling over the last few days about the process , the timeline for that and who that would be. Robert Rivas is an assemblyman from San Benito County , champion of farmworkers rights and a Democrat through and through in a lot of ways. And he went around to members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and found enough support for him becoming speaker. They had a long discussion this week about it , and I really think it's not so much about whether Speaker Rendon will step aside , he will ultimately step aside. But when he chooses to do that , and whether Assemblymember Rivas has the support that maybe he doesn't take office or doesn't take the big job until next year , that's going to be interesting because the one thing that people don't realize is that we are about to have a very large turnover in the legislature. We have a lot of members leaving office for a variety of reasons , and new people come in and new people will choose who that next speaker will be. And whether or not Mr. Rivas continues to have that support in a few months from now remains to be seen.
S1: Also this week , California's reparations task force released a 500 page report making recommendations for reparations for descendants of African-Americans in the country before the end of the 19th century.
S2: Remember that this panel , this reparations. Apple was the product of legislation. Lawmakers agreed to do it. They really wanted to talk about the issue and to let experts try to remove it as much as they could from the political process to examine the history involved and the consequences and where to move forward. And when you look at this report , I mean , there are some really interesting preliminary recommendations. You know , the idea of ending voter approval for publicly funded low rent housing , making that not contingent on voters from now on , basically expanding housing for low income Californians , free tuition to colleges , potentially a new state agency that would allow a process for African-Americans who could talk about their descendants , talk about their families , possibly apply for actual reparations at some point. It's a very interesting process. It's a long process , and I don't think anyone listening to us should think that this is going to happen tomorrow. This is an early report. There'll be another report later this year. And then we will see kind of where the politics and the public conversation lies over the issue of reparations.
S1: Yesterday , President Biden spoke to push for stronger gun control laws after yet another mass shooting , this one at a hospital in Tulsa , Oklahoma.
S2: And so really what we talk about in California are ways that that will change and potentially strengthen , certainly compared to other states that don't have that kind of agenda. If you look at what we're hearing in the legislature right now , the most high profile effort would allow private citizens to actually file lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributors of firearms civil lawsuits. Whether that holds up in the courts will remain to be seen. But it was modeled over the Texas law that allows individuals , private citizens , to file lawsuits against abortion providers who are providing abortion service. So that's a pretty interesting again , high profile one. There's also an effort to require school officials to investigate credible threats of a mass shooting. Again , these are changes to what are already considered some of the most strict gun laws in the country.
S1: Homelessness is another major issue here in San Diego and California at large.
S2: If you look at the last two state budgets , we have committed somewhere in the magnitude of $12 billion toward the services needed to help California's homeless. Governor's proposal right now , which is still sitting in the legislature , is this idea to create a system in the courts , in the civil courts , in California , where treatment for those suffering from schizophrenia , schizophrenia related issues , where they can have treatment required by the court or directed by the court. The details remain to be seen on how that's going to work out. There are funding issues , there are legality issues about the rights of these individuals. But there is the sense that it is not just about money at this point. And I do think you hear a lot of people talking about behavioral health and mental health writ large. But it's certainly the problem that probably , I would say is at the top of the list of most Californians I talked to. And I think the effort here about the courts and about this intervention is going to be really interesting to watch , to say about exactly how much we can do to help people when they don't have the ability for perhaps to help themselves.
S1: I've been speaking with John Myers , Sacramento bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. John , thanks.
S2: You're welcome.
S1: San Diego International Fringe Festival kicked off yesterday. The pandemic put the festival on a two year hiatus and forced it to scale back its return to live and in-person theatre this year. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO says it may be smaller , but it still offers a wildly diverse selection of shows from San Diego and around the globe.
S4: Fringe began as a creative act of rebellion against the artistic establishment in 1947 , when uninvited theater groups showed up at the Edinburgh International Festival and staged their own shows on the fringe of the inaugural event. That bold act led to the creation of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and its offshoots around the globe. Ten years ago , San Diego launched its own Fringe festival to offer artists an opportunity to perform their works uncensored and juried. COVID put the festival on hold , but now it's back to assault your senses with everything from Shakespeare to stand up. What do you believe in ? I just have to say honestly , guys , sorry , but I'm European.
S1: And we don't really need God because we have gun.
S4: Laws and they'll go to pole dancing , to opera.
S3: And not one off fun.
