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Edward Ring

Governor Brown – The Bailout King

“What a salesman,” he said, mockingly. “I guess that’s what you learned … selling that stock that went south.” – California Governor Brown, to challenger Kashkari, during televised debate Sept. 4th, 2014 (ref.SF Gate)

If anyone wants to know what the theme of Governor Brown’s attacks on GOP candidate Neel Kashkari is going to be over the coming weeks preceding the November 4th, election, his remarks in their debate last week would probably provide accurate clues. At least a half-dozen times, Governor Brown smeared Kashkari with accusations of being beholden to his banker friends on Wall Street. You know, those guys who shorted the investments of millions of small investors and turned America into a debtors prison? The sharks at Goldman Sachs? The banker bullies who took taxpayer funded bailouts and then collected billions in personal bonus checks? It will play well.

But Governor Brown is the king of taxpayer bailouts. Because pension funds, the biggest players on Wall Street, are getting bailed… Read More

Edward Ring

The Looming Bipartisan Backlash Against Unionized Government

Whenever discussing politically viable policy proposals to improve the quality of life in California, the imperative is to come up with ideas that strongly appeal to moderate centrists, since that is how most Californians would describe themselves. And there are two compelling issues that offer that appeal: making California’s system of K-12 education the best in the world, and restoring financial sustainability to California’s state and local governments.

While these two objectives have broad conceptual appeal, there is a clear choice between two very different sets of policies that claim to accomplish them. The first choice, promoted by public sector unions, is to spend more money. And to do that, their solution is to raise taxes, especially on corporations and wealthy individuals. The problem with that option, of course, is that California already has the highest taxes and most inhospitable business climate in the U.S.

The alternative to throwing more money at California’s troubled system of K-12 education and financially precarious cities and counties is to enact fundamental reforms. And these reforms, despite the fact that each of them arouses… Read More

Katy Grimes

Steinberg’s “enviro reform” hidden under Sacto basketball stadium

The California Legislature ended the 2013 legislative session Thursday by passing hundreds of new bills. Most of the controversial bills were passed along party lines. However a bill from Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, granting a Sacramento arena development an exemption from the state’s strict environmental laws, had plenty of help from state Republicans.

Reform or worsen?

Steinberg insists he’s only trying to reform the California Environmental Quality Act. SB 743, is a gut-and-amend bill by Steinberg is titled, “Environmental quality: transit oriented infill projects, judicial review streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento.”

That’s the long way of saying this is not really a CEQA reform bill. It’s a face-saving way out for Steinberg who has been awkwardly intertwined for more than 13 years with the haphazard development of a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento.

On its way to the Gov

This isn’t a one-off bill. Exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act were granted… Read More

Edward Ring

Union Activists Disrupt Right-to-Work Forum in Washington

[Publisher’s Note – We are pleased to offer this column from Ed Ring, Executive Director of the California Public Policy Center. He is one of the state’s leading experts on public employee and public employee union finance issues – Flash]

Last week UnionWatch reported on new efforts underway in the northwest to implement right-to-work laws. In particular, we reported on a public sector right-to-work initiative proposed for the November 2014 Oregon state ballot, “Oregon ‘Public Employee Choice Act’ Aims for 2014 Ballot.” These efforts will trigger a union funded backlash that will intensify in direct proportion to the probability these reforms may have to be successful. What happened on Sept. 4th in Vancouver, Washington is a sobering, and mild, reminder to reformers of what they are in for if they ever gain real momentum with voters. Click on the links, especially the video.

From the Macinack Center website: Two people were arrested Thursday night as part of an anti-workerRead More

Edward Ring

Governor Brown Fighting Obama Administration to Defend Pension Reform

Remember AB 340, the pension reform successfully pushed by Democratic Governor Brown, that even Governor Brown acknowledges is only a first step towards making public employee pensions financially sustainable?

Well even AB 340 goes too far according to Obama’s new Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez. As Dan Borenstein of theContra Costa Times reports on August 16th,“unless California lawmakers exempt transit workers from the pension changes, the feds could cut off up to $4.3 billion of transportation funding, according to an estimate by the California Transit Association.That includes $174 million for BART, $225 million for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and $12 million for AC Transit.”

The immediate negative economic impact of this is huge: Bill McMorris,reporting for the Washington Free Beacon on August 16th, writes“The federal government has withheld more than $500 million in funding to localRead More

Edward Ring

Public Employee “Pay Transparency” Efforts Fall Short

Last week the California Public Policy Center released a compilation ofpublic employee compensation databases. Apart from the CPPC’s own studies that disclose and evaluate compensation for city workers inSan Jose,Anaheim,Costa Mesa, andIrvine, of May 2013, they found nine additional sources of information on California’s state and local government employee compensation, incorporating eleven databases. Here they are:

State Controller,employees of all California Cities and Counties Sacramento Bee,California State workersRead More

Edward Ring

Reforming Public Sector Unions and Public Sector Pensions is NOT “Anti-Worker”

An incoming email responding to last week’s commentary, “Los Angeles Police Union Attacks Messenger Rather Than Confront Pension Crisis” included the following statement:

“While you profess not to dislike public employees, it is clear that you disliking public employee unions. Interesting—so you might like a public employee or two individually, you just dislike when those individuals organize to work for better working conditions or pay. Which goes hat in hand with your desire to make public employee pension plans seem so expensive that they are terminated.”

This invites a response.

Our concerns about public employee unions are primarily based on the fundamental differences between unions in the public sector vs. unions in the private sector. There’s nothing wrong – in principle – when “individuals organize to work for better working conditions or pay.” But if those individuals work for the government, there are plenty of problems. We are seeing the result of this throughout California… Read More

Katy Grimes

Neighborhood Legislature could restore accountability

Big spending on California politics has become one of the state’s largest industries. But the return on investment is lousy.

California’s political system has become so heavily manipulated by labor unions and other big money interests that the system is broken. Legislators have become professional fundraisers instead of managing public policy. And the individual voter no longer has much voice or influence.

It may sound farfetched, but the only way to fix this system is to expand it. California needs more lawmakers.

For democracy to work, it must be representative democracy. It must be a government of, by and for the people.

The Neighborhood Legislature

Last year Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, pushed an initiative for a part-time Legislature. She succeeded in bringing much needed attention to the broken system. And… Read More

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