California State Controller Chiang: Where are our sales taxes?

In May the State of Texas increased its sales tax collection by 8.6%, while California lost 2.3% after losing 3.1% in April. The Democrat State Controller asks what happened to our sales tax, income tax and corporate tax collections lately. Maybe because California has a real unemployment rate of 16.7%-U-6 (U.S. Department of Labor statistic) or because Texas gets, based on population, 2.5 times the investment dollars as the former Golden State. California has welfare growth while Texas allows fracking and has job growth. No jobs, no sales tax—and those with jobs stop buying to save money.

“In May 2014, sales taxes fell $98.6 million short of estimates made in Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget. That, combined with a $254.2 million shortfall in personal income taxes and a $177.6 million shortfall in corporate taxes, pushed California’s cash receipts in May to $530.4 million below the governor’s guesses.”

Payroll Tax Spin

 

California Controller Chiang: Where are our sales taxes?

Steven E.F. Brown, San Francisco Business Times, 6/10/14

“Where is the growth in sales tax transactions?” asked California Controller John Chiang in his monthly report on the Golden State’s cash balance.

Calling growth in the state’s sales tax receipts “weaker than expected in recent months,” Chiang said he was surprised, “given the improvement in the State’s other major revenues and the economy in general.”

Even in earlier recession years consumers spent enough — on cars, clothing, furniture and in restaurants, for example — to push sales tax growth to 7.8 percent per year between 2011 and 2012.

“Car sales — the single-largest identifiable part of the sales tax base — grew at nearly double the rate of the overall tax base,” Chiang said. “But sales were weaker for retailers of gasoline, electronics, and general merchandise.”

In May 2014, sales taxes fell $98.6 million short of estimates made in Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget. That, combined with a $254.2 million shortfall in personal income taxes and a $177.6 million shortfall in corporate taxes, pushed California’s cash receipts in May to $530.4 million below the governor’s guesses.

“May was disappointing for the State of California’s revenues,” said Chiang.

Nevertheless, year-to-date revenues were still $1.8 billion, or 2.1 percent, ahead of budget guesses.

Read a detailed breakdown of May’s receipts.

 

Will Tech Companies Remake San Fran From Radical City to Libertarian City?

The demographics of San Fran is changing. Yes, it is still known for its open sexuality and acceptance of all things involving sexual relations. It is still a Capitol for high taxes and mandates that uses government to control how businesses. They believe in the power of government—even blackmailing Google into paying a fee just to allow them to use their own buses to bring workers into The City.

But, we may start seeing the libertarian ideology of the technology companies and workers finding its way into city policies. Tech leaders are pro-worker unlike the San Fran politicians that are pro-union. The tech people believe in charter schools..Silicon Valley has the highest rate of children home schooled in the State.

As more tech workers move into The City, as more companies get politically active, we might start seeing a rollback of Moscow like policies from local government.

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Tech to keep powering San Francisco’s job machine: No slowdown in sight, experts say

High technology jobs grew by 17 percent in San Francisco last year, compared with an overall employment increase of 4.6 percent. Tech employment in the city is now at an all-time high in raw numbers, hitting 53,319 in the fourth quarter, up from 45,493 a year earlier, 36,639 at the end of 2011, and 32,500 in the first quarter of 2001 at the height of the dot-com bubble.

 

Patrick Hoge, San Francisco Business Times, 6/26/14

Of all the demand for new office space in San Francisco, 80 to 85 percent is coming from technology companies, according to researchers.

That reflects the dramatic pace at which technology companies have been adding jobs, with employment in the sector up about 17 percent last year compared with an overall employment increase of 4.6 percent.

And the pace of hiring in tech isn’t expected to slow, according to a new survey of chief information officers at 100 technology companies in the Bay Area done by Robert Half Technology, the staffing firm.

“It’s going to continue, and it’s going to be more and more difficult to hire very skilled IT professionals because at this point you’re hiring them away from your competitors,” said Dakin Gunn, Robert Half’s director of permanent placement services in San Francisco.

Tech employment in the city is now at an all-time high in raw numbers, hitting 53,319 in the fourth quarter, up from 45,493 a year earlier and 36,639 at the end of 2011, said Colin Yasukochi, head of real estate research and strategy at CBRE. Employment overall in the city has also reached record numbers.

That compares with a total of 32,500 in the first quarter of 2001 at the height of the dot-com bubble.

“It’s enormously larger than what it was,” Yasukochi said. The growth, he said, has come mostly from larger tech companies, many of which weren’t even very significant in size in San Francisco just a few years ago.

“Think Salesforce. Think Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Uber, Square,” Yasukochi said.

Back then, banking and finance was also No. 1 in terms of its impact on the local office market, but that changed in 2010, Yasukochi said.

“Now tech is the No.1 industry,” he said.

Inbound requests to staffing firms from companies needing help filling roles are dramatically up as companies are finding it difficult to land candidates in a hypercompetitive environment, Gunn said.

One result is that salaries for technical employees are expected to rise roughly 7 to 10 percent and even as high as 12 percent as companies try to retain staff, Gunn said.

