Today’s News: No motive in gunman’s ‘farewell’ note; On-time budget; California snowfall decline expected

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Killer’s goodbye. The man responsible for last Friday’s deadly shooting rampage in Santa Monica carried a note saying he was sorry for his actions. But investigators still aren’t sure what motivated John Zawahri to kill five people before he was shot to death by police.

Zawahri’s four-page, hand-written note was found on his body after he was killed on the Santa Monica College campus. Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said the note indicated that Zawahri expected to die. “He expressed hope that his mother would be looked after financially, even as he said goodbye to his friends and expressed remorse for killing his brother and his father,” Seabrooks said.

What the note did not include was a reason why Zawahri committed the murders. There was also no explanation of why he carried the rampage over to Santa Monica College, where he was once a part-time student.

Investigators found air rifles, zip guns, knives and replica weapons in Zawahri’s burned-out bedroom at his father’s house. He tried to buy another gun in 2011, but his application was turned down by the Department of Justice. Santa Monica Police Sergeant Richard Lewis says the gun Zawahri used last Friday was purchased in pieces, which allowed him to get around registration requirements.

Without a clear motive, police speculated that Zawahri’s mental health problems may have been the main factor in his desire to kill. KABC

Budget vote. California lawmakers are expected to start voting on a $96 billion state budget proposal today. But some Republicans say they’re also being asked to weigh in on bills they don’t know much about. The budget is the big picture bill. But trailer bills spell out how some money will be allocated. The earliest of at least 15 of those trailer bills were published just two days ago. That’s not the only gripe with the budget plan. Some environmentalists are crying foul because the budget borrows $500 million from the state’s cap and trade program. Environmentalists say the money from the sale of carbon pollution permits is supposed to go to programs that help reduce emissions. AP

No snow. Warming global temps could mean a big decline in Southern California snowfall in the coming decades, according to a report out of UCLA today. Researchers say the amount of snow on local mountain ranges could decrease by 30 to 40 percent by the middle of this century – or even more, if greenhouse emissions continue to climb. The researchers say the impact would be especially visible on the northern hills of the San Gabriel Mountains and in an area between the San Gabriel and Tehachapi ranges. L.A. Times

Bullet train. A federal transportation board has given state officials the go-ahead to begin construction on the first leg of California’s bullet train without an extensive environmental review. The ruling by the federal Surface Transportation Board is just one of several hurdles state officials must overcome before they can start construction this summer. But it’s an important victory. The board said the state could break ground on the first 65 miles of the project from Merced to Fresno, as long as it maintains the current route and follows through on promises to mitigate environmental damage. The state is still facing a lawsuit that claims the California High Speed rail Authority is in violation of a 2008 voter-approved ballot measure. And rail officials have yet to obtain a key permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. AP

Targeting Anthem. California’s insurance commissioner says Anthem Blue Cross shouldn’t be allowed to sell insurance to small businesses through the state’s new health exchange because of its history of excessive rate hikes. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is asking to Covered California – the state agency responsible for implementing Obamacare – to bar Anthem from the exchange. The company disputes Jones’ claims, saying its rate increases reflect the reality of raising health care costs. Kaiser Health News

Historic Pasadena Y. A former Pasadena YMCA that’s on the National Register of Historic Places could be converted into a boutique hotel. The three-story building was completed in 1921. It was designed by Julia Morgan, the path-breaking California architect who also designed the Hearst Castle and L.A.’s Herald-Examiner Building. City officials say they are negotiating a deal with San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants to renovate and manage the property. The building has been vacant for years and has extensive fire and water damage. Pasadena Star-News