S4: Nicholas Revels makes his Fringe debut with the chamber opera aftermath , which he wrote during the pandemic.
S2: It's a vignette about two characters who confront each other across a sliding glass door on the patio of a contemporary , upscale home in Mission Beach. During the second or third year of a pandemic lockdown and the aftermath of a tactical nuclear attack on a military base in the area. I really wanted these characters to be locked down and to be completely isolated and have to make decisions within that that social context. I went over to college , pre-med , grad school.
S4: Evan Sung by Lucia Leone is a non-binary character who needs to convince Ruth to let them into her house to escape the aftermath. The show is presented by Bodhi Tree Concerts at the Template Coffeehouse. This is what's known as a BYOB or bring your own venue. Since Carter Piers Morgan is the owner of Lake Girls , she once again provided her own venue for her new Fringe show.
S5: It's called Bones Abide , and it's about the Armenian genocide , which took place at the beginning of the 20th century. And it's about the survival of Nasralla , who is based on my lead actress , grandmother. And the core of the show really is dealing with the cruelties of social injustice.
S4: After staging multiple fringe shows at her adult entertainment club , she's gained much deserved praise and credibility for her work.
S5: I remember when we first started , we were a subject of tittering , you know , people kind of making fun of me , making fun of the type of shows that I did , the avant garde shows.
S4: Bones A Bite exemplifies the bold mix of styles that can be found at Fringe , but Rene Westbrook Shelter represents the stripped down , emotionally raw and elegantly minimalist splendor of a one woman show.
S3: It's loosely based on my first night homeless on the streets of Santa monica and Los Angeles. Just walk to Vienna. You can do this. Just put one foot in front of the other. You can please just you can do this. You're college educated. You you have a degree in a storage unit that's about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. You can do this. I can't do it. I can't do it. God , I'm not going to make it. Please help me. I'm lost. I can't do it. I wanted it to be about the various definitions of shelter. The different characters have their own meaning of what shelter means to Davina Grey , the main character. It's a home , a roof , you know , to Lazarus. It's. Nobody's going to ever hurt me again. That's his shelter , his karate. I know. What ? No. Is your lonely shelter like you think ? And just because I don't got no on my head don't mean I got no shelter. This much shelter. My right in my shelter. And that's one of the things that that I wanted to just express , is that contemporary homelessness as well has a deep meaning for everyone because so many people are experiencing it now. But primarily , I wanted to get out there the various definitions of what shelter is , because we all have different ideas of what they want , what it should be.
S4: Whether it's the terror of being alone on the streets or the joy of physical comedy. San Diego Fringe has it all now through June 12th. Beth ACCOMANDO , KPBS News.
S1: San Diego International Fringe Festival runs through June 12th at multiple locations. But with its home base in Balboa Park , you can find more information and daily videos at Slash. Cinema Junkie. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. This Sunday , the Old Globe Theatre kicks off its Summer Shakespeare Festival with The Taming of the Shrew. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO speaks with director Shauna Cooper about the challenges of producing a 16th century comedy that may now be perceived as sexist or even misogynistic.
S4: Shana Shakespeare has plays that are often referred to as problem plays. But Taming of the Shrew originally wasn't one of those , but it has come to be a play that sometimes raises eyebrows because society has changed in its views of marriage and women.
S6: You know , every time I tell someone I'm directing it , they look at me like I'm crazy. But I have to say , I love this play. I think it's an incredibly important play , maybe even more so post-pandemic , as we are continuing to acknowledge as a world how much work there's still left to do about questions of gender power inequality. We live in a society that's based on a patriarchal system and that is fraught , and there's a lot of work to be done to rebuild. And I think Taming of the Shrew is a play about the danger and absurdity of the patriarchy , and that within that there are these two radical spirits , Kate and Petruchio , who in meeting each other , find the bravery and courage to attempt the messy thing of building a new way of living in living in the world. And , you know , there are a lot of mistakes made along the way. I think that may be why people sometimes interpret the actions of the play as problematic. But I think real change is messy and that you can't actually try to build a better way , especially when you are a product of all of the ways in which the world is broken to begin with , without making some mistakes along the way. And I love that the play proposes that there may be a miracle waiting on the other side if you dig in and do that hard , messy work. And I guess the other thing I would say about this play is I think a lot of it has to do with point of view in terms of how you receive the play. And the question of is this a play ? Is this a misogynistic play or is it a play about misogyny ? And I believe as written , it's a play about misogyny. But what that requires is an understanding of satire. And I think that's something that we sometimes struggle with as a culture , is understanding.
