Legislature ignores Caltrans boondoggles as taxpayers suffer

John MoorlachBy John Moorlach | The California Legislature is obsessing over relatively minor problems with the state Board of Equalization while ignoring Caltrans boondoggles costing taxpayers billions of dollars. At the same time, in November drivers will be run over by a $5.2 billion a year tax increase.

The Professional Engineers in California Government union has been salivating to fill vacancies at Caltrans and add 400 to 500 positions in the next fiscal year.

But in May 2014, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that Caltrans was overstaffed by 3,500 engineers, costing more than $500 million a year. A year later, the state auditor found abuses at Caltrans that included one employee playing golf for 55 days, as his supervisors approved his time sheets.

In response to the LAO’s report, I wrote Senate Bill X1-9 to bring Caltrans into parity with transportation agencies in most other states, eventually requiring it to contract out 50 percent of architectural and engineering services. Not only did the engineers’ union kill that bill, but it wants more.

Read the entire commentary in the Sacramento Bee . . .


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KFI interviews Carl DeMaio on the submission of 85,000 recall signatures

On the John and Ken Show this afternoon:

Listen to “(6/27) Carl DeMaio reports – 85,000 Signatures Submitted in Gas and Car Tax Recall” on Spreaker.

Includes a discussion of the next steps such as the statewide initiative to repeal the gas tax.

Posted in 29th State Senate District, Carl DeMaio, Josh Newman, Recall | Leave a comment

85,000 signatures submitted to recall Sen. Josh Newman

According to a story this afternoon in the Sacramento Bee:

The California Republican Party announced Tuesday that it submitted nearly 85,000 voter signatures on a petition to recall Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton.

The campaign needed to come up with 63,593 total signatures by mid-October to force a recall vote in Senate District 29. The signatures must be certified by election officials before the measure can qualify for the ballot.

“The speed with which voters signed the petitions is a testament to the anger they feel towards these tax increases and a fear of what liberal Josh Newman might decide to tax next,” said Jim Brulte, chairman of the California Republican Party, in a statement.

Read the entire news story in the Sacramento Bee . . .

Posted in 29th State Senate District, Josh Newman, Recall | Leave a comment

8,579 county employees made $100,000 or more in 2016

In 2015, the only Orange County employee to make over $400,000 in pay and benefits was Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who received total compensation of $400,214.

But 2016 payroll data recently updated by Transparent California for the county’s 19,080 employees reveals that 11 employees made over $400,000 — with two county psychiatrists each topping $500,000 in total compensation.

Orange County seal

A total of 8,579 county employees made $100,000 or more in total compensation.

Total compensation for all the county’s employees experienced a mild increase over 2015, rising only 3% to just under $2 billion last year.

To view the complete datasets in a searchable and downloadable format, visit the Transparent California website.

Posted in County, Orange County Sheriff | Leave a comment

Gutting California’s state tax board is bad news for taxpayers

By Steven Greenhut | When I first learned about the existence of something called the California Board of Equalization, it sounded like something that might have existed in the novel, “Animal Farm.” All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Few things sound more totalitarian than a government agency in charge of equalizing things.

Steven GreenhutBut California’s BOE, founded in 1879, simply is a banal tax board that oversees collection of the state’s sales and excise taxes. It also handles appeals of the state’s income and corporate taxes. The “equalization” has nothing to do with equalizing Californians’ financial status, but making sure “that county property tax assessment practices were equal and uniform throughout the state,” according to the agency’s own description.

Currently, it’s the only state tax bureau in the nation run by elected officials. The board has four elected members who represent large districts, plus the state controller. It has a staff of more than 4,000 people and offices across the state. There have been multiple efforts to eliminate the agency over the years, and in the wake of a series of recent problems, it looks like the agency finally is having its powers drastically reduced.

Read the entire column on the Orange County Register website . . .


Posted in Steve Greenhut, Taxes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What taxpayers should know about the California budget

By Jon Coupal | California voters are pretty good at figuring out what is going in the state capital when it hits them directly. For example, recent polling shows that citizen awareness of the $5.2 billion annual gas and car tax is very high and, incidentally, very negative.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

But the same can’t be said when it comes to the more complicated and arcane actions of our state politicians such as the annual California state budget process. While Californians are painfully aware that taxes are very high (they’ve been watching their friends and neighbors moving out of state at record pace) they typically have little comprehension of where their tax dollars go. That’s not surprising since California ranks dead last in budget transparency according to a recent study by U.S. News & World Report.

Nonetheless, here are the main takeaways that every California taxpayer should know.

First, the budget is huge – over $125 billion in general fund spending – by far the largest budget in California history. Since the recovery began after the great recession, taxpayers have infused California’s General Fund with $41 billion and special funds by $28 billion. That translates into a 63 percent increase since 2010. And property owners have done their part as well. With real estate values fully recovered (and then some) property tax revenues are up 72 percent. This is where our schools get the lion’s share of their money.

