Will Prop 13 “Reformers” Go After Homeowners?

Steven Greenhut
California columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune

Some of California’s politically powerful public-sector unions are gearing up for a 2016 ballot initiative that would “reform” Proposition 13 and get rid of its so-called tax “loopholes” to promote fairness. Their goal is to hike business property taxes by $9 billion a year by eliminating the limitations imposed by that groundbreaking initiative.

And the latest evidence suggests – despite supporters’ protests to the contrary – that residential property taxes could eventually be in the cross hairs.

Proposition 13 passed overwhelmingly in 1978 against a backdrop of escalating tax bills as property values soared. The measure limited taxation to 1 percent of a property’s assessed value (plus local bonds), and capped property tax increases to 2 percent annually. Real estate is reassessed each time it is sold.

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Green Pope Goes Medieval on Planet

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

Some future historian, searching for the origins of a second Middle Ages, might fix on the summer of 2015 as its starting point. Here occurred the marriage of seemingly irreconcilable world views—that of the Catholic Church and official science—into one new green faith.

As Pope Francis has embraced the direst notions of climate change, one Canadian commentator compared Francis’s bleak take on the environment, technology, and the market system to that of the Unabomber. “Doomsday predictions,” the Pope wrote in his recent encyclical “Laudato Si,” “can no longer be met with irony or disdain.”

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Oil Math

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

Am I the only one that finds billionaire/environmentalist Tom Steyer siding with Consumer Watchdog’s attack on the oil companies counter intuitive?

Consumer Watchdog and Steyer say the oil companies are manipulating production so Californians have to pay more for gasoline. They say it adds to the cost of gasoline for the consumer.

Steyer’s goal is to get people to reduce or perhaps stop entirely the use of fossil fuels. He’s a renewable energy advocate.  Shouldn’t he be thrilled that people must pay more for gasoline encouraging them to use less? Wouldn’t the laws of economics help his crusade to reduce fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable energy if people had to pay not the $3.44 per gallon average in California today but say, $15.44 a gallon; or $50.44 per gallon, for that matter?

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Do We Have To Sacrifice Economic Growth To Reach Our Climate Change Goals?

Andrew Chang
Managing Director, Andrew Chang & Company, LLC

“I say unquestionably [AB 32] is good for businesses. Not only large, well-established businesses, but small businesses that will harness their entrepreneurial spirit to help us achieve our climate goals.” ~Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor, State of California

Almost a decade after the passage of California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), we can begin to answer whether Governor Schwarzenegger’s prediction has come to pass. In his recent report, David Roland-Holst makes the point that, “Given that California’s 2020 real gross state product (GSP) is expected to be more than double it’s [sic] 1990 counterpart, this will be a great achievement in delivering prosperity while reducing environmental risks.” Examining this statement further, we see that over period in question, the State of California is expected to achieve about a 2.34% real compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) — respectable but far from roaring.

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The Employment Training Panel: 1982, Today, Going Forward

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

Over the past 33 years, job-training programs have come and gone in California. Some, such as the state California Worksite Education and Training Act (CWETA) were funded as pilots for a few years, but not extended. Others, such as the federal Job Training Partnership Act were restructured under new titles (the Workforce Investment Act).   But there is one program that has continued from the early 1980s to the present largely intact, the Employment Training Panel (ETP); and today its financial health and reach are greater than ever.

knox, stewart

ETP was established at a time of rapidly rising unemployment, and emerging concerns about a “deindustrialization” future for California. The state unemployment rate increased steadily from 7% in January 1980 to 11% by December 1982. Between 1980 and 1982, over one hundred manufacturing facilities closed in California, including major automobile, steel, and food processing plants.

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Change the Law so Cities Keep Illegal Immigrants Facing Prosecution in Custody

Senator Jeff Stone
California State Senate, 28th District

In the wake of the tragic killing of a young woman in San Francisco last week by a convicted felon who had previously been deported from the United States five times, I submitted legislation that will require all of California’s cities and counties to cooperate fully with Federal immigration authorities – especially when criminals in custody for drug offenses are involved.

The murder of this woman may have been prevented had there been a state law in place to prohibit so-called Sanctuary Cities, like San Francisco, from releasing previously convicted felons who are in the United States illegally. This loss of life very well could have been prevented had the City of San Francisco done what should have been done and not disregarded existing federal laws.  San Francisco’s failure ultimately resulted in her murder.

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California Chronic Disease Patients Need Common-Sense Insurance Reform

Hollaine Hopkins
Executive Director of the Lupus Foundation of Southern California

For patients living with a chronic disease such as lupus, barriers that prevent patients from accessing the care they need can mean weeks or months of unnecessarily living with painful and serious symptoms.

One such barrier is insurance “step therapy,” which can require patients to try cheaper, often older and inferior medications before their insurer will cover medication originally prescribed by the patient’s physician.

For someone living with lupus, it can take many months for a person to find the right combination of drugs to help with the many problems that the condition causes in the body.In a patient diagnosed with lupus, the immune system fails to function normally. Instead of acting against harmful agents, it produces autoantibodies that affect the normal body cells. This autoimmune response causes inflammation and damage to the skin, joints, blood cells, lungs, heart, and kidneys.  

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Do Costs Matter When Climate Change Policies are Being Considered?

Ken DeVore
Legislative Director, NFIB

Regardless of differences in opinion about approaches to combatting climate change, California decided in 2006 that the state would have a comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction program. Now, nine years later, the AB 32 programs are beginning to take effect and having a financial impact. That impact is being felt by consumers in their electricity bills and there are strong indications that other cost increases will be coming soon.

The unexpected magnitude of the costs, coupled with the uncertainty about future economic impacts, demand greater evaluation of the costs that will be associated with any new climate change proposals (SB 350, SB 32, and the California Air Resources Board Scoping Plan). This is hardly a revolutionary approach – in fact, cost analysis is an approach the state should prioritize for all new policies – but proponents of new climate change proposals seem surprisingly blasé about their need.

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Del Beccaro Wins on Books

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)

He doesn’t have much of a chance of winning in next year’s U.S. Senate elections. But if former California GOP chair Tom Del Beccaro can somehow make the 2016 contest a referendum on the quality of the candidates’ books, he could make it a race.

I recently sat down to read – out of duty, and decidedly not for pleasure – the books written by Senate candidates, because I never had. And for the leading candidates, the books didn’t disappoint.

Attorney General Kamala Harris’ book, Smart on Crime, is a lot like her – intelligent, direct, wonky and more than a little opaque. The book is six years old, and on some policy particulars, it reads ahead of its time, since it argues for smarter law enforcement interventions that are less likely to cause harm to citizens (and to trust in police and prosecutors).

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Pirates at the Port (of Los Angeles)

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

The growth of the Port of Los Angeles and its ability to maintain and create good paying jobs and its market share of imported cargo are under siege by external market forces as well as the demand by the San Pedro and Wilmington communities to finance $400 million of public benefits over the next ten years.

The Harbor Department, one of the City’s three proprietary departments, is responsible for the operation of the Port of Los Angeles, the largest port in the county.  Last year, the Port handled over 8 million containers and, along with the Port of Long Beach, controlled over 70% of the West Coast market.

Together with the Ports of Oakland and Seattle-Tacoma, the West Coast ports handle about 65% of the imports from East Asia.

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