Testing All the Arguments on SB 350

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

The Public Policy Institute poll boosted the argument for state governmental action on climate change – or so it seemed. Asked if likely voters agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 respondents liked the idea by 63% to 29%. Asked if the objectives set by SB 350 to require by 2030 that 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy; petroleum use in cars be reduced by 50% and energy efficiency in buildings double, likely voters gave pollsters a loud affirmative: 74% on renewables, 63% on petroleum reduction and 68% on building efficiency.

However, that is as far as the poll went – it did not raise any consequences for the putting such mandates in place so there is no way to know how voters might react if they heard counter arguments.

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Fixing California – The Need For Tax Reform

Gerald Parsky
Gerald L. Parsky is chairman of the Aurora Capital Group and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. In 2009, Gerald served as Chairman of California’s Commission on the 21st Century.

(Editor’s Note: The Hoover Institutions’ EUREKA newsletter this month examines California’s Revenue Conundrum. The following article was one of a series of articles published discussing California’s tax system.)

From 2008 to 2009, California experienced its worse economic recession (dubbed by some as the Golden State’s “Great Recession”) since the tax system was first created in the 1930’s.

During this period, state tax revenues dropped precipitously, resulting in months of political struggle in Sacramento. Consequently, critical, publically-provided goods and services were curtailed and many Californians personally suffered as a result of the state’s budget predicament.  Memories often fade, but I suggest this situation be kept in mind as we assess what has happened since, where we are now, and where we need to go in the future. 

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Opponents of Mandatory Vaccination Bill Continue the Fight

Scott Lay
Higher education Lobbyist and Publisher of The Nooner

Opponents of SB 277, the vaccinations bill, received the green light to begin collecting signatures to ask voters to recall State Senator Richard Pan. Backers need 35,926 signatures by December 31, which is 20% of the votes cast in the election of Pan in 2014. The last successful recall effort was that of Gray Davis in 2003, and the last one to qualify for the ballot was of Jeff Denham in 2007, when he was a state senator.

The lead proponent of the recall is Katherine Duran, a Sacramento parent who has also had a profile fight with her child’s elementary school over Common Core. She and 49 other residents signed the petition that launched the signature gathering effort.

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If You Care About California, Then You Should Care About Salinas

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)

Do you worry about the future of California?

Then you should worry about Salinas. Because if this Monterey County town of 155,000 can’t build itself a brighter future, it’s hard to imagine other struggling places doing the same.

“Rich in Land. Rich in Values. Ripe With Opportunity,” reads the slogan on a city website, and that’s no exaggeration. Salinas might be the richest poor city in California.

So many poor California cities sit well inland, but Salinas is just eight miles from the Pacific. It might have the best weather in the state. It’s part of the prosperous Monterey Bay region, and close enough to Silicon Valley that rising apartment rents have become a problem (a two-bedroom costs more in Salinas than it does in Seattle or Miami). And while many poor California places are rapidly aging, Salinas has the advantage of youth—its average age is less than 30.

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Higher Fees, Bigger Government, Fewer Jobs: Regulation Isn’t The Path To Prosperity

Cristi Nelson
Businesswoman and Candidate for State Assembly

An unfortunate fact of life in California is that every year, new attacks on business emerge from the State Capitol. There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates the damage this mentality has on our state and its working class. We have been recognized as the worst state for business for ten consecutive years by CEO Magazine and maintain one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. United Way of California recently said that 31% of the state’s households struggle each month to meet basic needs. Yet, we see no change in Democrats’ willingness to impose new burdens on businesses.

In fact, new laws that negatively affect our job climate are so common that the California Chamber of Commerce releases an annual list of “Job Killer” proposals, which highlights the worst bills making their way through the Legislature.

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The Uncertain Futures Of Propositions 13 And 30

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

(Editor’s Note: The Hoover Institutions’ EUREKA newsletter this month examines California’s Revenue Conundrum. The following article was one of a series of articles published discussing California’s tax system.)

