America’s Cities Mirror Baltimore’s Woes

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

baltimore-protest-voaThe rioting that swept Baltimore the past few days, sadly, was no exception, but part of a bigger trend in some of our core cities towards social and economic collapse. Rather than enjoying the much ballyhooed urban “renaissance,” many of these cities are actually in terrible shape, with miserable schools, struggling economies and a large segmented of alienated, mostly minority youths.

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Governor Brown Issues Proclamation Declaring Small Business Month

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued a proclamation declaring May 2015 as “Small Business Month” in the State of California.

Last month, Governor Brown appointed Jesse Torres small business advocate in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). GO-Biz’s Office of Small Business Advocate supports the state’s small business community with technical and financial assistance and provides information on state business requirements.

The text of the proclamation is below:

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Charitable Deduction Legislation Should Set Higher Standards

Patrick Dorinson
Host of The Cowboy Libertarian Radio Talk Show in Sacramento

As a lifelong lover of dogs, I initially had a very positive reaction upon learning about legislation intended to establish the Prevention of Animal Homelessness and Cruelty Fund. This fund would go toward supporting cash-strapped animal shelters throughout the state. After all, how could anyone be opposed to this noble goal of protecting our beloved pets?

Assembly Bill 485 (Das Williams – Santa Barbara) will simply add this program to an existing Franchise Tax Board list of charities toward which taxpayers could choose to make contributions and receive tax deductions by checking a box on their tax return.

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Don’t Repeal Prop 218

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

Within the body of Joe Mathews’ argument for repealing Proposition 218 he wrote for this site is the precise reason the taxpayer protection measure should continue to stand. Mathews states that the problem with restricting taxing power for local government is that local public officials become spenders but cannot match the liabilities they create with taxes. He writes: “local officials can give big pensions to cops, but don’t have the power to raise taxes to pay for those pensions.” So that’s the reason to eliminate tax restrictions? To allow local officials to have the ability to levy taxes to cover their irresponsible spending habits? I don’t think so.

Nowhere in his piece does Joe counter the history behind Proposition 218 that I noted in my original post on the subject. The situation of misuse of assessment districts and fees was real. Advocates of Proposition 218 (including me) noted in the support argument in the official ballot booklet that we saw as an abuse of the assessment system then in place: assessments ”are now limited only by the limits of human imagination” — to quote a supporter of the flawed system that preceded Prop 218’s fixes.

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Prop. 13 Overhaul Puts California Taxpayer Protections At Risk

Rob Lapsley and Jon Coupal
Rob Lapsley is President of the California Business Roundtable. Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

The presidential election in 2016 is will be a defining generational election for California’s future. Just as we are coming out of the recession, efforts are now underway by special interest and public employee unions in Sacramento to raise $20 billion in new taxes to fund increased benefits for their members.

These new taxes will likely be advanced through at least four separate statewide ballot initiatives, from oil taxes to property taxes in order to fund major increases in teacher and state government salaries, pensions, and increased health care costs.

Thanks to hard-working California taxpayers from all income levels, our current state budget is in the black with an annual surplus of almost $2 billion. An additional $20 billion in new taxes will negatively impact our current recovery for small businesses, jobs and our overall economic competitiveness.

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Small Business Has Big Voice at Day at the Capitol

John Kabateck
California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

Last week, small business owners from across the state converged on the capital for NFIB/CA’s 7th Annual Day the Capitol event. One hundred small business owners from around the state spent a day in Sacramento and held nearly 50 meetings with legislators and staff. One thing is certain – the Voice of Small Business was heard!

The day began with attendees meeting with legislators and staff in the Capitol. On the agenda? How to make it easier for small businesses to thrive and expand in California. Regulatory reform, lower taxes and fewer mandates were all part of the discussion. Members shared their stories and how actions and decisions in Sacramento affect their businesses each day.

NFIB/CA Leadership Council Chair Ann Kinner welcomed members and shared how NFIB has helped her sharpen her focus on the issues that are most critical to her business in Point Loma. She reminded attendees that NFIB can make their individual voices bigger and help business owners get their message across to their legislators.

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L.A. Rides Chinese Wave

Charles Crumpley
Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal

One of L.A.’s most reported stories is also one of its least appreciated or understood. That’s the influx of Chinese to this area.

The No. 1 destination for Chinese immigrants to the United States: Los Angeles County, where 31 percent of them choose to land. In all, close to 4 million Chinese now live in the United States – double the amount from 2000. The county now has in excess of a half-million Chinese-born residents. That’s more than the population of Long Beach.

I mentioned that, for a big and well-reported story, it is not appreciated. That may be partly because most of those immigrants go to the San Gabriel Valley. If you haven’t spent much time there in a while, you may be amazed to see how many signs are in Asian languages and the general Chinese-induced transformation there.

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Repeal Prop 218

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)

The drought has done at least one good thing – it’s shined a spotlight on Prop 218.

Specifically, a court’s decision to block a tiered-pricing scheme for water in one Orange County community – as a violation of Prop 218 – is responsible for the attention. Gov. Brown criticized the decision as limiting the flexibility of local government. In response, Prop 218’s defenders have noted that Prop 218 permits tiered pricing as long as such pricing is justified and meets Prop 218 requirements that it is tied to the cost of providing water to homes.

But the story of Prop 218 is much bigger than water pricing and drought. It’s the story of a 19-year-old constitutional ballot initiative that undermines local democracy and fiscal accountability. It’s one of the lesser-known of the many California rules that limit local rule – and the accountability that comes with it.

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Patterson’s AB 1389 Deserves Bipartisan Support

Barry Bedwell
President of the California Fresh Fruit Association based in Fresno

Farm employees at Gerawan Farming, Inc. have been enduring an incredibly frustrating situation for over two years. In the fall of 2012 they were informed that that there had been an election in 1990, when, in a close vote, field employees had approved joining a union. They were told that the union was now appearing after more than a two-decade absence to represent them and, oh by the way, the union was going to collect three percent from their wages as dues.

Never mind the facts that the employee base had grown from hundreds to thousands. Or that almost all the current employees had no contact ever with the union. Or that the conditions related to wages, benefits, health and safety issues had changed dramatically in favor of employees during the many years of a total absence of organized labor. Even ignore the most obvious fact – that the employees failed to see value in union membership when evaluating what they would receive in exchange for three percent of their wages.

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More Evidence that California Has a Wage Gap More Than a Skills Gap

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

growing-inequalityLast Thursday, the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education released Low Wage Work in California: 2014 Chartbook, its most recent study of earnings in California. Among the chief findings: the gap continues to grow between the low wage workforce and the rest of the California workforce.

The study drew on Census Bureau data on low wageworkers, defined as those earning hourly wages of $13.63 an hour or less. This low wage workforce constituted 4.7 million workers in 2014. The chart above provided by the Center (click to enlarge) shows the change in real wages from 1979-2014, and the declines of the low wage workforce in buying power. To be sure, wages do not reflect the full income of this lower wage workforce, which receives income transfers in the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid and food stamps among other benefit programs. But even with these transfers, a major gap remains.

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