Prop. 30 Tax Hike Extension Will Likely Appear on 2016 Ballot

TaxesA coalition of government employee unions has filed an initiative that would extend the temporary income tax hikes that were contained in Proposition 30 and approved by voters in 2012.

If this seems like, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “déjà vu all over again,” it’s not your imagination. This is just the tax raisers running their favorite play from “The Book of Dirty Tricks on Taxpayers.”  First they persuade taxpayers to accept a tax by marketing it as temporary. Once taxpayers have become inured to paying it, the tax raisers move in to extend it or make it permanent.

Big spending politicians and their allied government employee unions count on taxpayers having short memories to make this scam work. For example, look at the 1.25 percent sales tax increase political elites pushed in 1991 to deal with a budget gap. A half-cent was supposed to be temporary but when it came time to expire the Legislature placed it on the ballot promoting it as necessary for “public safety.” Voters — by then used to paying the higher tax — swallowed the hook and we continue to pay the entire 1.25 percent increase initiated almost twenty-five years ago.

There is a saying in football that if a play works once, keep running it until the opposition shows they can stop it. In 2009, the Legislature achieved the two-thirds vote to impose two year increases in state sales and income taxes. Immediately they placed on the ballot, in a special election, an extension of these taxes for two additional years. Voters, still shocked by being hit with stiff tax increases, were having none of it and rejected the extension by almost two to one.

Realizing they had not waited long enough to allow taxpayers to become accustomed to higher taxes, government employee unions, working with Gov. Brown returned to the ballot in 2012 with another “temporary” increase in sales and income taxes in the form of Proposition 30. As the primary spokesman for the tax, the governor traveled the state repeating the mantra, “It’s for the schools, its temporary.” Voters were persuaded to approve another “temporary” tax increase. Now those who benefit the most from higher revenues – California has the highest-paid state and local public employees in all 50 states according to the Department of Labor – are back seeking to extend taxes, that were scheduled to expire in 2019, for another dozen years.

If the Proposition 30 extension, now being called the School Funding and Budget Stability Act, appears on the ballot, it has a good chance to pass. This is because the burden will fall on a minority, upper income taxpayers, and many voters will overlook  that high taxes will cause some of our most successful residents to leave for more tax-friendly states, meaning that they will no longer pay any taxes to California.

The most important thing for voters to remember, however, is that if they agree to any temporary tax, it may as well be considered as permanent. As for the Proposition 30 temporary tax, it likely will join the ranks of other “temporary” taxes that seem never to disappear. Among those is the federal telephone tax established to pay for the Spanish American War, which remained in place for 108 years after the war ended.

Originally published by HTJA.org

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights. 

Takeaways From Second GOP Debate

As usual, there are so many polls, opinions and scorecards examining who did well during last night’s Republican debate at the Reagan Library. Here are my takeaways – not so much on what happened but where things might lead after the debate performances.

Carly Fiorina impressed those voters looking for outsiders to run the government and she will move up at the expense of Ben Carson and Donald Trump.

Trump, however, probably didn’t damage himself with his base of support and will remain relatively steady although the establishment GOP will still search for ways to make him disappear.

Meanwhile, the establishment will remain splintered for the time being. Jeb Bush showed some spunk (Code name: Eveready) and might reassure his backers to a degree but the establishment is still wary about him. Ohio Gov. John Kasich held steady and could be around to emerge if the Bush doesn’t catch fire. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered another good debate performance but still will find himself stalled behind Bush and perhaps Kasich.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did better than the first debate but will probably not move the needle much.

Marco Rubio showed good knowledge on foreign affairs and will remain in the multi-candidate fray to the end (whenever that may be.) He might also be setting himself up for a VP nod, depending how the primaries break.

Ted Cruz demonstrated his debating skills. He made sure he looked at the camera nearly all the time instead of looking at the questioners. Still, his strategy as the outsider working from the inside has the problem of Trump, Carson and now Fiorina blocking his path as true outsiders.

Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul showed that the GOP is certainly made up of different types but neither will break out to a wider audience with their performances.

The biggest move in the polls the next few days will belong to Carly Fiorina. Many of the debate watchers didn’t see her in the first round when she participated in the JV event.

