Banished Moderate Update: Why Didn’t Parra Stay Bought?

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)

In the coverage of how Assemblywoman Nicole Parra was kicked out of the Capitol (she is now the only one of California’s 120 legislators without an office of the building) for the crime of abstaining on a meaningless budget vote because a water bond was not attached, I was struck by this quote from Parra’s Democratic Assembly colleague Patty Berg (D-Eureka). It speaks volumes about the mindset of legislators here. And for those who want to know why Californians favor direct democracy over legislative action, it should give you a sense of why we Golden State voters choose the ballot over our lawmakers.

From this Sacramento Bee Story:

"We have spent millions of dollars ensuring that Nicole comes back three times in a row. The way it’s done here is that if you are in the majority party, and you are a Democrat, you vote on the budget."

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The Politics Behind Prop. 2

Matt Klink
President, Klink Campaigns

Jill Benson wrote eloquently last Friday about the devastating economic impacts Prop. 2, the UN-SAFE Food Initiative, would have on California’s egg farmers…if it passes.

In reading the initiative and the YES side’s propaganda, it paints a pretty bleak picture. I actually paused for a minute before popping three eggs and a mound of bacon into the frying pan this morning. However, after digging a few inches beneath the surface – looking at the links on proponents’ Web site and reading some of the press clippings, etc. – the YES side’s true agenda come to the forefront.

Prop. 2 is sponsored by well-financed special interest groups that want to limit our food choices. These entities want each of us to eat less meat, force everyone to buy “organic” or “free-range” or some other pricy designation, and replace meat-based foods with vegetable-based substitutes.

Equally troubling, Prop. 2 is not an idea unique to California. The initiative’s well-funded sponsors have failed to enact similar bans through the legislative process in six other states. So, knowing that with enough money anything can qualify for the California ballot, they forked over the cash, submitted their signatures, and presto – Prop. 2.

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Small Business Escapes Another Mandate – For Now

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated Assembly Bill 2716, deciding against imposing yet another costly, unnecessary mandate on California small businesses – for now. AB 2716 would have mandated that employers provide workers with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of paid work. In smaller businesses, employees would have been allowed to take up to 40 hours or five days of leave in each calendar year, and all other workers would have been able to take up to 72 hours or nine days of leave per year.

A study released in June by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation showed the loss of approximately 370,000 jobs within five years in California had AB 2716 become law. In addition to significant job losses, the bill imposed a direct cost, just like a tax, of $4.6 billion on California employers that would have disproportionately affected small businesses.

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Increasing Taxes, Increasing Unemployment

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

On Friday, it was announced California’s unemployment rate hit a twelve-year high at 7.3%. On Sunday, the legislature met in extraordinary session to vote on a budget plan that would raise the income tax on upper income taxpayers and raise the corporate tax. The measure was defeated, failing to secure a two-thirds vote.

Good thing because, had the plan succeeded, the unemployment rate would likely jump even higher.

Taking money out of the economy from businesses and those who can invest in job creating enterprises is not the way to confront an unemployment crisis. It would just exacerbate the problem. Corporate tax collection was lower than expected in July according to the Controller’s monthly report, down almost 18% from the projection in the Governor’s May revise. Raising taxes on businesses won’t help that situation.

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Why Monterey Would Be a Cool Capital

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)

This piece of mine which ran in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times started out as an attempt at satire. But now I think I’ve talked myself into it. Why not relocate state government to Monterey? The state government could use a change of scenery..

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T. Boone Pickens: The First 21st Century “Energyman”

Patrick Dorinson
Host of The Cowboy Libertarian Radio Talk Show in Sacramento

On September 27, 2006 to great fanfare and international media attention, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, California’s landmark bill to drastically cut greenhouse gases in California.

As with all “landmark” bills the devil is in the details. Does anyone remember AB1890 California’s “landmark” Electricity Deregulation bill? As someone who was in the trenches at the California ISO during the Energy Crisis of 2000-01, I remember it vividly.

Whether you agree with the merits of AB 32 or not, it is the law and now we must implement it. The California Air Resources Board and a slew of other government officials and business groups are now in the process of setting the standards of how California is going to meet the aggressive goals set out by AB 32.

Setting standards is one thing, but what will be the means to get there?

Enter T. Boone Pickens.

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Goodbye to the Budget Nun

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

California’s Legislative Analyst, Elizabeth Hill, is retiring. It has been her job for 22 years to run the Legislative Analyst’s Office and present analysis on legislative measures, the governor’s budget and a wide array of initiative proposals. Beyond that she has led the LAO in preparing studies to bring perspective to many of California’s governmental conundrums. I remember carefully studying one such book entitled Making Government Make Sense. I didn’t agree with all the recommendations but I applauded the effort.

Yesterday the Senate took time to praise Elizabeth Hill as reported by Capitol Alert’s Shane Goldmacher. Hill heard justifiable tributes from both sides of the political aisle. Frequently, the 120 members of the legislature are referred to as Hill’s 120 bosses. However, Hill looked at these legislators as her clients delivering her observations in a straight talk manner that would humble John McCain.

And she never forgot that she had a few million more clients beyond the legislature – the people of California.

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Odds and Ends – August 15, 2008

Chandra Sharma
Political Communications, Redistricting and New Media Strategist

A few odds and ends from the past week:

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Citizens In Chains: The High Cost of Prisoner Lawsuits to California Taxpayers

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

Last week Citizen’s Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) released a new study focusing on prisoner litigation.  At a time when this state is in complete lock-down on the budget it seemed like an interesting topic to raise.  Civil litigation by prisoners  has cost the taxpayers of California nearly $200 million.  And that does not include federal class actions and the subsequent receiver and three judge panel put in place by federal courts or habeas corpus lawsuits. It also does not include the bureaucracy that is involved to deal with the litigation, such as the Litigation Coordinators at each of the 33 prisons in our state or the staff that assists them in monitoring the caseload and the administrative fees.  Some of these coordinators make nearly $120,000 a year.

Let me make it clear that not all lawsuits are frivolous.  Certainly there are issues that need to be heard and prisoners deserve  a venue for grievances, but spending an average $32 million dollars a year, enough to fund the care and feeding for nearly 500 prisoners, seems over the top.  I do not think the average citizen has a clue that  these costs are so high.

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Lions and tigers and tax reform. Oh my!

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

You know that real reform is about to happen when opponents let loose their menagerie of hobgoblins and boogeymen.

Today’s LA Times was the forum for the tax raisers to complain about common sense tax policy. But they had to dress it up as a give-away, because that’s what you do when common sense is not on your side.

The common sense part: taxpayers pay taxes on income (profits) and can write off losses. But for many business taxpayers, their business cycles do not conform to the arbitrary dates of a tax year. Federal tax law has long recognized this fact of economic life, and has allowed taxpayers to write off losses going back two tax years and forward up to 20 years. (The latter is particularly helpful for businesses with long gestation periods, like biotech firms.)

California only recently agreed to partially conform to federal law, allowing write-offs of losses prospectively for ten years. But as part of their initial $8 billion tax increase to close the budget gap, Democrats proposed to suspend the ability to write off these losses for two years, but offered to extend the carryforward to 20 years. The suspension would amount to a $1.5 billion increase on business taxpayers.

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