How About a Latino for Senate? (A Republican!)

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

Much has been made of the brewing squabble in the Democratic Party over selection of a candidate to replace Barbara Boxer in the United States Senate. The Latino Caucus revealed a poll it commissioned suggesting a Latino candidate would energize Latino voters, a key voting demographic. Members of the caucus said Latinos were being slighted by the perceived “coronation” of Attorney General Kamala Harris as the senator in waiting.

As George Skelton’s Los Angeles Times column on the brouhaha was headlined yesterday, “All-Powerful Democrats Find New Adversaries: Each Other.”

If the tiff widens, is there an opportunity for a Republican Latino to make some noise?

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The Moment to Take on Prop 13 Is Over

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)

Some tax reformers hold onto the hope of changing Prop 13 via ballot measure next year. But a new PPIC poll suggests that the moment for big reform is over.

The PPIC poll showed a record high percentage of Californians – 61 percent – saying Prop 13 had been mostly a good thing for the state. Support for a split roll tax tying commercial property taxes to current market value has dropped to its lowest support since PPIC began asking about it three years ago. And there is less than majority support for lowering the two-thirds majority vote require at the ballot box for new local special taxes to 55 percent.

All these findings suggest that the moment has passed for changing Prop 13. A move to change Prop 13 might have made sense during the recession when the budget was unbalanced and the state was starving for funds. But not right now.

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Business Regulatory Reform Starts Here

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

(Editor’s Note: Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. Below are remarks made by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California before the vote on the bill.)

I recently read a headline about the President’s budget. You know what it said? ‘Budget Proposal is Obama’s Map Back to Big Government.’ Think about that for a moment. There used to be a time in the White House when they said, ‘the era of big government is over.’

Now, it’s like we’re heading back in time.

Everyone knows why the era of big government should be over. It’s because big government has big costs. Large, inefficient programs cost a lot of money, which means higher taxes and more debt.

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Manufacturing Numbers in Perspective

Gino DiCaro
Vice President of Communications for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association

Last week Dan Walters wrote a piece depicting the enormity of California’s manufacturing sector, using a recent 2012 Census Bureau report, which prompted tweets like the following:

GO-Biz (@CAGoBiz) 1/27/15, 14:54 FACT: California has twice as many manufacturing firms as the next closest state, TX. @sacbee

Stockton Buzz (@stocktonbuzz) California leads U.S. in manufacturing jobs… #stockton #lodi #los angeles #jobs #manufacturing census via @cvbtnews

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An Open Senate Race and New Rules

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

The 2016 US Senate race will be the first serious statewide contest under the new rules of the open primary-top two runoff.  If politicians have not figured out how much it has changed California politics, they will soon.

In a one-party state like California, the dominant pols generally don’t like elections, and the retirement of Sen. Barbara Boxer has not set off a land rush of candidates for her seat.  In fact, the Democratic establishment is trying to rally everyone around Attorney General Kamala Harris and to clear the field for her.

They might succeed, but the new primary system argues against it, it is simply too easy to run under the new system.  If this were 2010, all Harris would need to do is win a closed primary dominated by loyal and liberal Democratic base voters, easily done.  But now running first is meaningless because there is a guaranteed run off between first place and second place.

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Reason Foundation Argues: 10 Reasons to Support Mileage-based User Fees

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

The debate over gas taxes or mileage-based user fees to fund road construction and maintenance is heating up. Proponents of gas tax increases argue now is the time to proceed because lower gasoline prices would lessen the blow on consumers and blunt political opposition. In California, a commission to study road usage charges and establish a pilot program for mileage charges has begun meeting. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has revealed her quest for non-specific fees to pay for road maintenance.

Fuel taxes have been used as the prime method to fund roads since Oregon implemented a gas tax in 1919. Because fuel taxes are charged per gallon, the tax has dropped proportionately with the advent of electric, hybrid, and fuel-efficient vehicles.

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Rebuilding California’s Middle Class: One Community College at a Time

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

(This posting is a slightly revised version of an essay that appeared the past few days in Zocalo Public Square and in Time Magazine.)

santaanacollegeIn the past few weeks, President Obama’s free community college tuition proposal has received a lot of media attention as a strategy for rebuilding the middle class. Even if the president’s initiative does advance in some form, though, it will have little impact on California’s 2.2 million community college students, or on most other community college students around the nation. Community colleges do have the major role in rebuilding the middle class, but their challenges lie beyond tuition.

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Were California and Poland Separated at Birth?

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)

California, I’d like to introduce you to the sister you never knew you had.

Her name is Poland.

No joke.

I see by the look on your face, California, that you are a bit shocked at this news. I realize that, when you think about your place in the world, you compare yourself to other big states, like Texas (economically) or New York (culturally). And when you’re feeling proud, you trot out the gross domestic product figures that put you in the top 10 of all countries around the world, up there with Italy and Russia and ahead of India.

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CA Jobs Growth Continues — With Caution Signal

John Seiler
John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for

California continues to enjoy fairly strong jobs growth — but new data released today (not yet online) by the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University suggest caution may be warranted moving forward.

The report’s headline: “California unemployment indicator declines.”

The California Employment Indicator declined to 121.6 in the first quarter of 2015 from 124.2 in the fourth quarter of 2014, a drop of 2.6 points. The Indicator includes such variables as movements in the lagged values of real GDP, real exports, the S&P 500 and California’s total construction spending.

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The Debate Over Extending Proposition 30

Mark Baldassare
President of the Public Policy Institute of California

One of the most controversial issues that the governor and legislature face in 2015 is what to do about the Proposition 30 tax increase. This citizens’ initiative passed with a 55% yes vote in November 2012. The governor says this tax increase is meant to be temporary. But others say that the state budget situation has improved because of Proposition 30, and it could deteriorate if we allow the sales and income tax increases to fully expire in 2018. In the most recent PPIC Statewide Survey, 52% of likely voters would favor a Proposition 30 tax extension. We found identical results in our December 2014 poll. A slim majority of support suggests that a tax extension is in the realm of the possible but far from a sure thing.

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