Oil and Gas Industry a Pillar of California’s Economy

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

When thinking of the industries and businesses that drive the economy and image of the Golden State, Hollywood, the Silicon Valley and Agriculture come immediately to mind, but looking at hard numbers, oil and gas exploration and production have to be included in this group. The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation conducted a study commissioned by the Western States Petroleum Association to analyze the oil and gas pillar of the state’s economy. Simply put, it’s big.

According to the study, the oil and gas industry is responsible for 188,500 direct jobs and 468,000 total jobs when you consider the multiplier effect that ripples through the economy when products are produced and workers are paid. The economic stimulus also accounts for revenue flowing into state and local government coffers. The study indicates that the industry provides $21.6 billion in state and local tax revenue and $15 billion in federal taxes.

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In Today’s California, the Dude—Once the Quintessential Outsider—Has Become the Mainstream

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 we becoming a state of Lebowskis?

Jeffrey Lebowski, better known as the Dude, is arguably the most successful fictional Californian of the past two decades. Created by the Coen brothers in their 1998 film The Big Lebowski, and embodied by the actor Jeff Bridges, Lebowski became a cult favorite for being an outsider (in his own words, not a member “of the square community”). He was a stoner who drank White Russians, wore a bathrobe to the grocery store, bowled, tangled with pornographers and German nihilists, was indifferent to work, and retired the trophy for most laid-back Angeleno ever.

But times have changed since the movie was made (and since 1991, when it was set). And so has California. This weekend, Bridges and his country-rock band, The Abiders, headline Lebowski Fest Los Angeles at the Wiltern Theater. Tickets, priced at $40, are sold out, though as of this writing $25 tickets for the Lebowski Fest bowling party in Fountain Valley are still available.

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Turn Of The Screwed: Does The GOP Have A Shot At Wooing Disgruntled Millennials?

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

Over the past five years, the millennial generation (born after 1983) has been exercising greater influence over the economy, society and politics of the country, a trend that will only grow in the coming years. So far, they’ve leaned Democratic in the voting booth, but could the lousy economic fate of what I’ve dubbed “the screwed generation” lead to a change?

Just look at these numbers. Since 2008, the percentage of the workforce under 25 has dropped by 13.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while that of people over 55 has risen by 7.6%. Among high school graduates who left school in 2009-11, only 16% had full-time work in 2012, and 22% worked part time although most sought a full-time job.

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How Will “Ambush” Union Elections Affect Silicon Valley’s Libertarians?

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

Despite being one of the biggest strongholds of Democratic power in the United States, there are almost no unions representing private sector workers in the Silicon Valley. But a new NLRB ruling that takes effect next month is going to make it much easier to organize workers. Here, quoting from a March 26th Inside Counsel article entitled “Proposed ambush election rule from NLRB said to favor unions,” is a summary of the new rules:

  • Opponents to a union drive would have as few as 10 days to campaign against unionization – as opposed to the 42 days now given to them.
  • Employers have to file a “Statement of Position” within seven days or lose the right to pursue any issues.
  • Requiring nonunion employers to provide employee personal information such as home addresses, e-mail addresses, home phone numbers and cell phone numbers to the union.
  • Ending a 25-day waiting period before holding an election.
  • Letting workers vote even if eligibility is challenged. Legal action would have to wait until after the election.
  • Employers would no longer have an automatic right to a review of contested issues.
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California Needs A Bright-Line Test for Determining Residency for Tax Purposes

David Kline
Vice President of Communications and Research, California Taxpayers Association

“Where do you live?” This seemingly straightforward question has been the source of major contention between taxpayers and the Franchise Tax Board for many years, resulting in time-consuming appeals, exhausting searches for documents and witnesses, significant audit resources, and, in some cases, expensive litigation. It is time for the state to end the confusion by establishing a bright-line test for determining whether a person is or isn’t a California resident for income tax purposes.

Inventor Gilbert Hyatt’s recent federal civil rights suit against members of the FTB and the State Board of Equalization brought the residency issue back to the front burner, but the issue started causing headaches long before the dispute between Mr. Hyatt and the FTB started more than 20 years ago.

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Who Was That Fellow on the Train?

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)

Did I see a unicorn? Or was that really a California petition circulator being paid hourly?

I was riding the Gold Line, one of the Metro trains in Los Angeles, in Little Tokyo with my son last month when I was approached by a petition circulator, carrying a clipboard full of statewide ballot initiatives.

The circulator was pushing two health care initiatives back by SEIU-UHW – one to cap what hospitals can charge, another to cap CEO salaries at nonprofit hospitals.

This was the first time I’d encountered a circulator on a train, and I engaged him in conversation. He said he often worked the train. Then I asked him, as I often do with circulators, what circulators were being paid per signature.

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CA Fwd Releases Report On How To Build Stronger Budget Reserve

Justin Ewers
Research Associate, CAFwd.org

By calling a special legislative session today to focus lawmakers’ attention on creating a more robust budget reserve, Gov. Brown has demonstrated his commitment to strengthening California’s fiscal condition—and to ensuring the state, with years of double-digit deficits fading into memory, sets aside enough money for the next rainy day.

The question now is: What is the most effective way to get this done?

In a new report released today, Ending the Boom and Bust: How to Build a Stronger Budget ReserveCalifornia Forward offers a range of ideas lawmakers should consider to protect major state programs and the safety net before the next downturn.

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The Spread Of ‘Debate Is Over’ Syndrome

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

The ongoing trial involving journalist Mark Steyn – accused of defaming climate change theorist Michael Mann – reflects an increasingly dangerous tendency among our intellectual classes to embrace homogeneity of viewpoint. Steyn, whose column has appeared for years on these pages, may be alternatingly entertaining or over-the-top obnoxious, but the slander lawsuit against him marks a milestone in what has become a dangerously authoritarian worldview being adopted in academia, the media and large sections of the government bureaucracy.

Let’s call it “the debate is over” syndrome, referring to a term used most often in relationship with climate change but also by President Barack Obama last week in reference to what remains his contentious, and theoretically reformable, health care plan. Ironically, this shift to certainty now comes increasingly from what passes for the Left in America.

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Can We Get Over Our Campaign Finance Obsession?

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 prisons are constitutionally overcrowded. Our unemployment rate is higher the national average. Even changes in our school funding leave us shortage of the national average for K-12. Our underinvestment in higher education has led to a decline in the percentage of adults who are college graduates. Our tax and regulatory regime is uncompetitive with other states.

So in this campaign season, what’s the biggest issue in California?

Judging by news coverage, the answer is simple: money in politics.

The scandals involving three members of the state senate have turned into a conversation about how to limit money in politics. The big issue in the Secretary of State’s race, the only one with real energy, is the notion of fundraising bands. And we’re all safely ignoring the governor’s race because there are no real challengers – since a challenge can’t be considered real if there aren’t tens of millions of dollars behind it. The initiative battles on health care make the news for all the money that’s attaching to them.

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California’s Workforce Professionals and Insights from Unlikely Sources

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

This morning is the start of the 2014 California Workforce Association (CWA) conference in San Diego. CWA is the leading association of workforce professionals in our state, and a main force for educating and professionalizing our field.

Regarding education, we have noted in recent years that workforce professionals can learn much not only from writings on labor economics, human resources, and industrial relations, but also from technology, contemporary literature and even popular culture (i.e. Mad Men, Enlightened, Silicon Valley).

In this vein, and as CWA members gather from throughout the state, there are several recent books by California authors outside of the workforce field that help us better understand the evolving job world. Let me highlight three:

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