The highest demand is for software engineers, who enjoy a 2 percent unemployment rate in San Francisco, compared with an overall 4.4 percent unemployment rate, Gunn said.

Also hot are network administrators, skilled help-desk technicians able to do application and network support, data scientists to help make sense of the vast quantities of digital information companies are gathering, and database developers.

A person with a doctorate can easily get a salary of $180,000 to $200,000, while someone with a master’s might command $130,000 to $150,000 for starters, Gunn said.

In addition to showering cash and stock on such employees, companies are adding junior workers to help lighten the workloads of senior people they don’t want to lose, as well as beefing up on perks to keep employees happy — welcoming dogs in the office, letting people work flex hours or from home and sponsoring gyms.

“That is translating into the hottest office real estate market by far in the Unites States and arguably in the world right now,” said Garrick Brown, director of research at Cassidy Turley, the commercial real estate firm, who comes up with similar numbers.

The average asking commercial rent in San Francisco has jumped by 80 percent over the last four years and continues to grow at a very fast pace, Brown said.

In the second quarter of 2010, in the midst of the worst of the recent recession, the city’s commercial vacancy rate was 15 percent. It is now 8 percent and will likely drop below 5 percent in the near future, he predicted.

Relief isn’t in immediate sight.

Of some 3.5 million square feet of office currently in the construction pipeline in San Francisco, 75 percent has already been leased, Brown said.

“The tech companies are leasing space in advance with the expectation that they’re going to be able to continue hiring at this level,” Brown said.

It’s more than the technology companies that are creating jobs in San Francisco.

Since 2010, when the city was losing jobs, industries as diverse as construction, retail, manufacturing, hospitality and transportation have added jobs.

The city’s leisure and hospitality businesses grew by almost 25 percent in that period. Retail expanded by 15.1 percent. Manufacturing grew by 9.1 percent. And construction grew by 14.4 percent.

San Francisco officials said the job growth across so many sectors is a result of both the broader economy at work as well as efforts to court particular companies.

“We’ve continued to do business development work in the technology, life science/health care, clean tech/green business and tourism sectors,” said Todd Rufo, director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, in an interview earlier this year. “We have an initiative focused on the nightlife and entertainment sector… We have workforce sector (job) academies in health care, construction, hospitality.”

Part of the reason that job growth has been so broad-based is because so many sectors of the economy were hit during the Great Recession.

“There is some natural bounce off the bottom,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist for Bank of the West.

Anderson said that while the economy in San Francisco — and in the Bay Area in general — is strong, there are a number of things that could slow the city’s growth.

“Shocks from abroad” is one, Anderson said, especially regarding trade with China and Asia more broadly. Given the Bay Area’s strong export market to Asia, an economic slowdown in that part of the world could be felt here.

He also pointed to home prices as a potential negative. “If home prices get way out of whack you could see that weigh on in-migration.”

But Brown says the impact that all of the tech hiring and wage increases are having on the character of San Francisco and surrounding areas is “palpable,” with a bleed-over effect. That has contributed to increases in non-tech wages and the rising costs of living and doing business in San Francisco, increasingly driving lower to mid-level income people out with some businesses as well.

In the first quarter of the year, notably, Oakland had a 500,000 square-foot jump in demand for office space, most of it coming from nonprofits, legal firms and small businesses. Meanwhile, Oakland’s apartment vacancy rate in the city has fallen from 6 percent to just over 2 percent over the last couple of years.

“It’s a fact. It’s all tech-driven,” Brown said.

Even officials at some tech companies tell Brown they are feeling squeezed by rents in San Francisco, but they typically don’t go to cheaper markets in the area due to fears about not being able to hire, get funding, be acquired or stage an IPO, he said.

Tracey Grose, vice president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said tech is spreading around the Bay Area, and also concentrating in San Francisco. It is significant that big tech companies from the South Bay and outside the region have been opening sizable outposts in the city. She cited as examples big leases signed by Amazon, EBay, Microsoft, Yahoo and Virginia-based telecommunications company Neustar. Others by LinkedIn and Google come to mind as well.

Visa moved its headquarters to Foster City in 2012, but just a year later it signed a 111,000-square-foot lease at One Market Plaza to house its engineers, including the fast-growing mobile payment application group, Grose noted.

“Companies are all looking to tap into young tech talent, which wants a lively urban setting,” she said. “Young people don’t even want to drive.”

 

SLO ObamaCare Supporter: Covered California Mislead Public

All the polling companies have noted the tanking of support for the policies of President Obama. That is to be expected from the Tea Party, the GOP and those harmed by the policies. Now so many have been harmed by his policies and his attitude that he can no longer get anything passed by Congress and no one, no foreign leader, union head or Member of Congress—Left or Right—believes anything he says. Now that both the IRS and the EPA have “lost” subpoenaed emails, few believe he is “not a crook”.

But when those in the grassroots who supported ObamaCare, left their jobs to promote this policy are disillusioned with the plan, you know he is no longer respected, even for holding his office.

