25 seek appointment to fill Fullerton’s vacant city council seat

The deadline was 5:00 pm yesterday. Since you would not be able to easily find the applications on the city’s website, we have listed them all here, linked to the completed applications they submitted (pdf):

Alcantara, Ryan
Bennett, Larry
Cantor, Ryan
Carvalho, Sonia
Charles, Shana
Dino, Arnel
Ferguson, Joshua
Flory, Jan
Freeman, Robert
Fuller, Kenneth
Funk, Scott
Gaarder, Chris
Gamble, Curtis
Jung, Fred
Kim, Roger
Lloyd, Larry
Pascual, Michael
Pendergraft, Kevin
Planchon, Damien
Reid, Roberta
Salazar, Rudy
Schoonmaker, Robert
Siddiqui, Omar
Wilson, Leland

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California’s recent history of manipulative taxation

By Kerry Jackson, Pacific Research Institute | The rest of the country wasn’t surprised when California recently considered becoming the first state in the country to tax text messages. It almost seems as if there is a group of unelected bureaucrats that does nothing but cloister itself behind closed doors and dream up new ways to tax the people.

Pacific Research InstituteWe know of no such board, committee, or council. But given how California is preoccupied with taxing as often and as punitively as possible, it would be easy to spin out conspiracy theories that would “prove” such a cabal existed.

We do know, though, that elected and unelected officials do act in bad faith, particularly when taxation is the subject. Certainly, it was not an act of good faith when members of the California Public Utilities Commission, an unelected regulatory board of five, proposed last month that “text messaging services revenue should be subject to Public Purpose Program surcharges.”

The new tax, we were told, was needed to make up for the diminishing collections from levies on other intrastate telecommunications services that consumers are abandoning in favor of wireless service. Dollars are needed to “preserve and advance universal service.” But with nearly every Californian owning a cell phone, it seems the mission has been essentially accomplished. So, why a new tax? A desperate bureaucratic authority was aiming to perpetuate its existence, to continue expanding its scope.

The proposed tax was mercifully withdrawn, partly because of immediate public outrage, and partly because of a decision made in Washington. But we can’t always count on “The Swamp” to step in. Nor can we safely assume a similar text tax won’t be dragged out in the future. It was a singular moment unlikely to be repeated in the near, or distant, future. Senseless taxation is, after all, the new normal in California.

At their most benign, taxes are a necessary mechanism to fund government operations. Yet for California’s political class, they are a means to forward political agendas, to amass ever greater authority, to punish behavior that doesn’t fit the popular narrative, to reward behavior that does.

In fact, recent history is filled with examples of taxes, some enacted, others just proposed, driven by politics rather than operational need:

2017’s $52 billion motor fuel tax increase. This was supposed to fund repairs to our ramshackle roads. But officials have already siphoned off part of the additional $1.2 billion in revenue generated by the tax hike in 2018, sending it off to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the state Department of Parks and Recreation, the General Fund, and local law enforcement.

The Building Homes and Jobs Act. This legislation, which was signed into law in 2017, collects a $75 fee on real estate transactions. The revenue is supposed to raise $250 million a year to promote affordable housing programs. Yet it makes housing less affordable by adding costs to home buying. It also allows lawmakers to continue to run from their obligation to solve the housing crisis while pretending to do something.

Cap-and-trade. All this program—extended in 2017 for 10 years—has ever done, and all it will ever do, is squeeze California’s taxpayers, and force more than a few car owners into public transportation, which is a feature rather than a bug to most of the state’s political bosses.

Soda tax. Political maneuvering bizarre even by California standards killed this one. Yet some lawmakers still dream of restricting consumers’ right to choose their beverages, and advocates are pushing a 2020 ballot measure imposing a new statewide soda tax.

Cannabis tax. Did lawmakers legalize recreational marijuana to increase personal freedom, or were they greedily eyeing another tax revenue stream? If it’s the latter, they failed. The state excise tax rate of 15 percent, as well as steep state and local sales taxes, have in part limited revenue to less than half of the projected first-year totals.

