Now is California’s Watershed Moment

Jim Wunderman and Michael Kelly
Jim Wunderman is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. Michael Kelly is the executive director of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs.

It is now safe to say that El Niño will not solve California’s drought. Though this should have been obvious from the start, there is a silver lining – it has bought the state more time to put better policies in place to create a sustainable water supply for years to come for all Californians.

We are at a true “watershed moment.” If we take decisive and effective action, our state can thrive within the limits of its current and future water resources. But if we fail to act (or act as we have in the past), the challenges our growing state will face each year will grow.

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Business And Labor In Promising Discussions For Ports Future

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are essential to the economic health and well-being of the Southern California – as well as the State of California and the nation.  The two ports are responsible for more than 300,000 jobs for our friends and neighbors.  But the world in which the ports operate is increasingly competitive.  In a few short months an expanded Panama Canal will be operational, allowing larger vessels to transit the canal.  In addition, ports in Canada and Mexico, as well as those on the East and Gulf coasts of the United States, are expanding their facilities – all with the intent of drawing cargo away from Southern California’s ports.   

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The Job Creation/Destruction Machine that is California

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director and author, The Autism Job Club (2015, with R. Holden)

bernick job1A continuing storyline of the California economy is the enormous job creation and job destruction that goes on below the surface of the monthly job numbers. Each month around 300,000 payroll jobs are destroyed, and an equal amount created, even as the monthly payroll job total moves only a little.

It’s been a few years since we last looked in detail at the data on job creation and destruction in our state. As the California economy continues to hum along (now with over 2 million payroll jobs gained since February 2010), it is time to revisit the job creation/destruction machine that is California.

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Imagine a Democracy Built on Lotteries, Not Elections

Terrill Bouricius is a former member of the Vermont House of Representatives. David Schecter is an independent democracy researcher and activist. Campbell Wallace is an author and political theorist. John Gastil directs the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Pennsylvania State University.

Legislatures, and the elections that populate them, have so many flaws that we might be better off picking our representatives at random.

Before you chuckle, first consider how far we’ve come since April 1776, when John Adams wrote that a legislature should be “in miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large.”

Over the past couple of centuries, our definition of “the people” has expanded to include people without property, former slaves, and women, but the ideal of legislative bodies that actually resemble the citizenry still eludes us. Congress is a political class distinct from the citizenry — whiter than the American population at large, much more male, and much wealthier. A majority are millionaires. Our national legislature is very far from any resemblance to a “portrait” of the people.

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Time to Help Business

Rob Lapsley
President, California Business Roundtable

With last week’s signing of $15/hour minimum wage legislation and today’s signing of AB 908 (paid family leave), businesses are being asked to take on even more costly mandates.

Moving forward, policymakers need to balance costs for all businesses, especially small businesses, by passing policies that limit litigations costs, provide workplace flexibility, streamline regulations and lower housing costs. That is the only way that we can help businesses create and grow the middle class jobs including green jobs that are the future of our state.

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Morality and the Minimum Wage

Justin Adams, Ph.D.
President and Chief Economist of Encina Advisors, and Leadership Council Vice Chair of NFIB/California

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. – Teddy Roosevelt

Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature took the politically expedient approach to solving California’s income inequality when they enacted SB 3 (the minimum wage bill) into law on April 4th. Rather than focus on the difficult but necessary tasks to help Californians improve their circumstances – reforming the education system, improving job training, and growing the economy – they simply decreed a 50 percent pay hike for low-income workers, held a press conference and declared success.

During the signing ceremony, Gov. Brown conceded that “economically, minimum wages may not make sense.” But he stated that he backed the legislation anyway because of the “morality” of supporting families and their communities.

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Jerry Brown and Paul Ryan – Two of a Kind (on Subsidiarity)

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

Governor Jerry Brown and House Speaker Paul Ryan both offered support for the principle of subsidiarity — simply stated as decentralizing power and moving decision making to the lowest possible authority.

Brown’s record on upholding this philosophy is spotty at best. Ryan’s record is yet to be established.

Brown first publicly applied the term subsidiarity in discussing the state budget three years ago. At the time, as Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters explained, the origins of the word involved Catholic doctrinal history developed by 20th-century German theologian, Oswald von Nell-Breuning.

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How to Keep America Safe

Duf Sundheim
Candidate for the United States Senate, California

The number one priority of our federal government is to keep America safe.  That requires bold, balanced, and smart leadership. With geopolitical threats from Russia, North Korea, and Iran and terrorist threats from radical Islam, it is essential our nation has both a strong defense and maintain a robust offensive capacity.

As a U.S. Senator, I will work to empower the four core pillars of an effective national security policy: 1) AccurateIntelligence, 2) Thoughtful Diplomacy, 3) Innovative Technology , and 4) a Strong Military.

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With Initiative Pulled, Will There be a Second Attempt to Move Bullet Train Money to Water Storage?

Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson, President of the California Rice Industry Association

Congratulations are in order for the California Water Alliance raising more than $500,000 in an effort to qualify the ballot initiative to build more water storage in California. That’s no small feat in our community, especially one so impacted by the drought.

Years ago, I learned that some of the most important analysis that can be done is that marginal analysis. Simply, it looks at the additional benefits or costs associated with an activity – gaining enough signatures to qualify a ballot and eventually win in this case.

In politics, this takes money – lots of it. Let’s run the numbers on this effort.

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LAO Numbers on Cap-N-Trade Sure Make It Feel Like a Tax

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

The Legislative Analyst’s letter to Assemblyman Tom Lackey revealing that the cap-and-trade program’s effect on gasoline amounts to $2 billion a year or 11-cents a gallon is no surprise to readers of this page. Numerous writers over the last number of years pointed to the cost that would make its way to consumers at the pump under cap-and-trade.

More to the point is the issue of whether cap-and-trade revenue results from a tax? While that question is being decided by courts of law thanks to suits brought by the California Chamber of Commerce and others, I think the LAO’s analysis will convince the people of California that they are paying a tax.

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