Economic recovery is an opportunity for the climate

Julian Canete and Matt Cate
Julian Canete is the president and CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Matt Cate is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Climate Resistant California.

The world is changing around us.

While the current COVID-19 crisis can easily stoke fear and anxiety, it also offers a window into what we can accomplish when we work together.

We have come together to move mountains to mitigate this pandemic like never before. While we are not out of the woods yet, the unity and commitment to addressing COVID-19 displayed by Californians will be essential in tackling a separate crisis that has been unfolding for decades – climate change.  

Instances of collaboration and togetherness are all around us. Neighbors are helping at-risk community members accomplish essential errands like grocery shopping. Counties and cities are accelerating their programs to house their homeless populations. And states are collaborating on best practices and regional approaches to fight the disease.

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The Doddering Deifiers of Density-Part 2

John Mirisch
Councilmember and former three term mayor of Beverly Hills

FYI, I am agnostic when it comes to urban density.  I look upon it as a lifestyle choice, one of many; my opposition to Wiener and his acolytes’ bills is rooted in their utter lack of tolerance: the attempts to force density upon communities; the attempts to create one-size-fits-all urban schemes that treat us all like widgets (or serfs); and the zealotry in their war on single-family homes, which themselves represent a personal lifestyle choice and in many cases the expression of the American dream.

In calling for the end of single-family homes, the young Yimby authors of the article cited above claim that “by 2025, over three quarters of households [down from “85%” in an earlier version of the article] will not have kids and the most common household will be individuals living alone.”  If that’s true, maybe it’s time to stop talking about “multifamily housing.”  Maybe in this time of New Urban Solipsism we should be talking about “multi-solo housing.”

And just how will this multi-solo housing help us avoid overcrowding?

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All Mail Voting Works – for Republicans

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

For all the Republican howling of late about mail balloting, we have now had our first two all mail ballot elections in California, and guess what, Republicans won both: a State Senate seat in Riverside County and a congressional district in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties that Democrats had won in 2018.

Republicans from President Trump and strategist Karl Rove on down were certain Democrats would somehow steal the congressional election.  But in a district carried by seven points by Hillary Clinton in 2016, and nine points by the Democrats in 2018, Republican Mike Garcia won by 10 points on Tuesday.

The dog didn’t bark, the bee didn’t sting, the fat lady didn’t sing.  So what happened?

Well, first, candidates and issues do matter.  There had to be a special election in this Antelope Valley Simi Valley district because the first term Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill got herself embroiled in a rather torrid sex scandal and had to resign.  The Democratic establishment anointed one term Assemblywoman Christy Smith for the seat, but in the March primary she ran poorly, showing that the voters were less than enthralled with the party’s choice, and perhaps turned off by the conduct of former Democratic Congresswoman Hill.

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May Revise Proposes Major Revenue Raisers

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

On May 14, Governor Newsom submitted his May Budget Revision (i.e., the “May Revise” to his January 10 budget proposal). As part of the May Revise, the Governor offered a series of “revenue solutions,” which amount to billions of dollars of increased tax payments primarily made by business taxpayers. 

The May Revise explains, “As part of the balanced approach to managing the budget deficit, the May Revision includes two significant temporary changes to tax law, two measures to reduce the sales tax gap, and maintains three tax measures included in the Governor’s Budget.” It further provides that “These tax measures as a whole are intended to raise revenue, stimulate economic growth, and help those in need.”

The Governor’s May Revise maintains the following four tax reduction measures that he proposed in January: 

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The Doddering Deifiers of Density—Part 1

John Mirisch
Councilmember and former three term mayor of Beverly Hills

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has ever observed the cult that Yimbys and other assorted density fetishists would react reflexively any time the word “density” is mentioned in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clearly, they are concerned that concerns about the potential impacts of density could cloud their agenda, which is aimed at limiting our collective array of housing choices, dictating that we should all live in multifamily housing and effectively eradicating single-family homes.

The fact that human beings themselves are the vectors responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic simply doesn’t dovetail with the “density is destiny” dogma.

Not only did Joel Kotkin’s op-ed on Covid-19 and density unleash a torrent of Yimby ridicule, invective and ad hominem attacks (ranging from calling Kotkin a “cretin” to a whole lot worse), it seemed to create new horizons in smug sarcasm.