Single-payer health care. Some believe it’s a fine idea to hike sales taxes across the board by 2.3 percent and levy a 2.3 percent tax on gross business receipts to fund a socialist health care regime that could cost as much as $400 billion a year, roughly twice the size of the General Fund.

During the 2018 session alone, the Legislature passed, and Gov. Brown signed, bills increasing taxes on professional licensing, mobile home registration, cattle brand inspections, ridesharing companies, experimental fishing gear, and life insurance brokers. Money-hungry lawmakers even tried to tax drinking water in 2017. Apparently, it doesn’t embarrass them that many across the nation mockingly call this state “Taxifornia.”

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

Posted in Pacific Research Institute, Taxes | Comments Off

Tomorrow at 5:00 pm is your deadline to apply for a seat on the city council

Ahmad ZahraIn his very first major decision as a new member of the Fullerton City Council, Ahmad Zahra flip-flopped. As a result, the vacancy created on the Council by November’s election will be filled by Council appointment rather than by a special election.

Or at least they’ll attempt to appoint someone. With a four-member Council, three of them will have to agree on an appointee; if this doesn’t happen, the automatic default will be a special election.

Sadly, only seven days were allowed for publicizing the application process, and there has been very little promotion of it. A mention on the City’s website could hardly be considered widespread exposure. Other than that, as far as I can tell the only media mentions have been in the Orange County Register last Thursday and on the Voice of OC website this morning.

A post last Wednesday on the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog provided interesting commentary and insights; it’s worth a read.

To read the announcement and the schedule for the appointment process on the City’s website, click here.

To download the application, click here. Completed applications are due tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23 by 5:00 pm.

To watch the Council debate this issue at its January 15th meeting, click here.

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New tax proposals are unnecessary and hurt the middle-class

By Jon Coupal | No one disputes that California has a big budget surplus. According to the Office of the Legislative Analyst, California has budget reserves in excess of $18 billion. Our budget reserves exceed the entire state budget of eighteen other states.

A weekly column by Jon CoupalOne would think that the funds available for discretionary spending would chill any appetite for higher taxes. But this is California.

Despite the highest income tax rate, the highest state sales tax rate and the second highest gas tax, both our newly elected governor and our extremely progressive legislature desire to impose yet even higher taxes.

The most surprising thing about two of the new tax proposals is that they hurt the very groups the majority party claims that it is trying to help.

During his tenure as governor, Jerry Brown succeeded in shepherding through several tax hikes. However, he was unsuccessful in pushing a new 911 surcharge and a precedent-setting tax on water.

But as is common in California, new tax proposals never really die and these two have been resurrected in Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Posted in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal, Taxes | Comments Off

Council to decide tonight how to fill its vacant seat

By Spencer Custodio, Voice of OC | Fullerton residents could learn tonight if the vacant City Council seat will be filled by appointment or special election when the Council is slated to make a decision after deadlocking on the issue in December.

If the Council opts for a special election, it would be held Nov. 5. The idea of holding a mail-in election at an earlier date was floated at the Dec. 18 meeting. That could have saved the city nearly $200,000 for an election. But a Jan. 9 email exchange between Registrar of Voters Neal Kelly and City Manager Ken Domer said the city is too large to qualify for a mail-in election.

Now, the Council will have to choose between appointing someone or holding a Nov. 5 special election which could cost up to $428,000.

To read the entire article on the Voice of OC website, please click here.

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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 7:30 . . . or even later.

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

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What else is new? Newsom’s budget calls for more spending, higher taxes

By Jon Coupal | To the surprise of absolutely no one, California’s new governor has proposed a state budget with billions in increased spending and lots of tax hikes. And, as an added bonus, he is proposing new mandates on businesses and local governments as well as depriving Californians of the right to vote on certain kinds of local debt. From the perspective of taxpayers, this is not a propitious start.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget envisions spending $144 billion of general fund dollars, a 4 percent increase over former Gov. Jerry Brown’s last budget, which clocked in at $138 billion. To put this in perspective, general fund spending was less than $100 billion just six years ago. In California, state government is the No. 1 growth industry.