I missed more questions from radio talk host and attorney, Hugh Hewitt, who along with CNN’s Dana Bash, had a subordinate role to CNN’s Jake Tapper on the moderator panel. Hewitt got into the politics of running for office and winning when he noted that Kasich didn’t seem to want to attack potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton whereas Fiorina would bring up Clinton without being asked.

Kasich explained people were still getting to know him so he was spending time explaining his record. Fiorina picked up on that saying she wanted to talk about records — Clinton’s — and attack it for lack of accomplishments.

At any rate, not enough time for Hewitt who I found was an excellent interviewer when he was one of the hosts as I did his Los Angeles PBS TV show, Life and Times, on numerous occasions in the 1990s.

That’s my reaction. There are many others, of course, from pundits and spinners. Old friends Mike Murphy and Todd Harris were firing off tweets and re-tweeting comments that supported their candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, respectively.

The three-hour debate was Lincoln-Douglas like in length if not in format. The Lincoln-Douglas debates also lasted three hours but had no back and forth arguments or a moderator attempting to gain control. Rather the first speaker talked for an hour, the second speaker for an hour-and-a-half and the first speaker came back for a 30-minute rejoinder.

Not exactly a made for television event.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

GOP Presidential Nominees Fire Back at Brown on Climate Change Challenge

jerry-brownAfter submitting a letter-length question to Republican candidates ahead of their first round of primary-season debates, Gov. Jerry Brown has received some responses.

Heated rhetoric

Pressing ahead with the environmental emphasis characterizing his final term in office, Brown asked the presidential hopefuls to outline their own policies. “Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re […] here to stay,” he wrote, as the Sacramento Bee reported. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

Brown’s office told the Bee he submitted his question via the Facebook page of Fox News, which solicited questions from viewers of the debates, which it hosted and televised.

This month, as the San Gabriel Valley Tribute noted, Brown hit out against the field again, using a fresh report on July temperatures to lambaste “Republicans, foot-dragging corporations and other deniers.” Surveying the damage to the fire-stricken Clear Lake area, Brown “repeated his challenge to Republican presidential candidates,” the Los Angeles Times reported, warning that “California is burning” and asking, bluntly, “What the hell are you going to do about it?”

Republican responses

So far, at least three Republican candidates have touched on environmental issues in the wake of Brown’s challenges.

Not all their remarks have been directly responsive, however. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently took the opportunity to critique “radical environmental policies that stop things like dams from going in so that water … can be used effectively,”according to the Bee.

But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who had challenged Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election, both addressed Brown head on, the Bee added. While Cruz dismissed “alarmists” as power-hungry schemers, Fiorina took a more nuanced approach; although she first conceded it “may well be true” that California’s drought was worsened by climate change, she also criticized policymakers for failing to prepare for the kind of droughts the state has had “for millennia.”

Shifting opinions

Republicans on the campaign trail have broadly reflected opinions among constituents nationwide. Even in California, Republicans have demonstrated consistent skepticism toward claims that human activity has fostered dangerous alterations in temperatures and weather. In a new poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, a majority of Golden State Republicans said “they don’t believe that climate change is happening and that they don’t think it will be a serious problem in the future,” as the San Jose Mercury News reported. “They also support expanding fossil fuel production — from increasing offshore oil drilling along California’s coast to expanding fracking.”

Yet the poll evinced some wiggle room on environmental policy issues. Fully 43 percent of California Republican respondents supported stricter in-state climate rules than what the federal government has passed into law. “Californians of all parties said they support increasing tax credits for electric vehicles and solar power,” the Mercury News added.

In a recent nonpartisan poll commissioned by a water policy foundation, Californians seemed to confirm that the drought had become a leading issue of worry across the ideological spectrum. According to the Los Angeles Times, “62 percent of poll subjects said they would be very willing or somewhat willing to pay $4 more a month for water if the funds were used to improve water supply reliability. Such an increase, if applied to the entire state, would generate about a billion dollars, according to poll sponsors.”

