CA Falling Behind in Science and Technology

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

You would think that if California came out fourth in the nation in a technology and science index that would be a good thing. Since California ranks higher than 46 other states it isn’t bad, but considering the last time this index was released California ranked second there is reason for concern.

High Tech and California should go together like bread and butter. However, according to the Milken Institute’s 2008 State Technology and Science Index California fell further behind number one ranked Massachusetts since the last study was released four years ago.

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New Committee Forms to Detail Devastating Impacts of Higher Property Taxes

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

Property taxes may be back on the table because of the state budget deficit. But a group has formed to educate the public and opinion leaders on the negative effects of increasing property taxes. Along with Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, I am a co-chairman of the group, Californians Against Higher Property Taxes.

Our mission is to make people aware of the adverse effects of property tax increases, including “split roll” property taxes that might be levied against business and non-homeowner property. I have written previously about this subject on Fox and Hounds Daily.

The new coalition consists of many individual small businesses as well as notable associations including the California Restaurant Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Orange County Business Council, National Federation of Independent Business and many others.

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The Supreme Court and Presidential Politics

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

The Supreme Court became a political football…again… with its 5 to 4 decision stating that an individual’s right to bear arms is constitutional. Even though Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama generally accepted the court’s decision, there will be plenty of advocates in his party who will argue that one Supreme Court appointee of a President Obama could reverse this decision in the near future.

Of course, on the other hand, this issue is one that may bring uncertain conservatives to finally embrace the McCain campaign using the same logic that one vote could change the result.

Thus, the Supreme Court’s right to bear arms decision will join the abortion issue as partisans try to use potential Supreme Court appointments as a persuasive debating point in trying to sway voters.

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Doomed to failure? Let’s not be so quick to judge.

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

In response to Joe Mathews’ piece today in which he concludes that Redistricting is doomed to failure, I think there are enough differences in this November’s redistricting initiative effort that it does have a chance of passing.

The Democratic Party has officially come out against the measure, but they’ll have their hands full explaining their position. On one hand, they are trumpeting the campaign of Barack Obama who calls for change and undoing the old partisan wars, and on the other, they are defending the status quo of a very partisan current redistricting system.

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The LA Teachers’ Walkout from a Teacher’s Point-of-View

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

This site has featured commentaries from two of our bloggers (Joe Mathews and Matt Klink) on the one hour walkout of the Los Angeles teachers union to protest the education funding proposal in the governor’s budget. Now comes a look at this issue — as well as a broader view of teachers’ unions — from an insider. Doug Lasken, an English teacher in the LAUSD, penned this article for the Los Angeles Daily News. It’s well worth the read.

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New Majority calls for Real Budget Reform at Media Roundtable

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

Individuals from the New Majority, the powerful and well-heeled business executives’ organization dedicated to electing mainstream Republicans, could support revenue increases but only if accompanied by real budget reform.

While not an official position of the organization, some of the Orange County chapter’s leaders said at a media roundtable in Costa Mesa yesterday that if a revenue increase were the price for true reform to solve the continuing budget crisis, then the organization would consider such a package.

Membership Chairman Paul Folino compared fixing the state budget mess with turning around a floundering company. He said one has to be mindful of both the short-term fixes as well as making things work in the long term and getting away from the circumstances that plagued the company.

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A Split Property Tax Roll is a Bad Idea

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

Not surprisingly, considering the size of the projected state budget deficit, some are calling for tax increases that are unique or rarely heard: A tax on beer, on iTunes and movie downloads, even on strip clubs. Then there is the old standby—raise business property taxes; Peter Schrag called for an increase of business property taxes in his column yesterday in the Sacramento Bee.

This effort is commonly called the “split roll” because the idea is to split the property tax roll placing residential properties in one category and business properties in another while increasing the tax rate or assessment requirements that will tax business properties more heavily.

Even when Proposition 13 was on the ballot in 1978 an alternative was offered to the voters to treat business property differently from residential property. That measure went down to defeat. Since then a number of efforts to create a split roll have gathered signatures. The one to reach the ballot was defeated.

A split roll has not been passed for very good reasons. Those reasons have not changed even with the shadow of a large budget deficit hanging over the state. In fact, considering that the budget deficit is the result of a sour California economy there are even more sound reasons to reject the idea of a split roll.

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Back to the Future to Solve Budget Delays?

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

Perhaps, the way to fix future budget delays is to go Back to the Future. The character Marty McFly in the movie by that same name went back in time to re-adjust happenings in the past that would make life better in the future.

Since no time machine has been invented yet to change the past, maybe we should simply borrow an idea from years ago that could help with passing budgets in the future.

From 1933 to 1962, a simple majority vote to approve the state budget was required if the yearly budget increase were 5% or less. If the yearly increase was more than 5%, a two-thirds vote was required. Bringing that provision back may solve many a budget impasse and at the same time provide a reasonable spending cap.

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Controller’s Report Shows Business Taking a Hit

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

Some interesting information appears in the Controller’s Report on revenue issued this week. Those who think taxing business is the way to solve California’s budget problem should especially take notice.

The Controller reported that while income tax came in a surprising 12.1% above May Revise projections (a plus $283 million), the increase in dollars was greatly offset by a 3.5% drop off in projections in sales tax ($124 million off)and a whopping 36.1% below projections for the corporate tax ($90 million lower than expected).

Compared to May a year ago, corporate taxes are down 49%.

Yet, with business clearly suffering some think the answer for California’s budget woes is to tax business more. Adding a tax on business will just slow business even more, which means revenue for government will likely decrease not increase.

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Exclusive Interview – With the Voting Ghost

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

With all the controversy this week about ghost voting in the state legislature, Fox and Hounds Daily attained an exclusive interview with the Ghost about his voting practices.

F&H: So, you’re the ghost who votes on these bills. Tell me Ghost, why do you do it?

GHOST: Someone has to vote. Do you realize how many bills need to be voted on? Thousands! If you waited for all the legislators to be present for all those votes they would never get anything done around here so I help out.

F&H: So what political philosophy guides your voting practices?

GHOST: Political philosophy? Please. Liberal or conservative doesn’t matter to me. What matters is an unguarded vote button I can push. Sometimes I vote the opposite way the member would vote just to have fun.

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