FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

California Still Ranked At Bottom of Economic Competitiveness Report

The 2015 report on economic competitiveness between states is out, and it still doesn’t look good for California. The Rich States, Poor States report by the American Legislative Exchange Council annually ranks states on economic competitiveness. For the 8th year in a row, Utah wins. And for the 8th year in a row, California ranks poorly on the economic freedom and competitiveness scale.

‘Rich States’ embrace free market reforms and cut taxes.

‘Poor States’ raise taxes on income, have high property taxes, are not right-to-work states, and kill job growth with these policies.

The highest-tax states of New York, Vermont, Minnesota, Connecticut, Michigan and California rank at the bottom of the 2015Rich States, Poor StatesRead More

Katy Grimes

California Gas Tax ‘Unfair and Foolish’

The California Democratic Party claims to be for the poor and middle class, but killed a bill Monday which would have cut California’s highest-in-the-nation gas tax.Californians pay 68 cents tax on every gallon of gasoline – the highest gas tax in the nation.

Not content to be the first state in the country to tax the air we breathe, California is the first in the nation to impose a cap and trade tax on transportation fuels.

In response, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, and more than 20 other Republican lawmakers, introduced AB 23, theAffordable Gas for California Families Act,legislation to exempt transportation fuels and natural gas from the California Air Resource Board’scap-and-trade program.

“We were enjoying the lowest gas prices in years,”… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento Mayor KJ: $8M Art Piece For Publicly Subsidized Arena a ‘Good Investment’

UPDATED: March 13, 2015 to include a photo of the $8 million piece of art from a Sacramento city staff report – a public record.

While this may appear to be a local news story from the wayward Sacramento City Council, it is an example of callous, tone-deaf local government, and symptomatic of state government.

As the Sacramento City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday evening to approve a public contract with a New York artist for an $8 million piece of art, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson called it “a good investment for our community.”

High-end art is one of the most manipulated markets in the world. But that didn’t stop the Sacramento Mayor: “This guy is world renowned, he is one of the most amazing artists ever,” Mayor Johnson said of artist Jeff Koons, explaining that this art purchase will really put Sacramento on the map as “a world-class city.”

In one of the most ludicrous statements I’ve ever heard from an elected official, this is what politics has become. The deal was done before the deal was done,… Read More

Katy Grimes

Money or Construction Delay at Tesla Battery Factory?

I’ve been hearing for weeks that Tesla has halted construction of its giant batter factory in Nevada, and send construction workers home. I even had colleagues in Nevada check on this for me.

But nobody has been talking. Until now.

On Friday, I saw a Tweet posted by a Clark County Nevada Commissioner who said, “Tesla Said to Cut About 30% of China Workers ; Sales department to cut half of its employees.” Another said, “How about that Tesla deal. Dramatically cut the size of the proposed building. Hired about 60 union iron workers and fired them the next day.

And finally, after weeks of rumors, the Reno-GazetteRead More

BOE Member George Runner

Runner Sponsors Legislation to Refund Illegal Taxes

This year, I am sponsoring legislation to extend common sense protections to taxpayers. Assembly Bill 867, authored by Assemblyman Donald Wagner, would require the state to provide a full refund to all individuals who paid a tax later declared unconstitutional or illegal.

AB 867 is identical to AB 2510 (Wagner) and SB 1327 (Knight), legislation I sponsored in 2014. Legislative committees blocked both bills from advancing last year.

It is criminal that the State of California can keep money it illegally collects from its citizens. Anyone who in good faith pays what ends up being an illegal tax should get their money back. It’s as simple as that.

Currently, taxpayers are only eligible to receive refunds if they have exhausted all their administrative appeals remedies, even if the tax they paid is later declared illegal or… Read More

Katy Grimes

Jerry Brown’s Green Jobs Scheme Killing CA’s Middle Class

Recent revelations resulted in the resignation of Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber over collusion between his office, California and Washington State governors’ offices, and environmental groups to force climate coordination and collaboration across the U.S.

Emails from 2013 and 2014 reveal Kitzhaber agreed to a deal with the governors of California and Washington, to implement low-carbon fuel standards and develop a scheme to foist green-energy agendas on multiple states.

Coincidentally, Gov. Jerry Brown, D-California, has made climate change one of his top priorities. During his January inaugural address Brown said he plans to require that 50 percent of all energy use come from renewable sources, and automobile gas consumption be reduced by 50 percent.

Yet last month,… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Response to Gas Tax Vote

Today the Board of Equalization voted 5-0 to reduce the state’s gasoline excise tax rate by 6 cents, from 36 cents to 30 cents, effective July 1 of this year.

This gas tax cut, although less than originally proposed, is still good news for overtaxed Californians, who currently pay both higher gas prices and higher taxes than residents of other states.

Today’s vote stems from a confusing and complicated formula known as the ‘gas tax swap.’ The Legislature enacted the formula a few years ago in order to redirect more than a billion dollars of transportation funding elsewhere. Under the gas tax swap law, the Board must annually adjust the gas tax rate to guard against over collection of tax.

State revenues from fuel taxes reached a record $8.7 billion last fiscal year. Today’s vote will help correct the over collection of tax that is resulting from lower gas prices.

But even after this tax cut takes effect July 1, Californians will continue to pay more gas taxes and fees than residents in nearly every other state. In fact, the Board’s cut won’t even fully offset the cost of a new ‘hidden gas tax’ that took effect January 1 to help fund… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacto Mayor Kevin Johnson ❤ loves Higher Minimum Wage

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s signature showed up on a letter to state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, expressing support for raising the statewide minimum wage to $13 by July 1, 2017.

And then it didn’t. An announcement from the mayor’s staff said that “staff miscommunication” was to blame for Johnson’s signature on the letter.

What happened? Is Johnson for or against a minimum wage increase? Did he sign the letter or not?

Perhaps because Johnson is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which supports raising the federal minimum wage, his staff got their letters mixed up. (Big 10 mayors letter.pdf)

Either way, the discussion should be about negative impacts on employment and income growth caused by minimum wage increases.

Signature ‘Miscommunication?’

The Sacramento Bee… Read More

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