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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Jon Coupal

TAXPORTATION: Profligate Waste Negates Justification for Transportation Tax Hike

A personal digression: My father was head of the Iowa Department of Transportation (then called the Iowa Highway Commission) in the late ’60s and early ’70s before he was appointed by President Ford to serve as Deputy Federal Highway Administrator. (Of course, he lost that job when Jimmy Carter became president, but he continued to work in the private sector for a transportation think tank).

When I was in high school, I remember him coming home from an ASHTO conference. That organization, the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, was a pretty well respected group and still is. He was complaining bitterly about what was going on in California. I don’t recall his exact words, but the gist of it was that the new head of California’s transportation agency, called CalTrans, had been taken over by a certifiably crazy person (with no background in transportation policy) by the name of Adriana Gianturco. According to my father, in the 1950s and ’60s, California had the best transportation agency in the entire world. But all that changed with the election of a new, anti-growth, small is beautiful, governor by the name of Jerry… Read More

Richard Rider

CA ranked the worst state for revealing spending data

California gains another “superlative.” We are ranked the worst state for “online access to government spending data.” We make less spending data available than any other state.

Two things to note about this latest CA “award.”

1. The study was done by U.S. PIRG, a decidedly left wing outfit that would LOVE to present the Golden State in a positive light. Eventheycould not save California from itself.

2. Three states earned an “F” score in the ratings. But CA won that match-up — it wasn’t close. Looking at the numerical scores, the 49thstate (Alaska) is still 26.5% better than California.



Figure ES-1: How the 50 StatesRead More

BOE Member George Runner

California Needs More Homes

Just one decade ago California’s housing market crashed, resulting in mass foreclosures and dramatic declines in home values. Today, we face a very different problem—a severe housing shortage.

There just aren’t enough homes. Supply is low, demand is high and home prices continue to rise. In fact, home prices in California are so high that middle and lower income families are being priced out of home ownership.

The average California home price of $450,000 is twice the national average.

In order to meet the demand for housing and to make homes more affordable, California developers would have to build millions of new homes—a million in Los Angeles alone—just to keep up. And it’ll be hard to keep up if California’s ultra-strict environmental regulations continue to get in the way.

Right now, there’s little incentive for builders to build homes, since excessive regulation has made it very expensive. To build a home, one must navigate a labyrinth of bureaucracy and follow a layer cake of rules. Builders are forced to price their homes higher, which then reduces the number of buyers who are able to afford the finished… Read More

Katy Grimes

The Artificial Outrage of Paid Protestors and Rent-A-Mobs

Every day on the news there are stories of well-organized protests. I report from the California State Capitol which almost daily is ground zero for some group protesting a grievance. Asapoliticaljournalist,Iam skeptical of most protests. It does not matter if the protestors arewearinghardhatsandorangevestsand standalldayinfrontofanofficebuildingunder construction,oraprominentrestaurant feigning outrage showcasing a giant inflatable rat to passersby.

The recipe is always the same whether it’s a faculty walkout, a nurses walkout, minimum wage protests, Wall Street protesters, union members, or recently, students protesting University of California, Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.

While every citizen is entitled to his or her own voice for a cause, the professional paid protesters who appear at protests all across the state and even across national borders are mercenaries.

The average employed American does not have the time to protest, yet we often see the same people at different protests around the state. Where does the funding for these rent-a-mobs come from?

Wealthy Foundations FundRead More

Ed Ring

Public Safety Unions and the Financial Apocalypse

Imagine for a moment that two premises are beyond serious debate: (1) That there will be another financial crisis within the next five years that will equal or exceed the severity of the one experienced in 2009, and (2) That the political power of public safety unions will prevent local governments from enacting pension reforms sufficient to avert a financial disaster when and if the next financial crisis hits.

What will these public safety unions do?

It’s distressingly easy for politicians to dismiss both of these premises, but since for the moment we’re not, imagine the following: Major European banks have declared insolvency because their debtors have all defaulted on payments, the Chinese stock market has collapsed because their export markets are shrinking instead of growing, and the deflationary contagion reachesAmerican shores. Across the nation, speculative buying is replaced by panic selling. Housing prices fall, defaults accumulate, and the pension funds lose half their value overnight. In a cascading cycle reminiscent of 1929, deflation sweeps the global economy.

Meanwhile, pension reform has been limited to incremental adjustments to the… Read More

Jon Coupal


Average taxpayers in California are probably aware that the state budget was in the news again over the weekend. But even folks who follow both Presidential politics and local issues probably couldn’t be blamed if they tune out stories about the California budget. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s just that public finance issues can be horribly confusing and difficult to follow.

In terms of timing, the process itself is easy to grasp. The annual budget year runs from July 1st to June 30th of the following year. That’s why people refer to a single budget using two years. For example, the budget currently being discussed is the 2016-2017 budget. The Constitution requires that the Governor present a budget in January and that the Legislature enact the budget by June 15th. Because state bean counters and analysts don’t have a full grasp of the economy or revenue projections in January, the Governor’s budget goes through an update, or “revision,” in May. It was this May “revise” that the Governor presented on Friday that has been in the latest news cycle.

But perhaps the most confusing aspect of the state budget is the fact that many of the… Read More

Doug Haaland

California Justice…. or Political Opportunism

During the U.S. Senate candidate debate in San Diego, Attorney General Kamala Harris inferred that she was fearless, but not reckless when it came to investigating and charging someone with a crime. Specifically, she said, ““When with the swipe of a pen you can charge someone with a crime,” sounding equally thoughtful about the fact that such capricious actions can change lives forever.

This assertion was obviously intended to assure Californians that she understood the seriousness of her present office, while trying to effect a transfer of that seriousness to the office she seeks. It’s clear that she’d prefer everyone forget her recent “official acts” that federal courts, newspapers, and public interest groups across California and the Nation have found to be profoundly political in nature.

Attorney General Harris showed no regard for the damage her “swipe of a pen” could inflict when she filed a politically-charged demand against the Americans for Prosperity that a federal court swiftly dismissed. Her level of concern for harm was clearly the last thing she observed when she announced her investigation of Exxon-Mobil for hiding the… Read More

Richard Rider

CEO’s rank CA “The Worst State for Business” for 12th straight year

Sadly, here’s a NON-news story I run in May of every year. For the 12thstraight year, CEO Magazine ranks California as the worst state in which to do business. Over 500 CEO’s are polled in the annual survey. Every year, New York tries to challenge us for the bottom spot, but every year, they fail to dislodge us from our lowly perch.The best state? Texas. Again.Here are some CEO comments concerning California that the magazine highlighted: CEO Comments “California currently produces our highest unit costs of any state in the country for our high-end commercial construction output.” “States like California just don’t get it. At the rate they are going, who’s going to pay the bills with such a anti-business, leftist government and businesses leaving every month for Arizona or Washington state?” “California has been running businesses out of the state for years, and in fact, their policies are getting worse. Class action lawsuits abound, it’s a crazy environment for small businesses out there.” … Read More

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