GOPers who backed ‘cap and trade’ likely to face more fallout

Brian DahleChad Mayes of Yucca Valley is out as Assembly Republican leader, replaced last week by Assemblyman Brian Dahle of Bieber. But the fallout may continue over the decision of Mayes and six other GOP Assembly members to provide Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, with the votes necessary to save the state’s cap-and-trade program on July 17.

Mayes touted the GOP support as helpful in rebranding the party with young voters worried about climate change and emphasized the concession he won from Brown and Rendon, which could make it possible for the Legislature to effectively scrap the state’s troubled high-speed rail project in 2024. But the votes infuriated many Republicans for betraying the party’s core anti-tax, anti-regulation beliefs and for allowing a handful of Assembly Democrats in swing seats to avoid having to vote to extend cap and trade until 2030.

Under the program, businesses buy permits for emission rights. Because of fears that courts would find the permit fees were tantamount to taxes, Brown wanted two-thirds votes in the Legislature to ensure cap and trade’s extension would be on solid legal ground under Proposition 13. Thanks to the votes of Assembly Republicans Mayes, Catharine Baker of San Ramon, Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo, Heath Flora of Ripon, Devin Mathis of Visalia and Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga, Brown got 55 votes for the extension, one more than he needed.

Harmeet K. Dhillon, a San Francisco lawyer who is one of the state’s members on the Republican National Committee, told the Los Angeles Times that Mayes shouldn’t be the only one held accountable for preserving cap and trade.

“Now, given the fact that six of these [Republican lawmakers] did vote for a massive tax increase, Republicans are going to be very vigilant about these issues,” she said. The state GOP voted earlier this month to ask Mayes to step down at Dhillon’s behest.

Another RNC state delegate – former state GOP chair Shawn Steel – also blasted Republicans who sided with Brown on cap-and-trade.

Mayes, Baker, Chavez, Cunningham, Flora, Mathis, Steinorth and state Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto – the only GOP Senate vote to extend cap and trade – are likely to face heat from conservatives in their re-election bids or in seeking other elective posts. Conversely, they could also attract support from moderate and independent voters, given the popularity of environmental causes among state voters.

New GOP leader wants no more cap-and-trade recriminations

But new Assembly GOP leader Dahle – a 51-year-old seed business owner and farmer and former Lassen County supervisor – wants to the put the cap-and-trade flap behind.

“There are 24 other members of this caucus and they all have different views,” he told reporters Thursday after Mayes stepped down. “There are people in our caucus who voted their conscience for their district, and I support those who did that. In my case it didn’t work in my district, so I was opposed to that.”

Mayes, 40, was first elected to the Assembly in 2014 and began as GOP leader in January 2016. While now under fire from conservatives, he could someday be remembered as the man who killed the bullet train – the state project that’s as unpopular among California Republicans as cap and trade.

As part of the cap-and-trade deal, Mayes got Democrats to agree to put a constitutional amendment he wrote before state voters in June 2018. Under the unusual measure, if voters gave the go-ahead, there would be a vote in 2024 by the Legislature on whether to continue to allow cap-and-trade revenue to fund the $68 billion project – with two-thirds support necessary to continue funding.

Brown and bullet-train backers are counting on cap-and-trade fees to increase in coming years and to keep the project viable. So far, the California High-Speed Rail Agency has been unable to attract outside investors to help pay for a statewide system, and federal funding dried up after Republicans took control of the House in 2010.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Republicans didn’t have to vote for cap and trade

Chad Mayes2Last month, eight Republicans in the California Legislature made the unfortunate decision to vote for an extension of cap and trade that will increase the cost of fuel by as much as 71 cents a gallon by 2031. The primary justification was that the market-based cap-and-trade solution was preferable to any option controlled solely by the powerful and hostile California Air Resources Board. While that argument can’t be discounted, it is nonetheless useful to speculate what would have happened if no Republicans supported the deal.