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State has a budget problem — but how big?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The first step to effectively deal with any problem is defining it accurately — and the recession-battered state budget is a case in point.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic-induced recession is one of the worst in California history and that its negative fiscal effects — both increased spending and reduced revenues — are many billions of dollars.

There is, however, much uncertainty about the dimensions of the budget crisis, and therefore what might be required to “meet the moment,” to use one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s favorite phrases.

The revised budget that Newsom released last week appears to maximize the gap between income and outgo during the fiscal year that ends on June 30 and the 2020-21 fiscal year that begins on July 1. He pegs the gap at $54.3 billion and is proposing a potpourri of spending reductions, particularly in education, as well as deferrals, new revenues, allocations from the state’s rainy-day reserve fund, and federal aid to cover it.

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A Push for Taxes to Fill the Budget Hole?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Gov. Gavin Newsom did not include a broad tax increase to help balance the state’s budget but that doesn’t mean we will not see attempts by the legislature to raise taxes. 

Such a big hit to the economy that led to the $54 billion budget problem is not the time to increase taxes. If the goal is to bring the economy back, which in turn would grow government revenues, raising taxes would throw a wet blanket on the recovery.  However, the political dynamics of California must be examined to decide if legislators feel they have a chance to raise taxes through the legislative process. 

Going the ballot route is not promising. Even before the economy was slammed by the pandemic, California voters showed their disdain for tax increases on the March primary ballot. 

The only statewide bond dedicated to the usual sure thing of school construction and maintenance went down to defeat as did about 60% of local taxes and bonds. 

History is not on the tax raisers side, either. In the heart of the Great Recession, the legislature and governor put a tax increase measure on the ballot to help offset the budget shortfall, but the measure lost by a two-to-one margin. 

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Schools, health face deep cuts in California’s $203 billion budget

Jackie Botts
CalMatters Economic Reporter.

Gov. Gavin Newsom revised California’s budget down to $203 billion today as the coronavirus pandemic batters the state with record job losses and shortfalls. In charting out a plan to fill a huge deficit, the Democratic governor strategically tied much of the cuts to public health, public safety and public schools to additional federal stimulus aid.

“These unemployment numbers, the economic consequences of COVID-19, are not only being felt statistically, but they haven’t been felt like this since the Great Depression,” Newsom said. “These are not normal numbers.”

In trying to bridge a $54 billion deficit, he said, Congress could wield great power to stave off painful cuts to schools, health care and safety-net programs at a time when people need those services most. The Democratic governor also aimed his gaze at the Trump administration— announced a list of so-called trigger cuts that would happen absent additional federal support. 

Among notable trigger cuts:

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California Isn’t Colorado

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Recently California joined with Colorado in asking the federal government for more COVID-related financial support for states but the two states have very different needs for the money.

California spends $120 per resident — nearly $5 billion per year — on insurance subsidies for retired state employees (known as “OPEB”) while Colorado spends only $5 per resident. Worse, California borrows about half its cost. Just the half that’s paid for in cash consumes 10 percent of discretionary General Fund spending.

California’s subsidy is extravagant. California covers the entire cost for retirees while Colorado caps support at $115 per month for Medicare-eligible retirees and $230 per month for retirees not eligible for Medicare.

Public colleges and universities and many cities and school districts practice the same extravagance. The City of San Francisco and San Francisco Unified School District spend $230 per resident and $650 per student on OPEB subsidies. SFUSD alone spends more on OPEB than does the entire State of Colorado.

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Newsom pointing finger in the wrong direction for gas prices

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

California lawmakers are at it again in with more lawsuits in May 2020 against two multinational gasoline firms for allegedly manipulating California’s gas prices and costing consumers more at the pump.   

Governor Newsom and Attorney General Becerra have short memories as “their own Democratic” lawmakers already killed transparency of pricing at the pump.  The Governor and AG have already forgotten that a 2018 bill, SB 1074, sponsored by State Senator John Moorlach (R) from Costa Mesa and championed by the minority party in the State was effectively bottom drawered by their own ruling party. 

A few years ago, at an April 23, 2018 hearing before the State Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. I testified in support of Senate Bill 1074 (John Moorlach) called “Disclosure of government-imposed costs,” which would have required gas stations to post near each gas and diesel pump a list of cost factors, to include federal, state and local taxes, as well as costs associated with the state’s environmental rules and regulations.  

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