Ballot Box Budgeting Wreaks Havoc on California Budget, Beware of Props. 51, 55, and 56

David Kersten
Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

As a professor of public budgeting and someone who has worked their entire career analyzing public budgets, I can say that ballot box budgeting wreaks havoc on the California budget process and taxpayer interests.

Yet it is something that voters are so accustomed to doing that most average voters don’t even know what “ballot box budgeting” is.

In short, ballot box budgeting is the practice of making major budget decisions at the ballot box.  And unlike the normal budget process, these decisions are commonly written into the California Constitution, and not subject to change in any way short of another ballot measure.  

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Transparent Government is In Your Hands: Yes on Proposition 54

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

Of the 24 ballot measures on the Los Angeles ballot November ballot, the least controversial is Proposition 54, the California Transparency Act, unless, of course, you are a Sacramento insider who likes the cover of the dead of night.

This initiated Constitutional amendment will prohibit the State Legislature from “passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the internet for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in the case of public emergency.”

This straight forward, easy to understand provision would eliminate the “gut and amend” maneuver where “legislative leaders hollow out innocuous bills and insert new language on unrelated but often controversial issues, then ram the bills through in the final hours of a legislative session.” 

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A Full Plate Of Higher Taxes Awaits LA Voters This Fall

Susan Shelley
Columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News and Southern California News Group

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 24 this year, but for politicians in Los Angeles, turkey day isTuesday, Nov. 8.

That’s when they will attempt to carve up taxpayers with at least four proposed tax increases – a sales tax hike and three measures that would increase property taxes.

It’s no coincidence that these tax-hike proposals are all on the ballot this year. Political experts believe tax increases have a better chance of passing in presidential elections, when turnout is higher.

So California politicians have been studying the polls and the calendar, and they’ve all reached the same conclusion — it’s fine weather for soaking taxpayers.

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Where’s the Passion for CEQA Reform?

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

The roots of California’s environmental regulations can be traced back to 1884. That’s the year a federal judge ordered miners to stop using water cannons to batter the Sierra hillsides to separate gold from the soil and rock, but also left behind a broken and ugly landscape.

The process, called hydraulic mining, had devastating effects. The water-sediment slurry it produced was flushed into rivers and streams, causing a surge that bruised and grated everything in its way. Property rights were violated downstream when the gravel, sand and other debris buried farms, and towns were flooded when collected sediment rendered waterways too shallow. Rivers and streams became unnavigable, and the environmental impacts were appalling, as fish-rich waters were contaminated and large chunks of mountainsides were scoured away.

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For Small Business, Bills that are Good, Bad and Ugly

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

As the Legislature reconvenes this week for its final month of business for the 2015-2016 legislative session, NFIB California reflected on victories and challenges ahead per the “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” bill list. Bills included in this list represent those which will have the greatest impact, either negative or positive, to our 22,000 small businesses across California.

As we enter these final four weeks of the legislative session, NFIB is prepared to hit the ground running to ensure the voice and interests of our 22,000 small business members, and their hundreds of thousands of employees, are heard regarding our remaining priority issues.

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Meg Being Meg

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

One of the more humorous times I’ve enjoyed in my 41 years in journalism was Meg Whitman blowing $180 million in her 2010 run for governor against Jerry Brown. For that she got 40.9 percent of the vote, just above the 40.0 percent Neal Kashkari got in 2014 spending almost nothing.

I wrote about her on Aug. 4, 2010 on CalWatchDog.com. The reference is to her opposition to Proposition 23, which would have repealed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which still is killing what’s left of California manufacturing. “Basically, these rich Silicon Valley liberals, including Meg, want to make California an eco-utopia for their offices and homes, but to put the ‘dirty’ parts of their industries in other states and countries,” I wrote. “Which is where millions of jobs are headed.

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Investing In The Incarceration Of Youth, Is No Investment At All.  

Daniel Silva
Daniel Silva is the Founder of Self Awareness & Recovery (SAR), a former inmate, and is a passionate reform and rehabilitation advocate.

I am a 50-year-old man who has spent 39 years of my life behind bars.

Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent to incarcerate me in juvenile camps and the state’s prison system, where I was given a life sentence for murder.

Life could have turned out differently for me, if I had the guidance and support I needed as a child who took to the streets to escape family dysfunction and abuse. Now that I am back in the community, I devote my life to helping young people stay in school and out of prison. That’s why I’m supporting the #SchoolsNotPrisons concert tour, which calls attention to issues I know all too well.  

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Contrary Goals of the Tobacco Tax

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

What is the tobacco tax increase for? Is the tax proposed in Proposition 56 to reduce smoking or to gain revenue? It seems the proponents’ goal is to be all things—a deterrent to smoking by raising the cost, plus raising revenue mostly for health care. Can they really have it both ways?

Raising the cost of a product means you will get less of it. The idea behind raising the cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products is to diminish and even eliminate their use. Previous tobacco tax increases have been accompanied by reduced use.

In a new study by the Proposition 56 campaign aimed at convincing the business community of the measure’s positive economic impacts, additional costs for a single smoking employee in health care costs and reduced productivity is calculated to be more than $5,000 per year.

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Why California Needs to Reconsider Our Own Paths of Globalization

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director, whose newest book is The Autism Job Club (with R. Holden).

brexitThough it has been little more than a month since its passage on June 23, Brexit already is fading in the rear mirror in American policy discussions. We should not let it disappear so easily, for it has lessons for the United States and for us in California .

Brexit not only laid bare the anger at globalization. It also brought needed challenges to the ways globalization was being implemented by the European Union. Whether or not you supported Brexit (or even followed the process), recognizing these challenges can guide us in the nation and in California with our globalization strategies going forward.

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Climate Retreat? Legislature Could Ditch Plan To Radically Cut Emissions

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Gov. Jerry Brown has taken the national stage to tout California’s fight against global warming, telling cheering throngs at the Democratic National Convention that the state has “the toughest climate laws in the country.” Yet inside the state Capitol, the fate of the policy’s centerpiece—legislation to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions—is in peril.

One ominous sign: The Democratic leader of the Assembly has not thrown his weight behind the bill.

“For us, it’s not imperative that it get done this year,” said Anthony Rendon, who has a background as an environmentalist but rose to speaker this year with support from a powerful bloc of business-friendly Democrats. “It’s a program that has had its success, but at the same time there are some corrections that could be made. We just want to make sure that if we’re going to set something up for the long term, that we get it right.”

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