An Unhealthy Dependence on the Rich

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Upper-income taxpayers are paying the highest share ever of the California personal income tax.

This is good news in good times, but underscores the need for Proposition 2, the rainy day reserve measure placed on the November ballot by the Legislature at the Governor’s request.

Data recently released by the Franchise Tax Board – with the first year of Proposition 30 tax increases in the books – shows taxpayers with more than $200,000 in tax liabilities paid a record 70 percent of all personal income taxes. This exceeds the previous high of 66 percent in 2007.

kaye-tax share

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Keep Hint of Prosecutorial Action Out of Legitimate Political Debates

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

In the war of words over an attempt to stall the extension of AB 32’s cap-and-trade to transportation fuels, liberal groups sent a public letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris asking her to keep an eye out for collusion by oil companies in price fixing. This premature advisory (the law doesn’t take effect until January) is part of the political debate, yet it is designed to quash political debate.

Unfortunately, there has been a move in this country to use the courts and criminal prosecution to undermine political opponents. That can be seen most recently in the truly strange indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for vetoing the budget of the Public Integrity Unit in Travis County around Austin. The Wall Street Journal’s Monday editorial pointed to prosecutorial actions in both Texas and Wisconsin as political lowball. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said the Perry prosecution “is another example of the criminalization of party differences. This idea of an indictment is an extremely dangerous trend in America.”

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Paper Bag Fee Impacts Everyone

Kyle Smith
General Manager, Paper Bag Business at International Paper

International Paper Operates 27 Facilities in California With More Than 2,500 Employees

For decades, grocery stores offered safe, sustainable paper bags to customers without taxes or fees. Now, due to the debate surrounding the ban on plastic bags, many consumers across the state are being charged 10 cents per paper bag. As the State Legislature now debates a statewide proposal to ban single use plastic bags they should evaluate all the potential impacts of creating a new tax when asking for paper bags.

Paper bags are made from a renewable resource, are 100 percent compostable, fully recyclable and completely reusable. Most paper bags manufactured in the United States are certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the Forest Stewardship CouncilTM (FSC®), third-party forestry standards. Each paper bag has an average of 40 percent recycled content and can easily be recycled to create other paper products. In fact the recycling recovery rate for paper products is over 65 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In comparison, plastic bags are only recovered at a 10 percent rate. Paper bags’ higher recovery rate is due to the voluntary efforts and investments of the paper industry to recover their own products. We believe consumers should not be taxed for an item that is manufactured in a sustainable and responsible manner.

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On the Goal Line

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

As we enter the start of football season, I always look forward to watching a team march down the field with pinpoint passes and well executed running plays to score the winning touchdown with seconds left on the clock. This scenario acts as an effective metaphor for AB 1839 – The Film and Television Tax Credit program which will grow middle class jobs in California.

It’s been a long march down the field this legislative session with Assemblymembers Bocanegra & Gatto quarterbacking our efforts. The Chamber and other organizations have been blocking with precision to move the ball forward.  We effectively outlined the economic benefits and job protection the program will generate. We also clearly detailed the very real negative impacts if California does not take action and allows production jobs to leave for New York, Louisiana, Georgia and other locales. This game plan gained one yard and one vote at a time. 

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Stop Bullying Charter School

Rabbi Mark Blazer is the founder of Albert Einstein Academy. Dr. Jeffrey Shapiro is the CEO of the Albert Einstein Academy. Both are residents of Stevenson Ranch and are parents of recent graduates and current students of AEALAS.

Imagine if your student was being bullied at school. As parents, we would take the necessary steps to prevent this unacceptable behavior and alert school administrators. Often times, it’s simply name-calling or teasing. However, what may be perceived as an unintended act can quickly turn into an unfortunate situation when a schoolyard bully uses his or her own strength or influence to intimidate another student.

Fortunately, every school district in California has established set policies prohibiting student bullying from occurring on campus. Strategies for bullying prevention and intervention have been developed within school communities to protect students from physical and emotional harm.