Environmentalists divided

Brown’s environmentalist policies haven’t satisfied all critics. His administration’s emphasis on reducing emissions, for instance, has led some to wonder why he hasn’t pushed harder for cheaper electricity rates, which would benefit owners of many zero-emissions vehicles. One objection, recently voiced in the San Diego Daily Transcript, warned that Brown’s policies “will systematically shift profits into a few private hands instead of building, managing and maintaining a solid and reliable electric-charging infrastructure comparable to our utility grid.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Top 5 Taxes You May See on the 2016 Ballot

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18514272In June 2014, I wrote a column forecasting the tax increase measures that might be on the November 2016 ballot given the conversations going on at the time. I updated the list in March of this year. It’s time for another update, this one prompted by an answer to a question Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León gave to Comstock’s Magazine.

The pro tem was asked where he stood on the change to Proposition 13 to separate commercial property from residential property. De León responded that he had no position on the plan at present but added: “I do think that revenue enhancement measures deserve a very serious debate, whether it’s a continuance or some variance of Proposition 30 or some other proposal.”

While the legislature gets together next week with the opportunity to have that debate, most likely any tax measure on the 2016 ballot will come via the initiative process.

As I wrote previously, situations and strategies change. What’s being discussed most heavily today is not necessarily what will be pushed to the ballot for voters to decide in 2016.

  • OIL SEVERANCE TAX

As reported previously, whether the oil severance tax initiative moves forward depends on one man – hedge fund billionaire and NextGen president, Tom Steyer. Recently, Steyer took the focus away from the oil severance tax and held a press conference supporting a bill for more transparency about oil company revenues. During the press conference, he suggested if the legislature did not act on a transparency bill he may take one to the ballot via initiative. While Steyer certainly has the ability to attempt more than one initiative at the same time, history shows that doesn’t always work out so well. (See John Van de Kamp 1990.) With the potential of other tax measures on the ballot, there seems to be less emphasis moving forward with the oil severance tax. It barely hangs on the list at number 5.

  • SERVICE TAXES

While Senator Bob Hertzberg’s plan was mentioned in previous columns, it was never ranked. However, as Hertzberg works to build support for his plan, which he says will tie the tax system more closely to the current state economy, the idea of many different taxes potentially appearing on the ballot may present an opening for Hertzberg. He could argue that his answer to California’s tax system flaws is a better overall fix than other proposals. And, remember, he also has potential financial support from Nicolas Berggreun’s Think Long Committee.

  • SPLIT ROLL

The grassroots/public union effort to push a split roll is still ongoing. Whether the big money is ready to commit to this approach is uncertain. Since the last rankings a second property tax surcharge on all properties that are assessed on the property tax rolls at $3 million and more has been filed. While this measure doesn’t seem to have the support to move into the top 5, it complicates the split roll position. Some have suggested that the split roll is being pushed to convince the school establishment that any tax measure that reaches the ballot should provide for more than schools. Whether for leverage or an earnest effort to achieve a split roll property tax, there is a decent chance the measure will be filed.

  • CIGARETTE TAX

The cigarette tax holds in the second position although it is clawing to gain the top spot. An initiative has already been filed. However, there will be a lot of talk in the Special Session on Medi-Cal reform perhaps including a cigarette tax increase to help fill the Medi-Cal funding hole. If the legislative session ends with no cigarette tax increase, the chance that such a tax will make the ballot probably jump this one to number one.

  • EXTENSION OF PROPOSITION 30

Extending or slightly changing Prop. 30 and continuing it holds the top spot because many supporters of a tax increase believe this type of measure may be the easiest one to pass. However, when the Public Policy Institute of California asked Likely Voters in May if they supported the extension of Proposition 30, 46 percent said yes, 30 percent said no. Not strong numbers. But all you need to know about a Prop 30 extension remaining the most likely tax measure you’ll see on the November 2016 ballot is the answer Senator de León gave above. Instead of talking about a change to Prop. 13 when questioned, he specifically cited the possibility of continuing Prop. 30. At this time it remains number 1.

