Gov. Brown’s May Revise Shows No Need for Gas Tax Increase

The first takeaway from Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Revision of his budget for 2018-19 is that California didn’t need that $5.5 billion yearly gas-tax increase the Legislature passed last year. The proposal shows we have $8 billion in revenues in excess of projections.

In one area I persistently agree with Gov. Brown, “Despite strong fiscal health in the short term, the risks to the long-term health of the state budget continue to mount.” Unfortunately, according to the governor’s budget revision, we have $291 billion in long-term costs and the Legislature has done little to fix the state’s fundamental problems.

In his budget announcement and press conference, Brown emphasized the volatility of tax revenues, especially capital gains-tax revenues, shown in this chart:

moorlach-graphic

And he emphasized we’re overdue for a recession. Of course, he didn’t mention it has been President Trump’s economic policies – tax cuts and regulation reform – that have lifted the national economy above the sub-par performance of the Obama administration.

“How you ride the tiger is what we now face,” he said. “It’s going up, but when it goes down, a lot of these programs will be cut. Life is very giddy at the peaks.” No doubt, he is right. But he also ignored most of the reasons for this volatility even as he pointed out the Rainy Day fund will be filled at $13 billion, though he estimated that an impending economic storm would require resources closer to $60 billion. That’s a budget hole expected in the next recession, which could be $30 billion a year for two years. In such a scenario, the Rainy Day Fund would provide just 22 percent of that potential revenue shortage.

I see a much bigger danger. Taxes are so high in this state. To survive the next recession, companies will flee to states with much lower taxes. Because of the state’s punishing taxes, including then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $13 billion tax increase in 2009, our state’s economy crashed hard. Unemployment soared to double-digits and was exceeded only by the rates in Michigan and Nevada. It may happen again.

The period of rising revenues we’re now enjoying should be used to reduce our already committed liabilities and the overall tax burden.

Of course, having increased taxes last year – not just the gas tax, but the cap-and-trade tax Brown pushed through, estimated at $2.2 billion a year – Brown wasn’t about to suggest cutting taxes. It will be up to the voters to repeal the gas tax this November.

Given that the rising tax revenues won’t be returned to the taxpayers who worked so hard to earn them, the governor at least is proposing spending the money on some true needs. I have worked up a list of options, below, of 15 one-time spending recommendations that should be prioritized. But first let me recognize three of Brown’s proposals that have some overlap to my suggestions:

  • $2 billion for infrastructure: “The proposal will target these funds to the universities, courts, state facilities and flood control. Investments are also proposed for high-priority capital expenditures.”
  • $359 million for homelessness. His proposal notes more funding will begin to flow “from a bond and a fee on real estate transactions” passed last year – another tax that I opposed and don’t believe we need. This money would be a “bridge” until these funds are spent.
  • $312 million for mental health “for enhanced early detection of mental health problems and the education of mental health professionals.” The budget proposal also would put the $2 billion “No Place Like Home” initiative funding on the ballot “to accelerate the delivery of housing projects to serve the mentally ill.”

My proposals include prefunding the $2 billion for No Place Like Home, which will be paid back with the bond proceeds.

I’d also like to help out cities and counties with their pensions by injecting several billion dollars directed to their unfunded liabilities in lieu of taxpayer rebates. In his press conference, Brown unfortunately answered, when that question was raised, “A lot of cities signed up for pensions they can’t afford. The state can’t step into the shoes of the cities and counties. They’re going to have to handle that.”

Again, he’s largely right. And he’s actually putting his legal resources and political chits behind the overturning of the so-called “California Rule,” which ratchets up pension costs with no ability for governments to correct costs at the front end, leading them to fiscal ruin at the back end.

Because of that, we’ve got cities and counties laying off police and fire simply because their pension costs are so high. And the cities and counties can’t raise their tax base more than 2 cents on the sales tax. Current leaders in our cities and counties weren’t the ones who spiked pensions decades ago, but the California Legislature made it really easy.

Sacramento is renowned for taking funds from cities and counties during recessions. Giving something back to them would be a noble thing to do.

The state also has a backlog of rape kits. Not only is that unfair to the victims, but after catching the Golden State Killer, how many more predators could we catch and prosecute?

We also need to harden power lines across the state. If this state wants to emphasize electric cars, we’re going to be sending a whole lot more electricity around, which means more wildfires unless the power lines are put underground.

