Common Sense, Not Rain, Needed to Solve California’s Water Crisis

Jack Stewart
Board Member, National Alliance for Environmental Reform and former President of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association

Before raising our glasses to toast this winter’s abundant El Niño rainfall, here’s a sobering thought: Because of deliberate efforts to protect fish by limiting water storage, about half the rain falling on California will wash into the ocean, instead of being stored for the dry, hot summer to come. As for the water now filling the state’s reservoirs, billions of gallons will be flushed down rivers and out to sea in efforts to protect fish, rather than being used to irrigate food crops or provide water for thirsty communities when the drought resumes. Lawsuits and bad policy decisions have created a situation in which the well-being of fish is seemingly valued more than our economy or quality of life. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Despite steady population increases and a growing need for water, California has removed about 30 dams to improve fish habitat since 1979, costing the state over a hundred billion gallons in lost storage capacity. Moreover, we’ve failed to build new water storage projects to replace that lost capacity, and are now paying a high price for our short-sightedness. Had the Sites Reservoir been built in western Colusa County when first proposed in the 1980’s, it would be filled with about 650 billion gallons of water. Other stalled projects would be capturing billions of gallons of water as well.

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For Small Business Cost of Compliance Costs Too Much

Manuel Cosme, Jr.
Small Business Tax Specialist, Immediate Past-Chair California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Past-Chair National Federation of Independent Business/California

This is an open letter to our California elected officials and those running for elected positions from local municipalities to the state level:

It doesn’t take much to “want” to open a business, but it takes a great deal of courage to start one. I come across quite a few individuals in my business who will discuss with me their desire to be self-employed. I encourage them, always! Some do; some don’t.

No one ever opens a business to fail! On the contrary, they open to provide financial stability to themselves and/or family. That financial benefit usually extends to employees because it’s what we want.

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Sacramento Needs to “Keep Its Hands Off Gig Economy”

David Kersten
Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

Sacramento politicians cannot resist the urge to “regulate” the “gig economy” to impose arduous work rules, regulations, and a whole host of bureaucratic red tape on one of the most successful economic enterprises to surface in the past few years.

People here in the Bay Area love Lyft and Uber, not the heavily regulated taxi cab market which never is around when you need it and does not adequately serve the needs of the market in the Bay Area and elsewhere.  Apparently, people everywhere love these companies and others like them because they are cost-effective, responsive to the market, are always available and just a click away on an online “app.”

But not everyone is happy about the emergence of the “gig economy.”  The taxi cab industry has been devastated and the labor unions in Sacramento do not like any segment of the economy that grows faster than them, and is not heavily regulated.  

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Discounted Rx Drug Program Should Help Those Who Truly Need It

John Kabateck
President of Kabateck Strategies, and former CA Executive Director of NFIB

To the average Joe or Jane, the term “340B” might lead one to believe it’s the latest sleek Mazda model or an elevated seating section at Sacramento’s soon-to-open Golden One Arena. But for those in the health care world and the general public, the reality is that it takes on a whole new – and extremely significant – meaning: a vitally important prescription drug discount program for those in need.

For a quick historical primer, without losing you “in the weeds”, in 1992 Congress passed the 340B Drug Discount Program to help uninsured and indigent patients get the prescription medicines they needed but simply couldn’t afford. In effect, the new law required pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide significant discounts to medical clinics and qualifying hospitals as a condition of their drugs being covered by Medicaid.

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LA & CA Economic Forecast: Upbeat but Cloudy

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

California is shockingly business unfriendly but it hasn’t stopped economic growth or a positive assessment of the Los Angeles and California economy Beacon Economics co-founder Chris Thornberg said at the third annual Forecast LA.

Loyola Marymount University’s Fernando Guerra presented an upbeat assessment of local residents on the LA economy, results from a poll of nearly 2500 area residents before Thornberg offered his economic analysis. Loyola Marymount University’s Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles and Beacon Economics presented Forecast LA.

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UC Needs to Stop Fighting for Katehi

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)

If UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi had decent judgment, she would have quit by now.

So it’s well past time for UC regents to push her out the door.

UC is in the middle of a multi-year battle with the state government over funding. The state legislature has succeeded in having things both ways: locking in low levels of funding for UC, while criticizing the way UC copes with lower funding levels. Recently, the state’s attack has focused on the big increases in the number of out-of-state students admitted.

The UC needs to win this fight—for the good of California. Right now, it’s having a tough time. So UC can’t afford to keep around someone like Katehi, who makes the system look bad.

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Why The Police Don’t Care That Thieves Broke Into Your Home

Susan Shelley
Susan Shelley is an author, former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly.

Something strange is going on with crime in Los Angeles.

The Public Policy Institute of California says property crimes were up sharply in L.A. County last year, but arrests and bookings for property crimes fell 31 percent.

Why?

In 2014, voters passed Proposition 47, which reduced some felony theft and drug offenses to misdemeanors.

Police have “no motivation” to arrest thieves and burglars, because “nothing is being done to these people,” explained Marc Debbaudt, immediate past president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys. He said “there are no consequences” for those who commit property crimes.

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America’s Software And Tech Hotspots

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

Where is America’s tech and software industry thriving? In a new study conducted for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., researchers took an interesting stab at that question, assessing which metro areas have the strongest concentrations of software developers, spread across a broad array of industries, as well as the best compensation and job growth, and access to venture capital funding.

What they found is a geography dominated by traditional tech centers, particularly those with strong universities. The San Jose, Calif., metro area and Seattle led the way, followed by San Francisco and Boston. The back half of the top 10 is a bit more surprising, featuring Baltimore, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

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Looking at the Whole Story in Quest for School Taxes

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

The new Public Policy Institute of California Poll confirmed what I have noted here and elsewhere: that the Proposition 30 tax extension starts with an advantage and has a decent chance of passing.

One reason for this, according to a question asked by the pollsters, is that likely voters (by 60%) think that schools need more money. Of course, these are the same voters who when tested in previous PPIC polls incorrectly claimed that schools are not the top funding priority of the state budget, but that prisons are.

Given the feeling that schools need money, that the tax will be levied only on people making $250,000, and that, as of yet, no campaign has come together to oppose the millions of dollars already raised in support of a Prop 30 extension, it would be difficult to bet against the measure passing. The PPIC poll records a 62% to 35% support among likely voters for extending Prop 30.

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Shutting Down New Paths To Opportunity

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

AB 1727 Hurts California Consumers, Workers and Employers

California employers lead the way in so many important technologies and industries.  The jobs we create fuel our economy and improve lives.  However, many of California’s thriving industries are now in the crosshairs of a legislative proposal that would make it harder for them to work with independent contractors.

Authored by Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez, AB 1727 would allow any group with as few as 10 independent contractors to act in concert to set the prices and terms of their engagement.  This would put a chokehold on small businesses who will be forced to navigate potentially dozens — or even hundreds — of separate bargaining units.  Not only would the end result make life difficult for our job creators, but it would make the cost of goods and services rise dramatically for consumers.  

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