A weekly column by Jon CoupalNo California spending plan would be complete without new “revenue enhancements.” And the biggest item on this list is the imposition of the “individual mandate” for health insurance. Recall that President Obama’s so-called Affordable Care Act (which was anything but affordable) imposed a burdensome tax on millions of Americans. (Indeed, it was only the fact that the ACA imposed a “tax” that saved it from a constitutional challenge).

The good news is that Congress repealed the tax at the federal level. The bad news is that Gov. Newsom wants to reimpose it at the state level in order to save Covered California from imploding. The cost to Californians for a state-imposed individual mandate with a penalty?: $700 per person, which is projected to raise $500 million in new revenue.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Posted in Gavin Newsom, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal, State budget | Comments Off

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

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

It appear that this information on the city’s website has not been updated for 2019.

See this page to confirm today’s closure.

Fullerton City Hall

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HJTA releases statement on Gov. Newsom’s state budget

Following the release of Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2019-2020 state budget today, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association president Jon Coupal issued the following statement:

HJTA - logo“It is troubling that Governor Newsom has proposed a budget with lots more spending coupled with higher taxes. Moreover, he has proposed new mandates on businesses and local governments as well as depriving Californians from voting on certain kinds of local debt. From the perspective of taxpayers, this is not a propitious start.”

The proposed tax increases include the previously rejected surcharge on 911 service and a water tax on all California property owners that was killed in the Legislature last year. Coupal stated that, “while safe drinking water is a critical need, that is exactly why ensuring its availability should have a high priority from existing revenues.”

The bright spots for taxpayers is the Governor’s desire to grow the rainy day fund – in order to prepare for the inevitable recession – and also paying down pension debt. “Despite the higher spending and tax hikes reflected in the budget, we hope that the Governor will be able to resist even more spending proposed by state legislators who want $40 billion in new ongoing spending.”

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California’s Budget 2010–2018

Fast revenue growth, even faster expense growth

By David Crane | California’s annual General Fund revenues grew a fast 46 percent during Jerry Brown’s eight-year tenure as governor. That makes sense given the stock market more than doubled over that period and the state raised tax rates in 2012. But three costs grew as fast or faster:

California also became more reliant on personal income tax (PIT) revenues:

And doubled its reliance on capital gain realizations to nearly 10 percent of revenues:

Because tax revenues from capital gain realizations are unpredictable:

Governor Brown wisely asked voters to approve a rainy day fund (RDF), which they did. But that fund is limited in size and even though the governor and legislature also wisely chose to create some additional reserves, the combination of the RDF and those additional reserves is equal to less than one-third of the deficits Brown predicted the state will face during the next bear market or recession. Net of the benefits from the RDF and additional reserves, that means more than $40 billion of cuts would be necessary during that bear market or recession.

Meanwhile, over the same period of time the state doubled its Medi-Cal population and added more than $100 billion in liabilities for pensions and retired employee health insurance. Unlike the state’s revenues, expenditures related to those liabilities are not correlated with the stock market. Medi-Cal is an entitlement, pensions are a contractual right (the terms of which are currently being evaluated by the state Supreme Court), and subsidies for retiree health insurance are the result of collective bargaining negotiations. That means the only ways to reduce those expenditures are to make Medi-Cal more productive or reduce the terms of its entitlement, modify pensions to the extent permitted by law, and modify or eliminate retiree health insurance subsidies during contract negotiations.

As a review of any other 8-year period would demonstrate, California’s revenues are tidal in nature but because not all of its expenses are tidal, when the revenue tide goes out, cruel cuts to discretionary programs (eg, UC, CSU, courts, social services) and tax increases that don’t generate new services are the result. As an example, the 2012 tax rate increase was sold as a boost for K-12 education but faster-growing fixed costs in schools have offset those revenues, as explained here and demonstrated here.

Later today California’s new governor Gavin Newsom will release his first proposed budget. From his public statements it’s clear that Governor Newsom knows all the facts posted above and has hired a team with experience navigating California’s fiscal tides.

Warren Buffett points out that one only learns who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out. California’s tax revenues won’t always grow an average of nearly six percent per year. State legislators should work with Governor Newsom to keep Californians clothed.

David CraneDavid Crane is president of Govern for California.

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