Remember When Politicians Didn’t Brag About Their Billionaire Friends?

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 just old enough to remember the days when a politician with a billionaire friend and backer wouldn’t brag about the relationship. When said politician might downplay it. Or avoid mentioning the billionaire. And if pressed, the politician would certainly explain that he or she would never dare shape their public policy work to fit the preferences of the billionaires.

Those days are long gone.

Today, politicians highlight their closeness to billionaires. In California, we have the spectacle of the top legislator in the California State Senate, Kevin de Leon making a spectacle of his relationship with a billionaire, Tom Steyer.

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Media Coverage of California Fuel Markets is Off the Mark

Catherine Reheis-Boyd
President of the Western States Petroleum Association

Tom Elias’s recent column on California gasoline markets repeats a number of preposterous and unsubstantiated allegations and misses the mark entirely in providing his readers any insights into the recent volatility of gas prices in California.

There is ample evidence a short term supply shortage in Southern California has resulted in a supply/demand imbalance.  Those generally higher market prices had the expected result of attracting additional imports of fuel by ship into the Southern California market.

As aggravating as these price spikes are for consumers, they indicate a highly competitive California fuels market driven by the laws of supply and demand.

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Low Voter Turnout Seen Among Fast Growing California Demographic Groups

Correspondent, California Forward

Only one in three eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2016 general election to elect all the statewide offices, congressional representatives and approve initiatives last November, a record low. But, for two of California’s fastest growing groups, the numbers are even more troubling.

“Everyone was quite shocked about that and, of course, very concerned, but we wanted to know with that low of a turnout, what groups that vote even lower — what did they do in this record low context, or how low was their turnout,” said Dr. Mindy Romero, founding director of the California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) at UC Davis.

In this month’s Policy Brief, the CCEP found that, as low as the turnout was for the general population, the turnout from Latino and Asian Americans was even lower.

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AB 96 Tramples On Californians’ Constitutional Property Rights

Partner in the Los Angeles office of Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow & Canter

Like most Californians, I am a fervent supporter of meaningful efforts to combat elephant poaching and cracking down on the black market trade for ivory.

However, as an attorney and resident Californian, I am very concerned about a bill moving through the state legislature that disingenuously claims to attack the illegal ivory trade while at the same time tramples on the most fundamental of constitutional rights.

Specifically, Assembly Bill 96 (Atkins) aims a proverbial elephant gun at the world of ivory by making the sale of nearly any and all ivory illegal – no matter if it was legally acquired or possessed a generation ago. By shifting the focus from importation and sale of new ivory in future commerce, AB 96 essentially devalues property owned by Californians. 

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Testing All the Arguments on SB 350

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

The Public Policy Institute poll boosted the argument for state governmental action on climate change – or so it seemed. Asked if likely voters agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 respondents liked the idea by 63% to 29%. Asked if the objectives set by SB 350 to require by 2030 that 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy; petroleum use in cars be reduced by 50% and energy efficiency in buildings double, likely voters gave pollsters a loud affirmative: 74% on renewables, 63% on petroleum reduction and 68% on building efficiency.

However, that is as far as the poll went – it did not raise any consequences for the putting such mandates in place so there is no way to know how voters might react if they heard counter arguments.

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Fixing California – The Need For Tax Reform

Gerald Parsky
Gerald L. Parsky is chairman of the Aurora Capital Group and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. In 2009, Gerald served as Chairman of California’s Commission on the 21st Century.

(Editor’s Note: The Hoover Institutions’ EUREKA newsletter this month examines California’s Revenue Conundrum. The following article was one of a series of articles published discussing California’s tax system.)

From 2008 to 2009, California experienced its worse economic recession (dubbed by some as the Golden State’s “Great Recession”) since the tax system was first created in the 1930’s.

During this period, state tax revenues dropped precipitously, resulting in months of political struggle in Sacramento. Consequently, critical, publically-provided goods and services were curtailed and many Californians personally suffered as a result of the state’s budget predicament.  Memories often fade, but I suggest this situation be kept in mind as we assess what has happened since, where we are now, and where we need to go in the future. 

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Opponents of Mandatory Vaccination Bill Continue the Fight

Scott Lay
Higher education Lobbyist and Publisher of The Nooner

Opponents of SB 277, the vaccinations bill, received the green light to begin collecting signatures to ask voters to recall State Senator Richard Pan. Backers need 35,926 signatures by December 31, which is 20% of the votes cast in the election of Pan in 2014. The last successful recall effort was that of Gray Davis in 2003, and the last one to qualify for the ballot was of Jeff Denham in 2007, when he was a state senator.

The lead proponent of the recall is Katherine Duran, a Sacramento parent who has also had a profile fight with her child’s elementary school over Common Core. She and 49 other residents signed the petition that launched the signature gathering effort.

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If You Care About California, Then You Should Care About Salinas

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)

Do you worry about the future of California?

Then you should worry about Salinas. Because if this Monterey County town of 155,000 can’t build itself a brighter future, it’s hard to imagine other struggling places doing the same.

“Rich in Land. Rich in Values. Ripe With Opportunity,” reads the slogan on a city website, and that’s no exaggeration. Salinas might be the richest poor city in California.

So many poor California cities sit well inland, but Salinas is just eight miles from the Pacific. It might have the best weather in the state. It’s part of the prosperous Monterey Bay region, and close enough to Silicon Valley that rising apartment rents have become a problem (a two-bedroom costs more in Salinas than it does in Seattle or Miami). And while many poor California places are rapidly aging, Salinas has the advantage of youth—its average age is less than 30.

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Higher Fees, Bigger Government, Fewer Jobs: Regulation Isn’t The Path To Prosperity

Cristi Nelson
Businesswoman and Candidate for State Assembly

An unfortunate fact of life in California is that every year, new attacks on business emerge from the State Capitol. There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates the damage this mentality has on our state and its working class. We have been recognized as the worst state for business for ten consecutive years by CEO Magazine and maintain one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. United Way of California recently said that 31% of the state’s households struggle each month to meet basic needs. Yet, we see no change in Democrats’ willingness to impose new burdens on businesses.

In fact, new laws that negatively affect our job climate are so common that the California Chamber of Commerce releases an annual list of “Job Killer” proposals, which highlights the worst bills making their way through the Legislature.

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The Uncertain Futures Of Propositions 13 And 30

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

(Editor’s Note: The Hoover Institutions’ EUREKA newsletter this month examines California’s Revenue Conundrum. The following article was one of a series of articles published discussing California’s tax system.)

Two of California’s historical ballot initiatives – one brought by government outsiders to limit government revenue, the other brought by government insiders to expand government revenue – face an uncertain future if changes to these laws appear on the 2016 ballot.

The legendary Proposition 13, passed overwhelmingly by the voters in 1978, was a tax revolt heard round the world. While limiting property taxes in California – to 1 percent of the acquisition price of property with annual tax increases of up to 2 percent depending on inflation – and setting strict vote requirements before other taxes could be raised, Proposition 13 also served as a springboard for centering the tax issue in national politics.  The late Martin Anderson, a Hoover Institution Senior Fellow and top advisor to Ronald Reagan, told me that following the passage of Proposition 13, “The idea of Reagan cutting taxes was now politically viable and rolling. Proposition 13 was a clear political signal that the public was fed up with taxes.”

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