FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Richard Rider

UPDATE: Houston STILL has more housing starts than ALL of CA

I’ve posted on this topic before. But the numbers have been updated, with the vaunted post-recession “housing building boom” in California fizzling out. It’s a sobering graphic.

http://www.aei.org/publication/monday-afternoon-linkage-4/

Chart of the Day. More permits for single-family homes have been issued in Houston than in the entire state of California both: a) this year through March (9,184 in Houston vs. 9,081 in California) and b) from 2011 through March 2015 (133,462 vs. 132,915).

Related: Theone-way rental rate for a 26-foot U-Haul truckfrom Los Angeles,Read More

Richard Rider

Why investors and business people often hate the free market

Recently I spoke to Pacific Beach Realtors about the benefits of Prop 13. Well received, of course. I’m seeking more such speaking engagements.

But for me the most interesting aspect was a private discussion I had with a knowledgeable lobbyist for the CA apartment industry. The rep made the solid observation that their clients — real estate trusts — LOVE to invest in California apartments (and other commercial property) because they can count on the state and local governments to do everything they can to keep out future competition. The resulting scarcity drives up rents, and increases the resale value of such properties.

It’s a point I’ve been making for decades: The free market is good for CONSUMERS, but not necessarily welcome by INVESTORS. For instance, the free market in Houston is great for home buyers and renters, but lousy for real estate investors. Any increase in demand is shortly matched by an increase in supply.

All investors and business people seek to provide goods and services that have limited competitors. In a free market that works well, but when government gets involved, it can turn into crony… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov. Brown Jumps-the-Shark on Climate Change Policy

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an Executive Order Wednesday for a new target for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Brown said it was critical to address what he called “an ever-growing threat” posed by global warming to California’s economy and well-being. Brown’s order goes even further than Pres. Obama’s radical proposals, but aligns with the European Union and United Nations proposals. Jerry Brown hasjumped-the-sharkon climate change (Origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show).

Senate Republican Minority Leader Bob Huff correctly replied to Brown’s latest edict:

“The state already has the nation’s most stringent goals. Before moving the goal post, we should be careful about the impact of increased energy costs. These higher costs will hurt the low income and working poor the hardest and will create an even greater divide between the haves and have nots. At what point does being on the leading edge of climate change and… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Bill Allowing Tax Agency to Honor Divorce Agreements Advances

Legislation that I’m sponsoring with Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma advanced in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee today. SB 526 (Fuller) would give the Franchise Tax Board authority to honor legal divorce agreements regarding payment of taxes when determining if one spouse can be relieved of a joint tax liability.

If two parties reach a court-approved agreement that they believe has fairly divided assets and debts, then a tax agency should respect that agreement. Telling taxpayers that they must go back to court in order to enforce a divorce agreement is inefficient government. This must be changed.

Most of the income tax appeals to reach the Board of Equalization that include a divorce settlement agreement involve women who believe they were protected from tax liability, but discover their only recourse to enforce the agreement is to go back to court or pay the tax.

SB 526 will assist in easing the financial burden of divorced women who should have no legal obligation to pay the tax, as stipulated by their divorce agreement.

Here’s what Senate Republican Leader-Elect Jean Fuller had to say:

“Divorce can be difficult… Read More

Ed Ring

Pension Reformers are not “The Enemy” of Public Safety

“You will find that powerful financial and investment institutions are the ones promoting the attacks on your pensions. Firms like Berkshire-Hathaway and the Koch brothers are backing political candidates and causes all over the country in the hopes of making this issue relevant and in the mainstream media. Why? Because if they can crack your pension and turn it into a 401(k), they will make billions. Your pension is the golden egg that they are dying to get their hands upon.By the way, it was those same financial geniuses that brought about the Great Recession in the first place. After nearly collapsing the entire financial system of western civilization, they successfully managed to deflect the blame off of themselves and onto government employee pay/benefits.” - Jim Foster, Vice President, Long Beach Police Officers Association, posted onPubSec Alliancewebsite

These comments form the conclusion to a piece published by Foster entitled “What does “unfunded liability” mean?,”… Read More

Katy Grimes

UFW Contracts Pay Less than Minimum Wage

The United Farm Workers unionrecently admitted that their contracts do not provide a living wage. They did it in a room full of people.

I attended the conference UC Davis held April 17 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. I nearly didn’t make it, as the conference was supposedly sold out prior to the deadline. But it quickly became apparent that leaders of the United Farm Workers union manipulated the event registration. The United Farm Workers labor union claimed it was bringing busloads of workers to the event, and reserved the seats. The day of the event, six workers showed up; there were more UFW employees at the conference than actual workers.

These are the tactics used by the desperate UFW, clinging to relevance by a thread. UFW membership is hovering at 3,300 members, according to Philip Martin, UC Davis Professor of Agricultural and Resource… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Democrats Block Commonsense Legislation to Refund Illegal Taxes

If you pay an illegal tax, you deserve to get your money back. There’s no good reason the state should keep money that rightfully belongs to taxpayers.

The Democrats in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee disagree, and today they again blocked commonsense legislation to protect taxpayers. AB 867 (Wagner), which I sponsored, would have required the State of California to provide a full refund to all individuals who paid a tax later declared illegal or unconstitutional.

Currently, taxpayers are only eligible to receive refunds if they have exhausted all their administrative appeals remedies, even if the tax they paid is later declared illegal or unconstitutional.

AB 867, which was supported by taxpayer advocacy groups, would have required the state to automatically issue refunds to taxpayers whose information is up to date. It also would have opened up an additional appeals period of one year after a state tax is declared illegal or unconstitutional, giving taxpayers a chance to apply for the refunds they deserve.

Assemblyman… Read More

Jon Coupal

CROCODILE “TIERS” OVER WATER RATE RULING

Last week the California Court of Appeal issued an important ruling interpreting Proposition 218, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sponsored initiative approved by voters in 1996. Proposition 218 is entitled “The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” for a very good reason. It reflects the policy that those who pay the bills for public expenditures – taxpayers – should have the final say over how much is taken out of their wallets and pocketbooks. It subjects virtually all local taxes and fees, especially those related to property, to voter or ratepayer control.

Proposition 218 was necessary because the legislature and the courts had created loopholes in Proposition 13, the iconic California initiative that started the modern American tax revolt in 1978. While Proposition 13 was focused on property taxes, Proposition 218 was drafted to limit the explosion in other types of government exactions burdening homeowners including so-called “benefit assessments,” fees, charges and other sorts of property related levies.

What is important to note about Proposition 218, is that it did not ban property related fees but, rather, sought to return the imposition… Read More

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