Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For Governor Jerry Brown So Loved Public Education ...

For Governor Jerry Brown so loved public education, he sought to eliminate California's 2nd-year science requirement to save money.  This came soon after California's 8th graders ranked near the bottom nationally on the National Assessment on Educational Progress (NAEP) test, just ahead of Washington, D.C. (with some of the nation's highest educational spending) and Mississippi but tied with Alabama.

"California budget proposal would end a science requirement:  Under Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget proposal, a second year of science would no longer be required for high school graduation. The aim is to save the state money."

For Governor Jerry Brown so loved public education, he says he WILL NOT CONSIDER and THREATENS TO VETO any attempt to soften the blow of his "trigger cuts" to public education.  That's a little strange since he so rarely ever used his veto power against spending.  I guess we know where public education falls in his spending priorities.  Here are just a few examples.

"California Gov. Jerry Brown Signs $200 Million Movie/TV Production Tax Credit Extension"

"Gov. Brown signs bill spending $2.6B on high-speed rail"

"Jerry Brown signs Dream Act for illegal immigrants"

"Top-paid California legislative employees get pay raises"

Californians, we've been played for suckers before.  Remember when 1984's Proposition 37 was going to solve education funding via the Lottery?  Remember when 1998's Proposition 98 was going to end the problem of funding public education?  Remember when 2000's Proposition 20 was going to solve education funding by better spending the Lottery money?  Proposition 30 is just another money-grab by an irresponsible California Legislature and Governor.


Friday, October 26, 2012

California Governor Brown Accuses Proposition 30 Opponents of Being "Orwellian," Needs to Look in Mirror

California Governor Jerry Brown is such a hoot!  In a bit of apparent irony, Governor Brown accuses opponents of his Proposition 30 tax hikes of using "Orwellian propaganda."

"Orwellian" comes from George Orwell, the British author of a number of great books that are as pertinent today as when they were originally written.
  • In 1984, the country "Oceania" is tyrannically ruled by The Party and its Thought Police.
  • In Animal Farm, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
Which political party holds nearly 2-to-1 majorities in BOTH Houses of the California ("Oceania"?) Legislature?  Which party holds EVERY state-wide elected office in California?  The answer to both questions is The Party, also known as the California Democratic Party.

Which two of the biggest political spenders in California ("Oceania") politics--who also just happen to be major donors to Governor Brown's campaign and his political party--support Proposition 30 tax hikes with large donations.  As a complete coincidence, of course, Proposition 30 would indirectly funnel more money to these same donors.

Which group was it that, until early October, had a $40 MILLION spending advantage over any opposition to his Proposition 30 tax hikes?  Even after big contributions from opponents, Jerry Brown and his cronies still enjoy a significant spending advantage.

Who is it that purposely imposed cuts to public education and public safety to spur voters to pass his Proposition 30 tax hikes?  Of course, the Governor bristles at any mention of the word "extortion."

Who is it that created a tax hike that derives most of its revenues from just 2-3% of taxpayers who already pay the highest tax rates and who already pay roughly half of California's income taxes?

Who is it that specifically "electioneered" his ballot initiative to circumvent the 2/3rds majority requirement in the Legislature to raise taxes?

Who is it that, despite his heavy-handed use of official power to pass Proposition 30, calls the opposition "Orwellian"?

Governor Brown, if you want to see "Orwellian," look in the mirror!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Proposition 30 "Trigger Cuts" Threat to K-12 Public Education Adds Up to a Whole Lot of Nothing

If California voters don't pass Proposition 30, Governor Brown forecasts dire consequence that "K-12 schools will lose about $4.5 billion" via the "trigger cuts" provision the California budget that he helped create.

Are these really cuts?  As will all prognostications from politicians, it all depends on what your definition of "is" is.

Let's see what this really means.

Please point your trusty web browser at the California Budget web site.  In specific, find the document  California 2012-2013 Budget Summary Charts (May Revision).  Turn to page 4 and examine Figure SUM-06, duplicated below.

Find the table entry "K-12 Education" (highlighted above) and notice that the 2012-13 budget year ADDS another $4,502 million (or $4.5 BILLION) in NEW SPENDING (highlighted in red) over last year (2011-12), a 13.2% INCREASE.

If those pesky voters don't pass Proposition 30 tax hikes, let's calculate the net effect on last year's K-12 spending.  I know that the math is difficult, but please try to keep up.  What is $4.5 BILLION minus $4.5 BILLION?  If I'm doing my math correctly, that's pretty close to $0.

This means that a no vote on Proposition 30 keeps K-12 spending roughly the same as last year (and we remember how the kids ran rampant through the streets last year, right?).  It doesn't INCREASE K-12 education by $4.5 BILLION nor does it DECREASE it by $4.5 BILLION.  That's a very much different claim than a $4.5B "cut" to K-12 education.

Is Governor Brown's claim deceptive.  I'll let you decide.

Could we do better by our kids than what the Legislature provided in the budget?  No doubt.  Public education should be a priority.  However, the state has too many other spending obligations that soak up scarce resources.  California will spend $5.4 BILLION to service our debt on General Fund bonds with $3.8 BILLION going just to interest.  See "State of California: Debt Affordability Report (October 2012)", page 22.  And those aren't the only bond obligations!  REFORM is the solution, not tax hikes.

Me? I'm voting NO ON PROPOSITION 30.  Here's why.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

California: The Oasis of Democratic Politics

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charolette, North Carolina, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) met with the California delegation and spoke of "the oasis of Democratic politics that California is."

Really?  REALLY?!?!  As a fourth-generation native Californian, a small businessman, and attempting to raise a family, I can assure you that I don't feel like I live in heaven with the Democrats running the state.