Follow Joel Fox on Twitter @1JoelFox1

Ballot Title Won’t Deter Pension Reform

pensionCostly government pension deals are devastating our public services – and this simple initiative gives voters the ability to stop sweetheart and unsustainable pension deals that politicians concoct behind closed doors with government union bosses. That’s why the politicians and union bosses oppose this initiative – and why they continue to try to mislead the public on what the initiative does. Despite their attempts to mislead, we are very confident the voters will understand the plain English requirements of this measure and overwhelmingly pass it in November 2016.

The next step in the campaign will be to commission a legal review the ballot measure “Title and Summary” concocted by state politicians. Once that review is completed, we will kick-off their signature drive to qualify the measure. 

The “Plain English” Requirements of the Pension Reform Initiative: 

1) Require voter approval of any defined benefit pensions for new government employees

2) Require voter approval of any increase in pensions for existing government employees

3) Prohibit any taxpayer subsidy of government retirement benefits in excess of 50% of the cost – unless voters expressly approve a higher contribution

4) Prohibit politicians and government agencies from delaying, impeding, or challenging any voter-approved state and local ballot measures regarding government compensation and benefits.

Chuck Reed, a former Mayor of San Jose, is a Democrat. Carl DeMaio, a former Councilmember of San Diego, is a Republican

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

CARTOON: Inspecting Hillary

Hillary email cartoon

Writing the Rules for the Republicans’ Big Quiz Show

 

Some years ago I worked in game show development for a wonderful actor and TV host, Bert Convy, who’d recently formed a production company. He asked me to create game elements for a new show, and we negotiated an agreement that would pay me a very minimal royalty. I remember sitting in an upholstered leather chair in his office as he stood leaning against the front of his desk, looking irritated.

“I’m really a producer now,” he said ruefully. “I’m screwing the talent.”

Today, I’m going to use this odd talent to solve the problem of how to get 16 Republican candidates into one televised debate.

In addition to my background in game shows, I present my credentials as a former Republican candidate in a primary for U.S. Congress and two elections for the California Assembly. I have participated in debates and forums where there were two candidates, three candidates, four candidates, and 10 candidates. Once I was excluded from a debate and spent the evening in the parking lot talking with members of the press and public.

I offer my considered opinion — as a uniquely qualified professional in the field of bells, buzzers, questions and cameras — that it is a really bad idea to hold a debate with 10 candidates on stage and six in the parking lot.

Aside from the problems inherent in the selection process, 10 is too many candidates to have on stage at the same time. Answers will be repetitive and viewers will struggle to remember who said what. Candidates will pay joke writers for zingers to help them get into the news stories.

And the spectacle will become the story. An MSNBC host will remark that the candidates look like boarding group B for a Southwest flight to Cleveland. Fox News will respond that Hillary Clinton flies on private jets because nobody could afford the airline fees for that much baggage. CNN will cut to a report on a missing plane.

Instead, the Republican presidential debates should follow a format similar to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, where players take the field for just two or three innings. It would work like this:

Segment 1: Four candidates take the stage. Each is given a 20-second introduction by the moderator. Each makes a one-minute opening statement. Then a question is randomly chosen from a selection of questions on domestic policy, and the candidates each have two minutes to answer. Next, a question is randomly chosen on foreign policy, and each candidate has two minutes again. Finally, the candidates each have 30 seconds for a closing statement.

Commercial.

The format repeats until all the candidates have been heard. Current polls would be used to determine the order in which candidates take the stage. The suggested timings would present 16 candidates, in four segments, in two hours.

To give viewers the opportunity to hear more, the sponsoring news organization would conduct interviews of each candidate in advance and post the full-length videos on its website as the debate begins. It’s not the Nixon-Kennedy era anymore — we have the “second screen” to offer options for deeper content than television alone can provide. Viewers can be pointed to the online material with on-screen graphics and comments by the moderator.

This format treats the candidates respectfully and provides clarity for viewers, with a reasonable blend of pace and depth. And it accomplishes the most important goal of a televised debate: enabling voters across the country to see and hear the people who are seeking to become the next president of the United States.

After all, this isn’t a game.

###

Reach the author at Susan@SusanShelley.com or follow Susan on Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.

Will Jeb Bush’s Education Record Win Him The Nomination, Or Destroy Him?

