Prop 68: A Yes vote is a reward for bad behavior

By Jack Humphreville | While the State of California is rolling in the dough with an $8 billion surplus as a result of increases in the State Budget to $200 billion, the spendthrift politicians in Sacramento are asking us to approve a $4.1 billion ballot measure that will help the State “protect our water, parks, and natural resources” from the impact of “severe droughts, wildfires, and climate change.”

NO on Prop 68Their efforts are backed by the usual suspects who love to wine and dine at our expense: the political establishment, the business community, the public-sector unions, the construction industry, the trade unions, and the environmentalists. They are also spending a fortune to “educate” us on the merits of this pork laden bond measure.

Unfortunately, the cost of this bond measure will double to $8 billion when you factor in the interest and underwriting expenses we will pay to Wall Street investors, traders, and investment bankers.  As a result, California taxpayers will be spending between $250 and $300 million a year for the next thirty (30) years.

A more prudent alternative is to develop a plan to fund these projects over an eight-year period.  This is not that much longer than it would take to spend the proceeds from the bond offerings.  This pay-as-you-go plan would result in payments of $500 million a year, representing a mere 0.25% of the State’s $200 billion budget.  This plan eliminates the payment of $4 billion to Wall Street investors, a substantial savings that may be used for other pressing needs such as the repair of our highways, affordable housing, housing for the homeless, and funding of the State’s pension plans.

To read the entire article, please click here.

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Pernicious push polls pervert politics

By Jon Coupal | “There are lies, damn lies and statistics,” goes the old saying. It has always been true that statistics can be presented in ways that are highly deceptive and intentionally misleading.

A weekly column by Jon CoupalA Midwestern city might truthfully claim that its average temperature is a perfect 74 degrees — just like the Hawaiian Islands. It could be technically true, except that the deviation from that temperature in the sub-tropical climate isn’t very great, while the Midwestern city might swing from below freezing in the winter to triple-digit heat in the summer. That comfortable-sounding “average” is sure not the full story.

Still, for susceptibility to manipulation, statistics don’t hold a candle to polling — especially political polling. During this primary season in California, the various candidates are releasing reams of polling to show how far ahead they are of their competitors. Two different polls can show diametrically opposite results, with one candidate showing he or she is leading 80 percent to 20 percent over an opponent while the opponent might claim to be ahead by a margin of 90 to 10.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Posted in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal, Political Campaigns, Polling | Leave a comment

Andrew Cuomo knows what must be done about school shootings: something

None of the usual gun control proposals seems relevant to the massacre at Santa Fe High School.

By Jacob Sullum | Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, instantly knew what needed to be done in response to the shooting that killed 10 people today at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas: something.

“DO SOMETHING,” Cuomo tweeted to Donald Trump early this afternoon. Cuomo elaborated in an open letter to the president and Congress:

Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Las Vegas. Orlando. Parkland.

And now, Santa Fe.

When is enough enough? How many more innocent people have to die before you act?

You were elected to lead — do something. Your first responsibility is to the people of this country, not the NRA — do something. My heart breaks for the families who have to grieve from this needless violence — DO SOMETHING.

Upon reflection, elaborated may be too strong a verb for what Cuomo did, which was more like repeating the same vague demand over and over again. Congress and the president must do something, preferably something that pisses off the NRA, but exactly what is not quite clear.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

One reason Cuomo was not more specific may be that none of the usual gun control ideas seems relevant to the horrifying crime committed today. The suspected shooter, a 17-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School, used a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver, so clamoring for a federal “assault weapon” ban hardly seems appropriate (assuming it ever is).

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters the guns belonged to the suspect’s father, adding, “I have no information at this time whether the father knows the weapons were taken.”

Background checks, no matter how universal or comprehensive, cannot stop a mass shooter from using firearms purchased by someone else. Nor can a higher purchase age for guns.

If the point of doing something is to make mass shootings less frequent or less deadly, it is not at all obvious what that thing should be. But if the point of doing something is to flaunt your compassion and courage while differentiating yourself from those evil bastards on the other side, almost anything will do.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a nationally syndicated columnist. This commentary was originally posted on Reason’s blog.

Posted in Guns, Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine | Leave a comment

Duplicitous Sen. Josh Newman speaks against transparency pricing at the gas pump, then votes FOR it when it became clear the bill would fail

By Ronald Stein | Californians now pay as much as $1.00 more per gallon of fuel than the rest of the country. Shouldn’t the motoring public know why?

Ronald SteinA bill in the California Legislature to do just that was Senate Bill 1074, by state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa). Called “Disclosure of government-imposed costs,” it would have required gas stations to post near each gas pump a list of cost factors, such as federal, state and local taxes, costs associated with environmental rules and regulations including the cap-and-trade tax.

