Cap and Trade – Corporate Shell Games and Environmentalist Chest-Beating

Senator Andy Vidak
California State Senate, 14th District -- representing Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties

In 2006 on virtually a party line vote, the Democrat controlled Legislature passed Assembly Bill 32, the pompous sounding “California Global Warming Solutions Act.”

Then-Governor Schwarzenegger, who often commuted daily in a private jet from Los Angeles to Sacramento, signed AB 32, hypocritically stating it was “a bold new era of environmental protection.”

To implement AB 32, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) developeda government-mandated scheme called “Cap and Trade.” CARB would basically set (“cap”) greenhouse gas emissions at unrealistically low levels, then require businesses and industries to pay (“trade”)to receivehigher emission caps.

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Lobbyists Checking the Personal Info Boxes is Wrong

Scott Lay
Publisher of The Nooner

The Bee’s Taryn Luna reports that the heads of six legislative caucuses to ask for the race and sexual orientation of lobbyists.This is wrong. Can I say it again? It is wrong even if “voluntary.”

For those of us in the Capitol community, we know of many people who have different sexual orientations and that changes over time. Additionally, we know of mixed-raced colleagues who wouldn’t feel comfortable checking a box. Some are those are public, and others’ are not.

Even when there is a box that identifies “mixed race,” it’s an emotional issue that is less than comfortable.

Several mixed-race leaders in Sacramento are in key leadership, in government positions (including one of the highest) and in lobbying.

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The Single Payer Health Care Fraud

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Thankfully, the Assembly Speaker has put the brakes on the version of single payer health care that passed the California Senate, but the controversy over single payer is far a from over.  The fact is that “single payer health care” is a fraud; it does not exist in a single industrialized nation.  Perhaps a few facts are in order.

Single payer advocates want a fully government run health care system, and point to government run systems elsewhere as models.  But in fact, American health care is already pretty much paid for by the government. According to the American Journal of Public Health, March 2017, “American tax-funded health expenditures totaled $1.877 trillion in 2013 and are projected to increase to $3.642 trillion in 2024. Government’s share of overall health spending was 64.3% of national health expenditures in 2013 and will rise to 67.1% in 2024.”

This should be no surprise; we have the rapidly growing Medicare and Medicaid programs; veterans health care; federal, state, and local government health care and more – all of which is paid for, at least in large part, by the taxpayer.

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Faulconer Out of Gov. Race; Would Issa Come In?

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

Pure political “Chaos Theory” conjecture here, but could San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s decision not to pursue the governor’s job open the door for Congressman Darrell Issa to make a bid?

What prompted this thinking was an interesting article in the San Diego Union Tribune by Michael Smolens that Faulconer’s decision not to pursue the governor’s race might hurt Issa’s chance for re-election. As Smolens points out, a strong, recognizable Republican at the top of the ticket next year would assist Issa who survived the closest congressional contest in 2016. A strong Republican candidate for governor would likely bring out more Republican voters who could help the numerous California Republican congressional members targeted for defeat by the Democrats in 2018.

Recognizing that 2018 is not 2016 and political winds will shift over time, Issa by no means is ready to put up a white flag over his congressional seat.

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A High Desert Bridge to Connect California

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)

What’s the fastest way to change California?

Unless you have the power to set off a major earthquake, your best bet would be to connect Palmdale and Victorville.

These two working-class desert cities aren’t often associated with economic and political power. But building world-class infrastructure to bridge the 50 miles between them might be the most powerful current idea in California. Strong Palmdale-Victorville connections could transform Southern California’s traffic and economy, boost the West’s energy markets, and reconfigure the path of American trade with Asia and the rest of North America It might even save the California high-speed rail project.

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The Great California Classroom Robbery

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Despite historic revenue gains, California’s public schools are in financial trouble. While California’s public schools often suffer financial distress during recessions, their current plight is alarmingly taking place during an economic recovery and after a large tax increase. The principal cause is exploding spending on pension and retiree health care obligations.

State funding for schools is up nearly 60 percent compared to six years ago:

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Officials gamble with the public’s money, and sometimes lose big

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Voice of San Diego, a journalistic website that covers local politics, published a remarkable article late last month about financial shenanigans in the San Diego Association of Governments, a regional planning and transportation agency.

Twelve years ago, the article said, SANDAG, as it’s known, decided to invest – or wager – millions of dollars from a newly enacted sales tax in a complex financial scheme. The result was a financial disaster.

“SANDAG bet big that interest rates would go up,” the website reported. “Instead rates went down and stayed down – and they’re still down. That unforeseen event – persistent and historically low interest rates – cost the agency millions.

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Despite Budget Action, Much Work Remains to Solve State’s Pension Crisis

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a Fellow at the California Center for Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

Anyone worried about an earthquake plunging California into the sea should be more concerned about what is really sinking the state: the cost of public-employee pensions.

In the just-enacted 2017-18 state budget, about $8 billion of the state government’s $183 billion spending package will go to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, known as CalPERS, and the California State Teachers Retirement System, called CalSTRS. A supplemental $6 billion payment will be borrowed from the surplus funds of other state agencies to cover the state’s mandatory contribution to the pension funds.

By 2023-24, the state’s portion will be $9.2 billion, according to the governor’s office. But, as columnist Dan Walters writes, “the state would be very fortunate if it was paying out only $9.2 billion.” This is because CalPERS’ investments – one of the three streams of income for the pension fund, employee contributions being the third – are unlikely to reach projected returns, forcing the state to make up the difference.

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California, a State of Laws—Or Not

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

What laws do we have to follow? Seems like there is an obvious answer to this question, but in California there is evidence that one gets to pick and choose.

Illegal fireworks went off all around me on July 4. Some caused brush fires. The users of the fireworks faced no penalties.

I see people running STOP signs all the time. I mentioned this to a police officer once and was told that the STOP signs in these neighborhoods are merely a “suggestion.” The cop was using dark humor to tell me police can’t be everywhere and enforce all the laws on the books.

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LA Lawsuit Settlement Allowed Skid Row Conditions Everywhere in City

Susan Shelley
Columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, "How Trump Won."

Why is homelessness increasing in Los Angeles?

According to a count taken in January, homelessness is up 23 percent across L.A. County over 2016, a total of more than 55,000 people.

News stories round up the usual suspects: high rents, low-paying jobs, drugs, alcohol, mental illness, domestic violence, and the release of prison or jail inmates without rehabilitation programs.

But one reason for the exponential increase in homeless encampments is rarely mentioned: In 2007, the City of Los Angeles made an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union to allow people to sleep on the streets throughout the city.

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