Democrats hold solid, nearly two-to-one majorities in BOTH Houses of the California Legislature.  Likewise, Democrats hold EVERY major statewide elected office.  Yes, California is an "oasis" of one-party rule. Let's see what a tremendous record of success that the "oasis of Democratic politics" has  delivered for Californians.  I'm just surprised that the rest of the nation isn't begging for California's Democratic Party to take over the rest of the nation.

As of January, 2013, California has the nation's highest unemployment rate, persistently well above the national average although tied with minuscule Rhode Island.  Some will argue that California has had some of the fastest job growth in the nation, which is true--since June 2012 and California needs exceptionally high job growth to overcome its massive jobs deficit.  Meanwhile, 8 of the 10 cities in the nation with the highest unemployment rate are in California.

California has among the nation's highest income tax rates.  California's second-to-top rate of 9.3% is higher than the maximum tax rate in 47 other states and begins at just $48,000 in income.  California's top rate of 10.3% is second highest in the nation, behind Hawaii's 11%. Despite that, California's high tax rates don't produce enough revenue to meet the Sacramento's insatiable spending appetite.  Consequently, the latest sham budget crafted by Governor Brown and the California Legislature includes new tax hikes via Proposition 30 that give California the nation's 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th highest state income tax rates.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Debbie Wasserman Schultz lives in Florida, one of only seven U.S. states that have ZERO income tax.

Likewise, Proposition 30 increased California's state sales tax rates, which were already the highest in the nation.

California has the nation's highest gasoline tax--tied with New York--about 38% higher than the national average.  California pays some of the highest fuel costs in the nation.

California has lost income-producing taxpayers to other states, according to the Tax Foundation.  Most of the migration was to lower-tax or no-tax states.

In a 2011 Kauffman Foundation survey on small business friendliness, California was one of only four states that received an 'F' rating . Why? According to those surveyed, the primary reason was California's tax code.

California is ranked among the five worst business tax climates in the United States by the Tax Foundation.

California was ranked DEAD LAST by a nation-wide survey of chief executive officers as the worst place in the USA to do business.  California ranked last for nine consecutive years.

California was ranked as the nation's least favorable business climate on a survey by Development Counsellors International.

California is ranked #46 on the 2011 Small Business Survival Index, primarily due to high taxes.

California is the nation's 2nd-most broadly and onerously licensed state.

California is ranked #47 on its lawsuit climate, deteriorating from earlier ratings.

According to an October 2012 report by the California State Treasurer, California has the lowest overall credit rating of any state in the nation.  Sure, California is only ranked second-worst by Moody's but last place by S&P and Fitch.  Why is California now 2nd place with Moody's?  Did California's new sham "balanced" budget convince the credit rating agencies?  No, it's because Moody's downgraded Illinois to below California.  California has the nation's 3rd-highest debt per capita, 2nd-highest debt to personal income, and 2nd-highest debt as a percentage of state GDP.

Despite our high debt levels, Democrats in the California Legislature further burdened California taxpayers by pushing through a new, multi-billion-dollar, not-so-high-speed rail system.  The new plan is so misguided that even the author of Supertrains: Solutions to America's Transportation Gridlock and one of the key Democrat advocates behind the original rail plan recommended AGAINST passing the new plan.

Despite our high debt levels and a supposed lack of money, the California Legislature approved pay raises for Legislative staff.

California has 12% of the nation's population but 33% of the nation's Temporary Aid to Needy Family (TANF) welfare recipients. Why is that?

According to a California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) report, the two biggest spenders in California politics are state public-employee unions California Teachers Association (CTA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  A majority of that political spending goes to the California Democratic Party.  According to a former California Democrat Legislator, the CTA considers itself as a "the co-equal fourth branch of government."  Even career Democrat, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown acknowledges that California Governor Jerry Brown (no relation) is afraid to confront the teachers union.

These same unions are the two biggest spenders supporting Proposition 30, designed to raise your taxes.  Did I mention that California is a "union-only" state?

California's 8th-graders scored 3rd worst in the nation in science--tied with Alabama and ahead of only Washington, D.C. (the nation's brain trust) and Mississippi.  Naturally, the California Legislature discussed cutting the 2nd year of high-school to save money.  But, good news everybody, we do have state-mandated "gay history" classes!  Some will argue that California's poor showing is all about student funding.  Washington, D.C. scored dead last on the science assessment by a considerable margin.  Washington, D.C. also has among the nation's highest per student spending.

Democrat super-star Antonio Villaraigosa is Mayor of Los Angeles. Los Angeles is now ranked the 2nd most corrupt region in the United States behind infamously-corrupt Chicago.  You may remember him from the Democratic National Convention when he attempted to return the word "God" and recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel in the Democratic Party platform.

Forty-two-year incumbent California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein is afraid to debate her Republican challenger, Elizabeth Emken.  As the July 17th Los Angeles Times editorial put it, "Nothing screams 'entrenched incumbent' more than a refusal to debate an opponent."

Democrat Congressman Pete Stark has been in Congress since 1973.  Although supposedly representing California, he has declared his Maryland home to be his primary residence.  In 2010, over 90% of his campaign contributions came from out-of-state donors, primarily political action committees (PACs).  Fortunately, he finally lost his seat in 2012--a long overdue win for California voters.

California's government was ranked the nation's worst-run state government in 2011 and, in 2012, for the 2nd year in a row.

Only three cities in the United States have a net "unfavorable" rating.  Two are in California (Oakland, Los Angeles) and governed by Progressive Democrats.  California's current Governor, Jerry Brown, was former Mayor of Oakland.

I could go on, but there's not enough room to categorize all the "success" bestowed on the "oasis" of California by the Democrats. In an extra moment of hilarity, leaders from the one-party rule California Democratic Party politburo call Republicans "Nazis." If this is "heaven," I wonder what hell feels like.