502px-Jeb_Bush_by_Gage_SkidmoreFormer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement Monday that he is running for president instantly makes him both a man to beat and a top target in a crowded GOP field. Bush’s big donor base, establishment backing, and more moderate reputation will almost certainly make him the top target of other GOP candidates. Whether he can survive their onslaught and emerge as the nominee will depend in large part on how well he can harness his record on a single, signature issue: Education.

Education is Bush’s biggest policy passion and gave him his biggest successes as a governor. It’s not a stretch to say that Bush has been the single biggest driver of conservative education reform in the past 20 years. Bush simply can’t afford to stay away from the issue. But all of his accomplishments are counter-balanced by the burden of Common Core, which has the potential to undo his candidacy if handled poorly.

Common Core complicates what is otherwise an extremely strong education record for Bush– one that should have ample appeal to conservatives. Back in the late 1990s, Florida’s schools were among the country’s worst. Bush made education a centerpiece of his 1998 gubernatorial bid, and fully delivered on that promise in 1999 with his A-Plus Plan.

A-plus made a series of sweeping changes to Florida schools, based on three core principles: higher standards, accountability for schools, and increased school choice. The plan was innovative at the time, but today its components have been copied by Republicans across the country.

Under A-plus, every single public school was given a letter grade reflecting its performance. It sought to limit social promotion (passing students on to the next grade regardless of academic performance) by requiring students to pass a reading test to graduate from the third to the fourth grade. Most notably, it created one of the country’s first private school voucher programs, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Under the program, students attending schools with failing letter grades could receive a voucher to attend a school of their choice, including a fully private one. Bush’s initial voucher program was struck down by a state court in 2006, but has since been revived in a new form and continues to be one of the country’s largest.

Bush’s education efforts weren’t limited to A-plus. Before becoming governor, he helped open Florida’s first charter school in 1996, and after being elected he worked to expand the number of charters.

When A-plus was passed in 1999, Bush predicted that Florida’s schools would experience a “renaissance”– and he was right. In the past 17 years, Florida scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a federal standardized test administered to select student populations in each state, have been among the fastest-rising in the country, and the situation for low-income students is particularly improved. On the 2013 NAEP, Florida’s low-income fourth graders finished first in the nation in reading, compared to 35th place (out of just 40 states) in 1999.

Charter schools have been a big hit as well, with over 220,000 Florida students enrolled at over 600 schools– more than 10 percent of the state’s entire K-12 student body.

Ironically, had Bush stopped caring about education once he left the governor’s mansion in 2007, the issue would probably be a much bigger asset for him today. Instead, Bush dedicated his post-gubernatorial days to making the A-plus Plan a national model. In 2007, he established the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), a think-tank dedicated to pushing his idea of school reform. ExcelinEd has drawn big donations from organizations like the Gates Foundation, and has played a significant role promoting school choice and accountability measures in more than 20 other states.

While ExcelinEd has helped keep Bush in the public eye as a policy activist, it’s also helped create his great weakness: Common Core. At the helm of ExcelinEd, Bush was an early and strong proponent of Common Core when it was still being created by state governors in 2010. To Bush, Common Core was simply a means to take his vision of higher school standards nationwide in an effort to replicate Florida’s improvement.

Many Republicans, however, have become convinced that Common Core’s national reach represents a federal takeover of education, and most GOP contenders (many of whom once happily backed the Core) have been happy to join the opposition. Bush, though, has continued to fight hard for the new standards. In 2014, for instance, he visited Tennessee to urge lawmakers there to hold the line against an “avalanche” of criticism. Last November, he spoke at a D.C. education conference where he called the backlash against the Core “troubling” and argued that it should be seen as the “new minimum” for states in education.

In 2015, perhaps belatedly seeing just how toxic Common Core is to some Republicans, Bush started to avoid talking about it. Last February, Bush spoke for 35 minutes at a Florida education conference without mentioning Common Core once, instead making a vague statement about his support for “higher standards.” When he can’t avoid Common Core, Bush is careful to emphasize that he is opposed to any federal control of education standards.

“Every school should have high standards,” Bush said during his Monday announcement, “and the federal government should have nothing to do with setting them.”

Still, his actions have tied him so irrevocably to Common Core that he simply can’t disown the standards at this point without making a blatant flip-flop.

