California’s Low On Water? Time to Fine the Water Resources Board Not Its Citizens

Tom Del Beccaro
Former Chairman of the California Republican Party

California is in the midst of one of its many droughts.  To combat the current drought, the otherwise do-nothings of the California Water Resources Board are proposing to fine citizens they call “water hogs” $500 per day.  Instead of fining helpless consumers, California’s government should do its job for once and seriously increase water supplies.

It is well known that California is the most populated state in the Union, with more than 38 million people.  Its population was just under 20 million in 1970, when the bulk of its current water storage and delivery systems were already built.  In other words, the California governments have done very little to significantly increase water supplies in over 40 years, even though its population has doubled during that period of time.

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CA Economic Ranking Renews Debate

Staff Columnist, Orange County Register

For those who put a lot of stock in statistics, it’s a good month for California. The Golden State has returned to take its former position among the world’s largest economies. World Bank calculations show California — if it were considered a country — placing eighth in size worldwide. That’s still well below fifth place, where the state had ranked going into the early 2000s – but a significant increase from its spot two years ago at the bottom of the global top 10.

The news caps what has been over six years of roller coaster economic and budgetary uncertainty, for Californian voters and politicians alike. But for most politicians and policy experts, the state’s health is hardly a settled matter.

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Millennials Think Government Is Inefficient, Abuses Its Power, and Supports Cronyism

Fox&Hounds Contributor

But young Americans also want government to guarantee health insurance and living wages; plan to vote for Democrats in 2014 and 2016

A new Reason-Rupe study and survey of 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 finds 66 percent of millennials believe government is inefficient and wasteful – a substantial increase since 2009, when just 42 percent of millennials said government was inefficient and wasteful.

Nearly two-thirds of millennials, 63 percent, think government regulators favor special interests, whereas just 18 percent feel regulators act in the public’s interest. Similarly, 58 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds are convinced government agencies abuse their powers, while merely 25 percent trust government agencies to usually do the right thing.

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Will Effort to Overturn Citizens United Someday Affect CA Ballot Measures?

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

The item that caught my eye in the recently passed California legislative resolution (AJR1) seeking an amendment to the U. S. constitution to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision is the clause that mentions ballot measures. The resolution is a call for a federal constitutional amendment to limit corporate campaign contributions yet there are no federal ballot measures.

Press releases from supporters of the effort to create a constitutional amendment, particularly the group that demonstrated in Sacramento when the resolution was considered, complain about money corrupting politics in the terms of corporate money, union money is never mentioned.

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All California’s Problems Lead to the San Joaquin Valley

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)

It’s not clear if Governor Jerry Brown and his challenger Neel Kashkari will debate each other this fall. But if they do, there should be no doubt about the proper location for any and all debates: the San Joaquin Valley.

In this very quiet California election year, it’s fitting that our state’s most overlooked region has emerged as the center of every single major debate about California’s future. As we fight over high-speed rail and water and prisons and fracking and unemployment, we are really debating the future of the San Joaquin. Not that many of us have noticed; the new leader of the California State Senate, Kevin de Léon of Los Angeles, recently dismissed the region as a place full of tumbleweeds.

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Arrogance of the Political Elite Costs You at the Pump

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

It’s election season and finally there’s a bit of good news for California politicians seeking reelection. A recent Field poll shows that, for the first time in 7 years, there are more California voters that think they are financially better off than those who believe they are worse off.

However, for the political elite, that is the end of the good news. The poll also reveals that more than half of voters, 53%, see the state being in economic bad times while only 25% see these as good times. And to top it off, there are more Californians who believe the state is headed in the wrong direction as opposed to those who think the state is on the right track.

If politicians believe they can weather what they hope is a passing public relations storm, it is time to key the chorus of the Bachman Turner Overdrive song, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.”

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How to Create Affordable Abundance in California

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

California has one of the highest costs of living in the United States. California also is one of the most inhospitable places to run a business in the United States. And despite being blessed with abundant energy and an innovative tradition that ought to render the supply of all basic resources abundant and cheap, California has artificially created shortages of energy, land and water, and a crumbling, inadequate transportation and public utility infrastructure.

The reason for these policy failures is because the people who run California are the public sector unions who control the machinery of government, the career aspirations of government bureaucrats, the electoral fate of politicians, and the regulatory environment of the business community. To make it work, these unions have exempted government workers, along with compliant corporations and those who are wealthy enough to be indifferent, from the hardships their policies have created for everyone else.

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A Vote Too Far: Voters Should Not “Advise” The Legislature

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

With little fanfare, California leaders are on the verge of breaking new ground for statewide ballot measures. This is not a good thing.

Passed by the Legislature and awaiting a decision from the Governor is a bill that would put to voters this November an advisory question as to whether Congress should propose an amendment to the US Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign contribution limits.

I’ll leave the substantive debate on political fundraising to others. What disturbs me is the Legislature conjuring an extraordinary and likely unlawful new scheme to grind a political axe – without making an ounce of difference in the lives of Californians.

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Berkeley Soda Tax Proposal: Questions & Confusions

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

Twenty-two years ago California voters showed disdain for putting a tax on snack foods by overwhelming passing Proposition 163 to rescind what was called “snack taxes” imposed at the behest of the Wilson Administration in the early 1990s budget crisis. This came to mind when the city council of Berkeley voted just before the July 4th holiday to put on the ballot a tax on sugary soft drinks.

The proposed measure calls for an excise tax on the distributors of the sweetened drinks. In that way, proponents of the tax expect to avoid the constitutional prohibition of taxing ‘food products for human consumption’ set up by Proposition 163.

Proposition 163 added Section 34 to Article XIII of the state constitution denying the state and political subdivisions from levying a sales or use tax on the sale or storage of food products for human consumption.

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Is Diversity the Source of America’s Genius?

Gregory Rodriguez
Publisher & Executive Director of Zocalo Public Square, and Founder and Director of the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University

An Irishman, a Jew, and a Mexican walk into a bar. It’s a classic set-up line for a classic American joke. But it’s also a means of coping with our diversity.

We need such jokes. Despite all our slogans to the contrary, diversity such as ours isn’t always easy to negotiate. Humor is just one of the ways Americans navigate, narrate, expose, and otherwise unburden ourselves of the absurdities and pitfalls of living in such a complicated place.

Eight years ago, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam released a now-famous study concluding that diversity lowers social trust. His massive survey of 30,000 Americans found that if you live in a more diverse community, you’re less likely to trust the people in it. Those of us living in ethnically diverse settings, the study found, “tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity,” and to spend more time sitting in front of the television.

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