TEAPAC FIRST FRIDAY BREAKFAST FORUM Making California Golden Again: Taking California into the 21st Century
Over the next ten months, we will be hosting presentations from policy experts to look at where we are, where we have been and where we need to go in California in the 21st Century.
Please Join us for a presentation by Steve Frank Publisher of California Political News and Views September 8, 2016
“California's Dire State of Taxation and Regulation and the Upcoming 2016 Ballot”
Steve is a long-time political activist, conservative radio commentator and publisher of California Political News and Views (capoliticalnews.com).
Originally from the Bronx, New York, Steve graduated from Los Angeles High School and LA City College. After serving in the First Infantry Division in Viet Nam, he went on to receive his B.S. from the University of Redlands.
Since the 1960s, he has been active in local and national politics, supported community and charity organizations and has worked intimately on behalf of military officers (and their families) who are prisoners of war or missing in action.
He and Leslie, his wife of 40 years, have two daughters and two grandchildren (another is on the way.)
SUMMARY OF TALK
by Madeline Grimm, Intrepid Reporter
At the California 21 Speakers Series Breakfast at the Pasadena Hilton Thursday, September 8, Steve Frank, publisher of the well-known news website California Political Review, radio speaker and self-titled "conservatarian", gave the kick-off talk in a series of monthly presentations to be given by policy experts on California's critical issues over the coming year. The summation follows.
Steve Frank is used to being called a pessimist; but he points out that in the words of Harry Truman, "I don't give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it's hell!"
California is no longer golden. California is $1.5 trillion in debt, which does not include another trillion in unfunded liabilities. The papers will report the California budget to be $162 billion annually. In reality, the actual expenditure is $225 billion. This accounting is comparable to setting your household budget, but conveniently leaving out your mortgage payment! This bit of bureaucratic sleight-of-hand is accomplished simply by terming the excess "off budget".
Despite the deficit, taxes in California stand among the highest in the nation, with the Santa Monica sales tax standing to tie with Chicago's by the end of this year at a whopping 10.5%. Statewide, we face $500 billion worth of tax increases and bonds on the ballot. They display general themes of extracting large amounts of money to pad the pockets of union bosses and bureaucrats in the name of the common good.
Steve gave us an update on pension reform in California which is quoted at the end of this article. But first, his examination of a few of the most ridiculous and perfidious ballot measures and his voter recommendations for the 2016 ballot initiatives follows here:
Noncommittally dubbed a "tax stabilization" Steve tells us that Prop 55 is, of course, in reality a tax hike along the same lines as the existing Prop 30, which expires in 2019 but is currently collecting $6 billion of taxpayer dollars a year for seven years for a grand total of $42 billion. Prop 55 would extend this tax for twelve years, and raise the total revenue to anywhere from $9 - $11 billion a year. Indubitably a stabilizing measure if it's a stabilized increase you want.
A total of 20 counties have taxes on transportation on the ballot this year. For Los Angeles, the permanent tax in question is worth $120 billion. The ballot arguments are worth a careful reading. Arguments in favor of this measure invariably refer not to a tax but an "investment", listing off every rut and pothole on our illustrious freeways that is demanding our attention. One will notice, however, that in spite of these lists of pressing transportation needs, never once does the argument state that the money from this tax will actually be put to remedying these needs.
A word to those few of us who take advantage of the bus system who are, in fact, lovers of public transportation. This measure proposes to allocate $190 million for trains because, of course, the current train crisis is a well-known and onerous fact of life in California (especially in agricultural communities like Ventura County). Public transport lovers' feelings aside, the facts are that the transportation system is not used enough to justify anywhere close to such a cash dump. The proponents' cry rises up: "We will see $4.8 million of that money return to us!" Aha, well and good ... until we take into consideration that $8 million was taken from taxpayers in the first place.
To be found on our admirable California ballot this year are a total of 17 gems: props 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66 and 67 (let's not pity ourselves too much, our friends in San Francisco have not just the 17 statewide ballot measures, but also 25 local measures to browse through!). The numbers alone speak to how over-legislated we have allowed ourselves to become. When summarized, these props give us a fair idea of the state California is in.
Prop 51 proposes school bonds to the tune of $9 billion. Even our beloved governor Mr. Brown finds this ludicrous, citing a modest $6 billion as all that is necessary. Needless to say, the full tale is not even told: interest makes this an $18 billion bill. It is also worth pointing out that the primary donors have nothing to do with education here. This bill was presented by a coalition of the unions and construction companies. No guesses as to who is really profiting from this proposition.
Prop 53 is slippery: on the face of it, all is well and good. This measure would allow a vote on any bond worth more than $2 million. Seems reasonable, along the lines of such good stuff as "by the people for the people", until you notice the entire state will be called upon to vote on localized measures. Nobody wants people from San Francisco voting on how affairs should be run in Los Angeles.
