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BOE Member George Runner

California’s Gas Tax Nightmare

California taxpayers don’t have to fall sleep to have a nightmare. They experience one each and every day when they encounter a costly, confusing and constantly-changing tax system. Unfortunately, most efforts to change this system only make matters worse.

Take the gas tax, for instance.

California consumers currently pay 71 cents per gallon in taxes every time they fill up their tanks. That’s the highest gas tax rate in the country. The average American pays less—about 50 cents per gallon. That translates into hundreds of dollars a year in higher taxes for Californians.

Adding insult to injury, Californians are double taxed for gas. Sales tax is calculated after excise taxes have already been added. That means we pay a tax on a tax, which is just plain wrong.

Double taxation aside, most California motorists wouldn’t mind paying high gas taxes if it meant we could drive the nation’s finest roads. But that’s not how things work. Instead of seeing our tax dollars invested wisely, we’re constantly told we should pay more. Our freeway system, once the envy of the world, has become an embarrassment.

Further complicating matters, in… Read More

Katy Grimes

The quiet Arena lawsuit moves forward

Last week a judge ruled against the lawsuit to place the proposed public subsidy for the new basketballarena before Sacramento voters.

Local media heralded the decision.

But there is another Sacramento arena lawsuit taking place in Sacramento Superior Court. I’ve attended the court proceedings. And I’ve written about it.

The lawsuit accuses city officials of making a secret deal to provide an extra $80 million of public money to help the investors’ group beef up its offer against a well-funded Seattle group that wanted to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle, which lost its NBA team to Oklahoma City in 2008. Plaintiffs’ attorney Patrick Soluri said city officials have committed fraud because they have not fully informed the City Council and the public about details of the deal.

The city subsidy, according to the lawsuit, is actually $338 million — not the $258 million the city claims.

Most other media seem to be ignoring it, or incorrectly reporting the importance of the lawsuit, and allegations of fraud by city officials, and illegal gift of public funds.

This is serious. It’s not about being Kings arena deniers, as… Read More

Katy Grimes

The governor’s 2014-15 budget proposes to spend $850 million from cap-and-trade auction revenue on various projects — including the state’s high-speed rail project. However, this would defy the very purpose of cap-and-trade.

Under AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, cap and trade takes money from business owners and manufacturers who produce products, but are deemed “polluters” by the state.

It’s like being taxed for being a business that emits any greenhouse gas emissions.

That money is taken out of the economy, and given to the government to decide how it will be spent.

California business owners only know it is money they will never see… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov’s proposal for cap and trade funds for High-Speed Rail under scrutiny

The governor’s 2014-15 budget proposes to spend $850 million from cap-and-trade auction revenue on various projects — including the state’s high-speed rail project. However, this would defy the very purpose of cap-and-trade.

Under AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, cap and trade takes money from business owners and manufacturers who produce products, but are deemed “polluters” by the state.

It’s like being taxed for being a business that emits any greenhouse gas emissions.

That money is taken out of the economy, and given to the government to decide how it will be spent.

California business owners only know it is money they will never see… Read More

Katy Grimes

State of the State: Gov. Brown seeks ‘fiscal restraint’ — and more spending

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown delivered his2014 State of the Statethis morning. It was largely a recap of his recent2014 Budget proposal press conference, but shorter.

As Brown often does, he first took on his critics:

“It occurred to me that these critics – who have long recited our state’s decline – perhaps have nothing to say in the face of California’s comeback – except, ‘please, don’t report it.’ Well, I’m going to report it, and what a comeback it is: A million new jobs since 2010, a budgetary surplus in the billions and a minimum wage rising to $10 an hour!”

Brown stressed again the need for “fiscal restraint” from the Legislature. But then he went on to discuss several big state… Read More

Katy Grimes

Arena Derangement Syndrome update: Arena lawsuit nears deposition of city officials

Opponents of the push for a heavily subsidized downtown Sacramento basketball arena are closer to forcing key city insiders to tell what they know about how much taxpayers actually will have to pay for the project.

Last week,Sacramento Superior Court Judge Eugene Balononissued a tentative ruling in the lawsuit targeting the arena deal orchestrated by Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star. It supported petitioners’ requests that they be allowed to depose Sacramento Councilman Kevin McCarty and Sacramento Economic Development Director Jim Rhinehartabout undisclosed dealings between city officials and the new Kings ownership group to help it buy the team.

The Sacramento Investor Group,led by tech entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive,… Read More

Katy Grimes

Arena derangement syndrome afflicts Sacramento

Call it “arena derangement syndrome,” or ADS. It afflicts cities trying to use taxpayer money for new sports arenas or stadiums.

It’s now threatening thevalidation of 35,000 ballot initiative petition signatures that would halt the proposed subsidy of a new arena for Sacramento’s Kings basketball team.

The ADS gripping Sacramento has infiltrated most of city government, and made it all the way to the city’s top ranking officials. ADS started in the office of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, himself a former NBA star, then spread like a communicable disease through the Sacramento City Council, senior city management and city hospitality and convention agents. ADS thrives in a host of labor unions and crony capitalist business owners that would benefit from constructing the arena — and, of course, in the super fans.

ADS has divided friends and neighbors, even caused riffs in families.

In December, after the Sacramento City Clerk’s Office is done counting the petition signatures, Sacramento county elections officials said a validation process would take weeks.

The anti-public subsidy group… Read More

Katy Grimes

Merry Covered CA Christmas: No payment, no health coverage

If you are signing up for Obamacare, I hope you’ve already put your check in the mail. If you haven’t paid by Dec. 23, don’t count on having Obamacare insurance in January. As with all insurance coverage, the plan must be paid for before you are officially covered.

According to theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 365,000 Americans have signed up for health insurance through state exchanges under Obamacare, or signed up usingHealthcare.gov.

“Since October 1, 1.9 million have made it through another critical step, the eligibility process, by applying and receiving an eligibility determination, but have not yet selected a plan,” theHHS agencysaid. ”An additional 803,077 were determined or assessed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in October and November by the Health Insurance Marketplace.”

But Healthcare.gov and state insurance exchanges are still not… Read More

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