“Communication between Covered California and the insurance companies was very poor. Many people who tried to sign up didn’t realize that Covered California was just a conduit for collecting information and validating income before an application was turned over to the insurance company to generate an invoice. There were long delays and repeated requests by Covered California for information that we had already submitted for clients. Numerous time extensions were issued, some of which Covered California did not honor. A client would be promised coverage effective January 1 but instead would be issued coverage a month later.”

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I Quit My Job to Teach People About Obamacare

I Hosted 23 Workshops in San Luis Obispo to Explain the New Law. Here’s How It Went.

by Michael Framberger, ZocaloPublic Square, 6/25/14

When I first moved to San Luis Obispo, I thought I’d go back to my native Wisconsin after I finished my degree at Cal Poly. More than 40 years later, I can’t imagine ever leaving. This place, once named the happiest city in America, has given me everything, including a good living as an insurance agent and regional sales manager.

Part of my job is to understand the complicated, and I’ve never come across anything as complicated as the Affordable Care Act. As I studied it after its passage in 2010, I began to worry about how the law’s one-size-fits-all approach would work in a semi-rural county where the major industries are agriculture, tourism, and government. I became concerned that no one here in San Luis Obispo could explain the law to me. And when I trained insurance agents on the law, I saw their eyes glaze over. New and experienced agents couldn’t make sense of the subsidies, plan eliminations, limited enrollment periods, and new taxes. Many agents chose not to participate in the new system, or to get certified to sell policies through Covered California.

I saw all this confusion as an opportunity—to give back to my community and to educate the individuals and businesses that have been so loyal to me and my insurance agency, even after I turned it over to my wife and went to work in management at Anthem Blue Cross. So I left that management position—and a salary and great benefits—and decided to take on the task of educating our community on healthcare reform.

Getting the word out through traditional advertising was beyond my financial means. So I began meeting with people from local institutions and found that my most promising partners were hospitals. I prepared elaborate presentations about the risks and rewards of Obamacare. Hospital staff and executives were as puzzled as anyone else about the impact of the law and had a financial interest in public education. I offered to provide that education and, in turn, the hospitals agreed to use their media and community contacts to spread the word about my willingness to educate people on the subject.

The invitations started to pour in. I gave joint presentations with the county health department on the Medi-Cal expansion that’s part of Obamacare. I spoke at the chamber of commerce, the rotary, and other service and community organizations. Many churches in the region offered the use of their rooms and did outreach. Through word of mouth, I had gained enough momentum to launch a public campaign.

I launched the campaign last June—four months before open enrollment for Obamacare was set to begin—with the help of the health department, hospitals, churches, and other community organizations. My first seminars at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and Twin Cities Regional Medical Center were attended by about 50 people each, about half of what I expected. Most of the people who attended were either fearful of losing their Medicare coverage or community leaders who had insurance but were trying to understand the new law. Very few people who the law was designed to help—the uninsured—showed up. Even after we modified the ads to attract young people and those without coverage, very few members of our target population attended. By the enrollment launch in October, I had conducted 23 publicly advertised seminars in every corner in San Luis Obispo County, but the total attendance was only 500.

Given this lack of engagement, and the considerable confusion, I worried about the launch of the Affordable Care Act. And unfortunately, the botched rollout made it clear that San Luis Obispo was not unique: Many people in state and federal governments who were in charge of rolling out the new law did not understand it either.

I found it particularly frustrating to hear officials describe the process as easy. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California said that using the website would be as easy as “buying a book on Amazon or a pair of shoes on Zappos.” Public statements were made about how small businesses could buy the same plans as large corporations, see their insurance prices fall, and get tax credits for offering coverage. These statements have proven to be untrue. Even worse, they made my local efforts at public education much more difficult.

As we now know, the Covered California website—while better than the federal exchange site and other state exchange sites—was only marginally functional for the first three months. Clients who turned to the phone often found the lines jammed; those who got through waited for two hours or more. People were extremely frustrated.

Even after all those months of work and public education, I couldn’t do much to help people. We agents were getting the runaround, too. First, we were told to use the website, which was unreliable. In December, we were told to use paper applications, but the fax lines were often down. Then we were told that Covered California didn’t have the capacity to enter the faxed information into the system and that we would have to enter it ourselves.

Communication between Covered California and the insurance companies was very poor. Many people who tried to sign up didn’t realize that Covered California was just a conduit for collecting information and validating income before an application was turned over to the insurance company to generate an invoice. There were long delays and repeated requests by Covered California for information that we had already submitted for clients. Numerous time extensions were issued, some of which Covered California did not honor. A client would be promised coverage effective January 1 but instead would be issued coverage a month later.

The good news is that final enrollment numbers in California exceeded expectations. People with a pre-existing medical condition can now buy individual coverage at standard rates. The expansion of Medi-Cal has made coverage more affordable to low-income people, and the subsidies helped many people buy higher benefit plans at low premiums. There were a few rewarding moments: the 64-year-old cancer patient without coverage who I pushed through the system so she could start cancer treatment within days of January 1. The widow who attended one of my seminars who cried when I showed her that she would have very low premiums and good benefits.

