Cost An Issue in Environmental Friendly CA

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

The new Public Policy Institute of California poll on the environment shows that Californians continue to be strong for environmental protections, but standing up for the environment weakens when a price tag is attached.

While the poll covered a number of environmental issues, when pollsters asked follow-up questions involving possible cost increases for transportation fuels under the cap-and-trade proposal and for electricity under the renewable energy law attitudes changed dramatically.

Yet, on some other energy related issues such as fracking or carbon tax no follow-up questions on costs were asked.

Queried if oil companies should be required to produce transportation fuels with lower emissions, 76% of adults agreed. But when followed with the question: “Do you still favor this state law if it means an increase in gasoline prices at the pump?” support dropped to 39%. The drop off was particularly notable among those making less than $40,000 a year. While 77% supported reducing fuel emissions, the number fell to 32% when they learned they might have to pay more.

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California’s Roads: Why Pay More But Get Less?

Madhusudan Ravi
Research Analyst at California Common Sense

Next time you’re stuck in traffic on the way home from work, think about what sitting in traffic is costing you and other drivers.

Our state’s population is booming but the availability of roads is simply not keeping pace with growing demand.  Gas prices have grown substantially in the last few years, and owning a vehicle has become increasingly expensive.  Californians are simply paying more while getting less and less.

Conventional approaches to addressing California’s transportation problems are expensive.  For instance, the state has implemented a $2.3 billion project to construct 925 lane-miles of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) road with the intent of alleviating traffic and promoting carpooling. Studies have shown that although HOV construction lowers travel time for those traveling in HOV lanes, it does not significantly alleviate congestion and may not even encourage carpooling

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Be Nice, Murrieta, You Need Immigrants

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)

To: The People of Murrieta, Calif.
From: Joe Mathews
Re: Recent Damage to Your Global Reputation

You can still be “The Future of Southern California,” as your city’s motto promises, but it won’t be easy after these past few weeks.

There’s no denying that Murrieta, incorporated in 1991, is one of the fastest-growing places in the state. Your population has quadrupled to more than 100,000 over the past quarter century. More than 30 percent of your residents are children. And you’ve embraced a successful growth strategy based on encouraging people around the world to invest and settle there.

But then came the Central American refugee crisis, and the self-destructive decision by more than a few of your citizens to immerse your city in one of the country’s divisive, hateful political debates. The scene outside your U.S. Border Patrol station—the opening of which eight years ago was considered a city triumph, bringing 148 jobs to town—introduced Murrieta to much of the world. And it was an ugly greeting. A small but nasty group of protestors blocked the entrance for buses carrying refugees, reported to be women and children, and the Border Patrol decided to turn the buses around. Aggressive protests have continued since. Comments by local politicians opposing the processing of refugees in your town, and outright racist statements by citizens at a town meeting (all covered by the nation’s media), cemented an image of Murrieta as a hateful place. “Shame on You, Murrieta,” blared one L.A. Times headline.

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State Peddles Idea that Bullet Train Contractors are Investors

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

On Jan. 11, 2010, the Legislative Analyst’s Office issued a report on the latest iteration of the business plan for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. It contained a game-changing conclusion — a predictable conclusion but still a crucial one. Here’s what I wrote in a Union-Tribune editorial at the time:

The Legislative Analyst’s Office released a terse analysis that depicted the latest business plan as vague, unsubstantiated and not credible – and then concluded with this bombshell:

“The Proposition 1A bond measure explicitly prohibits any public operating subsidy. However, the plan … assumes some form of revenue guarantee from the public sector to attract private investment. This generally means some public entity promises to pay the contractor the difference between projected and realized revenues if necessary. The plan does not explain how the guarantee could be structured so as not to violate the law.”

In an e-mail, a spokesman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Jeffrey Barker, said the authority was responding to the criticism by putting together a business plan that “does not require government operating subsidies” and could comply with the wording of Proposition 1A by offering private investors a “ridership guarantee” instead of a “revenue guarantee.”

But a ridership and a revenue guarantee are the same thing because ridership times ticket price equals revenue. The Legislative Analyst’s Office told us yesterday that it agrees.

That’s been the giant fundamental obstacle ever since to the $68 billion bullet train project getting substantial private investments.