Numerous folks and organizations spoke in support of the bill at an April 23 hearing before the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. I testified myself. Absolutely no one from the public spoke in opposition.

But the Democratic-controlled committee didn’t want the public to know why we’re paying so much, and voted to kill the bill from future consideration.

I watched closely the action on the Senate floor.

The senator who spoke most against the bill was Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). But when the time of the vote came and it became clear the bill would fail, he voted Aye, which could help him in his close recall election bid this June.

Newman already had enough problems on the issue because he provided the key vote last year to pass Senate Bill 1, which jacked up gas taxes $5.5 billion a year. An initiative to repeal that gouging at the gouging at the pump just submitted more than 1 million signatures and also should go before voters this November.

It’s strange that almost every other product we buy comes with the price listed on the tag, with the taxes then clearly added to the receipt: clothes, computers, cars, furniture, office supplies, books, etc.

By contrast, the price at the pump is not broken down by tax or other cost, but actually includes a multitude of taxes, as well as costs from numerous environmental regulations.

In addition to the federal tax on fuels that applies to all states, California’s state taxes are among the highest in the country. Beginning last November, SB 1 alone added 12 cents to a gallon of gasoline and 20 cents to diesel.

SB 1074 specified the multiple taxes and regulatory costs that would have to be listed: a) The federal fuel tax per gallon; b) the state fuel tax per gallon; c) the state sales tax per gallon; d) refinery reformatting costs per gallon; e) cap and trade program compliance costs per gallon; f) low-carbon fuel standard program compliance costs per gallon; and g) renewable fuels standard program compliance costs per gallon.

That’s a lot of taxes and costs.

The cap and trade costs, by the way, now are the major funding source for outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown’s favorite boondoggle, the Choo Choo train project.

The high fuel taxes impact not just drivers, but almost everything in our economy, such as the food carried to grocery stores, materials to housing construction and clothing to children’s stores. Even and other online retailers will charge more for shipping as their costs rise.

Especially hurt by the high cost of fuel are the working poor, who often must commute an hour or more inland because coastal housing is so expensive. Aren’t such people supposed to be a key constituency of the Democratic Party?

No wonder we now have a better understanding of why California suffers the highest percentage of people in poverty and a homeless crisis so acute it shocks the world.

SB 1074 would have given motorists information on what’s really going on. But for the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature, bliss is keeping Californians ignorant.

Ronald Stein is the founder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine. This article originally appeared on Fox & Hounds.

Posted in 29th State Senate District, Gas Tax, Josh Newman, Ronald Stein | Leave a comment

Fullerton City Hall is closed today for another three-day weekend

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

January –1*, 12, 26
February – 9, 19*, 23
March – 9, 23
April – 6, 20
May – 4, 18, 28*
June – 1, 15, 29
July – 4*, 13, 27
August – 10, 24
September – 3*, 7, 21
October – 5, 19
November – 2, 11*, 16, 22*, 23*,30
December – 14, 24*, 25*, 26^,27^, 28, 31*

*Holiday observed
^Winter Closure

Fullerton City Hall

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Watch last night’s city council meeting

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Tonight’s city council meeting agenda

The AgendaTo read or download tonight’s detailed council meeting agenda, please click here (pdf).

The public participation portion of the meeting begins at 6:30 with presentations and awards. Actual city business normally doesn’t start until 7:00 or thereafter.

And you can also watch it on cable Channel 3 (Spectrum — formerly Time Warner Cable).

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Taxpayers lose again with new solar panel mandate

By Jon Coupal | The California Energy Commission has announced new regulations to require rooftop solar panels on all new homes constructed in California beginning in 2020. This forced mandate represents an extraordinary regulatory overreach.

However, don’t expect too much political push-back against these new rules. Why? Because the “winners” who support the regulations have a lot more political juice than the “losers.”

A weekly column by Jon CoupalTops on the list of winners is, of course, the solar industry. When your business is the manufacturing and installation of solar panels, and you can get government to mandate the purchase of your product, you have a guaranteed customer base as well as a guaranteed revenue stream.  For solar companies, spending a few million dollars on political influence results in a great (return on investment).

A less direct benefit behind the solar mandate is conferred on the building industry generally. Although the mandatory inclusion of solar panels will increase the cost of their “product,” i.e. homes, this is a cost developers will just pass along to consumers. Because it’s a government mandate, no developer will be put at a competitive disadvantage.

Add local government to the list of winners. The added cost for solar installations means the purchase price of the homes — upon which the Proposition 13 base-year value is established — will be higher.  This translates into a big boost in property tax revenues.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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University of California strikers don’t see the full budget picture

By John Moorlach | I get the impression the University of California workers who went on strike May 7 don’t know the half of the financial problems of which the UC system suffers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 20,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) “walked off their jobs,” including “custodians, gardeners, cooks, truck drivers, lab technicians and nurse aides.”