S6: You know , I think it's a political satire that led us to set the play in the modern dress. It's highly influenced by a lot of Mediterranean high fashion worlds and the world in which , like men wear a lot of colors , there's a peacocking happening. And so it's super colorful , very fun , but also expresses something about the absurd. And then we also took what I think is offered in the play and suggests in the play that this is a world in which women are made to be married. That's part of the satire of gender that exists in the play. And so we really embrace that in terms of the limits of how the women are dressed. There's they they're essentially always in some version of a wedding dress , whether it's like daytime sun dress version of a wedding dress , or it's like finally the day when you're going to get married and you're in a wedding dress until really Kate at the end and Petruchio at the end start to express themselves in a more authentic way through the clothes that they wear and they depart the status quo. They're sort of liberated from the status quo and allow fashion to really express their inner spirit and truth.
S4: So did you feel that setting it in a more contemporary setting opened up new problems or kind of gave you ways to solve problems ? Because , you know , in a contemporary setting , people will get more , will understand more about cues in terms of costuming and clothing , because 15th century clothes mean nothing to them in terms of , you know , what does it reveal in terms of stature or status or something.
S6: I think because doing this play in a contemporary setting requires that you wrestle , I think , even more deeply with the problems , the play I feel. It reminds me how much the struggles of this play and. The struggles of gender and power are still in play for us. When I see people in modern dress in this play and I see the ways in which women are kind of punished for not adhering to certain expectations and rules of how women behave. And I see how men are enduring the costs of male toxicity for themselves. You know , I think often when we're having conversations about feminism and about how we change questions of male toxicity , we forget how much that hurts the men. That way of being in the world and that culture has a cost for everybody. And so I think seeing this play through a modern lens helps me meditate on those questions and how they are still permeating the world around us today. And I think , again , even more exposed after the pandemic , because that shone a light , I think , on a lot of these questions. And I think people are more interested in wrestling with them than ever before because we understand that they're not going anywhere , that we've maybe just covered them up , but actually we haven't solved or healed. And I think the gift of Taming of the Shrew is it invites you to wrestle with those questions , but also laugh at them. And I think we just also all need to laugh right now and be together outside , under the stars and get to not be let off the hook in terms of these questions. But enjoy the debate , enjoy the conversation , laugh at ourselves and our failings. And then and then we can leave the theatre and maybe think about how to do better.
S4: And you brought up this idea of this play has a lot of baggage.
S6: The thing we experience in rehearsal all the time as artists working on this play is how to let ourselves re hear the play and kind of shed the past productions and our past ideas. So part of it is , I think just if people have experienced this play in the past or they think they know what this play is about , they can just like leave those bags and coat check , you know , and , and really just try to meet the play afresh and see what they hear. If they're landing in the present with this play , what do they hear that feels like their world ? What do they hear that sheds new light on their world or allows them to laugh at their world or think about their world differently ? And also , I guess the other piece is like to be generous with ourselves , to remember that change is messy and hard and that people make mistakes along the way , and that Kate and Petruchio are deeply flawed protagonists. But that's what we can love about them. I feel like that's what can be a guiding light about them is that we don't have to be perfect to lead the way into a better future. And , you know , being a little generous with ourselves and each other when we fail along the way and not give up , I think is the invitation of The Taming of the Shrew. So I hope I hope those are some of the things that the audience will feel like they can enter the theatre with.
S4: I want to thank you very much for talking about this new version of Taming of the Shrew.
S6: My pleasure.
S1: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with the director , Shawna Cooper. The Old Globe's Taming of the Shrew opens Sunday and runs through July 10th.

California state legislators reached the half-way point of their legislative term while negotiations on the state budget continue, and political power-plays reveal infighting in Sacramento. Then, the San Diego International Fringe Festival kicked off Thursday. Fringe runs through June 12th at multiple locations but its home base is in Balboa Park. And, On Sunday The Old Globe Theatre kicks off its Summer Shakespeare Festival with The Taming of the Shrew. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with director Shana Cooper about the challenges of producing a 16th century comedy that many now be perceive as sexist or even misogynistic.