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Katy Grimes

Jerry Brown’s Crumbling Road Show and Legislative Circus

Democrats just passed the largest gas tax increase in California history. The deal is so bad they needed $1 Billion in payola to buy enough votes to pass it. And shamefully, only 60 percent of the gas tax collected from SB 1, authored by Democrat Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), will actually be used for road maintenance and repairs. Environmentalists got plenty of taxpayer-funded payola as well including money for more public transit, and for walking and bicycling projects.

SB 1 does nothing to relieve traffic congestion or expand highway lane capacity. If Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown are trying to force… Read More

Edward Ring

A Modest Proposal for California from a Public Servant

When I see someone attacking the benefits the Fire Department receives or the Police Department receives, my concern is: Why wouldn’t you expect the same for yourself? We should act as a beacon.” – Mike Mohun, president of the San Ramon Firefighters Union, quoted in theNew York Times, March 2, 2017

There are many compelling reasons to examine this statement by Mr. Mohun, since pension benefits for state and local government workers are consuming ever increasing percentages of tax revenue. For starters, using the term “attack” is unfair. More accurate might be “counter-attack,” since the costs for these pensions are what has become extreme, not our reaction. If these pensions were financially sustainable, California’s citizens would not beunder attack by continuously escalating taxes, and continuously diminishing public services.

But why shouldn’t we expect the same for… Read More

Katy Grimes

Jerry Brown’s BIG Green Budget is in The Red

Even with “the most progressive tax system in the United states,” California Gov. Jerry Brown is facing huge deficits, and cannot balance the state budget. The huge $180billion state budget proposal for 2017-18, may be another record budget but for millions of Californians, it’s still record stagnation and less income.

Brown has presented yet another budget fairytale that will have $5.8 Billion in deficits over the next three years – even with the recently passed ballot tax of $10 Billion in new tax revenue. And the budget does little or nothing to pay down more than $240 billion in state debt.

Why? Because personal income tax, corporate, and sales tax projections are down.

“Why are… Read More

Katy Grimes

Memo To Big Media, NeverTrumpers and Leftists: This Is Why Trump Was Elected

By vilifying Conservatives as sexists, racists, and imbeciles, political, academic, media, and cultural elites — the self-appointed arbiters of acceptable public debate — opened the door to a Trump presidency. And they are in a state of shock.

Political Correctness is used by the left as a weapon to destroy the fabric of American society. However, the leftist attack on speech in America may have ground to a halt with the election of Donald J. Trump as President.

There’s nothing voluntary about political correctness.… Read More

Edward 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

Edward Ring

Practical Reforms to “Right-Size” Government Unions

Rolling back the power of government unions in a state like California is almost impossible. Their power has been unchallenged for so long that they now virtually control the state legislature, and their grip on local politicians extends to nearly every city, county, school district and special district.

But there have been reforms in some places, and they can serve as examples for municipalities throughout the state. Several Orange County cities have tried transparency ordinances of variable effectiveness. San Jose has restricted the use of binding arbitration. Voters in San Jose and San Diego have both passed pension reform measures. Cities scattered throughout California have grappled with unions over project labor agreements and prevailing wage laws. And in the courts, reformers have won the first round in the Vergara case, which challenges union work rules governing teacher dismissals, layoff preferences and tenure requirements.

Against the remorseless advance of the government union agenda, these and other measures are decidedly incremental. They are often overwhelmed by deceptive union measures that carry the reform label but are actually reactionary shams,… Read More

Edward Ring

The Hypocrisy of Public Sector Unions

During the industrial age, labor unions played a vital role in protecting the rights of workers. Skeptics may argue that enlightened management played an equally if not greater role, such as when Henry Ford famously raised the wages of his workers so they could afford to buy the cars they made, but few would argue that labor unions were of no benefit. Today, in the private sector, the labor movement still has a vital role to play. There may be vigorous debate regarding how private sector unions should be regulated and what restrictions should be placed on their activity, but again, few people would argue they should not exist.

Public sector unions are a completely different story.

The differences between public and private sector unions are well documented. They operate in monopolistic environments, in organizations that are funded through compulsory taxes. They elect their bosses. They operate the machinery of government and can use that power to intimidate their political opponents.

Despite these fundamental differences in how they operate, public unions benefit from the still common perception that they areindistinguishable from private unions, that… Read More

Edward Ring

How the Tax System Favors Government Workers and Punishes Independent Contractors

The 2016 tax filing deadline is now just one month away. Which makes it timely to point out how unfair our tax system is to middle class workers who want to prepare for their retirements. It is also timely to explain how there is a completely different set of retirement rules, far more favorable, that apply to unionized government workers.

If you are a member of the emerging “gig economy,” or a sole proprietor running a small business, or an independent contractor, and if you are reasonably successful, then you paying nearly 50% of every extra dollar you earn in taxes. The following table showsthe marginal tax burden for independent contractors who earned more than $81.5K and less than $118.5K in 2015:

Marginal Tax Rate for Independent Contractors (for 2015 earnings > $81.5K and < $118.5K)

The challenges posed… Read More

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