Compared to his January proposal, the governor’s May Revise only tinkered with education funding. But we could use more funding for career technical education. A lot of kids don’t want to go to college, but could have successful careers in the trades or other vocations. They should be afforded the training opportunities just as much as those we send to our elite institutions.

Finally, this budget largely is a stopgap getting the governor beyond his tenure in office. He said he wanted to leave it in good shape for his successor. But so much more needs to be done, especially in improving the state’s harsh anti-business fiscal policies, shoring up pensions, fixing long-neglected infrastructure and reducing the housing and homelessness crises.

Below is a list of my 15 policy proposals for spending the $8 billion in excess revenues. It is largely in priority order. And if the state wins the litigation for the No Place Like Home bond dollars, or it is approved by the voters on the ballot in November, then that money could be cycled into any of the remaining priorities.

Priority Description Amount
1 No Place Like Home Prefunding of approved bonding $2,000,000,000
2 Provide funding to 482 cities to be appropriated to their pension liabilities $482,000,000
3 Provide funding to 58 counties to be appropriated to their pension liabilities $580,000,000
4 Provide matching funds for city pension liabilities $964,000,000
5 Provide matching funds for county pension liabilities $1,160,000,000
6 Fully fund bringing current the Rape Kit testing backlog $12,500,000
7 Fund Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) gun holder backlog $12,500,000
8 Hardening of electric power lines around state $1,168,000,000
9 Oroville Dam state water project conveyance levee repairs $100,000,000
10 Temperance Flat construction $250,000,000
11 Refund the Fire Tax $471,000,000
12 Continue Career Technical Education Funding at prior level $200,000,000
13 Renters’ Tax Credit increase $300,000,000
14 Opioid treatment and prevention task force $100,000,000
15 Water Tax off-set $200,000,000
$8,000,000,000

This article was originally published by the Flash Report

I’m waiting for the apology

 

Donald TrumpI’m waiting for the apology.

I love it when liberals who are so damn sure President Trump is about to destroy the world, and it turns out they’re dead wrong. It’s even more fun when their heads explode because their handwringing proves to be nothing more than cynical tactics designed to scare people. In other words, their predictions are pure BS!

Unless you have had your head under a rock this week (or have been watching CNN) you know that the President of South Korea met with Rocket Man. OK, two dudes meeting; so what, no big deal. WRONG!

Not since the 1940s have the leaders of South Korea and North Korea actually met, shook hands and had a meaningful conversation which in this case has led to the official end of the Korean War.

Over the past year President Trump has taken an incredibly hard line with North Korea. He started by intensifying sanctions that were already pretty strict, and then double downed by placing sanctions on some Chinese players who were supporting North Korea. Instead of bowing to the threats of North Korea, he increased our military presence there so there was no doubt we were serious about stopping their nuclear ambitions.

And, all the while, left-wing activists, politicians and journalists here and around the world whined that Trump’s tough stance would lead to WWIII. The media in the U.S. even declared Trump unfit for office. Maxine Waters and some of her more mentally challenged buddies in Congress called openly for Trump’s impeachment — not because he had done anything illegal mind you, but only because he did his job.

It’s a bit of a first, at least in a great long while. Obama caved into North Korea, or just as bad, he refused to take any action at all for fear of upsetting North Korea’s maniacal president.

Not so President Trump. Early on he identified North Korea as one of the biggest threats to peace in the world. Like Obama, Hillary disagreed. And, like Obama, she claimed little or nothing could be done in any event to reign in North Korea’s crazy dictator.

President Obama had eight years to address the problem — to do something, anything. Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State, could have advocated for action as well. But neither of them did a damn thing. Nothing. Nada. Zilch!

So for you on the left, we are anxiously awaiting your apology to President Trump.

Sure, North Korea is still a problem. No doubt it will be for a quite some time. But that’s all the more reason for clear, decisive action designed to contain the problem rather than allow it to grow. The fact remains that President Trump has done more in his first 16 months in office than any other administration since the Korean War.

Thank you Mr President!

John Philip Sousa, IV, is the Chairman of Stars & Stripes Forever PAC, starsandstripesforeverpac.org.

Political Means versus Economic Means

March 30 marks the anniversary of the birth of someone who introduced a crucial distinction in understanding political reality – sociologist Franz Oppenheimer. In The State, he contrasted the “political means” and the “economic means.”