Unfortunately, such stories were the exception in my experience. Most of the people I worked with were already insured. They were reapplying to obtain lower premiums through the subsidies—beneficial, but not an expansion of coverage. Less than 20 percent of the folks I enrolled were uninsured. Other local agents I know experienced the same thing.

I’m also not seeing the choice and competition among health plans that was supposed to happen. In San Luis Obispo County, only two companies were available to individuals through Covered California: Blue Cross and Blue Shield, both of which previously dominated the market. Before Obamacare, there were three other small plans and dozens of options and prices. There are only four options offered under Covered California and, in many cases, my clients are actually paying more. And, because the reimbursement rates remain so low, some physicians won’t accept the new plans. Healthcare coverage is an illusion if no one will provide you with care.

It wasn’t any better for my business clients: the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) exchange only included Blue Shield and Health Net. The law only offered the much touted tax credit to businesses that went through the exchange, but many other carriers—and the most desirable plans—were offered outside the exchange.

After these last few years of studying and working with the law, I’m convinced that Obamacare was well-meaning but attempted to do too much, too fast. Of course, the continuous opposition and repeal attempts have hampered progress, but the lack of preparation and confusion is still inexcusable.

I remain worried about whether major problems will be addressed by the next open enrollment, which has been delayed until November 15. I continue to see clients whose information still has not been updated, or whose applications for insurance are listed as “pending”—even though they were approved months ago. The forms and website need to be clarified, so people don’t make mistakes. There’s still too much confusion out there. But, as an eternal optimist, I will continue to try to educate my community on how to deal with this ever-changing, but very important, legislation.

 

Texas Considering No Longer Licensing X-Ray Technicians

Texas is a financial success. California is in a Depression. The Lone Star State believes in the right of individuals to choose, California believes no choice for citizens unless the State has first say and collects a fee. Does anybody really believe that X-Ray technicians, barbers or nail salon workers are qualified or better because the State gives them a license? In fact, it gives people a false sense of security and that is how we get into trouble.

Texas is fighting the high cost of medical care. In one small move they are eliminating the licensing of X-Ray technicians. My guess is this is just the just in a long line of State licenses that will become history in Texas. Oh, the licensing process raises cost of health care since it limits the number of people in the field—a monopoly can always raise prices.

“When Texans get an X-ray or an MRI, the person performing that scan is licensed by the state. Now, the state is considering doing away with the licensing of X-ray technicians and 11 other types of health professionals.

But some of the state’s 28,000 licensed X-ray technicians — formally called medical radiologic technologists — say dissolving the certification program would put patients at risk.”

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Texas Considering No Longer Licensing X-Ray Technicians

by Corrie MacLaggan and Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune, 6/25/14

Dr. Javier Saenz, who has a medical practice in the Rio Grande Valley town of La Joya, prepared his clinic’s X-ray machine in 2012.

When Texans get an X-ray or an MRI, the person performing that scan is licensed by the state. Now, the state is considering doing away with the licensing of X-ray technicians and 11 other types of health professionals.

But some of the state’s 28,000 licensed X-ray technicians — formally called medical radiologic technologists — say dissolving the certification program would put patients at risk.

A staff recommendation by the Sunset Advisory Commission that commissioners are set to consider in a public hearing Wednesday says that X-ray technicians don’t need to be licensed because they work in highly regulated health care facilities.

Texas is one of 39 states that license X-ray technicians, said Christine Lung, vice president of government relations and public policy for the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

“Everyone knows that radiation is a carcinogen,” Lung said in an interview. “If performed incorrectly, it’s a direct risk to public health and safety.”

But the May report by staff at the Sunset Commission, which is charged with highlighting inefficiencies at state agencies, says that X-ray technicians “operate in healthcare facilities subject to numerous federal and state requirements, including separate regulation of the machines themselves, have private accreditation programs, and work in conjunction with several other highly trained healthcare professionals.”

The regulatory program — as well as those for contact lens dispensers, respiratory care practitioners and dyslexia therapists — could be safely eliminated, the report said. It also recommends doing away with licenses for dietitians and opticians because anyone is already allowed to perform those jobs as long as they don’t use those titles. (See page 46 of the report for the full list of the 12 health professions and seven other programs recommended for deregulation.)

In addition to X-rays, radiologic technologists perform CT scans and MRIs and do interventional procedures. Kameka Rideaux, a radiation therapist at the Texas Medical Center in Houston and president of the Texas Society of Radiologic Technologists, said she delivers high doses of radiation to cancer patients and has to be within millimeters of accuracy.

“It’s not just point and shoot X-ray,” Lung said.

Ahead of hearing public testimony on Wednesday, Sunset Commission members on Tuesday discussed the regulatory recommendations with agency staffers.

Ken Levine, director of the Sunset Commission, told lawmakers that the recommendations seek to help the Department of State Health Services, which runs the 19 regulatory programs slated for elimination. The report says the department “struggles to effectively manage numerous and diverse regulatory programs,” distracting from its primary duty of protecting public health.

It would cost the state about $1.6 million a year to deregulate the 19 programs because licensees pay more in fees than the amount the Legislature provides to run the regulatory programs, the report said.