Historically, Republicans have been the primary defenders of California’s middle-class taxpayers. They almost always vote against any proposal to weaken Proposition 13 and for that they deserve our thanks. But there is no debate that the cap-and-trade legislation will increase gas prices. The only debate is over how much.

Republicans in the Legislature should also be thanked for providing the lion’s share of votes against the cap-and-trade bill. But now they are in a situation where they have to explain why eight of them voted for the bill which has created a significant messaging problem. Voters don’t understand cap and trade and they don’t understand what “saving them” from a $2 fuel price increase looks like because they’ve never experienced it. Compounding the messaging problem is the inevitable political fallout. Republican support gave Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown acres of political cover. Democratic legislators in at least two marginal seats were protected against having to cast a vote for higher energy costs and Gov. Brown secured a relatively stable source of funding for high-speed rail.

So what would have happened if no Republican legislators voted for cap and trade? Conceivably, Gov. Brown could have demanded Democratic allegiance and, using both carrots and sticks, may have secured it. But that would put Democrats in marginal districts at tremendous risk. At a minimum, Republicans could have leveraged their opposition for policies that actually are friendly to citizen taxpayers including, but not limited to, a rebate or broad based sales tax reduction for consumers to offset the added cost of gas over the next decade.

Republican refusal to give in to the type of extortion reflected in the cap-and-trade bill may very well have forced the Democrats into approving a CARB-style bureaucracy with a simple majority vote — which, by the way, might still happen. The far-left of the Democratic Party may have cheered but, for Republicans, it would open up vast new demographics — working Hispanics, other ethnic groups and recent immigrants — for whom just a few more cents in a gallon of gas is a big deal.

Unfailing opposition to the deal by Republicans would have provided something else almost always absent from California politics — clarity and accountability. When gas prices go through the roof — which they surely will — there would be no doubt which party to blame.

But we’ll never know as it will be difficult, if not impossible, to repair the damage and restore the Republican brand. Thus the odds of Republicans gaining seats in any of the next four election cycles (thanks to redistricting in 2022) are now in doubt. And for what? So Republicans can now adopt the losing argument that they voted for increased fuel costs to save taxpayers from even higher prices? What ordinary voting taxpayer is going to buy that argument?

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register.

Sacramento GOP channels Forrest Gump

Forrest GumpOne of the most memorable lines of the movie “Forrest Gump” is “stupid is as stupid does.” Eight Republican legislators gave life to that saying last week in Sacramento as they handed Governor Jerry Brown, tax-raising Democrats and environmental extremists a huge victory by providing the votes needed to extend the so-called “cap and trade” pollution control program.

My purpose here is not to argue the merits or lack thereof in the legislation that was passed. Rather, it is to point out how stupidly the GOP leadership behaved as they helped the very radical elements of the Democrat legislative majority pass another very radical bill. A couple of highlights include raising taxes, imposing more regulation on business, raising the cost of gasoline and giving a few billion dollars to the “bullet train.”

The GOP leadership’s willingness to put this legislation, vitally important to the governor and the Left, over the top was stupid in many ways, but two stand out.

The “bullet train to nowhere” was about to suffocate for lack of dollars. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are slowly turning off the money spigot. Republican votes for the “cap and trade” bill gave this monstrosity a new lease on life. The train – which will be great for anyone needing to get from Visalia to Modesto in a hurry – is very unpopular with voters of both parties. Nobody but the bureaucrats and environmentalists like it. It had reached the rigor-mortis stage and had one foot in the grave. The GOP legislative geniuses yanked it out of the sepulcher and performed CPR. Stupid is as stupid does.

More egregious was letting vulnerable Democratic legislators avoid a vote on this very controversial legislation. Democrat legislative leadership had to twist arms mightily and give away billions of dollars last month to secure the votes necessary to increase the gas tax. Their members representing districts that have shown Republican strength were most uncomfortable having to do that and were most anxious to avoid voting for another bill unpopular with their voters.