But can “bullying” solely be defined as student-on-student activity? Consider if this same type of intimidation and aggressive behavior was orchestrated by a gang of school district superintendents against a high-performing charter school.

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The 2014 Primaries: Crushing The Tea Party

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

The 2014 primaries are now pretty much over and the Tea Party has lost every contest where it tried to oust an incumbent Republican.  As a political force in America, the Tea Party now is only a shadow of its former self, although the more liberal media will likely continue to prop it up to embarrass Republicans.

Early in the cycle Tea Party allied groups selected six GOP senators and one congressman for defeat, claiming they were all too “moderate.”  Their biggest target was Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi, but they also went after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho.  They also tried to nominate Tea Party types for the Senate in Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma.  They fell short in every race.

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High Speed Rail Leaves African-Americans At The Station: Black Firms Awarded Only 3% Of Contracts Dollars

Aubry Stone
President of the Black Chamber of Commerce

One of the selling points of the bullet train was that the California High Speed Rail Project would result in contracts and jobs desperately needed throughout the state. African-Americans praised the Project’s potential economic impact as their unemployment is twice the state average and in some cities almost triple.

After officially filing a complaint with the Federal Rail Administration that resulted in the Rail Authority being required to set disadvantaged business enterprise (ethnic minorities and women) contract goals, many thought this would heighten opportunities for African-Americans. Not so according to three reports filed by the Rail Authority to the Federal Rail Administration. Just under $38 million via five (5) contracts were awarded to African-American firms between 2012-2014. During that same period, the Rail Authority awarded over $1.13 billion through 106 contracts.

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Higher Education Funding is Unfinished Business for State Legislature

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.

Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins and her colleagues in the Assembly Budget Committee deserve kudos for passing SB872 to restore $100 million in desperately needed funding for California State University and the University of California. The Senate Budget Committee, in rejecting SB 872, got it wrong.

Speaker Atkins understands public higher education is our engine for growth and opportunity, and we applaud her leadership, along with her colleagues. The State Senate needs to follow suit. This leaves public higher education funding as a major piece of unfinished business for the state Legislature before August 31.

Here’s the background. The 2014-15 State Budget deal signed by Governor Brown proposed one-time additional monies for UC and CSU that would be triggered should the state receive higher than anticipated property tax revenues. Well, the state’s General Fund balance did receive a $400 million surplus from streams other than property taxes. Atkins is advocating restoration of the funding.

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LA: America’s Most Hostile Work Environment?

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

In January, the LA 2020 Commission’s report, A Time for Truth, pointed out that the City of Los Angeles had 10% fewer jobs than two decades ago despite a 30% increase in its population.  We also have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country with almost 20% of our residents living in poverty.

Good paying manufacturing and entertainment industry jobs have been replaced with jobs in the “relatively low-wage fields of education services, healthcare, and hospitality.”  As a result, median income is lower today than it was in 2007.  At the same time, major corporations like ARCO, Union Oil, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing have been acquired or moved to more business friendly environments.

You would think that job creation would be Job Number One for the City Hall. 

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A Brown-Kashkari Debate – If Only

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

It may not exactly be the Lincoln-Douglas debates, but a Brown-Kashkari debate would be worth watching. The Kashkari campaign issued a press release last week saying that candidate Kashkari has agreed to five debate invitations yet Governor Brown has not accepted any.

Debates have come a long way since the legendary confrontation between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas vying for a United States Senate seat in Illinois. It can safely be said that the modern debate would not resemble those debates of the 1850s because as a nation we’ve lost attention span for such debates. The Lincoln-Douglas debates, which were more or less stump speeches, lasted three hours.

In the age of Twitter, modern debates are shorter, sharper, but rarely offer deep policy discussions. However, you can find similarities to those long ago Illinois debates, which contained humor, insults, and verbal dodges.

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