The recommendations to eliminate the 19 regulatory programs and transfer some others to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation were met with concern from lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Your charge was to make sure that each profession is administered and licensed in a way that is the least burdensome possible,” state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, told Sunset staff. “But we’ve all gotten a lot of phone calls.”

Nelson appointed a subcommittee to consider the regulatory recommendations  and come up with a modified proposal that “has a realistic chance of passing the Legislature.”

Fresno taxpayers submit signatures for water rate referendum over objection of Mayor

The Mayor of Fresno, Ashley Swearingen had to be sued to allow the people of Fresno the right to put a measure on the November ballot to roll back the city approved water rate increase. But the people fought back and beat her anti-freedom statement. Wonder if she would have allowed Prop. 13 on the ballot without having to be sued?

“Under Swearengin’s plan, most water users, including city residents and some unincorporated parts of Fresno County, would see their average monthly bills rise to $48, double what they were last year. That didn’t sit well with a group of taxpayers, led by Vagim, who mobilized a grassroots effort to overturn the rate hikes.

But when the taxpayers tried to circulate a petition to overturn the mayor’s plan, the city took the extraordinary step of refusing to grant the petition a title and summary. Without a title and summary, the group couldn’t collect the necessary signatures to get a referendum on the ballot. The move appeared to be a direct violation of the California Constitution. Section 3 of Article 13C states that “the initiative power shall not be prohibited or otherwise limited in matters of reducing or repealing any local tax, assessment, fee or charge.”

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Fresno taxpayers submit signatures for water rate referendum

By John Hrabe, Calwatchdog,   6/25/14

A group of Fresno taxpayers, who’ve been thwarted at every turn by city leaders, is expected today to submit thousands of signatures to qualify a water rate referendum for the November ballot.

This morning, shortly after 10:30 a.m., the group Citizens of Lower Water Bills — Yes on Measure W will turn in thousands of signed petitions — nearly four weeks before the deadline — calling for a public vote to overturn the city’s controversial water rate hikes.

“It feels great to have the support from fellow citizens as we move forward in our attempt to get on the Nov. 2014 ballot,” said former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim, who spoke exclusively with CalWatchdog.com. “The city did everything they could to prevent us from our goal but in the end we will prevail.”

City of Fresno: Rate hike needed to fund aging water system

As CalWatchdog.com has previously reported, the battle in Fresno over municipal water rates has become a much larger fight over citizens’ rights to petition their government. Last August, the city of Fresno approved a controversial plan pushed by Republican Mayor Ashley Swearengin to raise the city’s water rates. The additional revenue was intended to go toward a $410 million upgrade to the city’s aging water system.

Under Swearengin’s plan, most water users, including city residents and some unincorporated parts of Fresno County, would see their average monthly bills rise to $48, double what they were last year. That didn’t sit well with a group of taxpayers, led by Vagim, who mobilized a grassroots effort to overturn the rate hikes.

But when the taxpayers tried to circulate a petition to overturn the mayor’s plan, the city took the extraordinary step of refusing to grant the petition a title and summary. Without a title and summary, the group couldn’t collect the necessary signatures to get a referendum on the ballot. The move appeared to be a direct violation of the California Constitution. Section 3 of Article 13C states that “the initiative power shall not be prohibited or otherwise limited in matters of reducing or repealing any local tax, assessment, fee or charge.”

Then, the city sued the taxpayers to preventtheir initiative from entering circulation. The city says that action was necessary in order to fulfill its “legal obligation to supply a service.” In the city’s opinion, the rate hikes are “necessary to pay for that service (and) are not subject to initiative.”

But court after court disagreed with the city’s argument. On April 28, Superior Court Judge M. Bruce Smith reaffirmed his preliminary ruling granting Citizens of Lower Water Bills — Yes on Measure W the right to move forward with their referendum on the city’s controversial water rate hikes.

“Even after the most extraordinary and unreal battle the City of Fresno caused through the courts, the citizens of this community have shown their resilience to all the obstructive tactics by Fresno city leaders,” Vagim said.

‘The most extraordinary and unreal battle’

Although Vagim’s group is celebrating their signature-gathering achievement, they’re still expecting a fight from city leaders.

“We still have to get past a city council and mayor who basically continue to thumb their noses at us, treating us as bunch of disobedient numskulls,” Vagim said. “We’ll need all the support we can get in order to get our city leaders to take their choke hold from our throats.”

More than a quarter million dollars in taxpayer funds has been spent by the city of Fresno in its ongoing lawsuits to keep the water rate referendum off the ballot. As of May 6, the city had spent $232,254.28 to sue Citizens of Lower Water Bills — Yes on Measure W. The figure was obtained through a public records request filed for all city funds expended to date in Doug Vagim vs. City of Fresno and City of Fresno vs. Doug Vagim.

Even supporters of the water rate hike have become disgusted with the city’s hardball tactics. Shortly after the first ruling, the Fresno Bee editorial board, which backs the water rate increases, chastised Swearengin for her involvement in the political games.

“We support the water-rate increases; they are vital to the city’s future,” the paper wrote. “But with these stalling and blocking tactics, Swearengin sends a message that she doesn’t trust Fresno voters to do what’s best for the city.”

