Robin Hood and His Band of Green Thieves

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

Remember the basic premise of Robin Hood? The rich king and his fellow nobles were exploiting the poor through excessive taxation and oppressive application of the laws of the land.

Robin Hood and his merry men embarked on a novel scheme to steal from the rich and redistribute the loot to the poor through a variety of clever means. Their outlaw hideouts were deep in the forests of England and their “uniform” was green in order to mask themselves most effectively.

Green is certainly the in vogue color, and many in the environmental movement would love to have the general public believe that the Robin Hood philosophy of redistributing income from rich to poor is their modus operandi too.

Perhaps some simple comparing and contrasting would allow us to determine whether this claim stands up to any scrutiny.

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Privatization in California

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

Although the 2009 budget drama has subsided, the 2010 budget is just around the corner. It promises to be no less dramatic. While legislators work to break the snowballing budget cycle, they should consider new innovations such as privatization of some California infrastructure and functions.

For proof of success, look no further than The Reason Foundation’s recent findings in its Annual Privatization Report, which presents alternatives to the age-old battle over whether to raise taxes or cut spending. Instead, governments have the opportunity to reduce liabilities while modernizing and streamlining procurement practices, creating more transparent and simplified processes, and encouraging a new level of competitiveness among local businesses.

While California has barely dipped its toe into privatizing waters, many other states have jumped in with both feet.

One good example is West Virginia, whose privatization of its workers’ compensation insurance program. The move was considered a success in terms of handling of claims, lowering rates, and reducing the state’s liabilities.

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Democrats’ prison bill empowers felons, risks safety of Californians

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

Yesterday, the California Senate Democrats passed Assembly Bill 14xxx with the intent to reform California’s prison system and save $1.2 billion along the way. While these are good intentions, what this dangerous measure really does is empower felons while risking the safety of California citizens.

 

Elements of the bill include releasing inmates early from prison through a variety of different means including good time credits for just sitting in a prison cell; rewarding thieves for stealing vehicles valued under $2,500; and creating a public safety commission that would require membership of a felon.

 

Early release is not the answer and it’s doubtful that it will lead to real savings. First of all, what kind of message are we sending to criminals when the Legislature approves early release of felons before they have served their time?

 

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Who needs scientific data when extreme ideology abounds?

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

Would you trust your local baker to tune your car? Would you go to your barber for a physical?  Probably not.
 

Normal people tend to seek out experts for needed services or advice. But not in Sacramento where it appears some politicians either fancy themselves as scientific experts – whether they have a science background or not – or they seek the advice from questionable sources in their push for extremist policies that adversely affect the everyday lives of Californians.
 

Senate Bill 797 (authored by Los Angeles Senators Fran Pavley and Carole Liu) exemplifies knee-jerk legislation based on irrational fear rather than sound scientific judgment. The measure would place a ban on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) for products designed for infants and toddlers. The radical environmental lobby sponsoring the bill insists that BPA must be banned because the “science” proves its danger to humans.
 

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Cradle-to-cradle environmentalism

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

California stands on the verge of ushering in an environmental program which aims to change the face of waste production standards. Several bills currently in the California Legislature propose to codify the European concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) , which has so far been a voluntary practice. It is a strategy which promotes the integration of environmental costs associated with a product throughout its lifecycle into the market price of the product. In other words, b efore the manufacturing of a product begins, EPR suggests that the manufacturer should know how the waste created by the production process should be treated, as well as how the product should be taken care of once discarded. In this way, state regulators would create a system that would burden businesses with “cradle to cradle” recycling systems designed, financed, and managed by the producers themselves.

First conceived in Sweden, then used in Germany, EPR has spread across Europe and is slowly entering the American consciousness. Environmental activists hope that new California mandates will be established for the rest of the country to follow. EPR has the potential to combine environmental efforts such as greenhouse gas emissions implementation, landfill diversion quotas, the green chemistry initiative, to name just a few, that will hurt the state’s economy and result in higher prices, fewer choices, and increased unemployment.