There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man…is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others…I propose…to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the “economic means”…while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.”

Oppenheimer directed his distinction toward developing the conquest theory of the state.

All world history…presents…a contest…between the economic and the political means…The state is an organization of the political means…forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished.

Oppenheimer drew some very important conclusions about the relationship between the nature of society and the nature of the State

Always, in its essence, is the “State” the same. Its purpose…the political means… Its form…dominion.

Wherever opportunity offers, and man possesses the power, he prefers political to economic means.

By the “State,” I do not mean the human aggregation…as it properly should be. I mean…that summation of privileges and dominating positions which are brought in to being by extra economic power…I mean by Society…all purely natural relations and institutions between man and man…

The “state” is the fully developed political means, society the fully developed economic means…in the “freemen’s citizenship,” there will be no “state” but only “society.”

The “state” of the future will be “society” guided by self-government.

Franz Oppenheimer’s insights were particularly influential on Albert Jay Nock. Particularly in Our Enemy the State, Nock expanded on them, arguing that the State (in contrast with the voluntary arrangements people make to live together, which he called government) was based on theft, so that “the State is fundamentally anti-social.”

The State has said to society…I shall confiscate your power, and exercise it to suit myself.

The interests of the State and the interests of society…are directly opposed.

The State…has invariably, as Madison said, turned every contingency into a resource for depleting social power and enhancing State power.

There are two methods…whereby man’s needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth…the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others…the political means.

The State…is the organization of the political means…primarily a distributor of economic advantage, an arbiter of exploitation…an irresponsible and all‑powerful agency standing always ready to be put into use for the service of one set of economic interests as against another.

The State is not…a social institution administered in an anti‑social way. It is an anti‑social institution.

State power has an unbroken record of inability to do anything efficiently, economically, disinterestedly or honestly; yet when the slightest dissatisfaction arises over any exercise of social power, the aid of the agent least qualified to give aid is immediately called for.

Under a regime of actual individualism, actually free competition, actual laissez‑faire…a serious or continuous misuse of social power would be virtually impracticable.

The distinction between the economic (voluntary) means and the political (coercive) means offers individuals a powerful tool in understanding society. As Nock wrote, “as long as the State makes the seizure of wealth a matter of legalized privilege, so long will the squabble for that privilege go on.” Therefore, restraining State power is essential to society, because “The weaker the State is, the less power it has to commit crime.” Having moved far along a mistaken path, recognizing that insight grows ever more important.

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).

Top Ten Lesser-Known Aspects of Oakland Mayor Schaaf’s “Sanctuary City” Policies

10. Illegals sporting gang tattoos can join “pot luck” lunch with Mayor every Thursday.

9. “Assault” style weapons banned within the city, except for illegal fugitive felons.

8.  “Schaaf” means sheep in German. Like we’re stunned.

7. The City of Oakland respectfully asks that ICE and other Federal agents not converse with Oakland residents, except to explain available Federal benefits.

6. Tough new “3 murders and you’re out” policy for illegals.

5. Apply for your Oakland “no-questions-asked” ID card, get free “NO ONE is ILLEGAL” t-shirt.

4. High-wattage megaphones supplied to key city workers, in case ICE agents are sighted unexpectedly.

3. New “dateillegal.gov” Oakland-dating website attracting interest from 47 states

2. Visit special City Hall kiosk announcing: “I’m illegal and I vote.” Get personal ombudsman and social worker assigned to you.

…and the NUMBER ONE LESSER-KNOWN ASPECT OF OAKLAND MAYOR SCHAAF’S “SANCTUARY CITY” POLICY is:

1. Mayor swears she has a “What is Illegal?” tattoo, but coyly says she can’t show it to us.

“Your Weekly American Top Ten list” is intended as humorous commentary, and not as real news.

To subscribe to the “Top Ten” for free, please visit www.gipperten.com 

Possible Legislative Process Reforms

 

CapitolCapitol observers have often complained about certain aspects of California’s legislative process. I asked some of my lobbying colleagues, as well as staff in the Legislature from both houses and both political parties, regarding possible reforms to the state’s legislative process that should be considered.