Those members were going to have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, by their leadership to vote for another bill that raised taxes. They knew that casting another tax-raising vote put a huge bulls-eye on their backs for fed-up, tax-paying voters. Those vulnerable Democratic legislators now have much less to fear – thanks to the GOP leadership shielding them from a very tough vote and protecting them from the wrath of their voters. Stupid is as stupid does.

There is a tactic called a “lifeboat” that legislative leaders use when confronting controversial votes that would endanger any of their partisan compatriots. If you can snooker (or pay off) a few gullible members of the other party to help you pass the bad legislation, you can then put your most vulnerable incumbents in the “lifeboat” of not voting.

Competent legislative leaders – at least those interested in improving their party’s representation in Sacramento – go to great pains not to provide the opposition with such a life boat. You do so by not providing any of your votes to help pass legislation that is important to your opposition.

If you have members who really want or need to vote for the opposition’s controversial legislation, you provide those votes only after all of the opposition’s members have voted for the poison pill. You do not shield the vulnerable members of the opposition. You force them to cast a vote that will hurt them in their home districts next election.

This is not rocket science, nor advanced campaign tactics. This is politics 101, and the failure of the Sacramento GOP leadership to practice such was dereliction of duty.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was Chief of Staff for the Assembly Republicans from late 1984 to mid-1987. During the legislative sessions of ’85 and ’86, we confronted many “lifeboat” situations. We never, ever put up Republican votes for controversial Democrat legislation until each and every Democrat had voted for it. We never, ever gave vulnerable Democrats the protection of a “lifeboat.”

Partially as a result of that practice, Republicans gained three Assembly seats in November, 1986, bringing GOP representation in the Assembly to 36. This was not because we were geniuses, although the GOP Assembly caucus had some brilliant political minds in it at the time. It was because, to paraphrase the late, unlamented President Obama, we avoided doing stupid shit. And there is very little more stupid than to make life easier for your most vulnerable political opponents.

I suspect that Assembly GOP leader (for now) Chad Mayes and the seven other Republicans who voted for the cap-and-trade legislative mutant are fine people and would make wonderful neighbors. This isn’t about that. It’s about letting the most at-risk Democrats off the hook.

The GOP “leadership” handed the Democrats an enormous gift by enabling the most vulnerable Democrats to avoid this vote. The GOP “leadership” has in essence given “in-kind” contributions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democrat legislators most in danger of defeat. The GOP “leadership” has helped bullet-proof the Democrats most likely to lose to a Republican in November next year.

Stupid is indeed as stupid does, and the Sacramento GOP did it up big time on this one.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

California Legislature abandons state’s middle class

taxesCalifornia’s middle class, who pay the bulk of all taxes in California, are constantly under attack from Sacramento politicians. Already this year, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 1, to add 19 cents per gallon to the cost of fuel beginning in October and an average of a $50 increase in the car tax. This translates into at least $400 in additional taxes for the average California family.

Now, Sacramento politicians have compounded the damage by imposing another fuel cost increase by extending the state’s cap-and-trade program, a market-based regulatory system for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. Under this program, impacted industries buy credits at auction which are then used to incentivize decreases in pollution levels.

Surprisingly, many industries forced into the “cap-and-trade” auctions supported the extension because they were threatened by Gov. Brown, environmental extremists and powerful regulators with an alternative program run completely by the government bureaucrats at the California Air Resources Board. And those were not idle threats.

Be that as it may, some legislators are using the “it could have been worse” argument to claim that they’ve won some sort of victory for taxpayers. Without cap and trade, they say, your fuel costs would have increased by nearly two dollars a gallon. Even if completely true — which is doubtful — cap-and-trade advocates won’t tell you the whole story. The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has said that under the legislation just approved, fuel prices could go up by 21 cents in 2022 and 71 cents by 2030. Only in the Alice in Wonderland world of Sacramento politics does a 71 cent fuel price increase constitute a victory for taxpayers.

