​Tax Raisers Like Non-Voters​

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Did you know that there was an election last Tuesday? Not many voters did, and the tax-and-spend crowd likes it that way. In this little publicized election, 29 out of 40 local tax increase measures passed.

Michael Coleman, Founder of the California Local Government Finance Almanac, notes the significance:  “There were more local revenue measures on ballots this November than any of the four prior gubernatorial or presidential elections,” he said. “More were passed than ever before…”

Some might interpret these election results as a new acceptance of taxes by California voters. But for those of us who have observed government behavior for more than a few decades, we see a more sinister explanation. Specifically, that the tax raisers have become expert at gaming the system to pass tax and bond measures.

Read comments Read more

The Pension Monster Rises Again

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

Here’s an old tune you’ve heard before: The Los Angeles Unified School District could face bankruptcy with one of the chief contributing factors being high pensions and health care costs for retired employees.

The LA School Board will discuss a new report raising that ominous red flag this week.

Pensions are not the only issue driving the school district toward insolvency. The report cited declining enrollment as a factor driving down revenue. Enrollment is falling due not only to fewer potential school age children but the fact that many students have decamped to independently operated charter schools.

Still, the pension issue is cited as part of the problem as it has been with so many financially struggling government agencies.

Read comments Read more

Stop Watching the Debates

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)

A health advisory: Stop watching the debates. They are not good for you.

The presidential debates of both parties are considered great civic moments. But they are so overwhelmed with erroneous nonsense that they can’t help but misinform the masses. Late-night infomercials seem responsible and edifying by comparison.

The Democratic debate existed in a world divorced from all known laws of economics and budgeting. Trade makes people poor, if you believe Democrats. Health care and higher education and just about everything else can be free. I’ll stop there for fear of passing along any more nonsense.

The Republican candidates spent time lying outright about their plans and their pasts (the biggest lie being Dr. Ben Carson claiming he had no association with a company with which he is in fact associated). And when they weren’t lying, they were whining – especially about questions and the media.

Read comments Read more

“Yes, California Can Be Saved”

Luke Phillips
Research Associate for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and Senior Correspondent at Glimpse From the Globe

The prolific Victor Davis Hanson wrote an excellent piece for National Review two weeks ago, in which he attributed California’s present middle-class stagnation and decline in economic opportunity to the devolution of California’s two-party system in the 90s and the Golden State’s emergence as a de facto one-party Democratic state. Hanson describes how a favorite Democratic policy inexorably led to the decline of the Republican voter base:

Higher taxes and increased regulations have driven out lots of small-business owners. In the last few years, hundreds of thousands of disgruntled middle-of-the-road voters voted with their feet and left for no-tax Nevada, Texas, or Florida.

The state devolved into a pyramid of the coastal wealthy and interior poor — the dual constituencies of the new progressive movement.”

Read comments Read more

Working To Build a 21st Century Los Angeles

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Chambers of Commerce across America were often formed to champion major infrastructure improvements. For the L.A. Area Chamber, that project was the Port of Los Angeles 127 years ago.

Since 1888, the Chamber and its members have successfully advocated for the construction of the Port of L.A., the Los Angeles Aqueduct, new sources of electricity, the region’s highway network, LAX and our new transit system. Each of these projects and many others are why the City of L.A. grew from a town 50,000 people in 1888 to one of the world’s largest population and economic centers.

As L.A. ages, many of our legacy infrastructure projects are now in need of major upgrades or expansions because they are not capable of meeting the future needs of our evolving environment and economy. Exacerbating this challenge are regulations that make it more costly and increasingly difficult to build new, upgraded facilities. All the while competition is growing from other cities and regions across the world. 

Read comments Read more

Legislators Wearing Badges with Donors’ Names a Serious Proposal

John Cox
Chairman, Rescue California Foundation

Requiring Legislators to wear sponsors’ names is a first step in addressing a serious problem.

Last week, Rescue California Foundation filed an initiative that might generate some smiles but is an entirely serious step in changing the structure of a broken and corrupt legislature election system.

Our initiative, called the Name All Sponsors California Accountability Reform (you can figure out what the acronym relates to) requires all the state legislators elected by California voters to wear stickers representing the top ten contributors to their political war chests.  This will make our leaders look like race car drivers, showing off their sponsors.  One key difference; race car drivers are proud to wear their sponsors names on their clothing – the same is likely not the case with our legislators. They are trying to hide the truth. Our intent is to expose it.

Read comments Read more

Has the State’s Business Reputation Improved?

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

Is California a stellar place for entrepreneurs? What caught my eye in Carla Marinucci’s California Playbook on Politico was an item than California ranked number three of all the states as a positive place for entrepreneurs.

One hopes that the entrepreneur spirit is alive and well in California. Certainly, many of the risk takers in the tech fields, Hollywood, aerospace and other endeavors have started out with little more than a dream and conquered their worlds. As Californians, we applaud those achievements.

Yet, California often ends up close to the bottom in so many surveys of states that are good places to do business.

Read comments Read more

California Economic Summit Introduces One Million Challenges

Justin Ewers
Deputy Director of Policy and Communications for the California Economic Summit

The California Economic Summit has unveiled three ambitious new goals—the One Million Challenges—that will be the focus of its growing coalition of business, environmental, labor, and civic leaders at the next statewide Summit two weeks from today in Ontario.

With Californians facing a widening opportunity gap, fast-rising housing prices, and dwindling water supplies, the Summit has highlighted three elements of its 2015Roadmap to Shared Prosperity that must be accelerated in the years ahead for the state to thrive.

At the California Economic Summit on November 12-13, participants will sharpen a set of strategies aimed at producing, over the next decade:

Read comments Read more

CalPERS “Myths vs. Facts” Propaganda Will Not Change Reality

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

California’s largest state/local government employee pension system, CalPERS, has posted a page on their website called “Myths vs. Facts.” Included among their many rather debatable “facts” is the following assertion, “Pension costs represent about 3.4 percent of total state spending.”

This depends, of course, on what year you’re considering, and what you consider to be direct cost overhead for the state as opposed to pass-throughs from the state to cities and counties. But CalPERS overlooks the fact that most of California’s government workers who collect pensions do not work for the state, they work for cities and counties and school districts. As can be seen on the “view CalPERS employers” page on Transparent California, there are 3,329 distinct employer retirement pension plans administered by CalPERS, and the vast majority of these are not state agencies paid from the state budget, but local agencies.

Read comments Read more

A Busy Week in California Politics—Ballots, Business & Strategy

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

Threat to the Secret Ballot?

Assemblyman Marc Levine’s idea to allow selfies of voters’ ballots could lead down a path of upending the secret ballot.

Perhaps an overwrought notion but consider:

Levine argues in a press release that, “California law should encourage voter pride, political speech, and civic engagement through social media.” Current law prohibits anyone from showing his or her marked ballot. Levine argues this is a violation of free speech.

Read comments Read more

Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.