Minimum Wage Debate L.A. Style

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

What if three different studies on the effects of a minimum wage increase in Los Angeles each came up with a different conclusion — who do you trust? That was a question asked at the Town Hall Los Angeles debate Thursday between Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

Toebben said trust your experiences — when wages go up speedily, businesses, especially small businesses, have to cut somewhere. If minimum wage is increased there would be fewer jobs (just as the Beacon Economics study sponsored by the Chamber stated, up to 140,000 fewer jobs over five years.)

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Local School Funding & the Exclusive Electorate

Mark Baldassare
President of the Public Policy Institute of California

State funding for K-12 public education has been rising, but 70 percent of public school parents say it is “not enough” in our April PPIC Survey. Are California voters likely to heed these parents’ calls and support local ballot measures for school funding?

It doesn’t look likely. To begin with, likely voters are much less likely (54%) than public school parents to say that the state’s funding for their local schools is not enough. More important, in our recent poll likely voters and public school parents have starkly different views about specific ways to increase funding—local bonds and local parcel taxes—for their local public schools. Specifically:

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Time to Abolish California’s Income Tax?

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

The last thing overtaxed Californians need is another tax. Yet the Legislature continues to churn out new taxes that, once enacted, rarely go away.

Our economy has been transitioning to a greater reliance on services. As a result, some tax reform groups have argued for expanding the sales tax to include services. On its own, a sales tax on services—like Senate Bill 8 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg—is a terrible idea. It would impose a massive, complicated tax increase on both businesses and consumers. In fact, a recent study found that fully taxing all services would cost California taxpayers as much as $123 billion more each year.

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Pensions Leaving Cities in Holes

Charles Crumpley
Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal

The economy certainly has improved in California.

L.A.’s unemployment rate, 7.6 percent last month, was down a full percentage point from a year earlier. Silicon Beach and Silicon Valley continue to burgeon. There’s such a flurry of building in Los Angeles County that construction costs are soaring, as we chronicled in last week’s Business Journal.

But have you noticed that the improved economy isn’t translating much into improved services from state and local governments? Potholes are still lying in ambush for your tires. There’s still no grand plan to pay the $15 billion needed to improve L.A.’s crumbling water lines. The state still doesn’t have enough prison space, and L.A.’s teachers last week finally were given a raise – after eight years without – but that’s expected to open a $550 million deficit.

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Cal Poly Institute Poll Shows Strong Bipartisan Support for Legislative Transparency Reforms

Sam Blakeslee
Founding Director of the Cal Poly Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy, and a former California State Senator and Assemblyman.

“We the People.” Those first three words of our United States Constitution are as important today as they were at the founding of our nation. For no nation – let alone a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the equality and dignity of all persons – can endure and prosper without the active participation of “we the people” at every level of government.

Far too often, unfortunately, we see and hear a very different story: a government that is arcane and inaccessible, and a public characterized by apathy and cynicism. The public perception that government has become so big, so indifferent and so politicized that one person – citizen or legislator – can no longer make a real difference, has discouraged real participation and oversight by “we the people.”

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Marco Rubio Talks Generational Leadership Change for a New American Century

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

The biggest surprise I had when I listened to Florida senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio at Town Hall Los Angeles Tuesday was that there was no mention of the immigration issue. In California, an epicenter of the immigration debate for decades, I expected someone to ask if Rubio’s view is changing or has changed again since he originally worked on the senate immigration reform then backed away.

There were no questions on the issue from the audience and Rubio did not bring it up in his prepared remarks.

Rubio spoke of America as a special place and proposed a new American Century saying there is no replacement for America on the world stage. You cannot have global prosperity without global security and only America can provide it, he said.

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Gov.’s Exec. Order on Greenhouse Gas Reduction Raises Questions

Rob Lapsley
President, California Business Roundtable

California has been working to implement its current 2020 GHG reduction goals, and we have made great progress.  But at the same time, we are also now able to see the consequences on consumers and our economy – both intended and unintended – of the many different programs and mandates put in place. With the Governor’s announcement of the new 40 percent reduction target, we are now entering a new period of legislative and regulatory uncertainty regarding objectives and costs.

Given our current reductions, can we achieve the new 40 percent reduction targets for 2030? If so, how much will it cost low income and middle class working families and the business community?  Is this a plan where other states and jurisdictions will follow California’s lead on an even more ambitious goal?

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Do You Seek Beauty And Danger In California, But Are Unsure In Which Direction You Can Find It?

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)

West. Just drive west.

Or east.

California is sturdily and reliably connected from north to south by straight, workhorse highways like the Interstate 5, the 99, and the 101. They can be boring yes, but with multiple lanes, center divides, and the various other protections of big modern freeways, they get us there.

But if you want to travel horizontally in this state, from east to west or back, your task will be harder, your risks higher. If you’re heading between major population centers, you might well find yourself on stretches of interstate that rank high in the rankings of most dangerous in the country—I-80 to Nevada, I-10 on your way east to Arizona, and I-15 in the desert approaching Vegas.

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Market Forces Key to Managing Water Crisis

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

“California is short of water, but it’s flooded with headlines about the drought,” former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said kicking off USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute and the Public Policy Institute of California program on the state’s drought. The goal of the program was to look at the truth behind the headlines and find some answers to deal with the drought.

Many solutions were suggested but one that seemed to dominate during the long afternoon program was the expectation that market forces would compel the moves necessary to deal with the drought.

Tim Quinn, Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies, responding to the headlines that said farmers use 80 percent of the water and almonds are somehow the villains because it takes a gallon of water to grow one almond, said, “Let’s not have this silly numbers debate.”

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Top 5 Captions for Brown Snake Photo

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)

Jerry Brown Snake-1








  1. “He was trying to penetrate the Prop 2 formula.”
  2. “He was a Schwarzenegger appointee to the Board of Regents.”
  3. “He told Anne in Latin, Nequaquam morte moriemini.”
  4. “He said he could fill Kamala’s place as A.G. when she wins the Senate seat, but under questioning, he didn’t really offer a coherent theory of the law.”
  5. “I didn’t appreciate him going around my back to sign up Democrats for a Prop 30 extension.”
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