 

San Fran Gov’t: Finance Social Agenda By Allowing More Potholes on Streets

The Board of Supervisors of San Fran are debating whether money taxed to fix city streets should be used to fill potholes or fill the coffers of social experimenters instead. This is a city with potholes rivaling wading pools, yet the politicians want to spend the money on social services. They want $20 million more to spend taking care of drunks, pot smokers and those who prefer government provide them with housing instead of working for that.

“We all know about our affordability crisis in San Francisco,” Avalos said. “There are enormous asks that we have received especially around housing and employment services. We’ve also had big requests around nutrition and food security amounting to $10 million.”

He noted that there are “various other large-ticket items that are coming our way from across The City that people have a great expectation that we fulfill.”

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SF supervisors debate road repaving cut to invest millions in other services 

By Joshua Sabatini, SF Examiner, 6/26/14

After cutting about $10 million from Mayor Ed Lee’s $8.6 billion budget proposal during the past two weeks, the Board of Supervisors budget committee spent hours Wednesday debating how to make deeper cuts to fund the tens of millions of dollars in requests for services such as food for seniors, eviction legal defense and larger cost-of-living increases for nonprofit workers.

Highlighting San Francisco’s growing income inequality and tenant displacement amid soaring rents, Supervisor John Avalos proposed Wednesday a number of politically sensitive cuts — reducing street repaving by about $20 million during the next two years, delaying police academy classes by about one month for about $2.4 million in savings and eliminating multiple city manager positions.

“We all know about our affordability crisis in San Francisco,” Avalos said. “There are enormous asks that we have received especially around housing and employment services. We’ve also had big requests around nutrition and food security amounting to $10 million.”

He noted that there are “various other large-ticket items that are coming our way from across The City that people have a great expectation that we fulfill.”

At one point, funding requests totaled about $72 million for a variety of needs, including a 1.5 percent wage increase for nonprofit workers, which would cost $6.8 million.

That wish-list was reduced to $52 million. Avalos said the expectation is being able to fund about $22 million.

In the past two weeks, the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, with the assistance of budget analyst Harvey Rose, made about $10 million of reductions to city departments’ proposed budgets, scrutinizing everything from staff positions to purchases of office chairs.

That left the committee debating how to come up with at least another $10 million.

One idea, which is supported by Avalos, is to scale back the road resurfacing funding by $20 million during next two years. Committee Chair Supervisor Mark Farrell said he is opposed to that the idea.

“Repairing our roads is one of the most critical things that we are doing as a city government,” Farrell said. “I hear it day in and day out from our residents about the condition of our roads.”

The reduction would mean that The City would be on the road toward a pavement condition index score of 68 and not 70. It is currently 66.

In previous years, the committee has deliberated late into the night and also finished up the next day.

“We would like to do as much as possible today, if not finish,” Farrell said Wednesday.

Avalos said that “Mark is being optimistic about tonight. I was thinking tomorrow.”

 

Calf. School Threatens to Expel Teen for Photo of Air Force Brother on Notebook

A government school in San Bernardino threatened to expel a student because she had a photo of her brother on a binder—in his Air Force uniform. Looks like the Obama anti-military policies are reaching into the deepest parts of schools 3,000 miles from the White House.

“After the girl was threatened by school officials, her mother wrote a long letter to the school demanding to know why her girl was singled out from among the other kids who also had photos in the clear plastic face piece of their binders.

Brianna confirmed to the TV news that she was the only one threatened with expulsion from the class over the pictures and the suspicion is that it was because her brother was in uniform in the image.”

Now we need to know the names of the teachers and administrators that made the threats. They need to be fired and have any education licenses taken from them. They need to stay away from children. They could go to work for the White House where they would fit it.

Why did this appear on an LA TV station and is not a national story, showing the names and faces of the anti-freedom educrats?

Photo courtesy Morning Calm News, flickr

Photo courtesy Morning Calm News, flickr

Calf. School Threatens to Expel Teen for Photo of Air Force Brother on Notebook

-By Warner Todd Huston, Publius Forum, 6/25/14

A teen in an advanced learning program at a California middle school was threatened with being kicked out of her program because she had a photo of her Air Force brother on a four-ring binder. This seems to be purely a case of another school being against the military.

The school, Golden Valley Middle School in San Bernardino, California, claimed that having photos on a binder broke the program’s policies. The girl, 13-year-old Brianna Gentry, also had photos of her little league ball team alongside the photo of her brother who is serving as a military policeman in Montana.

In an interview with KTLA TV, the girls said, “My brother’s very important to me. I haven’t seen him in a while.”

Officials at Brianna’s school told the girl that it was against the rules to have photos on her assignments binder and threatened to expel her from the advanced placement program called AVID.

After the girl was threatened by school officials, her mother wrote a long letter to the school demanding to know why her girl was singled out from among the other kids who also had photos in the clear plastic face piece of their binders.

Brianna confirmed to the TV news that she was the only one threatened with expulsion from the class over the pictures and the suspicion is that it was because her brother was in uniform in the image.