So what’s the ultimate impact on working Californians? If the new legislation is added into April’s gas tax increase, consumers will see their price at the pump increase as high as 40 cents per gallon by 2022 and 90 cents by 2031. Overall household fuel costs will likely eventually increase by over $1,000 a year per household. And all this is occurring so that liberal Democrats can reach an arbitrary threshold of a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030.

While the handful of Republicans in the California Legislature — who make up less than a third of the members in each house — are usually the reliable opposition to the punishing policies inflicted on the middle class by the majority party, that did not prove to be the case last week. Eight Republicans voted for the extension.

But could they argue they received something in return which benefits their voting constituents? Nope. The vast majority of California taxpayers will receive no direct financial relief in exchange for their thousand dollars a year they will pay for goods and services. Perhaps it would be easier to share in the cost of climate change if California wasn’t going it alone on cap-and-trade in the United States, while we emit only one percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The extension of cap-and-trade ensures one thing, that funding for high-speed rail will continue. The legislation dictates that at least 25 percent of the new funding will be spent on a train that a majority of Californians have made it clear they would reject if given another chance on a statewide ballot. Ironically, high-speed rail has proven to be a net increaser of greenhouse gas emissions. So much for trying to save the world.

A hollow victory at best is the suspension of the infamous fire tax against those living in rural unincorporated areas of California. Some 800,000 property owners will no longer have to pay this fee, which remains the subject of a class action lawsuit commenced several years ago by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association lawyers. While the suspension (not repeal) of the tax is welcome relief for rural property owners, it does not include any rebates for the millions of dollars already paid. For that reason the HJTA litigation will continue over the issue of refunds.

As is common with complex legislation that ultimately hurts the middle class, special interests suffered little or no harm and, in many instances, negotiated for a financial windfall. Most got a piece of the revenue from the higher gas prices that consumers will be paying. The governor got more funding for high-speed rail and corporations got significant tax breaks. But legislators couldn’t even fight to give citizen taxpayers a rebate for the higher gas prices they’ll be paying. Will any legislator fight for them? Is there anyone left in the Capitol who will put the middle-class taxpayer before their next political deal that results in another crushing financial burden? For the sake of this once Golden State, we hope so.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register

Legislators continue to drive up the cost of fuels

gas prices 2The concept of reducing our emissions is correct, but show me some progress!

Cap and trade has been a revenue generator for the state since 2006. It has raised over $7 billion for the state, but after 10 years since AB32 was signed into law in 2006, according to the California Energy Commission, has yet to lower our 1 percent contribution to the world’s greenhouse gases. It has however been very effective in hitting citizens’ pocketbooks to fund a multitude of governmental pet projects.

We could shut down the entire state that represents only 0.5 percent of the world’s population, close all the airports, get rid of the 35 million vehicles, turn off all the generators, and shoot all the cows, and it would have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the global climate.

Fuel costs for the entire world, EXCEPT California, are primarily driven by the cost of crude oil to manufacture the fuels and by-products from crude oil that drives every industry sector and supports our current quality of life. With crude oil hovering around the $45 range vs. the $100 range a few years ago, we’re enjoying more affordable fuels than in previous years.

However, in California, it’s our legislators and their appointees that are directly responsible for California having higher costs for our fuels and energy than the other 49 states.

California already has five reasons for their cost of fuels being higher the rest of the country:

  1. California fuel taxes are among the highest in the country.
  2. To date, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, cap and trade has already added eleven cents to the price of gasoline.
  3. California has boutique fuel brands that no one else in the country currently makes. If other states chose to manufacture the California boutique fuels, the only way to get it to the California energy island is to ship it thru the Panama Canal to California ports.
  4. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard increases the cost of the gasoline and diesel fuels produced from crude oil.
  5. To meet current demand, 10 million gallons of aviation fuels, and 40 million gallons of transportation fuels for our 35 million vehicles are manufactured DAILY in California which is the most environmentally regulated location on earth.

