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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Edward Ring

San Diego’s 2012 Pension Reform at Risk

“The ruling is also an implicit endorsement of the state Public Employment Relations Board’s conclusion that the employees hired since the measure took effect must be made whole and get a pension equivalent to what they would have received pre-Proposition B.” Editorial, San Diego Union Tribune, March 18, 2019

The ruling in question is the California’s Supreme Court’s August 2018 decision which found that “San Diego’s six-year-old pension cutbacks were not legally placed on the ballot because city officials failed to negotiate with labor unions before pursuing the measure.” It’s in the news again this week because the U.S. Supreme Court has just announced they will not hear the City’s appeal of the California ruling.

What’s going to happen now is uncertain. Back in 2012, a super-majority of San Diego voters, 65 percent, approved pension… Read More

Richard Rider

An incredibly inexpensive solution to global warming

I’m not convinced that global warming is real, is man-made and is harmful. I think the jury is still out on all three issues. But that’s not important.

“Climate change” skeptics have lost the debate — it’s “settled science” (not really, of course) that we have to do something to solve the problem NOW. A clear majority of the voters have bought into that urgent need. Faced with that political reality, here’s an idea worth considering.

There’s an incredibly inexpensive way to reverse global warming — an option that you probably have never heard of via the MSM. Scientists at MIT, Harvard and other places have cautiously suggested that this strategy should be seriously considered.

In essence, the idea is to inject particles into the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere — not our breathing air in the lower atmosphere). This injection would mimic the effect of a major volcanic eruption — occurrences that have reduced global temperatures for years. Water vapor forms crystals when attracted to these… Read More

Richard Rider

Federal aid shortchanges California? Nope. We are average.

The Tax Foundation’s annual “Facts and Figures” booklet is out for 2019. Much to consider, and I just got the download. But one thing jumped out at me that I’ll comment on for now.

A common refrain of CA progressives is that California is shortchanged by the feds — that blue states such as ours get short shrift when federal aid is parceled out to state governments. Turns out, it’s a non-issue.

When looking at the percent of our CA general revenue budget, 32.2% comes from the federal government. The 50 state average is 32.9%. We are slightly below that average — 29th in rank. Table 9

But given how much more the Golden State compensates public employees vs. the other states, it’s amazing that the feds still cough up over 32% of our budget. For instance, in California we pay our firefighters 60% more than the other states’ average. We pay our police 56% more. Most other categories of our state and local public employees are similarly overcompensated. Yet our… Read More

Ray Haynes

We Have Met The Enemy, and He is Us, Part VI – The Donor Dilemma

A couple of months ago, I wrote a series of articles about the California Republican Party, and its challenges. I analyzed the Party, the activists, the electoral tactics, the office holders and the message. We have big challenges at all levels, on that we all agree. Solutions are the source of disagreement. The one area I have yet to analyze, and offer a solution for is the problem I will call the donor dilemma.

There are two types of money in politics: ideological money and partisan money. Ideological money is money given to a candidate because the donor is passionate about the opinions and beliefs of the candidate to which they are giving. Partisan money is given because of party loyalty. For Democrats, ideological money tends to come from government based unions. They are socialist ideologues, and therefore give only to Democrats who are committed, openly or privately, to implementing a socialist agenda. Partisan money tends to come from trial lawyers and business interests who are committed to their crony capitalist agenda.

For Republicans, ideological money comes from wealthy donors who are motivated by their beliefs in free enterprise, family or… Read More

Edward Ring

California Cronyism and its Consequences

Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. This is done using state power to crush genuine competition in handing out permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention. Wikipedia, Feb. 2019

If the goal of public policy is to optimize the role of government, cronyism must be identified and curbed wherever possible. Cronyism wastes the limited resources of governments, at the same time as it reduces the efficiency of the private sector by using subsidies and other incentives to undermine healthy competition.

The harm caused by crony capitalism can best be illustrated by example. In California, cronyism is a major culprit in one of the worst policy failures in recent decades, the housing and the related homeless crisis.Several types of cronyism played into California’s housing debacle. The most significant was cronyism that took the form of regulations that favored the wealthiest, most established… Read More

Edward Ring

California Rule Does Not Protect “Airtime”

Earlier this week the California Supreme Court ruled in the caseCalFire vs CalPERS. The case challenged one of the provisions of California’s 2014 pension reform legislation (PEPRA) which had eliminated the purchase of “Airtime.”

This was the practice whereby retiring public employees could purchase “service credits” that would lengthen the number of years they worked, which would increase the amount of their pensions, even though they hadn’t actually worked those additional years. While the amount these retirees would pay was always estimated to cover how much they’d eventually get back, with interest, in their pensions, in practice these estimates were always too low.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that airtime was protected by the “California Rule,” which, the argued, prevents pension benefits from being reduced unless some other benefit of equal value is offered in return. But… Read More

Richard Rider

How much is left after total income taxes are paid at $50K and $200K of income?

Here’s a helpful yet limited survey — comparing the states’ income tax paid on earned income — combined with the federal income tax. The comparison uses $50K and $200K salaries.

CA has a highly progressive state income tax, so we don’t rank TOO badly at $50K. At $200K, CA is a close second to Oregon — the worst state.

Indeed, at $200K, less than $100 tax separates these worst two states — they are essentially tied. CA moves to #1 above $200K (not included in the article), and the difference between the two states becomes more pronounced, the higher one’s income is above that $200K benchmark.

This comparison counts only earned income — capital gains and dividends are treated differently by many states (NOT California). And it understandably doesn’t include other taxes — notably property taxes and sales taxes. That would constitute a MAJOR project with lots of logisticalRead More

Richard Rider

California has the highest state corporate income tax rate compared to its economic competitors

The new 2019 Tax Foundation report on state corporate income taxes ranks California as the 7thhighest rate — 8.84%. It’s a tax rate that starts at $1 of profit — some other high corporate tax states have tiered rates that can provide some relief for the smaller corporations.

But more important, when looking at California’s economic competitors — those states west of the Mississippi — California has THE highest corporate income tax rate (Alaska is not an economic competitor of California).

Not included is the fact that — unlike most other states — CA tries to tax corporations for money earned in other states as well as earnings in California. This is just one more reason why it’s folly for a company to establish a business operation in the Golden State.

Retailers have no choice — CA usually is too big a market to ignore. But non-retail companies generally are not keen on puttingRead More

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