Second, the budget is only balanced if you ignore debt. The majority party is practically breaking their arms trying to pat themselves on the back for a “balanced budget.” This is like a family celebrating the fact that they paid all their bills this month but ignoring the fact that they have a mortgage that is way beyond their means over the long term. California’s pension debt is, by some measurements, close to a trillion dollars.

Read the entire column in the Orange County Register . . .


Posted in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal, Pensions, Transparency | Leave a comment

Newman recall update

Yesterday afternoon, KFI talk show hosts John and Ken provided what has become a traditional weekly Friday update on the status of the signature-gathering effort to recall state Senator Josh Newman. They interviewed San Diego talk show host Carl DeMaio, the recall’s prime mover, who reported on the latest underhanded tactics of Newman’s supporters to thwart the campaign:

Meanwhile, in an effort to make himself look good, Newman announced Thursday in a press release that he would not be accepting the just-announced 3% pay increase for state legislators scheduled to go in effect in December. He sent letters to State Controller Betty Yee and Senate Secretary Danny Alvarez that read:

Having been recently elected, and out of consideration of the challenges currently confronting so many hard-working Californians, I have decided to forego any increase in my own compensation in the coming year.

I do appreciate the work of the Commission, and I don’t begrudge any of the hardworking members of California’s legislature, constitutional officers, or other civil servants any increase in compensation they may be due to receive as a result of the Commission’s recent action. For my part, however, the current opportunity to serve is sufficient, and I respectfully decline any pay increase as part of the current cycle.

This past Monday, June 19, the California Citizens Compensation Commission approved a 3% increase to state lawmakers salaries. All 40 members of the Senate and 80 members of the Assembly are set to receive pay hikes, effective in December of this year.

The timing of the raises for lawmakers, coming two months after legislators voted to raise gas taxes and vehicle fees by $5.2 billion annually, was questioned by Lew Uhler, head of the California-based National Tax Limitation Committee.

“They raised our taxes and spent our money and they seek a reward for that? Come on,” said a skeptical Uhler.


Here’s what you need to know about the pay raises just given to Gov. Jerry Brown and our California state legislators

California governor, Legislature received a 4% pay raise last December and are the highest paid in nation

Posted in 29th State Senate District, Elected Officials, Gas Tax, Jerry Brown, Josh Newman, Recall, Taxes | Leave a comment

SB 231 now scheduled for a vote in the Assembly on Monday

This is an update on yesterday’s post on Senate Bill 231 which would circumvent Prop 218 protections and make it easier to raise your property taxes to pay for storm water runoff. It has now been scheduled for a vote in the Assembly this coming Monday, June 26.

This bill could cost homeowners hundreds of dollars each year. Some estimates are that the new charges could be over a thousand dollars.

Time is short to block this assault on property tax payers by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) who wants you to pay more because it rains.

Immediate action is required. 

Fullerton residents should call Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva and tell her to VOTE NO on SB 231 storm water charges . . . NO on new property taxes.

Sharon Quirk-SilvaHere are her office numbers:
Buena Park  714-521-6505

Sacramento  916-319-2065

Don’t let the Legislature raise your property taxes.  Call Assembly Member Quirk-Silva now!

Posted in 65th Assembly District, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Taxes | Leave a comment

Mayor’s next ‘Talk Around Town’ slated for June 29th

Talk Around Town

Posted in Bruce Whitaker, Mayor's Talk Around Town | Leave a comment

One more reason to pursue the Newman recall

The state legislature was set to vote today on a bill that would redefine the term ‘sewer’ to include storm drains — a move designed to avoid a public vote on millions of dollars in new spending for rain water capture systems in Los Angeles County.

SB 231, submitted by Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), lays out a series of legal reasons as to why storm channels should be considered part of sewers, thereby allowing the government to add new fees to property tax bills without debate.

“Neither the words ‘sanitary’ nor ‘sewerage’ are used in Proposition 218, and the common meaning of the term ‘sewer services’ is not ‘sanitary sewerage,’” the bill states.

Proposition 218 was a 1996 constitutional amendment that gave the government the authority to impose fees for certain essential services but required public votes before the imposition of most other taxes.

SB 231 is opposed by the California Association of Realtors, which warned that passage would likely result in significant increases in property tax bills that could make housing less affordable.

“We have to have a say in what happens in our state,” said Glendora Mayor Gary Boyer, who is a realtor. He said the storm water collection mandate could add more than $1,000 to each parcel owner’s annual property taxes in Glendora in order to pay for the water collection schemes.

SB 231 is also opposed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and its president Jon Coupal was a guest yesterday afternoon on KFI Radio where he talked about the legislation with talk show hosts John and Ken — how it is an attempted end run around Prop. 218, and why this is just one more reason to pursue the recall of state Senator Josh Newman:

The full text of SB 231 is here.

Posted in 29th State Senate District, Prop. 218, Recall | 1 Comment