California Republicans Try to Undo Campus Free Speech Restrictions

Free Speech ProtestCalifornia’s increased crackdown on free speech on several of its college campuses has pushed several Republicans, and even some Democrats, to push back.

Bill Nielsen, a 72-year-old Republican cattle farmer, and Nicolas Tomas, a 26-year-old vegan Democrat, have joined forces. According to the Los Angeles Times, Nielsen has proposed a bill that would “reaffirm that outdoor spaces on campus are public forums. Institutions would only be able to impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place and manner of speech, such as barring demonstrations with bullhorns in front of the library during finals week.” The Times adds, “School policies would also need to allow for spontaneous assembly and distribution of literature, so students can react to breaking news events.”

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), is called the Campus Free Speech Act. It would prevent schools from disinviting speakers because thy are “controversial” and would reportedly establish disciplinary action for anyone who infringes on the free speech right of others.

“You’re not allowed to just disinvite people because they’re controversial,” Melendez told the Times. “You can’t have mob rule.”

Earlier this month, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the eight page Campus Free Speech Protection Act into law, making the “Volunteer State” on the first to pass legislation designed to stem the assault on free speech at its public universities.

Breitbart News previously reported:

The law mandates that public colleges and universities in Tennessee adopt free speech policies consistent with the University of Chicago’s 2015 Stone Report. Chaired by Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone, the report’s findings were adopted last year to great fanfare. Despite his emphasis on campus free speech, Professor Stone is hardly a right-wing ideologue. He clerked with archliberal Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, chaired the Board of the American Constitution Society, a leading lefty-leaning lawyers’ association, and served on the National Advisory Council of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Meanwhile, the University of California has reportedly estimated that enforcing Nielsen’s measure could add millions of dollars of costs for administrative, security and legal fees to the system.

However, Joe Cohn, the legislative director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), told the Times that argument was bogus. “The idea that the bill will add costs to the state is silly on its face,” Cohn reportedly said. They already have this same liability and same legal obligation, regardless or not if the bill passes.”

Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/california

Trump’s Budget Will Cut Payments to California

President Trump’s proposed budget would likely result in billions of dollars of cuts to vital health and human services programs in California, state Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the poor said Tuesday,” reported the Los Angeles Times,

“It’s unconscionable and un-American,” blasted Gov. Jerry Brown, who himself slashed state social spending to balance the budget.

In announcing the May Revision to his budget proposal for fiscal year 2017-18, Brown warned, “We have ongoing pressures from Washington and an economic recovery that won’t last forever.”

Actually, to use a line from another California governor, Ronald Reagan: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The cuts in California programs soon will be much larger than those in Trump’s proposal, and they will strike whether or not he’s president, or the White House occupant is Elizabeth Warren or the ghost of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Nor will it matter if Nancy Pelosi again becomes House speaker and is joined by Chuck Schumer as Senate majority leader.

The reason is simple: The Baby Boomers will continue retiring, and Social Security and Medicare payments will gobble up an increasing proportion of federal spending. That will crowd out everything else: spending for defense (especially wars), even though Trump now wants to increase defense spending $50 billion a year; and for all discretionary spending, including for health, education and welfare transfers to state governments.

According to Brown’s May Revise budget proposal, general fund spending would be $124 billion for fiscal 2017-18, which begins on July 1.

Brown’s January budget proposal included more details on federal funding. For example, turn to p. 28, Figure K-12-05. We see the $90.7 billion in revenue for K-12 education will come 61% from federal sources.

Seiler-1

The May Revise also warns: “The state must also continue to plan for and save for tougher budget times ahead. The federal government is contemplating actions – such as defunding health care for five million Californians, eliminating the deductibility of state taxes, and zeroing out funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood – that could send the state budget into turmoil….

I got some of the following charts from an article on the libertarian website LewRockwell.com, by Gary North, Ron Paul’s first economic adviser. Title, “Guns or Granny: The Looming Political Battle of the West.” North, who has written about this issue for years, copied the charts and data from non-libertarian sites. His analysis makes sense to me. But feel free to come up with your own interpretation of the independent data.

His conclusion, “Sometime before the 20’s are over, there will be no more discretionary slice of the budgetary pie. At that point, there is going to be a guerilla war in Washington. It will be a battle over the size of the slices of pie. Political voting blocs that thought the size of their slice was guaranteed will find that it isn’t.”