By far, the most common criticisms of the process by both lobbyists and staff concern the budget process. The next most popular topic concerns committees. While I did not conduct a formal poll, it was interesting how both staff and lobbyists expressed similar concerns about the legislative process.  Based upon the suggestions made, the following are some of the collective reforms suggested for improving California’s legislative process.

Budget Process and Bills

Based upon the feedback provided, one reform could be to require the budget conference committee to follow the general rule used by conference committees, which would provide that a bill not be considered as a budget trailer bill unless the subject matter of the proposed trailer bill has been heard and approved in the policy committee(s) that have subject matter jurisdiction in both houses of the Legislature. In other words, budget trailer bills should have to be heard and voted upon in policy committees, in addition to the relevant budget subcommittees.

Another reform would be to require budget trailer bills be adopted prior to the commencement of the new fiscal year, which would mean by June 30, or within 15 calendar days of passage of the main budget bill.

Others believe that budget subcommittees should be required to hear from all departments, boards and commissions under their purview. It has often surprised Capitol observers how many departmental budgets are placed on “consent” on a budget subcommittee’s agenda.

An additional reform would be to require a separate trailer bill for each topic, rather than allowing multiple, unrelated provisions in a single trailer bill. As such, the germaneness rule would be strictly enforced by each house when it comes to budget trailer bills.

There is also a strong sentiment that there only be one Budget Act per legislative year. Thereafter, any changes to that Budget Act would be considered as normal appropriations bills and be subject to a 2/3rds vote requirement.

An interesting reform suggested is that the Governor’s proposed trailer bills be introduced by the Budget Committees, allowing them to be in print for the public to see and for budget and policy committees to analyze, debate and hear public testimony on before votes can be taken.

Committees

The second most common area of concern expressed by legislative staff and lobbyists alike is the dreaded “two and two rule,” which substantially curtails substantive testimony before legislative policy committees. Most observers suggest eliminating this rule or at least increasing the number of persons who can testify and for how long they can do so.

While witnesses should be admonished to keep their remarks brief and not to repeat testimony already provided, substantive testimony should not be limited by the policy committees, particularly those in a bill’s house of origin. Moreover, the rules on testimony should be consistent with all Assembly and Senate standing committees.

Additionally, there should be reasonable and standardized deadlines in both houses for submitting letters to the policy committees. Most committees’ deadlines are a week before the bill’s scheduled hearing, although some are shorter and some are longer (e.g., one Senate committee requires position letters 12 days in advance of the hearing).

Another reform is to reduce the number of committees that any legislator can sit on. This has been suggested to limit the amount of overlap for legislators and so that they will hopefully remain for the duration of the committee hearings for which they are a member. The most common recommendation was three standing committees.

One helpful suggestion is to require all committees to post support and oppose letters online prior to a bill’s hearing.

In addition, most staff and lobbyists suggested that neither intent bills nor spot bills should not be voted on. In other words, there must be a substantive policy change for votes to be cast on bills in committees or on the floors.

Finally, a reform would require proportionate representation of legislators on each committee.

Fiscal Bills

A recommended reform is to amend Joint Rule 10.5 that provides guidance to the Legislative Counsel’s Office to determine whether a bill is “fiscal.” The language of the current Joint Rule is specific and does not take into consideration all potential fiscal impacts of bills.

Appropriations Committees should be limited to fiscal issues and not act as a policy committee that defeats bills on a policy basis after the bills have already passed a policy committee. In other words, the two fiscal committees should simply vote aye or no based on the bill’s fiscal impact.

Bills

A popular reform is to reduce the bill limits, especially now when legislators have a possible tenure of 12 years in one house and there should be adequate time to consider priorities. Of course, like most legislative rules, a member can petition his or her respective Rules Committee for a waiver of the bill introductions limit. The most commonly-suggested bill cap was 30 bills per legislator per 2-year Session.

Another suggested reform is that bills cannot automatically deem regulations emergency or to otherwise exempt regulations from the formal rule-making process covered by the state’s Administrative Procedure Act. This is necessary to ensure public participation in the rule-making process.

Floor Process

A popular reform is that no resolutions may be considered for floor debate during the final week of session. Any resolution to be considered must be on consent that week so that the members’ limited time on the floors is spent processing the hundreds of bills during the last week of session, rather debating resolutions.

Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor at McGeorge School of Law in its Capital Lawyering Program.