Our Legislators crusade to maintain the cap and trade “revenue generator” through 2030 provides the public with a dim forecast in the coming years as the burden of additional fuel costs will be falling completely on motorists and businesses. More cost increases that are coming are:

  • Starting in November 2017, SB1 will add significant tax increases to gasoline and diesel fuels, as well as higher registration fees to finance transportation infrastructure,
  • 4 years from now, according to estimates from the LAO, cap and trade could raise gas prices by another 63 cents per gallon in 2021, increasing to 73 cents per gallon in 2031.
  • California’s LCFS is expected to grow and overtake the cap and trade costs.

In the last 40 years, the California population has almost doubled to 38 million, but our air is cleaner today than it was in the 1970s. In the decade from 2006, California’s population has grown 1.077 percent to 38.8 million and we have less manufacturing jobs today than we had in 2006.

The inconvenient truth about AB32, as well as cap and trade, is that we now have higher gasoline prices and higher electricity costs. The coastal elites who support “going green” at all costs just don’t care that the working poor and struggling middle class living away from California’s coast are bearing the brunt of higher energy costs. Tellingly, our state has the worst poverty rate in the nation where 1 out of 5 California families are barely hanging on. Thus, it’s hard to understand the time and effort being extended on the subject of the emissions crusade that is obviously negatively impacting our poverty and homeless populations.

It’s our legislators that are causing the price of California fuels to increase, not the oil companies. With the approval to extend the cap and trade system to 2030, California’s top politicians will have immense effects on what consumers spend for gasoline and a myriad of other products and services.

Ronald Stein is founder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

 

GOP Votes Give Jerry Brown Big Win on Cap-and-Trade

jerry-brownThe “shadow presidency” of California Governor Jerry Brown scored a win Monday night as eight Republican legislators crossed the political aisle and voted with most Democrats to extend a key component of the “cap-and-trade” program that has literally shifted $4.42 billion from the private sector to the government since mid-2012.

While a lot of politicking went into rounding up the votes for the cap-and -trade extension among both political party caucuses in both chambers, it was clear that Governor Brown had enough political capital, along with a willingness to “strategically target” the spending of cap-and-trade tax dollars to woo Democrats.

So in the final days preceding a vote, much of the attention was focused on Republican legislators. Because it is a tax increase, the bill required a two-thirds vote to pass. Democrats have barely over two-thirds in either chamber and so, in theory, could have passed it without a solitary GOP vote. But Democrats were not 100% unified, and also at least one Democrat in the State Assembly was going to be absent this week on a long-planned family vacation, meaning at least one GOP vote would be needed in the lower house.

On the GOP side it was a David vs. Goliath situation, with a small coalition of small business and taxpayer advocates, as well as GOP groups like the Orange County Lincoln Club. They were out-gunned and out-spent, up against many well-heeled interests, including the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Manufacturing and Technology Association, and others. (Big businesses can handle navigating a cap-and-trade system, and largely pass along the costs to consumers. The small- and medium-sized businesses suffer the most, and of course taxpayers in general.) Those billions and billions in taxes paid to the California Air Resources Board drive up the costs of so many products — most notably gas and electricity prices: it is estimated that by the early 2020s, cape-and-trade will be adding over 70 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline. In the end Goliath won, with more than enough Republicans voting for the extension.

Ultimately eight Republican legislators voted to extend the multi-billion dollar tax: State Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Stanislaus), and Assemblymembers Catherine Baker (R-Walnut Creek), Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Health Flora (R-Modesto), Devin Mathis (R-Visalia), Mark Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), and Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), the latter being the Assembly Republican Leader.