State Senator John MoorlachAmong other things, the union is demanding “a multiyear contract with annual pay raises of 6 percent, no increase in healthcare premiums and continued full pension benefits at the retirement age of 60.” UC countered with 3 percent annual raises for four years, raising the retirement age “to 65 for new employees who choose a pension instead of a 401(k) plan” and $25 a month in increased health-care premiums.

The AFSCME strikers were joined Tuesday by 14,000 members of the California Nurses Association and 15,000 members of the University Professional & Technical Employees, such as pharmacists and physical therapists. That forced the rescheduling of “more than 12,000 surgeries, cancer treatments and appointments.”

I guess the Hippocratic Oath’s pledge to “First, do no harm,” isn’t so important these days. And because this is a government-run system, the strike may be a strong warning against single-payer and other proposed socialized medicine schemes. In the private sector, if one part goes on strike, you can turn to another part. But when government goes on strike, you’re stuck, perhaps even getting a date with the Grim Reaper.

One worker was quoted lamenting “her pay increases over two decades at UCLA have not kept up with rising rent.” Of course, that’s a complaint almost all California renters could make because the Legislature and recent governors have refused to adequately address the causes for the state’s low housing supply. Blame also goes to AFSCME and the other public employee unions who keep financing the campaigns of legislators who refuse to solve the state’s pressing problems, while doing the unions’ bidding on pay and other issues.

But the UC strikers do have a point that the system’s finances are not in good shape. Let me add a few more concerns to their litany of problems.

First, according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal, p.13, UC system retirement liabilities amount to $10.9 billion for pensions and $19.3 billion for health care – $30.2 billion total. Second, from the UC system’s 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, p. 36, the unrestricted net deficit is $19.3 billion. The UC system is upside down by nearly $20 billion!  If the retiree health liability were added, it would double the deficit. Such is the joy of making financial promises that come due in the future.

Third, the Democratic-controlled state Legislature continues to reduce state funding of the UC system. Their fiscal priority is endorsed by Gov. Brown.

Fourth, as the Los Angeles Times reported in 2015, the UC system now employs more administrators than professors: “The number of those making at least $500,000 annually grew by 14 percent in the last year, to 445, and the system’s administrative ranks have swelled by 60 percent over the last decade – far outpacing tenure-track faculty.” As of that year, the system employed 10,539 administrators to 8,899 profs. Does anyone think a private-sector company could survive with more executives than production workers?

Tragically, these same administrators refuse to provide a 10-year strategic financial plan to provide a road map out of their fiscal morass.

And just a year ago, an audit by State Auditor Elaine M. Howle revealed severe financial mismanagement by UC President Janet Napolitano, including: “The Office of the President accumulated more than $175 million in restricted and discretionary reserves that it failed to disclose to the regents and created undisclosed budgets to spend those reserve funds.”

Fifth, this combined financial mismanagement obviously has increased tuition. Although an increase was avoided this year, the current resident tuition is $11,502, compared to just $2,896 in 1998. That’s a 297 percent increase in 20 years. By contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator clocks overall price increases during that time at just 116 percent. Put another way, UC tuition increased at almost three times the inflation rate.

There are numerous tensions impacting the UC System. A defined-benefit pension plan prevents pay raises, as does the inability to constantly raise tuition. The solution resides with the state’s Democratic governor and Legislature.

More than 40 years of Democratic control have created this Gordian knot and something will snap soon. Perhaps the unions should realize the mess they have helped create. And voters should do the same.

[This post originally appeared on the Fox & Hounds blog.]

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Thank you, Governor Brown

By David Crane | Earlier today, California Governor Jerry Brown released the May Revision to his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The document is a must-read.

David CraneState budgets are never perfect. That’s because they employ cash-basis budgeting, which excludes accrued but unpaid expenses. (That’s how states are able to record surpluses when under generally accepted accounting principles they would record deficits.) The unrecorded expenses automatically turn into unfunded liabilities that, with interest, must be paid off down the road. But Brown’s document makes clear what cash-basis budgets do not: billions of dollars will be needed down the road to meet unfunded liabilities, which Brown tells readers grew “by $15 billion since the January budget alone.” Brown then adds that “a moderate recession will drop state revenues by over $20 billion annually for several years,” and encourages the legislature to save money now.

Sometimes it’s not costly when legislators don’t read budgets in their entirety. But Brown has changed that dynamic. This time it’ll be very costly if legislators don’t read the budget, plus schedules in the Governor’s January budget.

PS: The document also contains a reminder to legislators that the state’s unemployment rate stubbornly remains above the national rate, as it has since the 1980s. That’s addressable by the legislature, which should start by knocking down unnecessary barriers erected in favor of special interests.

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