FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Doug Lasken

Tax Day – How we were sucker punched

Standing in the long line at the post office this morning, I had that feeling I get every April 15 like I’ve been severely had. This time the feeling was particularly strong. Partly to blame was the added humiliation of needing to pay for certified mail because of the IRS’s diminishing ability to keep track of its mail (and its imperious habit of blaming the mailer). And of course it didn’t help that every time I turn on the news I learn about some new way the piggy bank we call the U.S. government is opening its riches to graft and greed of all kinds, with foxes guarding the henhouse.

But most importantly this year I’m upset by the knowledge I gained about the history of American taxes, particularly the federal income tax, from a concise and powerful essay by Harvard historian Jill Lepore , “Tax Time: Why we pay,” in the Nov. 26, 2012 New Yorker Magazine. Lepore makes it clear, in a way you never hear from our prominent anti-tax voices, that the income tax was foisted on America through a con job as deceitful as any on the street.

Lepore is non-partisan, in the real sense (not in the “crossing the aisle” sense). Her skill is in stating facts that… Read More

Katy Grimes

ALRB legal abuse — where’s legislative oversight?

The general counsel of the Agriculture Labor Relations Board went to court last week to impose a union contract on Gerawan Farming employees, without proper input from the farm workers, and without counting the ballots of a recent United Farm Workers union decertification election, held in November 2013.

The ALRB’s latest state-sponsored union bullying effort comes mere weeks after longtime Gerawan Farming employee, Silvia Lopez, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against ALRB board members and top staff, for their refusal to count the ballots from the November election.

Many in the farming community claim the ALRB and UFW have joined forces to boost the union by targeting one of the biggest non-union farming operations in the state. Should they succeed in unionizing Gerawan Farming employees, adding the 5,000 farmworkers would double union membership, and certainly boost the ALRB’s status.

This latest abusive overreach by the ALRB and its general counsel shows growing desperation in the trending anti-union sentiment in the private sector, and the vast agriculture industry of… Read More

Jon Coupal


It’s election season and we are hearing a lot of happy talk from the Sacramento politicians. After all, they want to be reelected so they are painting a rosy picture of their stewardship of our state. But happy is not a word that describes the outlook of millions of Californians who continue to be burdened by high taxes, high unemployment and low expectations for the future.

Howard Jarvis, the father of the 1978 tax revolt that passed Proposition 13, used to tell folks, “If there is something about government you don’t like, get together and do something about it.” He would hold up a hand with the fingers extended and grab one finger with the other hand. Separately, he would say, they are weak, but together, they are powerful, while making a fist.

Although Howard passed away… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sen. Leland Yee out on bail, despite weapons trafficking charges

Known as the “California Senate’s Top Gun Control Advocate.” Democratic State Sen. Leland Yee was indicted Friday by a federal Grand Jury on seven federal felonies including bribery, andarms trafficking in illegal firearms and weapons. Yee wasn’t just trafficking in tiny pearl handle pea shooters – he was indicted for being involved in trafficking shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.

Now, in addition to being known as one of California’s leading proponents of gun control, Yee is accused of working with Chinatown gangsters and brokering arms deals with a Muslim rebel group based in the Philippines.

Politics makes strangeRead More

State Senator Mimi Walters

California – Lack Of Business, As Usual

Nearly 8.0% of Californians are currently unemployed compared to the national average of 6.7%. Using an alternative method of looking at poverty, which includes factors such as cost of living and public benefits, the official rate released by the U.S. Census Bureau this past September determined that over a three year period, California has more people living in poverty than any other state in the nation. Nearly one in four California residents is considered to be impoverished.

In addition, the Golden State is one of only two states in the nation where one-fifth of its labor force is underemployed, a situation which occurs when skilled and educated workers are forced to accept employment for which they are overqualified and/or accept fewer hours due to a lack of opportunities within the current job market. California has the second highest rate of underemployment at 17.8%. This state of affairs creates a domino effect that reduces economic opportunity as higher skilled workers edge out those with fewer skills as they compete over entry-level positions.

Understanding the barriers and hurdles that businesses experience while trying to operate within… Read More

Adam Tatum


Yesterday, California Common Sense (CACS) released the most extensive analysis to date of unfunded retiree healthcare liabilities associated with California’s state and local governments, as well as its public education institutions. The report, “Surveying California’s Unfunded Retiree Healthcare Obligations,” assessed the financials of 690 “Other Post-Employment Benefit” (OPEB) plans statewide. It studied those for the State of California, 53 counties, 352 cities, the state trial court system, 282 school districts, and the University of California system. This survey found that the state of California and its constituents have $157.7 billion in accrued retiree healthcare liabilities, yet only $7.3 billion is allocated to offset the liability. This leaves $150.4 billion (95%) entirely unfunded.

Nationwide, massive unfunded retirement benefit liabilities have… Read More

Ed Ring

Government Unions Attack Free-Market Nonprofits via Pension Funds

“The AFT [American Federation of Teachers] will be looking more closely at those who are supporting the dismantling of defined benefit plans at the state and municipal level.”- Ranking Asset Managers, A Retirement Security Report on Money Managers for Pension Fund Trustees, March 5, 2014

As reported in aWashington Examiner editorialon April 4th, the American Federation of Teachers – that’s “teachers union” in plain English – has circulated a pamphlet that:

“Calls on pension fund trustees to drop any investment managers that are tainted by connection to free-market nonprofits. They also want those same trustees to force any potential new managers to have to disclose any donations they may have made to the groups on AFT’s blacklist.”

That the AFT can circulate a document like this without generating an uproar in the media reflects a monstrous and tragic double-standard. Money supporting… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

California Returning Millions to Business Owners

This spring thousands of business owners throughout California are receiving a welcome surprise in their mailbox. Rather than a notice of a new tax, fee or audit, they’re getting a check from the State Board of Equalization.

No, we’re not talking about annual income tax refunds from the Franchise Tax Board. These checks are marked “SECURITY REFUND” and represent a dramatic shift in how California’s elected tax board welcomes new businesses to our state.

Previously new corporations and LLCs were forced by the BOE to turn over anywhere from $2000 to $50,000 of their own money as security before they could make a single legal taxable sale. This “security” was held just in case a business might default on its taxes during its first three years of operation.

It was a uniquely California-style shake down. Rather than encourage new business start-ups, the government robbed them of the capital they needed to be successful, only to sit on it for three years before returning it.

I took a close look at the program and found it didn’t make sense for taxpayers or the state. Security was rarely applied, and staff time and energy were needlessly… Read More

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