Could We Get an Effective Single Payer System for Education First?

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)

A suggestion for my friends on the left: before you install a single-payer health care system for California, have you considered enacting an effective single-payer system for education first?

You might say the public school system in California is single-payer. But you’d be wrong. For one thing, it doesn’t really cover everybody. And not just because so many Californians leak into private or parochial or home schools, or don’t get educated at all.

The system isn’t properly funded to provide an adequate education to all. Gov. Brown and many others have acknowledged that reality. The school year and school day are far shorter than the needs of students trying to deal with the complicated challenges and economic expectations of the 21st century. The funding system for education is so meager that we have massive education rationing. And to make up the difference, schools and school districts routinely have to resort to private fundraising campaigns.

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Small Business Urges Senate to Pass Healthcare Reform

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

Obamacare has been burdensome for small business. This week, the Senate has a chance to do something about it.

Year after year, when the National Federation of Independent Business surveys its members, they say their number one priority is healthcare, but the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has made things more difficult for them. Its onerous taxes and mandates have increased costs and reduced choices.

Repealing Obamacare shouldn’t be a partisan issue. The law has failed in its central promise, which is to make healthcare affordable. Premiums for small businesses have skyrocketed. The law forced the cancelation of insurance policies for millions of Americans who were happy with their plans. Insurance companies have abandoned the exchange marketplaces, leaving Americans in many parts of the country with one option or no options at all. Even former President Bill Clinton called Obamacare “the craziest thing in the world.” He said, “The people who are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies.”

That’s why NFIB is calling on our United States Senators to pass the Senate healthcare plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Small business has long supported repealing and replacing Obamacare. NFIB opposed the healthcare bill when it passed, and we challenged its constitutionality before the Supreme Court in NFIB v. Sebelius.

Not only does the law harm small businesses, it harms their employees. According to the federal government’s own research, small businesses’ health insurance costs increased and benefit flexibility decreased under Obamacare, resulting in 25 percent fewer small businesses offering health insurance within five years of the law’s enactment.

The Senate bill provides massive tax relief by eliminating or delaying 11 of the most burdensome Obamacare taxes, which are crushing small businesses and driving up costs. It also eliminates the punishing mandate penalties that discourage job creation, expansion, and investment.

This is a crucial moment for our senators. We hope they remember that small business employs half of California’s entire workforce. It’s the backbone of our economy. Obamacare is a massive impediment to growth and new jobs, and this week our senators have a chance to enact change that will help small businesses.

Tom Scott is the State Executive Director for NFIB California, which represents 22,000 dues-paying small business members across the state.

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As California Legislature divides on universal health care, Rendon does the right thing

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Except for one year, two-plus decades ago, Democrats have controlled both houses of the California Legislature for nearly a half-century.

Moreover, most members of the Senate are former members of the Assembly, so one might assume that the two houses are in synch and so duplicative that it might as well be a one-house Legislature.

There’s a cogent argument for a unicameral legislative branch, but the notion that the two houses are merely mirror images of one another – Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, as it were – is erroneous.

In fact, they – and their leaders of the moment – are often in conflict, not unlike the historic rivalries between the nation’s supposedly unified military branches for mission and money.

At any given point, one house is the more activist, setting the agenda and generating legislation – the Senate most recently – while the other is more reactive as it yearns for primacy.

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GOP Field For California Governor Grows, And Chance Of All-Democrat Runoff

Jon Fleischman
Publisher of the FlashReport

Last week Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) announced his candidacy for Governor of California.

Allen, a firebrand conservative, will no doubt be popular with grassroots conservative activists around the state. The irony is that Allen’s candidacy may end up being a reason why California voters may be choosing between two Democrats on their general election ballots.

There are two factors that, together, augur bad news for Allen, and other would-be GOP governors of the Golden State.

The first was the passage of Proposition 14, the so-called “Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act,” which went into effect in 2012. That measure changed the manner of voting in all partisan primaries in California, except for President of the United States, so that any voter could cast his or her vote for any candidate, from any party, – and the two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the general election. No longer does the top vote-getter from each political party have a guaranteed spot on the November ballot.

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Let’s Party Till (Almost) Dawn

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

The San Fernando Valley area is great. In the entire Los Angeles area, it’s among the very best places to live and to work. But one thing it is not: party central.

Be honest. If a visitor asks you for directions to the nearest hot spot, you’re likely to point toward Las Vegas.