Ten Questions for Jerry Brown

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27: California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. Gov. Brown proposed 12 major reforms for state and local pension systems that he claims would end abuses and reduce taypayer costs by billions of dollars. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Tomorrow, Jerry Brown will deliver his 15th and final State of the State Address. It’s too bad California legislators can’t ask questions like our counterparts in the United Kingdom, who query their head of government during “Prime Minister’s Questions.” If we could, here are 10 questions I’d ask Governor Brown:

1.)     You recently chided Congress, “It’s never good to have one party vote one way, and the other party vote 100 percent the other way. That’s dividing America at a time when we need unity.” Does this mean you’ll no longer sign legislation that is supported by only one party in the Assembly, as you did with the Gas Tax and 20 other bills last year?

2.)     For children living in poverty, California is the worst place in America to get an education, ranking near the bottom for every academic performance measure. Your education plan has added almost $30 billion in yearly spending, yet our schools have if anything gotten worse at educating poor children. How do you explain this?

3.)     Shortly after taking office, you called reforming the much-abused California Environmental Quality Act “the Lord’s work.” Yet no CEQA reform has happened during your tenure even as the cost of housing has soared to the point that 1 out of 3 Californians is “seriously considering” leaving the state because of it. With less than one year left in your term, when is the Lord’s work going to begin?

4.)     While campaigning for Governor, you promised you would not raise taxes without voter approval. Yet last year you signed a $52 billion tax increase without giving voters a say – and now, you’re opposing an effort by voters to undo that tax hike. How should ordinary Californians respond when elected officials break their promises?

5.)     In California, the cost of building a mile of road is triple what it is in other states. One reason, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst, is that Caltrans is overstaffed by 3,500 positions. Yet you are proposing 400 new positions in this year’s budget. Why not learn from other states that build better and cheaper roads before making Californians pay higher taxes?

6.)     Under your watch, California’s unfunded pension liability has grown by over 100 billion, with public employees generally receiving greater benefits than workers in the private sector. You clearly recognize this as a problem, having just filed a commendable opening brief in what could be a landmark state supreme court case. So why did you allow this problem, which threatens vital services and future generations, to get so much worse?

7.)     You claim California is prosperous because it is the world’s “6th largest economy.” Yet adjusting for cost of living and population size, our economy actually ranks 37 out of 50 states in the country. Which statistic do you think more accurately reflects the well-being of ordinary Californians?

8.)     Since you became Governor, the State Budget has grown from $129 billion to $191 billion. What evidence can you point to that this new spending has improved the quality of life for ordinary Californians? Feel free to cite, for example, health outcomes, student achievement, housing affordability, infrastructure quality, workforce participation, poverty rates, family stability, or any other metric.

9.)     The projected cost of High Speed Rail now exceeds $67 billion, with new delays and cost overruns reported almost monthly. And many are doubting the bullet train will have any useful purpose. In the words of Elon Musk, “The train in question would be both slower, more expensive to operate and less safe by two orders of magnitude than flying, so why would anyone use it?” Why would anyone?

10.)     You recently accused others of “ripping the country apart” through partisan actions. Yet in the last few months you’ve called your political opponents “mafia thugs,” “political terrorists,” and “evil in the extreme.” Is this rhetoric bringing the country together?

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley represents the 6th Assembly District, which includes parts of El Dorado, Placer, and Sacramento counties.

This blog post was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Gov. Brown’s Budget and Legacy Priorities

Governor Brown released his 2018-19 Budget last week and the OC Register was kind enough to publish my first impressions in their commentary section.  Here is a link:

The good and bad of Jerry Brown’s budget

I also sent out an immediate reaction:

Governor Brown admits that the “last 5 budgets have significantly increased spending” and this budget proposal is no different. Coming in at just under $300 billion dollars of total spending, debt and poverty remain at all-time highs. Even worse, our balance sheet is massively short and unfunded liabilities are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Our underfunded pension systems will get minimum payments of $6.2 billion to CalPERS and $3.1 billion for CalSTRS. These costs are directly related to policies Jerry Brown embraced 40 years ago during his first time as governor. While he’s sensitive to a possible economic slowdown and should be lauded for increasing our rainy day funds, he has been a spendthrift in Sacramento. We have to acknowledge that the $9.3 billion in pension payments won’t go to pay for more teachers or cut college tuition or build roads right now. And yet, we’re hoisting these liabilities on future generations at a higher cost unless we do more to address them now. I was wondering how seriously Governor Brown would be in his last budget about addressing our liabilities. It looks like he’s kicking the can down the road to the next governor. Oh well.