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California is experiencing Dust Bowl in reverse

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

Democrat Leaders who do not believe Californians are fleeing the Golden State in droves need to look no farther than Sacramento, the seat of California’s state government. A recent Sacramento Bee article cites a reverse migration to the Mid-west. This marks a stunning reversal of the historical trend of migration into California—especially during the Dust Bowl that sent hundreds of thousands of Midwesterners west toward the Golden State.

During the Dust Bowl, people left states like Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma because a drought left the once fertile soil barren and bone-dry. The livelihoods of the farmers shriveled with the crops, and families found themselves in destitution. They sought the greener pastures of California. But where the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression sent a massive migration of Midwesterners to California, the current economic hardship is now driving residents back to the Midwest.

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After the failure of the Special Election, where does California go from here

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

Yesterday, the voters sent a strong message to the California Governor and Legislature – enough is enough! Taxpayers have done their part and will continue to pay their fair share of taxes to the California treasury. After all, California taxpayers pay some of the highest taxes in the nation. Now it’s the time for politicians to give taxpayers something in return: Like topnotch, efficient services and the best value for their tax dollars. We must stop wasteful spending, end programs that don’t work and adjust spending to the revenue stream – that’s what hard working Californians do in their household and business budgets and that’s how their state government should operate.

Taxpayers are willing to pay for education, but they don’t want to pay for increased spending in public school, which has ballooned more than $11 billion in the last six years despite a declined enrollment of 75,000 students. Especially when test scores and drop-out rates have remained stagnant and these problems continue to go unaddressed. 

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Proposition 1A: Too High a Price—and Voters Shouldn’t Buy

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

California has become like that ne’er do well cousin who is always hitting up generous relatives for more money, while never changing their irresponsible ways.  Proposition 1A, scheduled for the May election, is merely the latest example of Sacramento politicians returning to taxpayers for $16 billion in higher taxes, during a time of record high 10% unemployment, plummeting retirement account funds, record high foreclosures, and overall economic jitters, for more money to feed wasteful programs.

What’s most outrageous about the situation is that the authors of the ballot argument in favor of Prop 1A are attempting to hoodwink voters into extending the largest tax increases in state history under the guise of budget "reform."  Rather than being honest with Californians, the official ballot summary will omit $16 billion in higher taxes and only mention the spending cap portion of this measure.

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I–O-What? The Fun of Deferred Payments and “Registered Warrants”

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

The State of California is one of the most prosperous and desirous places to live anywhere on earth. It is the eighth largest economy in the world. Yet, the state is on the verge of issuing IOUs to pay its bills. Experts claim a perfect storm of economic down-turn, overly progressive tax system and collapsing credit market have led to the state’s cash crunch.

California’s cash crunch has made the issuing of IOUs to pay the state’s obligations a real possibility. Without cash in the bank, checks will bounce. California’s constitution, federal law and case law mandate that the state must meet certain obligations, such as debt service on its external loans. The state must have enough cash on hand for payments. Therefore, to ensure the state can meet its obligations to schools and repay external loans, IOUs may have to be issued in lieu of salaries and per diem payments to 1,700 legislators, state elected officers, judges and their appointed staff, as well as tax refunds owed to individuals and businesses.

California State Controller John Chiang has indicated that his office may be forced to issue “IOUs” as early as Feb. 1, 2009 depending on the “cash on hand” situation at the time.

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21 reasons to vote yes on Prop 6–the Safe Neighborhoods Act

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 1

The goal of Proposition 6-The Safe Neighborhoods Act is to curb gang violence in California. This is not an easy task, or one that can be accomplished by simply locking up the bad guys with hopes that they will somehow rehabilitate in prison.

As an author of the measure, I believe the gang solution lies in a comprehensive approach.

That’s why I sat down with law enforcement groups, victims’ advocates and policy experts from all over the state to craft a measure that would benefit and sustain programs to deter and to suppress gang activity and violence in our communities. Sheriffs, police, district attorneys and probation officers offered their professional insight, culled from many years of first-hand dealings with street gangs.

What follows are provisions of Proposition 6 that law enforcement believes will help fight gangs in California:

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