Now I don’t think any of us would like to see our family-centric Valley area transformed into a basin of unabashed bacchanalia. But on the other hand, a spot of nightlife here or there – somewhere, anywhere, for goodness’ sake – would add a dash of vibrancy to what can be an immense dead-after-dark zone.

That’s why I’m heartened by a bill in Sacramento (SB 384), that would give cities the flexibility to let some nightspots stay open until 4 a.m. According to the language in the bill, the statute now calls for every bar in the state to close by 2 a.m. and not reopen until 6 a.m. at the earliest.

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Business Interest in the Public Interest: DisruptDC’s Case for Better Government

Lenny Mendonca
Co-Chair, CA Fwd Leadership Council

Most people — especially those who read this blog — are already aware of the political gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, D.C. Watching Democrats and Republican spend their time arguing with each other and posturing for the camera is frustrating for most of us—-and is no substitute for what most of us want—meaningful progress on the issues that matter to this country.

What is not always so obvious is the negative effect this dysfunction is having on the economy and the business sector. Last year, a Harvard Business School report from Michael Porter concluded that our broken political system is the #1 drag on US economic competitiveness. This paralysis is at the root of countless other issues — and these times require the courage to take meaningful action.

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Midterm Election Voter Turnout Will Influence Type of Initiatives on Ballot

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California describes “missing voters” both in comparing California voter registration to other states and voter turnout problems in midterm elections. Awareness of voter drop off in midterm elections will affect what kinds of initiatives are likely to appear on the 2018 ballot.

The study notes that the voter drop off from presidential elections to midterm elections is historically normal. But the gap in California has been growing.

The PPIC analysis by Eric McGhee concludes that, “the drop in midterm turnout is largely about age.” In other words, younger voters who are eager to express themselves in high profile presidential elections show less desire to vote when there is no presidential contest.

You can go back to long ago political philosophers to understand what that may mean in midterm elections. Often attributed to Winston Churchill, but apparently with roots established by others is the saying: “Anyone who was not a liberal at 20 years of age had no heart, while anyone who was still a liberal at 40 had no head.”

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Can the arts save California?

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)

On every public policy challenge other than climate change regulations, the state seems stuck. We can’t transform our underfunded and underperforming education system to meet the needs of our diverse people, expand our universities to prepare for future economic demands, or build nearly enough affordable housing. Silicon Valley, which still bills itself as savior of California and the world, has revealed itself to be more interested in grabbing our data and selling us ads than in making society better. And the vast majority of Californians don’t even bother to vote, much less engage in civic and neighborhood life. Too many of us are lonely and disconnected.

The state’s arts sector is wrestling with all these same challenges: invasive technology, diversifying demography, fading engagement, stagnant education, scarce public resources, economic inequality. Over the past 18 months (after being assigned to edit a series on arts and society), I stepped out of my usual civic-governmental comfort zone to embark on a crash course in how arts organizations are trying to engage us not only with the arts, but also with each other as citizens and community members.

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Democrats gripe about secrecy in Washington but practice it in Sacramento

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Knowledge, it’s been said, is power. And that explains, in a nutshell, why those in public office fundamentally dislike, and often resist, revealing information to the voting and taxpaying public.

That’s especially evident in Washington, where information is a commodity to be acquired, hoarded and traded – and only reluctantly shared with the larger public.

The flap over the secret drafting of a health care bill in the Republican-controlled Senate is only one of countless examples of how access to information, or the lack thereof, preoccupies the nation’s capital.

While Democrats complain loudly about secret backroom deals in Washington, the Gucci is on the other foot in Sacramento, where their party is dominant.

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The Health Care Issue in California and Beyond

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Good move, Mr. Speaker. The single payer health care measure incorporated in Senate Bill 562 was “woefully incomplete” as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon declared. Rendon’s move to bury the bill in the Assembly Rules Committee was driven by both policy and political concerns. The health care improvements cannot be fixed by one state alone, even one as rich and as powerful as California.

SB 562 has numerous policy problems—“fatal flaws” the Speaker pointed to in his release announcing the bill was dead for now. Among those policy hurdles listed in the release: “financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation.”

Politics was also a problem for Rendon and his majority Democrats. Activists in the Democratic Party have threatened to support or oppose elected officials based on the one vote they make on SB 562. However, many politicians were concerned about voting for a bill that would come with a massive tax increase. Assembly Democrats avoided the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t vote by Rendon’s decision.

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