Two of California’s historical ballot initiatives – one brought by government outsiders to limit government revenue, the other brought by government insiders to expand government revenue – face an uncertain future if changes to these laws appear on the 2016 ballot.

The legendary Proposition 13, passed overwhelmingly by the voters in 1978, was a tax revolt heard round the world. While limiting property taxes in California – to 1 percent of the acquisition price of property with annual tax increases of up to 2 percent depending on inflation – and setting strict vote requirements before other taxes could be raised, Proposition 13 also served as a springboard for centering the tax issue in national politics.  The late Martin Anderson, a Hoover Institution Senior Fellow and top advisor to Ronald Reagan, told me that following the passage of Proposition 13, “The idea of Reagan cutting taxes was now politically viable and rolling. Proposition 13 was a clear political signal that the public was fed up with taxes.”

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Only Voters Can Solve California’s Pension Crisis

Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio
Chuck Reed, a former Mayor of San Jose, is a Democrat. Carl DeMaio, a former Councilmember of San Diego, is a Republican

Despite its growing economy and higher tax revenue, California still faces fiscal ruin from unsustainable government pension programs.

In these good times, the state, local governments, public schools and our universities are raising taxes, boosting tuition and cutting services to pay rising employee retirement costs.  Between 2003 and 2013, combined annual pension costs have nearly tripled, from $6.43 billion to $17.5 billion.

The State Controller also reports nearly $200 billion in unfunded liabilities for state and local pension obligations.  California Common Sense calculates another $150 billion of unfunded liabilities for state and local retiree healthcare obligations.  That’s $350 billion in unfunded legacy liabilities that are driving massive cost increases, again:

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Planned Parenthood Controversy Deserves More Than a Reprimand

Hector Barajas
Director of Strategic Communications at Revolvis Consulting, Political Analyst for Univision and Telemundo, and Communications Consultant for GROW Elect

You couldn’t pick up a newspaper, channel surf television, or visit social media sites without tripping over the latest Planned Parenthood scandal this past week.

In clandestine videos, you saw Planned Parenthood officials haggling over fetal organs and suggesting to ask their surgeons to use procedures that were “less crunchy” in order to keep the child’s body “intact.” They are procedures, they admit, that violate their patient agreements, but at the right price their organization’s objections could be dropped.

From the sidelines, crisis communication specialists observed how this multimillion-dollar, 100-year-old organization with millions of supporters and tremendous political clout would handle its publicity crisis.

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The CTA Empire Strikes Back

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

Emperor Palpatine: There is a great disturbance in the Force.
Darth Vader: I have felt it.
Emperor Palpatine: We have a new enemy, the young Rebel…
Darth Vader: How is that possible?
Emperor Palpatine: Search your feelings, Lord Vader. You know it to be true. He could destroy us. The Force is strong with him.
– Quote (edited for brevity) from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980

There are indeed great disturbances in the force. There are indeed challenges to the imperial monopoly that, for nearly 40 years, has eroded the quality and escalated the costs for California’s system of public K-12 education. And the imperial stormtroopers who enforce their educational edicts on California’s state legislature, its thousands of public school boards, and by extension, millions of parents and children, are all part of an evil empire called the California Teachers Association, or CTA. In plain English, the teachers union.

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State Moonlights as Slumlord

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

If a recent study to determine the safety of 29 state-owned buildings tells us anything, it’s that the state is a terrible landlord. In fact, it may be time for government to get out of the building- owning business.

It shouldn’t take an act of the Legislature to get the state agency in charge of building maintenance to do its job. Without last year’s successful legislative push by former Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, it’s highly unlikely the Department of General Services would have commissioned the study by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum.

A key reason for Dickinson’s legislation was the troubled state Board of Equalization’s headquarters at 450 N St., located a few blocks away from the site of the new Sacramento Kings arena.

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