L.A. “No Sunset” Sales Tax Headed for the Ballot, Can it Get 2/3 Vote?

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

The Los Angeles area business community said they were ready to battle for the half-cent sales tax dedicated for transportation. They better roll up their sleeves and get ready for a tough fight. The reason? The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted 11 -2 to put the tax on the November ballot with no end date, “no sunset” in the parlance of the board.

Dealing with transportation gridlock would grow the economy and create jobs according to many speakers at the board hearing. Representatives from business groups including the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, BizFed, Valley Industry Commerce Association, National Association of Women Business Owners, the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce and others lined up at the microphone in support of the measure.

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Action On Affordable Housing by Governor Brown

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Investing in housing is critical to California’s long-term quality of life and economic competitiveness. That’s why the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the proposal Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled last month to streamline affordable housing and help ease the housing crunch that is devastating the state.

L.A. County needs 500,000 affordable homes and the State of California needs 1,500,000. L.A.’s vacancy rate is the lowest in the nation and 45,000 County residents experience homelessness nightly. The Governor’s plan would allow housing units that match a community’s zoning to be built if they include a certain percentage of affordable housing and ask for no changes that a city department would otherwise need to approve. This proposal mirrors standard land use and development procedure in most cities and states in America. From New York City to urban areas throughout the nation, the Governor’s proposal is the norm. We are an outlier and the Governor’s proposal would fix that.

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Proposition 65 Benefits Californians, And Improved Warnings Are Coming

Lauren Zeise
Lauren Zeise, Ph.D., is the Acting Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of California voters’ approval of Proposition 65. Over the past three decades, this landmark law has provided Californians with significant health benefits by reducing exposures to harmful chemicals. Proposition 65 ensures that Californians are informed about potential exposure to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

Proposition 65 does not ban the use of listed chemicals; instead, it is a “right to know” law. In many cases, that knowledge has served as a powerful incentive for businesses to remove listed chemicals from their products, such as lead from Mexican candy popular with children, lead and cadmium from tableware and jewelry, and cancer-causing acrylamide from potato chips. Reformulations can benefit all Californians—and depending on where reformulated products are sold, consumers across the United States and around the world may benefit as well.

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The U.S. Cities Where Manufacturing Is Thriving

Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires
Joel Kotkin, Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, and Michael Shires, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

Perhaps no sector in the U.S. economy generates more angst than manufacturing. Over the past quarter century, manufacturing has hemorrhaged over 5 million jobs. The devastation of many regional economies, particularly in the Midwest, is testament to this decline. If the information sector has been the golden child of the media, manufacturing has been the offspring that we pity but can’t comfortably embrace.

Yet manufacturing remains critically important. Over the period from 1997 to 2012, labor productivity growth in manufacturing—3.3% per year—was a third higher than the rest of the economy. Clearly manufacturing is no technological laggard, accounting in 2012 for 68.9% of all R&D expenditures by U.S. businesses and employing 36% of the nation’s scientists and engineers, the largest share of any industry.

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Los Angeles Laboratory for Local Tax Increases

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

In the primary election this month 89 local taxes and bonds faced voters. The total is expected to increase in November. In some jurisdictions voters likely will face multiple tax increases dedicated for different purposes.

Los Angeles is a prime example.

Today, the transportation agency known as Metro is considering a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects. Los Angeles already has a sales tax for transportation but it has an end date approaching. No end date on the new tax proposal. In a change of tactics, Metro leaders decided to extend the sales tax on a permanent basis.

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Higher Education Is Path To Raise Incomes

Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine
Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. Ackerman is a former California State Senator and Assemblyman, and Levine is a former U.S. Congressman and State Assemblyman.

Globalization and technological change have shattered many of the economic models that have prevailed since World War II.  This rapid change has driven justifiable concern about income stagnation and the prospects for this and future generations.  Fortunately, there is a positive path forward through higher education, if we don’t take our eyes off the road.

California continues to boast the finest public higher education system in the world.  Our community colleges, California State University and the University of California comprise the three pillars of the Master Plan for Higher Education that has served us well for more than half a century.  These campuses have energized our economy and fueled the innovation and creativity that are hallmarks of the California Dream.   They are a big reason why California has the world’s sixth largest economy.  We can’t afford to take public higher education for granted when the State sets its Budget priorities.

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California’s Homeless Moment

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)

How did homelessness suddenly become such a hot issue across California? There are many reasons, few of which have anything to do with people who are homeless.

Those reasons—economic anxiety, budget surpluses, tax schemes, housing prices, prison reform, health care expansion, urban wealth and political opportunism—have combined to create today’s “homeless moment” in California.

For decades, combating homelessness has been a civic obsession in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its long tradition of progressive politics and generous homeless services. Now, that homeless hubbub has spread statewide. To the surprise of many at the state Capitol, a $2 billion bond to pay for housing for the mentally ill homeless—previously a backburner issue in tax-and-education-obsessed Sacramento—became a central focus of this month’s budget negotiations. And around the state, local law enforcement officials have stirred the pot by claiming that recent measures to reduce the California prison population have exacerbated the homeless problem.

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Primary Vote Signals Trouble for CA GOP Congress Members

Scott Lay
Publisher of The Nooner

With Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter running away from the presumptive nominee, there is a panic at the GOP’s congressional committee, the NRCC. It’s very unlikely that Democrats sweep the 30 seats needed to give Nancy Pelosi the gavel again, but there are seats in play that weren’t a few months ago.

Nobody expected this conversation in this decade following the 2001 redistricting, but here we are. I’ve written before that Democrats were unlikely to capture the House until 2022, but that assertion now must be questioned.

However, nobody expected the number of California Republican members to be in the low-to-mid 50s after the primary. Money needs to go now to Calvert, Hunter, Knight, Valadao, and Walters. These are mostly safe GOP districts (aside from Knight), but the signals are debunking the conventional wisdom. And, then there is Issa, who had perhaps the worst showing for what should be a safe Republican seat, but also is the wealthiest member of Congress.

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I Know I Can Keep That November Ballot Straight

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)

I’m a conscientious California voter, and I take seriously my responsibility to vote on all the ballot initiatives and other measures that people far richer and more powerful than me say are really important.

The first step in fulfilling my civic duty is to know what the measures are, to study them. Everyone tells me that. And I really want to do that.

But I’m having trouble keeping them all straight. Can you help me?

There’s something on the ballot about the banning of plastic bags, and something about prescription drugs. Or is it that I can no longer keep my prescription drugs in plastic bags? Or maybe I’m required to keep the drugs in something stronger, like a condom? Or maybe I only have to do that when I’m on certain film sets in the San Fernando Valley. Where I would never be.

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California’s Plastic Bag Ban On Track for Passage in November

Steven Maviglio
Principal of Forza Communications, a Sacramento-based public affairs/campaign firm

One of the marquee measures in the November election will be the last measure on the ballot: the referendum on Senate Bill 270, the law signed by Governor Jerry Brown to ban single-use plastic bags. Supporters of the ban will be seeking a “Yes” vote.

To date, plastic bag manufacturers have spent $5.96 million toward repealing the ban. According to the California Secretary of State, 99 percent of the contributions are from out-of-state to the inappropriately named “American Progressive Bag Alliance.”

The largest donor is Hilex Poly (also known as Novolex), a South Carolina-based company, which is owned by Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. It has contributed $2.78 million, in addition to continuing to hire Sacramento lobbyists. Interestingly, the company also announced last week that it has begun the manufacturing of recyclable paper bags and has purchased several paper bag companies in addition to a hiring spree – despite the company wrongly stating the ban will cost jobs.

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