The school responded to the mother claiming that the rules were the rules and provided the rulebook page in question. But Brianna’s mother noted to the news folks that there was not a single mention of photos on binders in the very rules the school sent to her.

The AVID rules only state that a binder be kept but is silent on whether or not that binder can be decorated. The segment in question reads that students must “maintain the AVID binder with assignments, grade sheets, and daily notes as required.”

Ultimately, in a totally random decision, the school decided that she can keep the image of her soldier brother in the binder but must remove the photos of her softball team.

 

Sacramento Democrats Admit Higher Minimum Wage Kills Jobs/Hurts Minorities

It looks like hell has frozen over and Obama stopped being a totalitarian. Democrats in an Assembly Committee killed an increase in the minimum wage. The minimum wage is going up on July 1, but the unions are fighting to increase it again, from $10 to $13 an hour in 18 months. Democrats, mostly minority Democrats, recognized that their communities were being harmed the most. While white liberal Democrats loved this, the racism of the proposal finally hit home. Even Luis Alejo who presented a bill to do this a year ago could not vote for the bill this year.

If you want Hispanics, blacks and the young to be jobless, raising the minimum wage is the way to go. Now, minority Democrats realize their liberal friends have destroyed their community with these types of policies.

“Salinas Democrat Luis Alejo, author of last year’s bill that raised California’s minimum wage to $10, was one of two Democrats who abstained from the vote, effectively killing the bill.

Assemblyman Alejo said in an interview that raising minimum wage was his top priority upon entering the Assembly in 2010. His bill, which raises the state’s wage floor to $9 next week and will increase it again to $10 in 2016, took three years to push through the Legislature. It was a product of negotiations between the governor, business groups and organized labor.”

minimum wage

 Why Democrats brought down minimum wage

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, author of last year’s bill to raise California’s minimum wage to $10, abstained from a vote to raise the wage floor again to $13 an hour, which helped kill the bill. Alejo said a supportive vote would have violated a deal made last year between the governor, organized labor and business interests.

Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 6/26/14

The death of this year’s minimum wage proposal this week was not only an important development for business, but also illuminates the growing power of the Capitol’s Democratic, pro-business Latino Caucus.

Business groups were amazed — and delighted — to watch a proposed minimum wage hike to $13 an hour die in an Assembly labor committee, a chamber long considered union territory.

“We were stunned,” said Ken DeVore, the legislative director for the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Salinas Democrat Luis Alejo, author of last year’s bill that raised California’s minimum wage to $10, was one of two Democrats who abstained from the vote, effectively killing the bill.

Assemblyman Alejo said in an interview that raising minimum wage was his top priority upon entering the Assembly in 2010. His bill, which raises the state’s wage floor to $9 next week and will increase it again to $10 in 2016, took three years to push through the Legislature. It was a product of negotiations between the governor, business groups and organized labor.

But this year’s proposal to raise minimum wage again, Senate Bill 935 by Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, would have violated the deal that was struck last year, said Alejo.

“When you’re trying to negotiate a deal and reach consensus, you have to keep your word,” he said.

It’s important to note that Alejo belongs to one of the biggest political developments in California since Republicans were knocked out of power in 2012 — the Latino Caucus, an all-Democrat legislative body that continues to grow in stature amid the state’s demographic shift.

Demographers think earlier this year that Latinos eclipsed whites as California’s largest ethnic group, though hard data won’t be available for months. Politically, Latinos promote the working class — a bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales to bolster paid sick leave is gaining support as it moves through the Legislature — but many also represent rural towns where the health of small business is a vital concern.

“I think Latino legislators bring a lot to the table. We have a diverse range within us,” Alejo said. “We need to strike a good balance for improving conditions for working people and helping grow jobs and business.”

These values represent a mixed bag for conservative business interest groups such as the NFIB. Latinos and other moderate Democrats are quickly becoming the dominant force in California politics, lobbyist DeVore said. They can push through policies by either siding with Republicans or liberal Democrats, and this week’s minimum wage failure further illustrates the shift in the state Democratic Party.

“If (Latinos and other moderates) understood the power they had, they would direct the policy of the state,” DeVore said.

Phony Air Pollution Agreements by Air Pollution Control District and Choo Choo Train to protect Special Interests.

Sacramento agencies are cooperating with the High Speed Rail Authority in approving a flawed, sued and dirty, EIR, just so the unions and special interests can move forward on building a $200 billion train to nowhere, for nobody.   With only a few days to go over a 20,000 word document that took eighteen months to create, the Governing Board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District approved a document that is already in court for its violations of California environmental laws. Here is an agency that rubber stamps Guv Browns Christmas presents without consideration of the facts.

“The Governing Board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (APCD) today approved agreements that would mitigate all construction emissions from California’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) project that occur in the Valley. Upon the recommendation of APCD staff, the Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CaHSRA) that would ensure that construction emissions from building each segment of the HSR project will be offset by emission reductions paid for by the CaHSRA.