Check out this chart:

Seiler-2-768x447

The first thing to note is federal taxing is limited to 20% of GDP. In America’s entire history, it only briefly went slightly above that amount during World War II, until Hitler and Tojo were defeated. Then it went back below the 20% threshold. Americans just won’t be taxed more.

In most years since 1970, the federal government has spent more than revenues, usually around 23% to 25% of GDP. That is, spending is at least 3 to 5 percentage points above revenues. That’s how presidents and Congress have run up a massive debt that now clocks at $20 trillion. This year’s projected deficit of $603 billion, in the proposed Trump budget, sure doesn’t help. The rising debt, of course, means higher interest payments in the future – meaning less money to spend on other areas.

Seiler-3-768x477

Note that there is no connection between the top marginal income tax rate and tax receipts. Even if President Warren boosted the top tax rate back to 90%, as it was in the 1950s, total tax receipts would not rise, but would remain under 20%.

So, there isn’t going to be any more money. And more Baby Boomers will be retiring, putting extra demands on Social Security and Medicare. That means: Something has to give.

North’s point is that old people are not going to let their Social Security and Medicare be cut before everything else is cut: defense, education, environmental programs, science, etc.

Here’s a chart I found from the UC Davis Center for Regional Change from the 2014 California election:

Seiler-4-768x444

Notice how those ages 64-74 voted more than six times those of ages 18-24. That was not a presidential election year, but the votes affected congressional races. And it’s the Congress that passes the bills, not the president. In a democratic system, with majority ruling, if it’s Social Security and Medicare vs. aid to colleges and K-12 schools, who’s going to win that battle? Who is more likely to write a letter to Rep. Porkbarrel insisting on funding? It won’t matter whether the honorable representative is a Democrat or a Republican.

Finally, here’s a pie chart of federal spending in 2015:

Seiler-5-768x518

Notice the two slices on the right: Social Security is 24% of the budget. And 25% goes for health care – which includes not only Medicare for retirees, but Medicaid (Medi-Cal here), the Veterans Administration, federal retiree health guarantees, etc.

Those two slices are guaranteed to increase, which means the rest of the slices will have to be cut. Even in that nutty new math they teach under Common Core in the California public schools, all of something = 100%, not 110% or 150%.

When the feds cut the gravy train, which inevitable, the California state budget, like most of us aging baby boomers, is going to find it’s going to have to go on a diet.

John Seiler wrote editorials for the Orange County Register from 1987 to 2016. He now writes freelance White Papers. His email: writejohnseiler@gmail.com

California Advances Private Sector Retirement Plan Without Feds

As reported by KQED:

California officials vowed to move ahead with a retirement savings program for the state’s private sector workers, a day after losing the federal government’s support for the initiative.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and State Treasurer John Chiang said [last week] that the state will still enact the Secure Choice program, authorized last year, that will create retirement accounts for nearly 6.8 million Californians. De Leon criticized opponents of the plan as representing the interests of large banks and brokerage firms.

“California will move forward with Secure Choice with or without Washington’s blessing,” said de Leon, who authored the legislation that created the program. “We will put the future and well-being of our workers over Wall Street greed any day of the week.”

California’s program would automatically enroll private sector workers into a state-run retirement program. Unless they opted out, employees would contribute 3 percent of their earnings and a state board would oversee and invest the funds. …

Click here to read the full article

Politicians routinely divert funds from where they’re promised

Money

If a person holding a handmade “homeless and hungry” sign came across your commuting path, you might have good reason to suspect that money given them would go toward something other than housing or food. One would hope that government would be more reliable, given their constantly repeated rhetoric of advancing citizens’ general welfare. However, there are reasons to think that government may not be.

California’s Proposition 56 offers one current example. It hiked cigarette taxes by $2 per pack last year, justified because, as the Los Angeles Times endorsement put it, “The bulk of the funds would go … specifically, to pay healthcare providers more to treat Medi-Cal patients.” However, Gov. Brown has allocated no money to that end, even to offset a 10 percent cut during the recession, leaving California with reimbursement rates that are 48th in the country. Similarly, in November, Oakland passed a tax on sugary beverages which was supposedly to finance health and education programs, backed by an advisory board to ensure the money was well spent. But Mayor Libby Schaaf already wants to divert $6 million of it to help fill a budget hole, and other revenue to different purposes.

Unfortunately, the diversion of funds from where politicians promise voters they will go is a fact of political life, undermining any confidence in such promises.