While much attention will be paid to the “Crazy 8” (as they are already being called) Republicans who voted to extend this draconian program, it is significant to note that 34 GOP legislators voted against it, with a good number of them speaking out on the floors of their respective legislative chambers. Perhaps none spoke as eloquently as State Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), who said, in part, “I represent the poorest district in the state. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for yet another bill that will raise gasoline and electricity rates on the poorest of the poor.  Let’s be honest, this is a tax — and a regressive one at that! Then where does the money go? It goes to rebates for rich folks who buy a Tesla. Billions go to the boondoggle that is high-speed rail, which is a gross polluter, now and for decades to come — again, off of the backs of the poor who currently live in energy poverty.”

Interestingly, the political win for Assembly Democrats wasn’t just in passing the cap-and-trade extension, but also the fact that so many Republicans voted for the bill that Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) was able to let three of his targeted members, who are occupying seats the GOP would like to pick back up, either not vote at all or vote no. A big strategic blunder for Assembly Republicans.

After the vote was held, despite the fact that over two-thirds of Assembly Republicans voted against the bill, a gleeful Assembly GOP Leader Chad Mayes spoke in a press conference with Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders as they celebrated the passage of a package of the legislation. Mayes could hardly contain himself as he touted that with this legislation “we lowered taxes, we reduced costs, we reduced regulations – and at the same time we are going to protect our environment.”

You may ask how a two-thirds vote to raise taxes for this program for another decade could lower taxes, reduce costs and reduce regulations? Apparently Mayes and other Republicans justified their votes by imagining what it would be like if, in the absence of cap-and-trade, Democrats implemented a different and worse system. The “lowering” and “reducing” Mayes refers to are the imaginary savings achieved because the other, allegedly worse regimen of regulation, was averted.

Mayes went on to say: “We believe that markets are better than Soviet style-command and control. We believe that markets are better than the government coercing people into doing things they don’t want to do… .”

Apparently Mayes believes that when the government creates Soviet-style limits on resources but leaves people with the freedom to exist in a world of artificial scarcity on their own terms, that is not command and control.  This is analogous to having a hundred people but food for only ten, and choosing which ten get the food, versus simply putting ten meals in the room and letting the hundred people figure it out themselves.

With the cap-and-trade vote now in the rear-view mirror, it remains to see what the political fallout will be. If 2009 is any guide, which was the last time a small group of six GOP legislators crossed party lines to vote for a massive tax increase, all six legislators ended up paying a steep political price. Both legislative leaders lost their leadership posts.

Either way, the California GOP has a unique messaging problem for next year, having provided support for a multi-billion dollar carbon emissions tax.

Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor for Breitbart California. His columns appear regularly on this page. Follow Jon on Twitter here.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

‘Cap and Tax’ Would Slam High-Tax, High-Poverty California

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

The craziest story of the moment is the Governor’s insistence on passing even more draconian legislation on the topic of climate change in the form of extending what is known as cap and trade (or, in this iteration, cap and tax) (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017).

Gov. Brown believes that “climate change is real” and that California has to be the guinea pig in the world stage on addressing it. Therefore, Californians have to make certain financial sacrifices now to protect those who follow us 100 years from now. And that is only if his postulation that “climate change is real.”

With “quiet dignity and grace” (a line from “Young Frankenstein”), the Governor claimed that on Monday the Legislature would be making “the most important vote of our lifetimes.”

Is the vote to disallow collective bargaining a la Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?

Is the vote to abolish the California Rule, and modify pension formulas going forward?

Is the vote for establishing a hybrid pension plan that includes a defined contribution component?

Is it a plan to make state government more efficient, since California has the highest tax rates and still can’t deliver decent services and roads to its residents?

Is the vote to address the highest poverty rate of any state in the nation?

No.

It’s about one man’s personal crusade to supposedly “save the planet,” when the science may not support his claims.

His comments culminated with the hysterical claim no one else in the country seems to believe enough to enact mitigating policy: “Climate change is a threat to organized human existence.” Pop some corn and enjoy his harangue.

