FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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John Kabateck

Join the Fight to Keep Jobs in California and Keep Sacramento Out of Your Wallet

Publisher’s Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from John Kabateck, Executive Director of the California NFIB – Flash]

California has some of the highest taxes. I’m sure you already feel it every time you open your wallet, every time you fill up your gas tank and when you see what’s left of your paycheck after government takes its share.

Once again, there’s a renewed effort at the Capitol to increase your taxes through an oil severance tax. Senate Bill 1017, by Sen. Noreen Evans, would add a 9.5% tax to every barrel of oil extracted in-state, effectively tripling our oil taxes and further cementing California’s status as the most taxed state. All of the oil drilled in California is used here, so any cost increase will only hurt consumers everywhere, particularly small businesses. A severance tax will also hurt production and jobs in California as small companies simply will not be able to compete in the marketplace.

Recently, business groups that include NFIB, taxpayers, and consumers have joined together to form a… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

California’s Gas Tax Nightmare

California taxpayers don’t have to fall sleep to have a nightmare. They experience one each and every day when they encounter a costly, confusing and constantly-changing tax system. Unfortunately, most efforts to change this system only make matters worse.

Take the gas tax, for instance.

California consumers currently pay 71 cents per gallon in taxes every time they fill up their tanks. That’s the highest gas tax rate in the country. The average American pays less—about 50 cents per gallon. That translates into hundreds of dollars a year in higher taxes for Californians.

Adding insult to injury, Californians are double taxed for gas. Sales tax is calculated after excise taxes have already been added. That means we pay a tax on a tax, which is just plain wrong.

Double taxation aside, most California motorists wouldn’t mind paying high gas taxes if it meant we could drive the nation’s finest roads. But that’s not how things work. Instead of seeing our tax dollars invested wisely, we’re constantly told we should pay more. Our freeway system, once the envy of the world, has become an embarrassment.

Further complicating matters, in… Read More

John Graham

Latinos Can Do Without Covered California’s Obamacare Coverage

Obamacare has been unpopular since it passed in 2009. Since launching last October, it has been recognized as a national threat to health, well-being, and jobs. And yet, here in California, Obamacare’s boosters don’t complain about those who have lost health insurance because of Obamacare, but that not enough Latinos have enrolled.

Leave the Latinos out of it.

Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange, reports 625,000 enrollees, just shy of its first year target of just under 700,000. By one measurement, it is a remarkable achievement: Nationally, seven million are supposed to enroll this year, but only three million have. That is, although Covered California was only supposed to account for ten percent of the country’s Obamacare exchange enrollees, it has actually enrolled over one fifth of them.

This explains why Covered California was the toast of luminaries –… Read More

Ed Ring

Public Sector Pension Plans Do Not Pass the Smell Test

“Pew’s relationship with the Arnold Foundation does not pass the smell test,” said Meredith Williams, Denver-based executive director of the National Council on Teacher Retirement.- ”Pension Funds Press Pew to Cut Arnold Foundation,” Philanthropy Today, March 4, 2014

If you’re looking for an example of how, increasingly, political debate in America is framed as a battle between tainted – and very powerful – special interests who harbor nefarious personal agendas, instead of a rational exchange of competing facts and logic aimed at finding optimal solutions, look no further.

Apparently, across the United States, any reputable nonprofit, from Pew and PBS to your underfunded start-up, now has to refuse gifts from major donors unless they happen to be (1) funded by public sector unions, or (2) originate from the pockets of left-wing billionaires. Everything else is tainted. Everything else fails the “smell test.”

Apart from the absurdity of tagging individuals and organizations with terms as… Read More

Brandon Combs

SacBee’s Support of Jim Crow-Style Policies Shows Its True Colors

In an opinion it published on March 3, the Sacramento Bee’s editorial board called the exercise of fundamental human rights by law-abiding people “a chilling prospect.”

We could not disagree more, and the United States Constitution could not be more clear: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

In 2008’s landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the United States Supreme Court held that the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense protected under our Constitution’s Second Amendment was an individual one, unconnected to militia service. More than that, however, it very… Read More

Katy Grimes

The quiet Arena lawsuit moves forward

Last week a judge ruled against the lawsuit to place the proposed public subsidy for the new basketballarena before Sacramento voters.

Local media heralded the decision.

But there is another Sacramento arena lawsuit taking place in Sacramento Superior Court. I’ve attended the court proceedings. And I’ve written about it.

The lawsuit accuses city officials of making a secret deal to provide an extra $80 million of public money to help the investors’ group beef up its offer against a well-funded Seattle group that wanted to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle, which lost its NBA team to Oklahoma City in 2008. Plaintiffs’ attorney Patrick Soluri said city officials have committed fraud because they have not fully informed the City Council and the public about details of the deal.

The city subsidy, according to the lawsuit, is actually $338 million — not the $258 million the city claims.

Most other media seem to be ignoring it, or incorrectly reporting the importance of the lawsuit, and allegations of fraud by city officials, and illegal gift of public funds.

This is serious. It’s not about being Kings arena deniers, as… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Runner Sponsors Legislation to Refund Illegal Taxes

It is criminal that the State of California can keep money it illegally collects from its citizens. Anyone who in good faith pays what ends up being an illegal tax should get their money back. It’s as simple as that.

That’s why this legislative session, I am proud to be sponsoring legislation to extend common sense protections to taxpayers. Two identical measures, AB 2510 (Wagner) and SB 1327 (Knight), would require the state to provide a full refund to all individuals who paid a tax later declared 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. AB 2510 and SB 1327 would require the state to automatically issue refunds to taxpayers whose information is up to date. It would also open up an additional appeals period of one year after a state tax is declared unconstitutional, giving taxpayers a chance to… Read More

Jon Coupal

PROP 13 SAVED BY LAWMAKERS’ MISCONDUCT?

Because of the conviction of one member of the state Senate, and the indictment of a second, Proposition 13 — and taxpayers who rely on its protections — may have slipped the noose being prepared for it by majority Democrats in the Legislature.

Senator Rod Wright, a Los Angeles Democrat, has taken a leave of absence after being been convicted, but not yet sentenced, on eight felony counts related to misstating his residence for the purpose of running for office. Senator Ronald Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, has been asked to resign by Senate leaders after being indicted for public corruption. The self-destruction of these two lawmakers has a profound impact on the dynamics of the Legislature.

After the votes were counted in the 2012 November election, Democrats… Read More

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