The primary focus for Governor Brown has not been that California has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. Just look at the city of Oakland’s balance sheet, and you’ll see that being deep in a fiscal hole is not one of Jerry’s worries.

Brown’s focus has been climate change and converting California to an electric car state, relying on solar and wind to provide the energy. It’s covered in a lengthy and thorough manner by CALmatters here:

California’s climate fight gets harder soon, and the big culprit is cars

The irony is that electricity needs to be carried by power lines. These power lines have caused many of the wildfires in California. And, wildfires create more greenhouse gases than our state’s cars, by a long shot. So, where is the effort to address the cause of the biggest greenhouse gas source? It’s nonexistent. See: MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns.

Worse, being totally dependent on electricity for travel, communication, preserving food supplies, and dealing with occasional inclement weather, this state will shut down in a matter of days without it. This is also a scary proposition in a world where terrorism is the new norm. I’m just sayin’.

There’s the legacy. He’s funded the required Rainy Day Fund. He’s exposing residents to a different danger in the potential loss of power.  And he’s flown around the world to preach climate change. But, our balance sheet sucks and our wildfire zones went up in smoke this year and are now suffering from the damages that rain can cause.  Sometimes I just want to weep.

John Moorlach: 2018-2019 Budget Recommendations

The 2018 session started yesterday afternoon with a bang. Sen. Andy Vidak (R – Hanford) introduced Senate Resolution 69, a resolution to permanently expel Sen. Tony Mendoza (D – Artesia) from the California State Senate.  This caused the Democratic Caucus to immediately meet in a closed door caucus, for several hours, while the Republican Senators simply spent the afternoon and early evening waiting for them to conclude. A little after 6 p.m., the Senate reconvened and Sen. Mendoza gave an “I’m taking a one month leave of absence” speech. This is something he should have done when the President Pro Tem offered him this solution at the end of last year, during the recess. And then yesterday’s Floor Session closed with a quick thud. No comments allowed from anyone in the Chambers. The fun has begun.

I return next week for a boatload of work. I have four two-year bills to address before committees, SB 656, SB 681, SB 688 and SB 722 (see the 2017 legislative package on my Senate website). I will also have Public Employment and Retirement Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Governance and Finance Committee meetings. Plus there will be two joint hearings, where the Senate and Assembly combine, addressing sexual harassment and the Ghost Ship fire. And, if that was not enough, the Governor will be announcing the 2018-19 Budget on January 10th.

In anticipation of one of next week’s upcoming events, I decided to submit a snarky but extremely serious op-ed on the proposed budget to the San Francisco Chronicle.  Here’s a link:

http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Will-governor-propose-to-spend-or-save-12472049.php#photo-14786355

The year of our Lord 2018 is here and it’s game on, as we try to send a message to the Governor and the Legislature that California needs to turn its ship of state around. We issued an ICYMI yesterday that proves the necessity of minding the fiscal store here in Sacramento (also see my Senate website at http://district37.cssrc.us/).

Happy New Year!

Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?

First Donald Trump was deplorable: Sexist, racist, misogynist and a few other things. Crazy/Nazi. Then he was just incompetent. A that’s just on the left.

William F. BuckleyTrump’s critics on the right have focused on his loutish behavior. It disqualifies him for the presidency, according to one National Review pundit. Worse, he’s intellectually shallow. If you could be a fly on the wall of the National Review Editorial Board meetings, you can imagine hearing this: “If only he had read Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?’ by William F. Buckley, Jr.”

While the right continues to focus on Trump as an intellectual/moral manqué, the left is now trying to figure out Trump via Freudian analysis and ESP. But 33-year-old Michael Kruse has figured out that we have to take a close look at Trump’s theology. He’s on to something.

Politics is theology by different means. Always has been. Always will be. But Americans hate theology and we don’t notice it when our political ideas project our theological assumptions, which are mostly naïve and uncritical. Don’t need no Tri-ni-ty. Don’t need no salvation his-to-ry. Don’t need no A-tone-ment. Just need to know where Di-Maggio went.

Americans don’t go in for profound intellectual theories. We love dreaming dreams.

