All Quiet on the Pension Front

As California politicos bask in the post-primary afterglow, countless experts are quick to offer their take on the winners and losers in last week’s primary election.  However, one person who stands to be a big winner may not have even appeared on the ballot: Governor Jerry Brown. Just two months ago, an Assembly committee tabled […]

Cap and Trade Plan Touches Third Rail

In California, an odd team has hatched a plan. This most unlikely duo will create a polluter’s auction to siphon off $1 billion from state businesses to start construction on one of the state’s most mismanaged projects: high-speed rail. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has authority under California’s landmark 2006 climate law, Assembly Bill […]

Governor Brown Brings His Budget Proposal to My Backyard

Last week, Governor Brown’s statewide budget tour stopped
in my hometown of Santa Clarita.  While a visit from the Governor would
naturally be a big deal in our community, last Thursday’s visit became the
focus of statewide attention as I was the first Republican legislator to accept
his invitation to attend the forum.  My decision to join Governor Brown at
Hart High School was based on my belief that having such a forum afforded me
the opportunity to hear first-hand the Governor’s proposal, as well as how it
would be received by my constituents.   

I also want to thank the Governor for his willingness to
have a frank, honest, discussion about the very real crisis we face in
California His understanding that fundamental, long-term changes are also
necessary for the stability of our great state is a viewpoint I share. 

Based on the reports of previous hearings, I was
skeptical about who would participate and I expected most of them to be
supportive of the Governor’s tax increases. So, once I decided to attend,
we worked with the Governor’s office to ensure invitations went out to people
who truly represented a cross-section of the community.  Although the meeting focused on education and
law enforcement, representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Association of
Realtors, Building Industry Association, and several small business owners also
chose to attend.

Budget Cloak and Dagger Effort Threatens Santa Susana Field Lab Remediation

Over the past year as Chair of the Assembly Local Government Committee I have witnessed first-hand the harm to the public’s confidence that was wrought by the duplicitous actions of officials in the City of Bell. Since then I have proposed reform measures aimed at bringing more transparency to local governance in an effort to restore that confidence.

That is why I was surprised to learn of current efforts in the Capitol to use the delicate budget negotiations to circumvent the public collaboration process currently under way in Ventura County to decide the future of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) site. The item in question is a proposed resources trailer bill, RN 11 12008, which would effectively squash years of hard work between the community, the state and federal government and Boeing by codifying two administrative orders issued by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Enterprise Zones Key to California Job Creation

An article in Forbes shortly after the November
election charted California’s fall from role model to cautionary tale, aptly
noting that the decline of our economy was largely self-inflicted.  We
have over-taxed and over-regulated businesses to the point that it no longer
makes financial sense for them to stay here, let alone move or expand
here.  At a time when we should be doing everything in our power to
stimulate economic growth, Governor Brown has proposed extending tax increases
and eliminating tax credits.  Rather than figuring out how to attract
businesses to California, these actions will do everything short of packing the
moving vans for them. 

While cuts and tax extensions remain the most
controversial centerpieces of Governor Brown’s proposed budget, his call to
eliminate redevelopment agencies and Enterprise Zones has many local government
advocates, including myself, concerned.  Enterprise Zones are an important
tool for local governments looking to spark job creation and economic
development.  The impact of the Governor’s proposal on communities in my
district and around California would be devastating.

Silver screen means jobs for Golden State

The California Film and Television Tax Credit has proven to be a wildly successful case of the state working with businesses to keep jobs (and over $2 billion in direct spending) right here in California. But not all critics are impressed.

Prior to the Film and Television Tax Credit, “runaway production” had cost California over 10,600 jobs in film, TV and commercial production, and more than 25,000 related jobs, according to a report by The Milken Institute, a nonprofit economic think tank.

Unfortunately, taking our allies of commerce for granted is not a new attitude. The flight of film production, like so many other industries, is part of a distinctly Californian trend. To illustrate, forty years ago California was the hub of our nation’s aerospace industry. Thousands of Californians—with varying skill sets and education levels—could count on on well-paying, high quality aerospace jobs. Twenty years later, my friends and I grew up believing that we would have similar job opportunities in the entertainment industry.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

RPS.  Never have three seemingly innocuous letters stirred so much
passionate debate and consumed so much legislative time in recent
years. And for good reason.  

The future energy infrastructure of our
state over the next decade will largely be shaped by the decisions that
could result this year from the debate swirling around California’s
Renewable Portfolio Standard.

I am very supportive of efforts to increase our state’s reliance on
renewable energy, but I am also very aware just how difficult that task
is to accomplish. After all we have not even reached the state’s
original goal of 20% by 2010. Simply put, changing the culture of our
energy delivery system is extremely complicated. Many critical issues
must be fleshed out in a precise manner so that in the end we can move
California in what I believe is the appropriate direction without
harming ratepayers.

Tax Climate Leaves Businesses Out in the Cold

As Governor Schwarzenegger’s Commission on the 21st Century Economy considers a proposed overhaul of the state’s tax system, two reports released last month reinforce what many of us already knew – that California’s tax and regulatory burdens are driving businesses out of the state. The Tax Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, unveiled its 2010 State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI) which had California ranked 48th out of 50 in business tax climate.

Another study, commissioned in a 2007 bill by Assemblyman Juan Arambula (I-Fresno), found that the total cost of regulation to the State of California is nearly $500 billion and 3.8 million lost jobs annually. To put that cost in perspective, the general fund budget for the state is around $100 billion each year.

While other states are attracting new investment, creating jobs and generating economic growth, the anti-business majority in California continues to operate in a vacuum. They seem to ignore the pleas from California companies, large and small, and operate with no regard for how additional regulations and increased taxes impact our revenue base, along with our standing among other states.

Cities Have a Golden Opportunity to Save Millions. Will They Grab it?

Are California cities getting the most out their ability, under the California Constitution, to exercise “home rule”? According to a comprehensive report released today by the Associated Builders and Contractors, California Cooperation Committee (ABC-CCC), the vast majority of California cities are not using important tools at their disposal that could dramatically help control spending and protect taxpayer funds. The report released today is an important blueprint for cities looking to exercise greater autonomy over their municipal affairs.

The ABC-CCC report entitled "Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of Prevailing Wage Exemptions?" examines the prevailing wage policies of the 114 California charter cities to determine how many of them choose to exempt themselves from onerous state wage regulations when constructing municipally-funded public works projects. Surprisingly, it found that 58 percent of those cities continue to follow state mandates regarding prevailing wage despite the fact they have granted themselves the ability to take greater control over municipal affairs. By clinging to the state’s prescribed wage demands, municipalities are often paying a premium of anywhere from 6 to over 15 percent on municipally-funded public works projects. By cutting the cord from Sacramento, these cities could realize millions in savings and ensure that more local companies have the opportunity to bid on important jobs.

Democrats Continue to Perpetuate the Spending Problem

Two weeks ago the Legislature completed the traditional “House of Origin” deadline where literally hundreds of bills are voted on over a 5 day period. It amazes me that in a time where our focus should be on solving California’s budget mess and with a deficit of $24 Billion the Assembly passed nearly 200 bills that increase state spending.

While some of the bills passed were needed and I was willing to support, several stood out as especially unnecessary. I have compiled my version of a “Top Ten” (or bottom ten to be more exact), highlighting the worst of the worst.

10) SB 95 doubles the amount of bond a used car dealer must hold in order to do business in California. I believe that this is especially wrong at a time when auto dealers have been decimated by the economic downturn and these increased costs will be passed along to consumers.