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Villaraigosa on Teachers Unions

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

Former Los Angeles mayor, California Assembly Speaker, and importantly, teacher union organizer, Antonio Villaraigosa had some sharp words for teachers unions in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Reacting to rhetoric at two recent teacher conventions, Villaraigosa asked why the teachers unions were so resistant to change.

“As a former union leader and a life-long Democrat who supports collective bargaining, I am deeply troubled by the rhetoric and strategy we heard at both national conventions. They attacked an administration in Washington that helped protect 400,000 teaching jobs during the recession …” Villaraigosa wrote. “Others are in full-throated denial over the recent California court ruling striking down the state’s public school teacher tenure and seniority laws — despite compelling evidence that it is nearly impossible to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom and that the least effective teachers disproportionately end up in classrooms with low-income children.”

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A Claude Rains Moment On Campaign Spending

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

(Editor’s Note: The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a lawsuit to remove the measure discussed below from the ballot. 

More on the HJTA lawsuit can be found here.)

Worried about turnout in November, Democrats have placed an advisory measure on the fall ballot to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows unlimited independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions in political campaigns.   In permitting the measure to go to the November ballot, Gov Jerry Brown said Citizens United “was wrongly decided and grossly underestimated the corrupting influence of unchecked money on our democratic institutions.”

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AB 2171: Another Effort by Plaintiff’s Lawyers to Find New Ways to Sue

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

There are many reasons that California is ranked as the #1 Judicial Hellhole in the United States, including widespread abusive ADA lawsuits,shakedown Proposition 65 lawsuits or food litigation. But if some legislators get their way, things could get even worse. I’m referring to AB 2171, introduced by Assemblyman and Chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee Bob Wieckowski. If passed and signed by the Governor, it will set California’s legal climate even further back and encourage lawsuit abuse.

How? Simply put, AB 2171 provides yet another vehicle for shakedown lawsuits. It requires residential care facilities for the elderly to comply with an enormous list of new requirements using very subjective language. If any facility resident believes the facility hasn’t met these requirements, the bill empowers them to file a lawsuit seeking civil penalties against the facility. Translation: this bill enables any resident unhappy with any aspect of their stay at the facility to file lawsuit against the facility.

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What Is Holding Up California Ethics Reform?

Michelle Bergmann
California Reporting Reporter

2014 has seen numerous corruption stories in California government. Suspended State Senator Rod Wright awaits sentencing for eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud. The FBI charged state Senator Ronald Calderon with accepting bribes. And most recently, suspended state Senator Leland Yee was indicted on federal corruption and gun running charges, along with a notorious San Francisco criminal figure memorably known as “Shrimp Boy.” All three senators have been suspended indefinitely.

“If two FBI raids on the Capitol aren’t enough to remind legislators on the importance of government ethics, nothing will be,” said Peter DeMarco, a spokesperson for the Senate Republican Caucus.

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How The Past Can Devour The Future

David Crane
Lecturer at Stanford University, President of Govern for California, and Former Economic Adviser to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

The stock market has hit record highs and public pension funds are reporting record levels of capital, yet public pension costs keep growing, leaving some observers puzzled. A new book by French economist Thomas Piketty helps clear up the confusion.

In his book, Capital in the 21st Century, Piketty explains that capital is wealth derived from past activities (e.g., your savings represent wealth you accumulated over the past) that combines with labor to produce, and split the benefits from, economic growth. Everything works fine so long as returns promised to capital are lower than economic growth rates. But when returns promised to capital are higher than economic growth rates, Piketty says the past “devours the future.”

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Dude, Growing Marijuana Uses 200 Times More Water Than Fracking!

Eric Eisenhammer
Founder of the Coalition of Energy Users, a nonprofit organization supporting access to affordable energy and quality jobs

Intent on ignoring facts and spreading hysteria, ideological opponents of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have seized on the state’s drought as an excuse to demand a moratorium.  Never mind that fracking doesn’t even use much water.

Now, scientists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are warning that streams harboring endangered salmon and steelhead could go dry for an entirely different reason – because of the heavy water consumption of marijuana growers.  During growing season, marijuana consumes 60 million gallons of water a day.  That’s 200 times more water than is used in hydraulic fracturing operations and 50% more than consumed by the entire city of San Francisco.

This all raises an interesting question: Where is the alarmist press release from the folks at the Center for Biological Diversity demanding an immediate moratorium on marijuana?

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