There’s No Debate: Legislative Analyst’s Fact-Checker Debunks Claims Made by Split-Roll Proponents

Teresa Casazza
President of the California Taxpayers’ Association

It is well known that June 6, 1978 – the day that California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 13 – is a key date in the history of tax policy in California.

Now we can add another important date to our tax history calendar: September 19, 2016, the day that the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office debunked two myths that have long served as the top talking points of those who want to repeal Proposition 13.

In a report titled, “Common Claims About Proposition 13,” the legislative analyst addressed a claim that has been a staple of the “split roll” activists who want to increase property taxes by billions of dollars per year: the claim that Proposition 13 has shifted the property tax burden from business owners to homeowners.

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A Hollywood Action Movie—2016 CA Ballot Propositions

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

Let me pitch you a movie based on that 224-page official state voter guide that’s coming your way. Like many big Hollywood action-thrillers it’s a tale that contains sex, drugs, guns, big money and death. The title: Bad Day in the Ballot Booth–the California Ballot Propositions.

Our protagonist, Politico Joe, is after a big score.

He figures to get it in the drug market either with the legalization of marijuana if PROP 64 passes or dealing in the black market. There are a couple of opportunities in the black market, Joe figures. If PROP 61 fails, the measure that would require the state to pay no more than the Veteran’s Administration for drugs it acquires for state supplied patients, then he’ll try to hoodwink consumers that he can get their drugs cheaper, kind of what the yes campaign is promising.  Or if PROP 56 passes, a $2 tax increase on a pack of cigarettes, there is an opportunity selling cheaper cigarettes on the black market.

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Consumers and Grocers Would Benefit Most By Preserving Bag Tradition

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a Fellow at the California Center for Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

Grocery shopping in California isn’t what it used to be. Traditionally, customers carried their items away in paper bags provided by the store through an unspoken, but well-established and always understood, contract between seller and buyer.

But then government got involved and turned a simple transaction into an irksome task. Now some shoppers have to make an instant decision at the checkout register with impatient eyes glaring at them from behind.

Do they buy a bag, one that had always been part of the exchange before?

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Go Ahead, Russia. Hack Away at California’s Elections.

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)

There’s justifiable worry about whether Russian hackers might disrupt American elections, particularly in crucial swing states, and create questions of legitimacy, or even crisis, around the presidency.

But in California, there’s no reason to worry.

Russia can go ahead and hack our elections. It won’t make any difference.

California has made our elections hack-proof—not because of any technology fix but through decades of making sure our elections don’t matter much.

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Post-debate Wisdom 1.0

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe & Doug Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy and Doug Jeffe, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Hillary passed the Presidential plausibility test. Donald Trump didn’t—but there are still two more debates. Note to Donald: Review Ronald Reagan’s performance in the 1984 first debate (he sleepwalked) and second (Reagan’s terrific comeback, pledging not to make his opponent’s “youth and inexperience” an issue). Reagan and Barack Obama both had poor first debate performances, Obama in 2012 against Mitt Romney. Both improved in subsequent rounds and won their elections going away. One difference is that both Reagan and Obama were incumbents. Trump doesn’t have that edge—which, in today’s political environment is not necessarily a bad thing.

Clinton looked and sounded like a President—despite Trump’s insistence that she “didn’t have the look.”

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First Debate Recap: The Devil Went Down to Hofstra

Reed Galen
Republican political consultant

During the 90 minutes of tonight’s first Presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton demonstrated who they are at their respective cores. Trump, despite a fairly strong first 30 minutes, could not or would not moderate his style as the debate went on. Clinton was not particularly inspiring, but she absolutely knew her stuff and was ready for her opponent at every turn.

In the beginning, there was Donald Trump. And he talked about bad trade deals, and losing American jobs. And it was good. Trump was passionate, almost articulate and willing to go after Clinton (and her husband) for supporting free trade deals for years. He actually aimed his comments at states that he must have to win the presidency — Ohio, New Hampshire and the like. Hillary was fine, but it was a general recitation of talking points (like much of her performance) on an issue that most of us don’t really understand.

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Replacing Boxer: Bipartisan Sanchez Over Ideologue Harris

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

Many believe that California would be better off if we sent Attorney General Kamala Harris to Washington to succeed Barbara Boxer, the 75 year old “junior” senator from California.  But then again, is it fair to the rest of the country to stick the nation with the highly partisan Kamala Harris when Loretta Sanchez is the more qualified candidate?

Kamala Harris’ fatal flaw is that she is a staunch opponent of pension reform.

During the last two years, she has authored unfavorable and biased summaries for two bipartisan ballot measures that would have reformed California’s unsustainable pension plans.  Pension reform is the most important financial issue facing all levels of government as ever increasing pension contributions are required to cover the estimated unfunded liability of up to $500 billion. But these growing contributions are crowding out basic services such as public safety and the repair of our infrastructure as well as progressive initiatives involving education, affordable housing, and services to the homeless. 

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The Case for Limited Government is Now Stronger Than Ever

David Kersten
Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

I have studied U.S. and California politics in particular since the mid-1990s, and believe the case for limited government is stronger now, than at any other time in history.

A series of emerging trends have coalesced to produce a political environment that makes it very unwise to try to enact sweeping policy change in today’s political environment (with the exception of an outright repeal of failed government programs).

A major treatise could be written on the subject, but here are some of the key considerations that led me to this conclusion.

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Transportation Special Session in Gridlock

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

Much like much of the state’s traffic, the legislative special session on transportation/infrastructure is stuck in gridlock. Democratic legislators have a plan to provide $7.5 billion a year in new tax revenue. The governor’s plan also includes tax increases. Republicans want to use current tax revenue more efficiently, cap and trade funds for roads or direct some of the road related monies like truck weight fees directly into road improvements. Neither side budges.

Could this gridlock be altered by the results of November’s elections?

If the Democrats secure the two-thirds majority that would allow them to raise taxes without Republican support, then its game over, right? The Democrats will pass a tax increase and the governor will sign it.

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Economic growth has not “decoupled” from CO2 emissions

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

With the enactment of new climate change regulation through 2030, California leaders are closing ranks to make the economic and business case for more mandates.

The new requirement will reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40 percent below 2020 emissions. On a per capita basis, that’s a reduction of one-half of GHG emissions from today’s levels in 14 years.

Achieving this goal will be challenging in the best of circumstances. After all, much of the relatively easy and least controversial policy choices and behavioral changes have already been baked into the current trajectory to meet the 2020 mandate:

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