The ‘Use It or Lose It’ Label Now Applies to Mental Health Funding

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

The number one concern for Californians is the homeless crisis. One of the chief concerns expressed by homeless advocates is that many people on the streets need help with mental health issues. Governor Gavin Newsom put in money to help confront the mental health issue in his new budget, yet, at the same time, the governor revealed that a half-a-billion dollars collected for mental health services is unspent.

The governor is telling the counties now, ‘Use it or Lose it.’

The mental health money in question sits with the counties, received from the Proposition 63 millionaire’s tax passed by voters in 2004, dedicating revenue to confront the growing mental health problem. The problem has only grown larger since then but hundreds of millions of dollars to deal with the mental health issue goes unspent.

Once again, taxpayers must question government management of  tax dollars. Unfortunately, it’s an old, familiar story.

Newsom threatened to take the money away from the counties if they don’t respond quickly. “We still have people sitting on a lot of reserves. They need to spend it, or we’re going to revert those dollars back to the state and reinvest it,” Newsom said.

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Under Proposition 13, Property Tax Revenue Far Outpaces Inflation and Population Growth

Jim Rooney
Amador County Assessor.

In the past year there have been calls for the modification or elimination of Proposition13, which governs how property assessments are determined. As a county assessor, I want to stress that my main concern is getting property assessments right, without regard to revenue. But I also want to share some data concerning Proposition 13 and why I strongly support it.

Obviously, revenue from property taxes is very important to county governments and the local schools, but none of us should have to pay more in taxes because of an overspending state government with onerous local mandates.

Yearly, I gather and compile state statistics concerning property taxes. There are three key figures –based on verifiable, specific numbers – that demonstrate the strength of the revenue source from property taxes. The three figures are percentages are for population, inflation and revenue from property taxes in California over the past four decades. From 1980 through 2018, Population is up 66.47 percent.•Inflation is up 219.23 percent.•Property tax revenue is up 908.70 percent. 

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California energy policies are fueling the housing crisis and homelessness

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

California’s green crusade direction and actions are increasing the costs of electricity and fuels which guarantees growth of the homeless, poverty, and welfare populations, and further fuels (no pun intended) the housing affordability crisis. 

It’s scary that our leaders can’t “see” that the regressive energy policies have serious consequences for working families. Their misguided directives are intertwined with every aspect of daily life and is causing the continuous growth of poverty and homelessness from the Oregon state line on the north all the way to the Mexican border on the south.

California professes to be the leader of everything, but spouting voracious pride of being the only state in America that imports most of its crude oil energy from foreign countries, and the State that and imports more electricity than any other state, may not be in the best interest of California’s 5th largest economy in the world. Its fine to import when you get bargain rates, but both oil and electricity, are two commodities that are ultra-expensive to import and drives up the cost of everything.

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Newsom’s 2020-21 Budget – A Big Pie, But Empty Calories

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.

Governor Newsom has unveiled his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2020-21, and it comes in at a whopping $222 billion. That’s up from $209 billion last year, and sharply up from a few years ago. Backing up a decade, the 2010-11 budget totaled $130 billion. What on earth could justify a 70 percent increase in spending in just ten years?

Shown below is the shocking growth in California’s state budget over the past forty years. The chart includes not only general fund spending, along with special funds and bonds, but also federal funds which are not included in the $222 billion total, but which are administered by the state and spent in California.

As can be seen, the growth hasn’t been uniformly up. There was a drop during the mild recession in the mid 1990s, another one in 2004-2005, and a plunge during the great recession that affected 2011 through 2014. But overall, spending growth over the past 40 years looks a bit like the proverbial hockey stick.

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Change in Priorities for California Voters

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

The new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows a continuing trend in voters moving their top priority in state spending from K-12 education to health and human services. The homelessness issue is undoubtedly fueling that movement. 

Looking at the current PPIC poll issued yesterday, there is little space between voters’ choosing the top two concerns for California government spending. PPIC asked likely voters which area of state government spending should be the top priority. Likely voters chose health and human services at 40%; K-12 public education 38%; higher education 12% and prisons and corrections 7%. All Adults polled broke dead even on health and human services and K-12 public education at 39% apiece. 

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Leading California Democrats Try to Govern. National Democrats Don’t Like That

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 Democrats will never be woke enough to match national Democratic leaders.

As the California presidential primary approaches, the gap between Democrats who run California and those who seek to run the United States is growing.

Gov. Newsom and other leading Democrats in Sacramento keep spending low and build rainy day funds. The leading presidential contenders are competing with each other to spend trillions on new programs, without making clear how they’ll pay for it.

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Californians have subsidized Hollywood for a decade. Has it been worth it?

Adria Watson Watson
Adria is a senior at Sacramento State University where she is majoring in journalism. She wrote this for CalMatters.

When Oscar night rolls around, Californians rooting for “Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story,” or “Ford v Ferrari” will be able to thank themselves as well as the Academy. In all three cases, Golden State audiences not only paid for the movie tickets and Netflix subscriptions underwriting their production, but also let their tax dollars be leveraged by movie studios to produce those Best Picture nominees in-state.

Intended to promote and help keep film and TV production in California, the state’s Film & Television Tax Credit, now in its third iteration, just celebrated its 10th year in business. Once controversial, it has become, over the years, a sort of “Titanic” of fiscal programs — sprawling, sentimental and popular across the political spectrum despite its formidable expense.

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Give Moms a Break or Suffer Costs

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

I’ve asked a dozen or so business operators in recent months if they’ve created lactation rooms yet. Most of them have given me a blank stare, with several saying they were unaware of the new state law, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Alas, inaction could be costly. The reason: If an employer does not provide private rooms for nursing mothers, the new statute allows employees to file suit under the Private Attorney General Act. PAGA suits are frightening to business operators because they can elevate what would be a routine fine from the state into a legal fight in court that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe a million or more, to settle.

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Tax Reform and the Strength of the Pragmatic Angel

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

At his budget press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom was asked what he plans to do about tax reform. According to one account, the governor said that the state desperately needs to change the tax structure and added, “I can be stubborn. I can be pragmatic. Here, I’m stubbornly pragmatic.”

He can be stubborn in demanding certain changes but the pragmatic side softens stubbornness because it calculates what can actually be accomplished. If he has a stubborn devil perched on one shoulder and a pragmatic angel on the other it seems that the pragmatic angel has the governor’s ear.

Spending interests, particularly representing schools, have reached out to the governor to come up with a tax solution that might avoid big-time battles over tax increase ballot initiatives going forward. These interests want Newsom to drive a tax package through the legislature before the November ballot is finalized. 

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Thoughts About the California Presidential Primary

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

With the withdrawal of California’s junior Senator Kamala Harris from the presidential race, the state will not have a “favorite daughter” on the ballot in March.

Hers was a strategic decision as much as a financial imperative after a steep decline in her ability to raise funds with the all-important Iowa Caucus looming in less than 4 weeks where most candidates are focusing their resources.

Given the growing likelihood of a poor showing in the traditional first-in-the-nation presidential contest which carries considerable weight a bad loss there would have effectively ended her campaign. It was a risk the Harris forces wisely rejected.

Taking a leaf from President Obama’s winning playbook in both 2008 and 2012, the idea was to hold on long enough to capture the South Carolina primary a few weeks later in a state which offers a far more diverse demographic including a very large African-American voter population.

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