How Will Business React to L.A. Minimum Wage Boost?

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

The Los Angeles City Council tentatively voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The business community opposed the move. How business will react is unclear but there was much discussion during the debate over the issue about lost jobs and eyeing more friendly business locations.

The wage increase is to be phased in over time so the immediate impact may not be felt. Businesses ought to keep score when the effects hit so officials will be cognizant of the consequences. By no means cheerleading for negative effects here, but if the wage increase doesn’t cause economic disruptions and it appears business’s challenge to the dramatic increase in the minimum wage is just an exercise in rhetoric, the business communities credibility will suffer.

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A California Columnist in Arab Spring’s Court

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)

Living in an exceptional place is hard work. Especially when your place needs big changes.

Californians know this well. We feel such an obligation to live up to our reputation as “The Great Exception” among U.S. states, as the writer Carey McWilliams famously called us, that we routinely embrace novel schemes that other American places run from, like a $70 billion high-speed rail project.

People in Tunisia, where I spent last week, know the pressures of exceptionalism too. The North African country of 11 million is where the Arab Spring began four years ago with the toppling of a four-decade-old dictatorship, and it’s the only Arab Spring country that has made the transition to democracy. It’s also blessed with an economy that is open to the outside world, an army that doesn’t aspire to rule the country, a strong civil society, and a tradition of women’s equality.

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21st Century California Careers

Bill Watkins
Executive Director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University

California is undergoing profound change.  Most strikingly, people are leaving the Golden State, which was once the preferred destination of migrants worldwide.  California’s domestic migration has been net negative for over 20 years.  That is, for 20 years, more people have been leaving California for other states than have been arriving from other states.  The state’s population is only growing because of a relatively high birthrate, mostly among immigrants.

Domestic migration is not a one-way street.  It may be net negative, but lots of people are coming to the state.  It’s just that more are leaving. Generally speaking, low and middle-income people are leaving.  Those coming tend to be wealthier and older than those leaving.  They are people who can afford California’s higher costs and limited opportunity.  These migratory trends are increasing income-inequality in America’s most unequal state.

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Lorena Gonzalez Leads Party Into Workers’ Comp Fight

John Hrabe
Writer and Communications Strategist

Lorena Gonzalez doesn’t shy away from a fight.

After less than two years in the state Assembly, the former San Diego labor organizer has established herself as the state’s leading advocate for workers.

Last year, Gonzalez successfully authored legislation to force companies – large and small – to provide paid sick leave to nearly all of their employees. This year, she’s urging Democrats to wade into a politically-sensitive fight over the state’s workers’ compensation system.

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How Steve Glazer Won

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Mindful of the millions they spend electing Democrats, the public employee unions expect legislators to act like the old Soviet-era nomenklatura, compliant toadies who do what they are told.  So when one gets out of line it’s big deal.  Democratic special election candidate Steve Glazer dared do so, and labor spent $3.5 million trying to keep him out of the State Senate.  Last night Glazer won with 55 percent of the vote, and labor lost.

So how did he do it?  Glazer had crossed labor by helping elect Democrats not on their approved list.  He was blackballed as a political consultant, and then when he tried to run himself for the Assembly in 2014, labor unloaded on him and in the process managed to blow a winnable Assembly seat.  And then much to the surprise of the unions, he jumped into the special election for an open Senate seat in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this spring.

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Californians See the Housing Affordability Crisis as a Threat to the California Dream

Carson Bruno
Research Fellow, The Hoover Institution

This is an abridged version of an article that appeared in the May/June 2015 Issue 1502 of the Hoover Institution’s Eureka – a bi-monthly publication on relevant California policy topics. To read the full Issue 1502, visit Eureka. To read more about the Golden State Poll, click here.

California’s housing prices are the 2nd highest in the country (second only to Hawaii); according to Zillow, Californian home values and rental prices are roughly 2½ times and 1½ times, respectively, the national averages. Homeownership is a signifier of upward economic mobility, but many Californians cannot afford these daunting prices threatening the California Dream.

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Dick Mountjoy and the “Bob’s Big Boy Poll”

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

Former legislator Dick Mountjoy was a “Prop 13 baby,” a strong supporter of the measure when elected to the assembly for the first time the year when the Proposition 13 property tax reform was on the ballot.

During his campaign for his first office he heard all the official opposition to the measure from the governor on down but he insisted Proposition 13 would pass. He said he knew this because of the “Bob’s Big Boy Poll.”

Mountjoy explained that he would go into the Bob’s Big Boy restaurants and listen to the conversations of average citizens sitting around the tables and lunch counters. He heard the anger over property taxes that were threatening home ownership. Mountjoy knew from the reaction he heard in his restaurant visits that Prop 13 would pass and that he was right to support it.

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In LA, What They’re Not Telling You About Tax Increases

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, otherwise known as Metro, will most likely place on the November 2016 ballot a measure that would permanently increase our sales tax by a half cent to 9½%, one of the highest rates in the country.

If this measure is approved b y at least two-thirds of the voters, these new revenues, along with almost $3 billion in existing sales tax revenues, including those from Measure R that was approved in 2008, would help Metro fund over $100 billion in transportation related projects.  

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Why California Needs More Police

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)

You wouldn’t know it by watching all the news about police-community conflict, or by going to protests against police racism and militarization, or by tracking all the Sacramento legislation on the use of force by law enforcement. But California’s biggest problem when it comes to policing remains the same: There isn’t enough of it.

Of course, issues of police misconduct are real and serious, as recent stories from the racist police texts in San Francisco to the shooting of an unarmed homeless man in L.A. make plain. But underlying—and contributing to—these issues is the fact that California lacks the manpower necessary for the smart, effective policing of our very diverse and complicated communities.

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Air Board Asks Courts to Create New Tax

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

In a landmark case before the Third District Court of Appeal, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently argued for creation of an unprecedented tax doctrine that could raise billions of dollars in new revenues. The ARB described the new revenue not as a tax or a fee (or any other recognized revenue-raising mechanism), but as a “byproduct” of a regulatory program.

The case, California Chamber of Commerce v. California Air Resources Board, challenges the legality of the cap-and-trade auction ARB set up as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to meet goals outlined in AB 32, the climate change law.

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