Politicians routinely divert funds from where they promised. Diversions of earmarked bond revenues have been so common that citizen oversight boards are now routinely created (with limited actual effect) to convince voters of public agency trustworthiness, this time. State lottery funds promoted to supplement education have met a similar fate. Politicians, taking into account those additional funds, reduce other budgetary support, freeing up money to be spent however the state government decides, just as if the lottery proceeds went directly into its general fund. As professors Patrick Pierce and Don Miller concluded in a study of education funding, “Regardless of the state, the educational spending rate declined once a state lottery went into operation.”

Even when government spends money where they promised, the effects are often far different than advertised. For instance, food stamps (now SNAP) are largely equivalent to cash, because the vast majority would purchase more food than their food stamp allotments. That allows food stamps to replace money that recipients would have spent on food anyway, freeing it up to use however they choose. Housing, winter heating and other subsidies have similar effects, because to the extent they replace money that would have been spent on those items, earmarked funds can be diverted wherever recipients select.

Similar diversions have also often hobbled the effectiveness of humanitarian foreign aid. It frees up resources otherwise required to buy such supplies, allowing them to be spent wherever the recipient government chooses. As a result, much is lost to corruption or converted to other uses, including military spending, sometimes used to threaten citizens or neighboring countries.

If you voted for California’s Proposition 56 because it would increase Medi-Cal reimbursement rates or for Oakland’s sugary beverage tax to help health and education programs, you are probably disappointed at the deception involved. Those latest installments of the victory of hope over experience justifies anger and cynicism about government. It cannot be trusted to do what is promised. And when it does what is promised, the results are often far different than intended. Neither fact offers much assurance that government can reliably advance our general welfare. That is worth remembering, as it will not be long before the next installment of the government’s “hungry and homeless” signs will again be put on display.

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University, an adjunct scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a research associate of the Independent Institute, a member of the FEE faculty network, and a member of the Board of Policy Advisors at the Heartland Institute. His books include “Apostle of Peace” (2013), “Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies” (2014) and “Lines of Liberty” (2016).

When elephants fly – the end of the dreaded RDAs

By Shawn Steel

California National Committeeman

Republican National Committee

Something strange happened in the first six months of the Jerry Brown administration. He killed the invidious Redevelopment Agencies [RDA] which many California cities used to confiscate private property against unwilling land owners, in the name of abolishing “blighted” neighborhoods. Through Assembly bill 26X, the legislature voted to disband redevelopment agencies unless they are willing to share property tax revenue in the future to help finance public schools.

[Read more…]

Mend, don’t end, redevelopment

By Richard Lyon, Senior Vice President, California Building Industry Association

California’s Economic Development Department recently reported that our state shed more than 29,000 jobs in the month of May – giving rise to fears that the California economy could be headed for a double dip recession.  In light of this reality, you’d think that policymakers in Sacramento would be doing everything they could to increase job opportunities and stimulate economic growth in our state.

Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

Rather than work to create jobs, the Legislature last week passed legislation to effectively abolish local redevelopment agencies in California. In doing so, the Legislature has turned its back on one of the few economic development tools available to local governments’ to create jobs and economic opportunity.

Eliminating redevelopment is bad economic policy and will kill jobs and economic expansion at the worst possible time.  Statewide:

  • Redevelopment activities support an average of 304,000 full- and part-time private sector jobs in a typical year, including 170,600 construction jobs;
  • Redevelopment contributes over $40 billion annually to California’s economy in the generation of goods and services; and
  • Redevelopment construction activities generate $2 billion in state and local taxes in a typical year.

Abolishing redevelopment is extremely shortsighted. California’s construction sectors are experiencing historically high levels of unemployment. More so now than ever before, California needs to embrace policies of opportunity and economic growth.

Redevelopment offers that hope of opportunity and growth. It works to kick-start construction in urban areas that the business community largely cannot undertake on its own. By remediating environmental waste, building basic infrastructure, and making other improvements, redevelopment lures private investment in housing, jobs and businesses that otherwise would not occur. These investments mean jobs and opportunity in our most downtrodden communities.

Fortunately, by vetoing the main budget bills, the Governor has temporarily postponed the implementation of the redevelopment elimination legislation. The Legislature should take this time to pull back the legislation.

Instead of abolishing redevelopment, the legislature should instead adopt the compromise reforms being supported by a broad coalition of local governments, organized labor, housing advocates and business leaders that would reform redevelopment to strengthen what works and eliminate what doesn’t.

