Keep Off California’s Recovery

Justin Adams
President and Chief Economist of Encina Advisors, LLC

But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?Alan Greenspan

California has struggled the past six years to recover from the Great Recession. But recent economic statistics suggest that the Golden State is finally regaining its luster.

A few examples:

  • The Economic Development Department (EDD) reports that California added 39,800 nonfarm payroll jobs in March, dropping the state’s unemployment rate to 6.5 percent. The unemployment rate is down from 6.7 percent the previous month and 7.9 percent a year ago.
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How Sodomite Suppression Act Exposes the Failure of SB 1253

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

SB 1253, which became law last year, continues to be sold as initiative reform, even though it was, at best, initiative tweaking. It made a series of changes – on signature time, on disclosure, on the legislature – that are too small to make any difference. And unfortunately, because the state’s Goo Goo Dolls have sold it as initiative reform, it’s taken real changes to the process off the table.

True initiative reform requires integrating the initiative process with the rest of the governing system. Initiatives need to live under the rules of the budget. They shouldn’t blatantly violate the constitution. They shouldn’t grant unchecked powers to their sponsors. They need to be considered and scheduled in a way that is integrated with the legislative process. And they need to be able to reach the ballot based on the merit of their ideas and drafting, not on the money that’s behind them.

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​Crocodile ‘Tiers’ Over Water Rate Ruling

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Last week the California Court of Appeal issued an important ruling interpreting Proposition 218, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sponsored initiative approved by voters in 1996.  Proposition 218 is entitled “The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” for a very good reason.  It reflects the policy that those who pay the bills for public expenditures – taxpayers – should have the final say over how much is taken out of their wallets and pocketbooks.It subjects virtually all local taxes and fees, especially those related to property, to voter or ratepayer control.

Proposition 218 was necessary because the legislature and the courts had created loopholes in Proposition 13, the iconic California initiative that started the modern American tax revolt in 1978.  While Proposition 13 was focused on property taxes, Proposition 218 was drafted to limit the explosion in other types of government exactions burdening homeowners including so-called “benefit assessments,” fees, charges and other sorts of property related levies.

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The Valley And The Upstarts: The Cities Creating The Most Tech Jobs

Joel Kotkin, Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. Mark Schill, Vice President of Research at Praxis Strategy Group, an economic development and research firm working with communities and states to improve their economies

No industry generates more hype, and hope, than technology. From 2004 to 2014, the number of tech-related jobs in the United States expanded 31%, faster than other high-growth sectors like health care and business services. In the wider category of STEM-related jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), employment grew 11.4% over the same period, compared to 4.5% for other jobs. The Commerce Department projects that growth in STEM employment will continue to outpace the rest of the economy through 2018.

But all the new tech jobs have not been evenly distributed across the country. To determine which areas are benefiting the most from the current tech boom, Mark Schill, research director at Praxis Strategy Group, analyzed employment data from the nation’s 52 largest metropolitan statistical areas from 2004 to 2014. He looked at the change in employment over that timespan in companies in industries we associate with technology, such as software, engineering and computer programming services.

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Acting Out the Minimum Wage Drama

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

“All the world’s a stage,” wrote William Shakespeare, and political theater on the hot topic of the minimum wage is playing out in smaller Los Angeles theaters. We’re not talking about minimum wage as the topic of a play, but minimum wage as the subject of who goes on stage.

When the leadership of Actors Equity, the stage actors union, decided to push for a minimum wage for Los Angeles actors who work in 99-seat theaters and smaller, they got pushback from many of the union’s members. The actors feared that forcing the theaters to pay the actors more might force some of the hanging-on-by-their-fingertips theaters to close down.

The debate over raising the minimum wage for the small theaters mirrors the larger debate on minimum wage that is occurring in the country.

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Good Bills Are Focus of CalChamber Job Creator List

Denise Davis
Vice President, Media Relations and External Affairs at Cal Chamber

Since 2008, CalChamber has been identifying bills that will improve the state’s job climate and stimulate our economy.  We put them on our annual “Job Creator” list hoping to put a spotlight on proposals that will encourage investment in our economy.

Last week, we released the 2015 “Job Creator” list.  This year’s list includes 11 bills that will improve our legal climate, lower costs for employers, spur tourism, and create construction jobs. The list follows recommendations made in our annual business issues guide, called “Foundation for a Better California.”

Each year we hope to have as many job creator bills on our list as we do on our job killer list.  Let’s hope our policy makers make that possible in the years to come! 

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CEQA: California Dreamin’ or California Nightmare?

Jennifer Hernandez
Attorney in the California environmental and land use practice group of Holland & Knight LLC, an international law firm

Our recent report on “California Social Priorities” — released by Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy and the topic of the first meeting of the Houston based Center for Opportunity Urbanism — stirred up some controversy. A largely negative response came from Josh Stephens from the California Planning and Development Report.

As a lifelong Democrat, granddaughter/daughter/sister/aunt of union members working in the steel and construction trades, major contributor and multi-decade Board member of several California environmental advocacy organizations, top-ranked California environmental and land use lawyer and recipient of the California Lawyer of the Year award for environment and land use work, and Latina asthma-sufferer who grew up in Pittsburg, California amidst factories that belched pollution into our air and waters, I need to first take exception to the author’s apparent assumption that anyone publishing a thoughtful report with accurate data about California’s acute social needs (income inequality, middle-class job loss, educational non-attainment) is a “conservative” with a “hate on CEQA in much more vague ways.”

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Elementary Indoctrination

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

To say California’s teachers’ unions wield outsize influence over state education policy is hardly novel. From setting tenure rules to rewriting dismissal statutes and blocking pension reforms, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers roam the halls of the legislature like varsity all-stars. But less well known are the unions’ efforts to remake curriculum—and thereby influence the next generation of citizens and voters.

According to labor expert Kevin Dayton, organized labor has been trying to get its collective hooks into classroom content since 1981, when the City University of New York developed the “American Social History Project.” The idea was to present the history of marginalized and oppressed groups—including labor unions—to a “broad popular audience.” In California, the project took a great leap forward in 2001, when Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg cooked up the Speaker’s Commission on Labor Education, which, as Dayton explains, was established “to address issues of labor education in California’s public school system.” At the commission’s behest, Governor Gray Davis signed a bill that encouraged school districts to set aside the first week in April as “Labor History Week” and “commemorate it with appropriate educational exercises to make pupils aware of the important role that the labor movement has played in shaping California and the United States.”

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The California Introduction Machine

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Much is made during presidential election periods that the state is merely an ATM machine for candidates. As a solid blue state that has not voted for a Republican for the White House since 1988, California is considered safe for whoever the Democratic nominee will be (we’re talking to you, Hillary Clinton.)

Yet, candidates from both major parties come to the Golden State for the gold – dollars for their campaign accounts.

In this coming election, however, at least on the Republican side, the race is wide open. Before GOP candidates can hit up the California ATM machine, many need to introduce themselves to California voters and donors. And that’s been happening now.

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California Tax Freedom Day Comes Late Again

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

California lags behind much of the country when it comes to high taxes and creating an atmosphere that allows businesses to create jobs.

Another area where California fails to meet the national standard—National Tax Freedom Day. This year, California residents will work nine days longer than the national average to meet their annual tax obligation.

California’s byzantine tax structure continues to create a difficult economic environment in which to live and work. Unfortunately, Californians must work 123 days to pay their tax bill. We can do better.

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