Prop 57, the irreproachably titled "Transparency Act", states that the legislature must list bills and amendments to bills online for at least 72 hours before voting to promote well-informed decisions on the part of the voters. While this is not an inadmirable motive, the bill unfortunately leaves a gaping loophole. If ⅔ of the legislature call a state of emergency, this measure can be bypassed.
Prop 56 is a tobacco tax. If it passes, 2 extra dollars will be added to the price of every pack of cigarettes and the revenue thus acquired will directly lead to universal coughing reduction, pollution control, general teeth whitening and a dramatic statistical drop in human deaths by lung cancer. It would probably do all of that if more than just 13% of the money was actually going towards the prevention of smoking.
Some of this tax revenue will go to Medi-Cal because Medi-Cal has just enrolled an additional 200,000 illegal aliens and they need more money to pay for them.
Prop 57 would allow a convicted murderer and rapist with a jail sentence of 100 years to walk free after serving just 8 years of that sentence. This measure is being spearheaded by Governor Jerry Brown, who apparently wants to put criminals back on the streets of the cities he governs. It is worth noting that there has been a double digit increase in crime in California over this last year. While violent crimes are up 20%, we actually find the number of arrests has dropped over the same period of time.
Prop 58 wants to bring back segregation of classes by language in the public schools in the name of "English proficiency", ignoring the widely accepted fact that immersion in the language one is trying gain proficiency in is the fastest and most effective way to achieve it.
Prop 59 is an "Advisory Measure" hoping to overturn a Supreme Court decision where Citizens United ruled that laws placing certain limits on political spending by corporations and unions are unconstitutional. However, this measure doesn't actually stop unions from buying their politicians.
If there was any doubt that government has overstepped its bounds, Prop 60 rapidly puts all doubt to rest. This measure would enact statewide the already existing Los Angeles law which states that porn actors must wear condoms. It's hard to decide which is more absurd: the likelihood of enforcing this law or just the pure subject matter itself.
Prop 62 wants to kill the death penalty while its more officious cousin, Prop 66, wants to reform and expedite Death Row. (This measure was sparked to some extent by a lawsuit brought by a convict, himself on death row, claiming that the thirty years he had been there was itself cruel and unusual punishment.)
Prop 63 takes away guns from private citizens and seems to have been titled by criminals as "Safety for All." The NRA is expected to sue if it passes.
Prop 64 legalizes marijuana. While Mr. Frank admitted his libertarian side balks at the idea of government telling people what they can and cannot smoke, he did cite evidence of higher numbers of car crashes in the Mile High state of Colorado where marijuana is legal.
The battle rages on the grocery store front on this ballot. Prop 67 repeals the statewide ban on plastic bags, whereas Prop 65 insists that the grocery stores donate the $700 million a year they make off selling paper bags to environment causes. Steve supports 65 because it takes away the $700 million windfall from crony capitalists.
Plastic bag advocates aside, we find the fist of government delivering blow after relentless blow on this ballot. The list speaks for itself: California's agenda has become the agenda of the government elite. We are now a state bamboozled by bureaucratic rhetoric, convincing taxpayers to pour even more of our money into programs touting goodwill and peace and even freedom, while government officials gleefully funnel the majority of those funds into their own pockets. Our state is dire and we must realize this. Remember, Mr. Steve Frank is not here to depress us or give us hell, he is just telling the truth and we think it's hell!
Steve Frank's 2016 State Ballot Recommendations:
Prop 51 - No Prop 52 - No Prop 53 - No Prop 54 - No Prop 55 - No Prop 56 – No Prop 57 - No Prop 58 - No Prop 59 - No Prop 60 - No Prop 61 - No Prop 62 - No Prop 63 - No Prop 64 - As a conservative libertarian, Steve is torn about this measure because he is not comfortable with the government telling people what they can and cannot put in their bodies. Yet he does see some merits to this measure. Prop 65 - Yes Prop 66 - Yes Prop 67 - No (This is one of those measures where yes means no and no means yes. As conservatives the correct vote is NO).
Steve Frank's Pension Reform Update
"San Diego and San Jose voted for reform, but the unions took these cities to the Court of Appeals. The court ruled that while current benefits earned under Calsters and Calpers cannot be changed, anything new earned can be reformed. The problem is that reform has to go through the legislature or cities and counties that don't seem to be willing to do that. Remember who gives money to city council, school board and county supervisor candidates - the unions. Who wants to cut off the people who are going to give you money?"
Madeline Schmitt Grimm was born in the heart of Massachusetts but set off at age 17 for California in search of love, gold and a degree in theology and philosophy from Thomas Aquinas College in Ventura County. She has thus far attained two of these three objects. She has settled down in Southern California with her husband and fat baby, and enjoys research,
writing and philosophizing on the beach.