Trump’s personality and world view have been deeply influenced by Norman Vincent Peale. According to Kruse’s recent Politico article, Trump’s father was a personal friend and devoted follower of Peale and his lessons on the “Power of Positive Thinking.”  Trump inherited that devotion. Peale even officiated at Trump’s first wedding.

Do we have a duty to understand where a president is “coming from”? If so, you will get lost if you try to follow all of his conservative critics who try to trace and interpret his somewhat bouncy political allegiances in his past. The “dream a better future for yourself and for America” theology of the Rev’d Peale is the one constant.

The American experience has always included a strong dose of magic. If you dream dreams they will come true. Whether you are a New England Puritan dreaming of a religious utopia, or a hard scrabble pioneer farmer, or Martin Luther King, or, yes, even William F. Buckley, Jr., dreaming dreams and expecting them to come true is the essence of America. It’s still why half the planet wants to come here.

This explains most of what is Trump’s mystical connection with his supporters. In reaction to DACA, the response of Trump supporters is simple and clear and resounding: We have dreams too! But the Washington Swamp is robbing us of those dreams.

Trump is not an Aristotelian. He’s not a Randian. He has no ideology and this is what makes him incomprehensible to his critics on the right and the left and in the media/corporate/political complex.

He has a dream that something can happen. He focuses on it relentlessly. He repeats it to himself and others constantly. Until it comes true. This is why Scott Adams calls Trump a “Master Persuader.”

Dreams and visions don’t always square with facts. That’s why Aristotle ridiculed Plato. For his visions. If you think facts matter, read Aristotle and hate Trump. But Plato understood that it’s what moves people that counts. And facts and figures and analytical theories don’t move people. Visions do.

Remember the president that admitted not being so great at “the vision thing”? Trump is great at it. As a dreamer, as a visionary, he’s firmly within the American Tradition. It remains to be seen whether his magic contains more powerful juju than that of his enemies.

I have to add that I like Trump. And while I have to confess that from a theological and philosophical perspective I’m not big into the “dreaming dreams” definition of success, I can’t argue with the obvious takeaway: Donald Trump, far from being some political aberration, or someone who is outside of the American political and religious tradition, is profoundly situated at its center.

Owen Jones is a business owner whose first campaign was for Claude Kirk for Governor of Florida in 1966.  He’s moved slightly to the right each year since.

John Moorlach — Government Union Costs

The California Policy Center is back with another well written piece on the power of public employee unions, Sacramento’s “Daddy” (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Secretive and Expensive Union Deals — November 3, 2017).

You know I’ve been ferreting out the disappointing data that makes California’s Department of Transportation, Caltrans, one of the most disappointing DOTs in the nation and that reform is preferred over a new tax; that I have opposed high-speed rail from the get go; that I have opposed trolleys in Orange County; that I tried a CEQA reform legislative effort last year; and you know I’ve been warning you about public employee defined benefit pension plan rising costs for more than 16 years. This piece addresses them all.

BONUS:  Recently, I have begun my own weekly podcast, “The O.C. – Sacramento Connection.” On these podcasts, I have and will continue to share my thoughts on  several issues including some of the ones in this update.

CLICK HERE to listen to my podcasts on iTunes free of charge.

INVITATION: My District Office has started a new Veterans Day tradition. Last year we had a simple afternoon ceremony at Crystal Cove State Beach to review the World War II history within its boundaries. Dan Worthington discussed the Fire Station, a WWII bunker that kept an eye on the California coast during the beginning of the war, pre-radar, to signal the alarm should the Japanese Fleet appear over the horizon. There is a similar location at Bolsa Chica and the west side of Catalina Island has ten such bunkers!

This year we have invited noted author Chris Epting to speak on the subject of “The Day the War Hit The Shore.” Orange County incurred civilian casualties stateside during WWII, an extremely rare occurrence. This tragic episode has been lost over time, but has many valuable lessons to this day.

Please attend your traditional Veterans Day ceremonies at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month on Saturday. If you want an afternoon break, join us at 3 p.m. We’ll meet at 21871 Newland Street in Huntington Beach. There should be some parking spaces at the neighboring wildlife center.

We will also have surviving family members present of those who were lost to this unique chapter in WWII local history. If you enjoy local Orange County history, this will be a relaxed setting to actually share war stories. Please RSVP with Aly Henderson at aly.john@sen.ca.gov or 714-662-6050.