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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Edward Ring

Will Unions Promote Defined Contribution Plans the Way They Promote Pensions?

The virtue of a defined contribution plan is that once the employer has made their contribution, the employer’s obligation is fulfilled. The employee’s retirement benefit is based on a “defined” contribution – typically some fixed percentage of their base pay – that money is invested, and the retiree lives on the accumulated savings and interest. Often, with the same amount invested, these plans can offer participants a more lucrative retirement than a pension.

Given the potential of defined contribution plans to sometimes outperform pensions, why are public employee unions seemingly focused almost exclusively onthe alternative, the so-called “defined benefit” pension? Far more common in the public sector, these defined benefit plans offer the retiree a guaranteed “defined” amount in the form of fixed payments for as long as they live, usually adjusted upwards each year for inflation. What the employer has to contribute to the fund is undefined and fluctuates as needed to maintain those promised payments.

The problem, however, with defined benefits is they were sold as costing taxpayers very little,… Read More

Ray Haynes

They Just Can’t Help Themselves And You and I Are Gonna Pay

The Dems recently announced how they have enacted a “fiscally responsible” budget for the current 2019-2020 budget year. Rather than buy the PR, let’s look at the numbers.

First, references. Take a look at http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2019-20/pdf/Enacted/BudgetSummary/BS_SCH6.pdf. What is this? It is the budget’s Schedule 6. Most budget decisions made by legislators are made in a vacuum. The process looks like this: (1) between September and December, the various agencies and departments submit to the Department of Finance their desired budgets for the following fiscal years, called “budget change proposals” (BCPs); (2) In January, the Department of Finance (DoF) (controlled by the Governor’s office) submits to the Legislature the “Governor’s budget,” (3) In late February, the Legislative Analysts Office (LAO) (controlled by the Democrat Leadership in the Legislature) submits its analysis of the Governors budget; (4) Between March and May, the budget committees act on the BCPs; (5) In May, the DoF releases its “May Revise” and the LAO analyzes it; (6) In late May and early June, the budget… Read More

Bruce Bialosky

A Most Excellent Supreme Court Decision

Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions came down one after the other. The first was about reapportionment. The court ruled that they have no say whether elected officials can gerrymander political districts. While waiting for the second decision about a question on the census, the news made that seem like a more important decision. It is not. Analysts missed the reason why. While waiting for the Census question decision, Alan Dershowitz was interviewed and he stated that the two consolidated cases regarding how districts are drawn, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, were “100 times more important than the census question case.” He was correct — just for the wrong reason.

Most analysts focused on the idea that Republicans won a major victory in this 5-4 decision where the right-of-center Justices were in the majority. That is because currently the vast majority of legislatures are controlled by Republicans and control reapportionment in their states. That is a shallow view of the ruling and not why the Left was so agitated. In effect, the ruling stated that legislatures can draw the lines of political districts within their states for… Read More

Richard Rider

Firefighters definitely face dangers — but the risks are much lower than many realize. And it’s becoming even safer.

Firefighting can definitely be risky, as firefighters love to remind us. But firefighting is no longer in the “Top Ten” most dangerous occupations.

According to this WASHINGTON POST article, firefighting ranked as the 18th most dangerous occupation in 2013 — just behind “athletes, coaches, umpires, etc.” Stats are from the BLS.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/01/28/charted-the-20-deadliest-jobs-in-america

As detailed below in a chart, the modern (1980 to 2015) history of annual American firefighter deaths is encouraging. The trend is definitely improving. It’s becoming a safer occupation, though definitely still more risky than most.

What’s interesting about the drop in annual firefighter deaths is that from 1980 to 2015 our country’s population… Read More

Richard Rider

Firefighters are the happiest workers in the nation — even WITHOUT the CA $200,000+ annual compensation and $100,000 pensions

The Bloomberg news service has just published the results of a study that shows that America’s paid firefighters are the happiest workers in the nation. And by no small margin. They LOVE their job!

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/firefighters-are-the-happiest-workers-in-america-1.1288266

This fact is not surprising, considering that 69% of the country’s firefighters are volunteers — America’s TRUE firefighting heroes. It gets more interesting when one considers that — as the article points out — the nation’s median firefighter wage rate is under $50,000 annually.

https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes332011.htm

Given that firefighting is probably the most desired job in America, the question it raises is this: Why do we taxpayers pay California “firehouse” firefighters $150,000 to $300,000+ total annual compensation?

Since I… Read More

Edward Ring

How “Release Time” Causes Taxpayers to Fund Government Unions

Based on an estimated total membership of 1.1 million and average dues per member of around $700, California’s public sector unions collect andspend approximately $800 millionper year. The impact of the June 2018 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the caseJanus vs AFSCMEmay havechopped around $50 millionoff that annual total, by eliminating the union’s ability to collect agency fees from non-members. Nonetheless, California’s public sector unions still collect a stupefying amount of money every year, and remain one of the most powerful special interests in the state.

The long-term impact of theJanusdecision has yet to be felt. Will California’s public sector unions slowly lose membership? Or will they retain or even grow their membership by being more accountable to their members, or, equally likely, by continuing to make quitting the union an exercise in bureaucratic futility so… Read More

Bruce Bialosky

A Terrible Court Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling a couple weeks ago, supported by 170 years of precedent with support from both the liberal and conservative wings of the court and a 7-2 vote. In Gamble v. U.S., our Supreme Court validated the right for the government to put a criminal defendant in double jeopardy. There has been no ruling by the court that is more offensive than this ruling.

The Justices made this ruling despite the fact that the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution specifically prohibits such action with the language “nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Why did the current Justices validate such poor judgment that had been adjudicated by their predecessors and reinforced previously? That is the mystery to be solved.

If one is not a legal expert but wants a better understanding, the best source today is Andrew McCarthy. Sure enough, McCarthy wrote about this case and he is dead wrong, a rare occurrence indeed.

He stated in his column that the principle definition of logic behind the decision was offered by the author of the majority decision, Justice Samuel Alito. McCarthy wrote… Read More

Bruce Bialosky

They Want to Ban Parades

I am not a big parade person, but when you live 15 miles from the Rose Bowl you can hardly miss the Rose Parade. It seems to be on every TV channel. One local channel was almost taken off air because of a cable company dispute with the channel, but we were saved at the last minute so they could show the parade — the channel’s biggest event of the year. While watching it, the thought came to mind as to when will the Left go after banning parades.

You’re thinking right now “Bialosky is either nuts or being satirical”. No, I am neither nuts nor being satirical. There are so many ways that the Left has gone after things in a nonsensical manner and we have lost those items from our lives.

What is more mainstream Americana than a parade? Thanksgiving, 4th of July, The Rose Parade, the parade in Indianapolis before the Indy 500 (yes, it is a huge thing) — all of these are shining examples of American life and all of them iconic, representing everything the Left hates about America.

You think they cannot make an argument for killing parades? You are wrong. The other things they have thought to kill – many of which we never suspected… Read More

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