Like the rubber stamp of a law breaking EIR, no one expects this agency to supervise or protect the citizens of California—the agency represents unions and special interests.

high speed rail train

APCD approves agreement with California High Speed Rail to mitigate emissions

Frank MaccioliBakersfield, Environmental News Examiner, 6/19/14

The Governing Board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (APCD) today approved agreements that would mitigate all construction emissions from California’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) project that occur in the Valley. Upon the recommendation of APCD staff, the Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CaHSRA) that would ensure that construction emissions from building each segment of the HSR project will be offset by emission reductions paid for by the CaHSRA.

As explained by APCD staff at the Board hearing today, before construction of any segment may begin, the CaHSRA must sign a Voluntary Emission Reduction Agreement (VERA) with the APCD and commit funds to pay for mitigation measures that will be implemented by the APCD. The MOU commits $35 million for all of the VERAs, with an additional 25 percent mitigation safeguard if that is not enough. In addition, the CaHSRA has approved an additonal 25 percent if the agreed upon measures are not enough. As a final safeguard, the MOU obligates the CaHSRA to provide even more funding if the previous mitigations are not sufficient.

None of the mitigation measures identified will be initiated until funding for those measures is provided to the APCD by the CaHSRA.

APCD staff took pains to assure the Board that entering into these agreements does not in any way signify support (or opposition) to the HSR project. However, it does provide protections for residents of the Valley impacted by the project’s emissions should it proceed.

Such agreements are necessary requirements for projects, such as this one, that are not required to obtain permits from the APCD. In fact, the APCD has previously entered into VERA agreements totaling $69 million with those proposing other projects. To date, these agreements have resulted in reductions of 1,375 tons of nitrogen oxides and 108 tons of particulate matter after spending only $14 million of the total.

During testimony to support the proposals, Manuel Cunha, President of the Nisei Farmers League, said that he “…doesn’t support HSR, but, supports frisking them for every dollar we can get!”

In addition to approving the MOU, the Board approved the first VERA, which will cover the Madera to Fresno segment of the project. CaHSR will commit $1.75 million (which includes the 25 percent cushion) for this first agreement. Initial construction of the project’s so-called “backbone” will roughly occur between this location and Bakersfield to the south.

The Board also authorized the Air Pollution Control Officer to approve subsequent VERAs without first seeking the approval of the Board.

 

2013: Texas Had $87 Billion in Investments–California $54 Billion

In 2013 Texas had $87 billion in investments. FAR behind was California with $54 billion in investments though the State has 50% more population. This is a major study showing that the California policies, taxes, regulations and union controlled government is keeping the former Golden State in a permanent Depression. Texas is where investors and businesses go—where jobs are available and the economic policies are based on the needs of families and the community, not special interests and radical ideology.

Texas is the future and California is the past. Want a job, go to Texas. Want welfare and crazy laws, California is the place.

““Private equity investment is long-term capital at work,” said Steve Judge, president and CEO of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “The companies in states across the country that receive private equity investment are able to expand their businesses, develop new innovations and hire workers and this report highlights the important contributions of private equity in the U.S. economy.”

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PEGCC Releases New State and Congressional District Rankings for Private Equity Investment

Judge: “The data shows that private equity investment cannot be underestimated as a positive economic force in the U.S. that grows businesses and creates jobs.” 

Private Equity Growth Capital Council, 6/24/14

June 24, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Private equity firms invested more than $443 billion in U.S.-based companies last year, a 27 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council’s fourth annual investment report, “Private Equity: Top States and Districts.” The analysis, which ranks the top 20 states and congressional districts by investment value and number of investments, found that Texas received the most investment in 2013, topping California, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.

Visit the PEGCC’s Interactive Map to see data, including pension fund investment, for all 50 states and rankings.

“Private equity investment is long-term capital at work,” said Steve Judge, president and CEO of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “The companies in states across the country that receive private equity investment are able to expand their businesses, develop new innovations and hire workers and this report highlights the important contributions of private equity in the U.S. economy.”

For the third year in a row, Texas received the most investment from private equity (measured in dollars invested) totaling $87.4 billion in 282 companies. California came in second, followed by Pennsylvania, which moved up in the rankings from sixth place last year.  Other states that moved up in the rankings are Virginia, which jumped from sixteenth to seventh, and Maryland, Delaware and Minnesota, which all moved into the top 20 in 2013.

The top Congressional Districts by private equity investment were as follows:

-John Carter (TX-31)-$24.9 billion

-Mike Doyle (PA-14)-$24.8 billion

-John Culberson (TX-7)-$14.6 billion

-Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)-$13.7 billion

-Henry Waxman (CA-33)- $10.7 billion

The report is part of the PEGCC’s ongoing Private Equity at Work campaign aimed at educating policy makers and the public about the private equity industry and its contributions to the American economy. “Private Equity: Top States and Districts” is one of the two major analyses conducted each year by the PEGCC. The PEGCC also releases a yearly report every fall ranking pension fund investment in private equity.

– See more at: http://www.pegcc.org/newsroom/in-the-news/pegcc-releases-new-state-and-congressional-district-rankings-for-private-equity-investment-see-more-at-httpwww-pegcc-orgnewsroompress-releasespegcc-releases-new-state-and-congressional-distri/#sthash.phqcSU3w.dpuf