No doubt, everyone is concerned about our planet.  But, at a cost of some 90 cents per gallon of gas? Most people don’t think so.

tate Senator representing the 37th Senate District

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Jerry Brown, California Legislature, Reach Cap-and-Trade Extension Deal

carbon-tax-1California Governor Jerry Brown announced Tuesday evening that he had reached a deal with both chambers of the state legislature to extend the Golden State’s “cap-and-trade” program beyond its original expiration date in 2020.

Brown, Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) announced “a legislative package that will launch a landmark program to measure and combat air pollution at the neighborhood level – in communities most impacted – and extend and improve the state’s world-leading cap-and-trade program to ensure California continues to meet its ambitious climate change goals,” according to a statement released on the governor’s website.

The statement adds that the deal “includes AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and AB 398 by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and is the product of weeks of discussions between the administration and legislative leaders with Republican and Democratic legislators, environmental justice advocates, environmental groups, utilities, industry and labor representatives, economists, agricultural and business organizations, faith leaders and local government officials.”

The cap-and-trade system sets an upper limit for carbon dioxide emissions, and then issues emissions permits that can be bought and sold by producers. The system applies an effective tax on emissions (one that some businesses would prefer to leave the state to avoid). Companies that are more energy-efficient can sell their permits for profit — a model that Tesla, for example, has used to pad its bottom line.

The legislation will have to proceed in the absence of former Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who will be sworn into Congress on Tuesday — more than a month after winning a special election to replace Attorney General Xavier Becerra in the 34th congressional district. Gomez had delayed the ceremony partly to make his vote available for a cap-and-trade extension deal.

The deal, as noted by Bay Area public radio station KQED, will include provisions to allow local communities to monitor air quality and industrial air pollution, without allowing them to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Climate change activists often confuse the two phenomena, though one has little to do with the other: carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is not harmful.

KQED adds that the deal also ends “a fire prevention fee largely paid by residents living in rural, Republican areas of the state.” That could indicate that Democrats struck an agreement with Republicans to vote for the bills.

Without Gomez, the Democrats will not have the two-thirds majority required to renew cap-and-trade without facing a state referendum. But with Republican votes, that obstacle will disappear.

Following last year’s passage of Proposition 54, which requires bills to be on public display for 72 hours before a vote, that could mean a vote on cap-and-trade could come as early as Thursday.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California 

California: Time for a Major Change in Course

Governor Jerry Brown, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, legislative and other government officials are fixated on battling the new administration in Washington with almost total disregard for California’s major problems and unmet needs. Failure to address these pressing problems threatens the viability of a state whose status is rapidly being transformed from “golden” to “tarnished.”

To help the political class refocus on the important, here is a list of the most exigent problems accompanied by modest solutions, as compiled by a couple of veteran taxpayer advocates who speak with, and hear from, thousands of California taxpayers.

