The Medi-Cal Mess

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

California’s health program for the poor and disabled, Medi-Cal, has presented state lawmakers with quite a perplexing paradox. More and more people fall under the protection of Medi-Cal and need a doctor but fewer and fewer doctors are accepting the low fees associated with the program. While a simple solution may appear to be increasing the size of the Medi-Cal budget, Medi-Cal is already stretching the state budget and squeezing other programs. Thus, dealing with the Medi-Cal mess has become a real problem for state lawmakers and the governor.

As former Gov. Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane pointed out in a Sacramento Bee op-ed, “Medi-Cal’s share of spending has grown 35 percent since Brown took office and now consumes one-sixth of the budget.”

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More Supply, Less Regulation Is Path Through Housing Crisis

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

The California political establishment has passed the Fitzgerald Intelligence Test – that’s the author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who in 1936 had this observation: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

In California, that would be the ability to decry income stagnation, wealth inequality, and an embarrassing poverty rate – turning to minimum wage hikes, high wealth taxes, and housing subsidies for solutions.  And, at the same time, supporting multiple avenues for the powerful or the clever to insist on their own vision of a “quality of life,” manifesting as extraordinary litigation tools, exclusionary zoning, and underinvestment in public infrastructure.

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California Regulators Ignore Science, Magnify Drinking Water Shortage

Stephen DeMaura
President of Americans for Job Security

In 1983, the Durand Express reported that the city of Durand, Michigan’s water pipes were contaminated with dihydrogen oxide. More alarming, dihydrogen oxide was the main component in acid rain, contributed to the “greenhouse effect” and caused erosion in natural landscapes, the hoax went.

Of course, dihydrogen oxide is more commonly known as water.

Without science, we are susceptible to let fears and ignorance dominate decision-making. Such is the case with the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) rule governing perchlorate.

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State Assembly Approves Plan To Bring Back Kelo-Style Redevelopment

John Hrabe
Writer and Communications Strategist

Redevelopment agencies would once again have the power to seize private property for big developers under a bill that passed the California State Assembly earlier this month.

Assembly Bill 2, authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would give local governments the power to create new entities that would have the same legal authority as redevelopment agencies. These new Community Revitalization Investment Authorities would have the power to issue bonds, award sweetheart deals to businesses and “acquire and transfer property subject to eminent domain,” according to the legislative analysis of the bill.

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Memorial Day

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

In observance of Memorial Day, we will not publish on Monday, May 25th. Have a great long weekend.

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Remember When Brown Was For Local Control?

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)

When I used to write that Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t have much of a plan or an idea behind his second go-round as governor, the protests came back hard. No, no, he’s for local control.

The case for Brown as champion of the locals went like this. He did realignment in criminal justice to give the locals control. His new funding formula for schools included provisions for community plans that would give communities more control. And he was for changes in energy that would empower citizens and communities.

Now, not so much. Brown has doubled down on command-and-control targets from Sacramento on energy efficiency and the environment. Those school community plans? They’re a farce, forcing parents to answer prescribed questions; they can’t honestly be called plans. His much-touted rainy day fund measure limited school districts’ ability to manage their own finances. And realignment – it’s meant more responsibility for locals, but Brown never gave locals the money – or the freedom to raise it.

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All that Analysis of the Glazer Victory

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

According to the Democratic Party analysis of Steve Glazer’s victory in Senate District 7, Glazer ran a “cynical” campaign appealing to Republicans and, “We know that low turnout elections favor Republicans. When Democratic voters show up and vote, Democrats win.”

I suppose one way to interpret that analysis is that those who only pay attention part time to politics or are not engaged in public affairs and don’t bother to vote in important off-year elections vote for Democrats when they do vote. Some might argue that is a formula for our government’s dysfunction, but that would be cynical and the Democratic analysis already used that term in describing Steve Glazer’s campaign. Both approaches couldn’t be cynical, could they?

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LA Finally Wises Up On ADA Compliance

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

In April, the City of Los Angeles reached a deal to repair the city’s broken and crumbling sidewalks, at a cost of more than $1 billion over 30 years. Just how bad are the city’s sidewalks? One city estimate found that 40 percent of the city’s sidewalks needed to be fixed.

A plan to fix the sidewalks of Los Angeles was way overdue. Why? Because the poor state of the city’s sidewalks invited lawsuit after lawsuit against the city, at a cost of roughly $5 million per year. That’s $5 million every year that wasn’t going to fix sidewalks, or to fund any other vital city services, such as police or fire protection. Much of that money went into the pockets of personal injury lawyers, instead of funding services that taxpayers need.

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California Environmental Quality Act, Greenhouse Gas Regulation and Climate Change

David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez are attorneys in the California environmental and land use practice group of Holland & Knight LLC, an international law firm.

(Editor’s Note: This is the introduction to a new report, California’s Social Priorties, from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy. The report is authored by David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez. Read the full report (pdf).)

California has adopted the most significant climate change policies in the United States, including landmark legislation (AB 32)2 to lower state green- house gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Proposed new laws, and recent judicial decisions concerning the analysis of GHG impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), may soon increase the state’s legally mandat- ed GHG reduction target to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.3 The purpose of California’s GHG policies is to reduce the concentration of human-generated GHGs in the atmosphere. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other scient.c organizations have predicted that higher GHG atmospheric concentra- tions generated by human activity could cause catastrophic climate changes.

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How Will Business React to L.A. Minimum Wage Boost?

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

The Los Angeles City Council tentatively voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The business community opposed the move. How business will react is unclear but there was much discussion during the debate over the issue about lost jobs and eyeing more friendly business locations.

The wage increase is to be phased in over time so the immediate impact may not be felt. Businesses ought to keep score when the effects hit so officials will be cognizant of the consequences. By no means cheerleading for negative effects here, but if the wage increase doesn’t cause economic disruptions and it appears business’s challenge to the dramatic increase in the minimum wage is just an exercise in rhetoric, the business communities credibility will suffer.

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