Dark Horses

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

The Republican National Convention is probably going to pick Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or (much less likely) John Kasich. Since 1972, every major-party presidential nominee has come out of the primaries and caucuses, and GOP voters seem to have little appetite for breaking with that practice. Moreover, it is not even certain that the convention will adopt rules allowing for the nomination of another candidate. A dark-horse nominee seems impossible.

And yet, 2016 is the year for believing six impossible things before breakfast. Just 12 months ago, who would have thought that Trump would be the leading candidate – or that many “establishment” Republicans would see Cruz as the best alternative? So imagine that multiple ballots result in deadlock, and that convention procedures allow delegates to pick anybody they want. Who could emerge?

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Betty Yee: Tax Reform is Hard, Start the Conversation Now

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

Previewing the coming report from her Council of Economic Advisors on Tax Reform, state Controller Betty Yee said California needs comprehensive tax reform that must generate job creation to produce a healthy California economy.

Speaking at the Los Angeles County Business Federation Institute last week, Yee noted proposed fixes to the tax structure have rarely considered the entire tax system. There have been 4600 tax proposals in the last two decades, she said, but few were comprehensive reforms.

When asked how her tax reform council addressed some of the current tax change plans such as a tax on services, split roll property tax, and business net receipt tax, Yee said that the council considered these ideas but she would wait for the official release of the report to disclose any conclusions. She did say there are pros and cons with each of the reforms.

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High Speed Rail Around the World Requires Government Subsidies

Morris Brown
Resident of Menlo Park and Founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail project

A bedrock contention of the California High Speed Rail Authority states when the California system is finally up and running, the system will operate with a profit.  Indeed, the Prop 1A bond act approved by the voters in 2008, mandates the system run without any operating subsidy.

The issue keeps popping up, the most recent time being in the hearing of the Assembly Budget Sub-committee #3 on April 6th during a discussion between Assembly Jim Patterson and Authority Chair Dan Richard.

Video of this discussion can be found at here.

At about 12.5 minutes into this video excerpt there is this exchange: (un-official transcript)  

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California Leaders Double Down on Dry

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

“What do we do with this worthless area, the region of savages and wild beasts, of shifting sands and whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie dogs? To what use could we ever hope to put these great deserts and these endless mountain ranges?” – U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster, on the American West, 1852

The drought, if somewhat ameliorated by a passably wet winter in Northern California, reminds us that aridity defines the West. Our vulnerability is particularly marked here in Southern California, where the local rivers and springs could barely support a few hundred thousand residents, as opposed to the 20 million or so who live here. Bay Area, we’re talking about you, too, since about two-thirds of your drinking water is imported.

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Long Ballot Blues

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

With expected November ballot measures falling away because of political pressure, costs and legislative deal-making, the concern of an extremely long ballot has diminished somewhat but a long ballot still could confront voters. The length of the ballot could play a role in determining outcomes of some of the measures, especially appearing at the end of the ballot.

Because of the minimum wage bill signed by the governor, two minimum wage initiatives thought to be headed for the ballot likely will not go forward. Likewise, an expected property tax initiative that was moving ahead on signature gathering with enough resources in the bank to get the qualifying job done was suddenly pulled. A measure pursued to send high-speed rail money to water storage projects was dropped. Others may follow.

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Replace the Capitol Annex With…

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)

Good news! The Brown administration has raised the prospect of tearing down the Capitol Annex – the six-story building that houses the governor’s office and various legislative offices, on the east side of the Capitol complex.

But what should go in its place? That would have to be worked out between the governor and the legislature. Current options include building a new building on a nearby parking lot while renovating the annex, or building a new office building in Capitol Park.

I’m for building as many buildings, and as big buildings as possible. Because what matters is that a new or renovated Capitol Annex be big enough to hold what California really needs: A bigger legislature.

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Quick Thoughts on the Vergara Appeal Decision

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

Not unexpected, the case seemed to go against the plaintiffs in the appeals trial.

Next stop, the state Supreme Court.

Ironic that the decision comes on the heels of a similar case being brought in Minnesota.

I haven’t read the decision yet, but I find it very interesting that the three-judge panel reversed Vergara finding that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that minority students were more often subjected to ineffective teachers than other students. This sounds as if the judges are saying that since everyone is screwed by tenure equally, the civil rights angle goes out the window.

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More Misdirection On Our Plan For California Water

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

Let’s just get right to it. Appearing in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee, is an editorial titled, “GOP should drop effort to gut Endangered Species Act.” And like past editorials on this topic, the misrepresentation is as blatant as the Kern River is dry — and both are damaging for our state.

This “effort” the editorial board refers to is just the latest in numerous efforts from the House to get the Senate to act on California water. When Republicans regained the majority in the House, we passed legislation each Congress to address California’s water crisis. Last year my House colleagues and I spent hundreds of hours negotiating with Democrats, only to have our Senators fail to show the leadership and courage our state needs to say “yes” to commonsense reforms. So whether or not the Sacramento Bee sees Senator Feinstein’s latest proposal as “thoughtful,” it does little to move us closer to a resolution.

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Minimum Wage “Aftershock” — Public Officials Brace for “Wage Hike Tsunami”

David Kersten
Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

As it turns out, the impacts of the increase in minimum wage on workers at the very bottom of the pay scales might be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ramifications of the minimum wage increase.

Nothing short of a “tsunami” appears headed towards state and local government balance sheets as the full extent of the minimum wage “aftershock” begins to come into sharper focus.  This comes as state and local governments are still reeling from the impact of unfunded pension and health care liabilities on the order of $1.2 trillion and growing, according to Stanford University.

There was a telling story in the Sacramento Bee yesterday titled “How the $15 minimum wage will affect California state workers,” which provides a snapshot into what is likely to turn into a historic increase in the “cost of government” in California—on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars by my initial rough estimates.

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GO-Biz Committee Approves $70 Million in Tax Credits for 103 Companies Adding Over 9,300 Jobs in California

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

(Editor’s Note: The following is a release from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Go-Biz)
Building upon California’s nation leading job creation, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) today announced that the California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) committee approved $70 million in tax credits for 103 companies expanding and creating jobs in California. The awards will help these companies create a projected 9,369 jobs and generate over $1.3 billion in investment across California.  The complete list of approved companies and award amounts can be found here.

“The California Competes tax credit continues to improve California’s business climate by helping both new and established companies expand and add jobs in the state,” said GO-Biz director and committee chair Panorea Avdis. “California led the nation in job creation the past two years and this program is helping make California a highly sought after location for company expansions.”

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