The Trouble With Measure EE

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)

California’s schools are woefully underfunded. Taxes on property should be higher. So why am I rooting against Measure EE, the L.A. Unified School District measure on the June 4 special election ballot?

Because process matters when it comes to democracy. And L.A. Unified flunked the basics of process on this measure, even when it didn’t have to.

The measure is the product of the settlement of this year’s teachers’ strike in Los Angeles. After that bitter negotiation, the goal was to go and get voters to approve more money to do all the new things—especially around class size and assistance to schools and teachers—that were issues in the strike.

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Why We Need to Pass Measure EE

Vahid Khorsand
Analyst with BWS Financial Inc. in Woodland Hills and vice president of the Los Angeles Citywide Planning Commission. Former vice chair of the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley.

The Encino Chamber recently honored its 25th Annual Teacher of the Year. I’ve chaired this event, and you know what our teachers of the year “win”? A cart of classroom supplies like markers, paper and paper towels. Things they pay for from their own pockets because of the funding crisis in our local schools.\

I am a businessman. Specifically, I am an analyst who assesses the value of organizations and forecasts trends. I’ve analyzed Measure EE. And I am voting yes because it will deliver value for every community within the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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Gavin Newsom’s Future of Work, and Ours

Michael Bernick
California Labor Department Director from 1999-2004; Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris and a Milken Institute Fellow.

Since his days as a San Francisco Supervisor in the late 1990s, Gavin Newsom has spoken and written about the interplay between technology, government, and employment: how technology  is changing the types and structure of jobs, how it can improve government services, how it can generate greater citizen participation.\

Earlier this month, Newsom, now Governor of California, announced a “Future of Work” Commission, to continue to analyze these dynamics on the state level, especially the job impacts. Given the ongoing national fascination with “future of work”, it is worth saying a word about Newsom’s ideas over the past 20 years, his focus in recent years on job insecurity, and how this Commission might differ from the many other “future of work” committees, conferences, and writings in America today.

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Blue-state California now harassing journalists

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Let’s assume, hypothetically, that an independent journalist working in Washington somehow obtained a confidential FBI report on the death of a prominent Trump administration official that described its lurid circumstances, including the presence of a woman not his wife and the use of illegal drugs that caused, or at least contributed to, his demise.

Let’s also assume that the Justice Department responded to the disclosure by raiding the journalist’s home and confiscating computers and other tools of his trade, hoping to learn who leaked the report.

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New Study: Looking at the Best Ways to Move on Up

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Growing support for the idea of Universal Basic Income is challenged in a new report from the California Business Roundtable (CBRT) which argues that it is better to recognize workers value in society through programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) rather than promote Universal Basic Income “which essentially discards lower-income residents as obsolete resources.”

That assertion was among a number of recommendations offered in the report titled “Jobs, Poverty and Upward Mobility.”

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Why Agriculture Supports Governor’s Plan to End California’s Toxic Taps

Casey Creamer
President & CEO of California Citrus Mutual, a trade organization representing the state's citrus growers.

Turning on the tap and getting clean drinking water is something that most of us take for granted. In larger cities with well-funded utility districts, tap water arrives on demand, around the clock and with a promise of safety. Most city and suburban water is treated to the highest quality standards before delivery to our homes and families. Life is far more complicated for those who live in rural agricultural communities across California. Those residents—their numbers exceed 1 million—often can’t drink the water from their faucets.

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The Joy of Watching a City Embrace Direct Democracy

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)

California is an old and cynical direct democracy. We do little to make the process fairer, more inclusive or more democratic. Our machinations around initiative and referendum are almost always about winning some political advantage.

That’s why I found it so refreshing to visit Mexico City recently and get a firsthand glimpse at the establishment of direct democracy there.

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CalChamber-backed study says service tax would disadvantage California businesses

Judy Lin
CALmatters reporter

Aiming to short-circuit an idea that has long captured the imagination, if not yet the votes, of legislators, a study backed by California Chamber of Commerce has found that adopting a business service tax—i.e., a tax on lawyers, accountants and consultants—would hurt the economy and put the state at a competitive disadvantage.

The 56-page report released Wednesday took aim at Sen. Bob Hertzberg’s SB 522, which would set the stage for updating California’s sales and use tax by expanding the levy to business services. Although the concept of a business services tax has been repeatedly blocked—business interests oppose it and SB 522 hasn’t even been heard this year—Hertzberg has been among policymakers calling on the state to modernize its tax structure, and the Los Angeles legislator’s measure could form the basis of an overall tax overhaul in 2020.

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A New School Funding Measure; Trouble for the Split Roll?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The school establishment is clearly nervous about the viability of the split roll tax increase plan. The California School Board Association is testing the chances of another tax measure for the 2020 ballot that could provide school funding. This measure would take the tried-and-true method of seeking voter approval by taxing “someone else” and avoiding having to do battle over the still warmly embraced Proposition 13.

The proposal would raise taxes on corporations making over $1 million by 5 percent (that’s over a 50% increase in corporate taxes) and increase the personal income tax for individuals making more than $1 million by 1.5 percent. The summary of the measure read to poll respondents highlighted the fact that the tax would fall on “wealthy corporations and individuals.” In other words, someone else.

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A Slow Motion Tax Reform?

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)

Are Gov. Newsom and the Democrats pursuing a tax reform without actually declaring it?

Conventional wisdom is that a big tax reform is impossible politically. It’s just too big a target for too many interests. Gov. Brown seem well positioned to pursue such a reform, but openly admitted that it was too heavy a lift for him.

Gov. Newsom, however, campaigned in favor of tax reform. But he has not yet pursued it.

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