  • car highway roadRoads & Highways – Just about any road trip one drives on in California confirms that we have gone from a world leader in highway capacity and quality to barely a third world contender. Major changes are in order. Our gasoline tax must be dedicated to roads and highways alone, not to other general fund uses like paying off state general obligation bonds, as is now the practice. Also, Senator John Moorlach’s demands to reform Caltrans should be a top priority. California spends 4.7 times as much per mile of state highway than the national average, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and a 2014 government report concluded the transportation agency was over-staffed by 3,500 positions. Additionally, we should end the practice of requiring “prevailing wages” on public works projects, which are estimated to add up to 20 percent on every road and other public improvement.
  • Energy Costs – Gasoline formulation requirements, “cap and trade” and other responses to climate change must be revisited with demonstrable science and hard-headed realism to help low and middle income Californians who struggle with the costs of transportation and household energy. This is not climate change denial, but rather a recognition that it is patently unfair to burden the citizens of one state with the entirety of a global problem.
  • Business Regulations and Lawsuit Abuse – Manufacturing restrictions, wage and salary rules, workers’ compensation standards, frivolous lawsuits and “sue and settle” standards have driven the aerospace and most other manufacturing industries out of California. Time for tort and regulatory reform to establish a business-friendly climate that will encourage refugees to return and lure others to relocate here. Note: The Nestle Corporation has just announced it is moving its U.S. headquarters from Glendale to Rosslyn, Virginia taking hundreds of high paying jobs with them.
  • Land Development and Housing Costs – The mid ‘70s pioneering California Environmental Quality Act has created a nightmare for those seeking affordable, conveniently located housing, workplaces and shopping centers. It has been used as a weapon by environmentalists, competitors, “NIMBYs” and labor organizations to limit – and dramatically drive up the cost of homes, apartments and other needed facilities. Fortunately, despite the best efforts of some in Sacramento, Proposition 13 remains on the job protecting homeowners from runaway property taxes that could force them from their homes.
  • Public Transit – Gov. Brown’s “Bullet Train to Nowhere” is in a death spiral due to lack of public support, refusal of the federal government and the private sector to provide additional funds, and out of control costs due to mismanagement, malfeasance and insurmountable engineering hurdles. But fixed route/fixed rail transit remains part of the liberal social planners’ mantra. Other than in highly congested urban areas, public transit is unjustifiable in terms of both capital and operating costs. With the advent of Lyft, Uber, self-driving cars and even Elon Musk’s Hyperloop — that, within a few years, could move passengers at a faction of the cost of rail — private companies and entrepreneurs are offering answers to the mobility problem. This justifies placing renewed emphasis on fixing and expanding our highway system.
  • Education Improvements and Cost Control – “School choice” is the answer to improving K-12 student learning results. The political clout of the California Teachers Association and other teacher unions has blocked progress. Properly framed ballot initiatives may be the only realistic avenue to reform as we must stop the automatic and mindless Proposition 98 commitment of nearly half of general fund revenues – regardless of need – to K-12 and community colleges.
  • Public Employee Wages, Benefits and Pension Reforms – Public sector compensation costs for California, at both the state and local levels, are now clearly unsustainable. According to the Department of Labor, California state and local employees are the highest compensated in all 50 states. Pay, benefits and pensions of public employees have become disproportionate to their private sector counterparts who foot the bill. Adding to the approaching calamity is mismanagement – which has included criminal bribery – at CalPERS, the state’s largest public employee pension fund. Politically motivated investment strategies and fanciful predictions of return on those investments have left taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded liability for current and future retirees. Consideration must be given to shuttering CalPERS and fairly allocating to each current employee their share of the retirement funds, arranging for the public employer to make up the difference for what has been promised to date, and move from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution” plans for all existing and future employees. Otherwise, this pension burden has the potential to grow so large that California will not be able to fund the most basic services and as residents flee to other states, the last one out will be asked to turn out the lights.

We call on our representatives to stop pursuing discretionary causes and pet projects and come to grips with these real problems facing all Californians.

Lewis K. Uhler is Founder and Chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee and National Tax Limitation Foundation. He was a contemporary and collaborator with both Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman in California and across the country.

Jon Coupal is the President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. He is a recognized expert in California fiscal affairs and has argued numerous tax cases before the courts. 

This piece was originally published by HJTA.org

California’s cap-and-trade faces tough questions

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California’s marquee climate-change program faced tough scrutiny on Tuesday from a state appeals court judge who seemed skeptical that the $4.4 billion raised from the state’s cap-and-trade program complied with laws regulating taxes and fees.

“Where does this end?” Associate Justice Harry Hull asked state lawyers at a hearing in a long-running lawsuit that challenges the state’s ability to collect revenue from the cap-and-trade auctions it has sponsored since 2012.

Despite Hull’s questioning, two of three justices at the 3rd District Court of Appeal appeared to be leaning toward upholding the California Air Resources Board’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. It aims to gradually reduce greenhouse-gas emissions over time by compelling industries to change the way they do business under the authority of the landmark 2006 law, Assembly Bill 32.

A decision from the court is expected within 90 days, but the losing side likely will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.