State Income Taxes Aren’t Hurting California’s Baseball Teams

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)

LA Times columnist George Skelton has long been a critic of California’s progressive tax structure

He has a point: the system produces volatile revenues. The counter to that is, of course, that overwhelming amounts of taxes come from the rich because they make overwhelming amounts of the income.

But his latest argument—that the state’s high taxes on high incomes are hurting our Major League Baseball teams—goes way too far, and beyond this back-and-forth.

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What the “Green New Deal” Doesn’t Do for Housing

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

“The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”  That’s what congressional newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is saying about the latest existential threat to the planet (and the well-being of its inhabitants) – best known as global warming.  To back up her claims she recently presented a “Green New Deal” – a modern-day, environmentally friendly proxy for FDR’s Depression-era war on unemployment and poverty.  Yet, it’s nothing less than a plan to transform the U.S. society and economy as we know them.

The Green New Deal (“the Plan”) has sparked a nationwide controversy.  Maybe it’s for the clever “green” tapestry Ocasio-Cortez has hung on this mix of high-school-like platitudes and warmed-over Marxist ideals.  Maybe it’s the outrages, contentious designs or silliness expressed in the Plan, including proposals for federal compensation for even persons “unwilling to work” or to ban jet travel and flatulent cows by the end of the next decade.  Maybe it’s controversial because of the resolute defense Ocasio-Cortez – a controversial person herself – and other self-styled socialist Democrats have given to the Plan of late.

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New pension-cut rulings begin with little change

Publisher, CalPensions.com

Voter-approved pension cuts were the first wave of court cases after public pension investment funds had huge losses in a stock market crash a decade ago, creating the need for big bites out of government budgets to pay alarming debt.

Ballot measures in cities large and small were overturned by the courts, from a blunt-force cap on annual payments to CalPERS in Pacific Grove to a stark choice for employees in San Jose: pay more for pensions earned in the future or begin earning a smaller pension.

The local measures ran afoul of the “California Rule,” a series of state court rulings believed to mean the pension offered at hire becomes a vested right, protected by constitutional contract law, that can only be cut if offset by a comparable new benfit, erasing any savings.

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California has a giant surplus—of ideas for new taxes. What’s up with that?

Judy Lin
CALmatters reporter

California is enjoying a projected $21.4 billion surplus. Three-quarters of the state believes any new revenue increase should be for voters to decide.

By population and percentage of personal income, this state already has the nation’s 10th highest tax burden. And the leader of the California Senate, Pro Tem Toni Atkins, has pointedly cautioned against any more levies that take cash out of the pockets of working families.

In short, California lawmakers needn’t look far for an excuse to avoid raising taxes. Whether Atkins’ fellow Democrats got the memo, however, isn’t clear.

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Trust Busting the Silicon Valley

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

I could direct this column at Silicon Valley with an “I told you so.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Friday proposal to break up big tech companies bears out my warning on this site from last September that tech companies’ actions are setting the stage for a return to Teddy Roosevelt type trust-busting.

In her post explaining her plans to break up the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon, Warren referred to the trust busting efforts of the early 20thcentury. She argues that now, like a hundred years ago, monopolies are bad and competition is good. The growing tech giants that gobble up competitors wipe out the competition that is needed to make companies better and stymies innovation.

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What Happens in the Last Part of the Legislative Session?

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

This is the final installment in a 3-part series about the major happenings in the legislative process pursuant to the California Constitution and relevant statutes. Part III is focused on the last part of the Legislative Session, which is the last month that the Legislature is in session, followed by the month in which the Governor considers all of the bills sent to his desk. Part I is focused on the first part of the Legislative Session. Part II focuses on the middle part of the session.

There are essentially three major parts to the legislative session: house of origin; second house; and, final month and gubernatorial action. Obviously, there are key subparts in these three major parts, but the session can be viewed in this way. This third piece is on the final month and gubernatorial actions part.

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California Businesses Already Pay Their Fair Share

Robert Gutierrez
President and CEO of the California Taxpayers Association

With news of California companies moving to states where taxes and other operating costs are lower, it’s difficult to believe that some groups want to hit in-state employers with another tax increase.

But that is precisely the pitch made by special-interest groups trying to convince voters that California’s business taxes are too low. Taxes must be increased so businesses will pay their “fair share,” the argument goes.

What tax-increase proponents don’t mention is that the corporation tax is a growing and vibrant source of state revenue. From 1960 to 2018, California’s corporation tax revenue grew from $272 million to $12.2 billion – an increase of more than 4,500 percent. Even after adjusting the 1960 number for inflation, the growth was 535 percent.

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Big California City, Little Civic Engagement Office

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)

Los Angeles is a city of four million people. And it might soon launch a tiny office—of as many as eight people—to help those residents better participate in their government.

And in California, this would be a big advance. Because while governance in our state is as complicated as a Google algorithm, we offer precious little assistance to Californians who seek to engage with it.

In our state, the people who run for office, vote, and participate in other ways (from attending public meetings to protesting) are whiter, richer and better educated than the state population as a whole. And for all their talk of representing a democratic resistance, California’s leaders have been unwilling to take the essential first step to reversing those disparities: providing an infrastructure of support that will work directly with people to boost their civic knowledge and show them how to participate.

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Finger Pointing Won’t Be Enough to Win California

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe & Doug Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, and Doug Jeffe, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Those poor souls who spent a rainy Saturday morning watching cable news were treated to stereophonic whining– a grievance medley by President Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders.

During his two-plus hour rant at CPAC, President Trump lashed out at Democrats, Robert Mueller, Jeff Sessions, the media and a cast of thousands. Meanwhile, Senator Sanders railed against “the billionaire class”, “insurance companies” and “drug companies.” Each pol delighted his crowd of core supporters with colorful “us versus them” rhetoric. But it remains to be seen whether the country at large is ready for four more years of blaming and shaming.   Certainly California, with its early Presidential primary coming up, would not seem to be fertile ground for the politics of finger pointing.

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Talk Is Cheap

Assemblyman James Gallagher
California State Assembly, 3rd District

Jessica Patterson ascended to Chair of the California Republican Party with a simple message that, like me, she received from her parents: Talk is cheap. She could not have picked a better theme.

It’s something Republican activists and party leaders need to hear. For years, I’ve sat through party meetings at the local and state level talking about the need to do voter registration and outreach. But that’s all it’s been: talk. Action has been limited. We have failed to take our ideas straight to the voter. Our outreach to the diverse communities that make California great has been especially lacking. If they never hear from us, if we aren’t proposing solutions to the issues affecting their communities, how can we expect them to vote for us? Enough talk. It’s time to actually do it.

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