SB 286 (Wright) and AB 276 (Alejo) significantly enhance transparency and accountability, reduce the footprint of redevelopment, provide funding to schools, and ensure more targeted uses of redevelopment dollars.

Eliminating redevelopment will thrust our state economy into further recession, by reducing jobs and stalling economic growth. We should mend rather than end redevelopment. It is an essential tool to improve our economy and stimulate job-creation.

Governor axes redevelopment—Finally the bleeding stops

By Chris Norby, Assemblyman, 72nd District

Yesterday, Governor Brown formally signed AB26x, a long-overdue bill that ends redevelopment agencies in California as we have known them for over 50 years.

Redevelopment was originally created by the legislature to address urban blight and to revitalize decaying residential and commercial districts. Cities were empowered to create local redevelopment agencies with enhanced powers to divert property taxes, sell bonds, expand eminent domain and subsidize private development.

By the 1980s, a tool once used by a few large older cities had spread statewide. Newer suburbs were declaring raw land to be blighted to build new malls, auto plazas and big box retail centers—all subsidized at taxpayer expense. By 2000, over 30% of all urbanized land statewide had been declared blighted and included in redevelopment areas.

Tax increment financing diverted ever more property tax revenues into redevelopment agencies—at the expense of public safety and education. By 2010, over 12% of tax revenues had been hijacked by redevelopment agencies—over $6 billion statewide.

Eminent domain became the tool of choice to assemble the huge new parcels needed for redevelopment projects—all motivated by promised economic benefits. Homeowners, small merchants and even churches were targeted for taking on behalf of politically connected developers.

Repeated studies showed that redevelopment subsidies produced no net economic benefits. Savvy retailers, auto dealers and NFL team owners played one city against another for greater subsidies and land write-downs, but for the state as a whole it was a zero-sum game. California became littered with half empty malls, auto plazas and strip centers all over-built with huge public subsidies.

Meanwhile, bonded indebtedness soared to $90 billion, as agencies could encumber future property taxes without a vote of their constituents.

With the state facing a $25 billion shortfall, the losses to redevelopment agencies became unsustainable. The state could no longer backfill the fiscal bleeding to local schools and services. The signing of AB 26x saves the state budget an immediate $1.7 billion. Once the debts are paid off the full $6 billion annually will be restored to fund public services and education.

Redevelopment was never indented to be a permanent drain on the public treasury, never intended to be a permanent cash cow to subsidize development that the market alone could not support.  Credit Governor Brown for ending a program that had long outlived its usefulness.

Opposing View: Eliminating Redevelopment Agencies threatens local cities, services

by Lacy Kelly, CEO

Association of California Cities – Orange County


The Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACC-OC) believes that redevelopment agencies need reform, not elimination.

In fact, the vast majority of redevelopment agencies and the projects they oversee are proven economic generators for California’s cities and provide exceptional returns on investment for the taxpayer.

Balancing these benefits with meaningful change is precisely why the ACC-OC developed a comprehensive set of redevelopment reform best practices. These ideals are meant to protect the new jobs, tax revenue and beneficial projects produced by the redevelopment process, while simultaneously addressing the isolated problems.

For example, we believe in greater transparency in the redevelopment process through robust online disclosures. In fact, our principles require that agencies post the past five years of redevelopment expenditures as well as all future funding obligations. Additionally, taxpayer oversight committees should be mandated for all redevelopment agencies in order to ensure that the original intent of redevelopment is protected and government abuse eliminated.

In Orange County, for example, the Orange County Transportation Authority has had great success with its Measure M-mandated Taxpayer Oversight Committee. This panel scrutinizes projects and expenditures against the original intent of the voter-approved half-cent sales tax. This can serve as a model for all redevelopment agencies.

We strongly recommend that redevelopment agencies also follow consistent, statewide benchmarks to curb abuse, including:

  • Cap administrative costs at 20 percent
  • Prohibit land banking for speculative purposes
  • Promote and develop affordable housing within redevelopment projects

All of the ACC-OC’s Redevelopment Best Practices can be found online at www.ACCOC.org/publications.

The ACC-OC agrees that redevelopment reform is needed.  But we must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The wholesale elimination of a tool that creates jobs, increases revenues and removes blight during a time when cities are struggling to keep police on the streets and parks maintained is highly misguided and threatens economic viability in many California communities.

The ACC-OC will continue its vocal support for redevelopment agencies and champion the reforms necessary to ensure that they remain healthy, sustainable tools for California cities.