Now that Bush is a candidate, that could be a problem. He can expect months of fierce criticism from his Republican opponents, all of whom oppose Common Core. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has pledged to “repeal every word” of it. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has argued the issue is so toxic that no Republican can win while supporting it. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is expected to announce a run next week, has defined himself in the past year by his fierce opposition to Common Core and can be expected to tear into Bush for it repeatedly.

The attacks will be fierce, but not necessarily lethal for Bush. Polls of the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina show that while Republican voters there don’t love Common Core, they’re also willing to vote for a candidate who supports it. If Bush can get primary voters to focus on his manifold other achievements in education, which are far more popular and appealing to red-meat conservatives, he may yet be the party’s nominee in 2016.

Follow Blake on Twitter

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Attack on Prop 13 Faces Long Odds

The original Proposition 13 was four paragraphs long fitting on one side of a piece of paper. SCA 5, the measure to change Proposition 13 introduced by Senators Loni Hancock and Holly Mitchell yesterday intended to increase taxes on business property is 30 pages long. Without going into the details of the proposed changes, suffice it to say the groups behind the proposal, liberal organizations and public employee unions, want more tax dollars to spend. That is despite the fact that the state treasury is enjoying a big boost in revenue.

The rhetoric of “fairness” spoken by supporters at the press conference announcing the bill does not match the impact of what the proposed law intends to do. Sen. Mitchell said at the press conference, “What we are looking to do is to take those few that are benefitting from under-assessment and bring them in line with everyone else.” 

The measure would not raise taxes on a “few” but re-assess all business property annually so that they can pay the highest property tax possible.

Most of the news reports following the press conference that announced the filing of the bill spoke of “long odds” and “high hurdles” to get the bill through the legislature. Since the proposal is a constitutional amendment, it requires a two thirds vote to be placed on the ballot. Many news articles noted that there are no Republican votes for the measure.

A more interesting question is how many Democratic legislators will vote for SCA 5? I can imagine right now there are a number of political consultants drawing up campaign mailers that say: Candidate X voted to change Proposition 13.

While there seems little expectation that this proposal will get through the legislature, it is anticipated that a split roll could become an initiative measure.

The recent PPIC poll question on a split roll found only 50-percent of the voters support the idea. That mark was recorded against a simple question asking if commercial property should pay taxes based on full market value. There were no arguments offered to the respondents about possible consequences such as thousands of lost jobs, a stifling of economic growth, and devaluation of commercial property when new property taxes are capitalized into the value of the property.

A multi-million dollar campaign pointing out the negative consequences of a split roll is sure to take shape if the split roll makes the ballot.

Curiously, there is one good feature about the bill — but it was added as a form of bait to draw off criticism about the effects a split roll would have on small businesses.

In an effort to placate small businesses, a feature written into the law offers all businesses a $500,000 exemption on tangible personal property used by businesses. Frankly, personal property taxes should be done away with for businesses just as property taxes for residential personal property was eliminated years ago.

However, in SCA 5 the authors would substitute for the personal property exemption an increased subjective property assessment on structures and land with all the uncertainties of annual re-assessments that drove taxpayers to pass Proposition 13 in the first place.

Could there be another reason for the pursuit of the split roll beside the tax revenue increase to pay for services, salaries and pensions?

The push for the split roll comes at a time when there are serious discussions in certain circles about how to keep the revenue flowing from the Proposition 30 tax increase that is due to expire over the next few years.

Some might see a split roll tax increase as a substitute for the Prop 30 taxes. Pushing a split roll measure might also be a move to get all the public unions to agree on a single tax measure in which they all benefit.

It is generally perceived that Prop 30 money has been good for the schools and the teachers unions. The Service Employees International Union clearly has its fingerprints all over the split roll movement. Will this measure force the teachers unions to deal with the non-education folks on a Prop 30 extension so that two tax measures are not on the same ballot?

Or are the unions in agreement — desiring to push two major tax increases and making everyone in their camps happy?

While making the taxpayers furious.

Interesting times ahead.

Follow Joel Fox on Twitter @1JoelFox1

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Ling Ling Chang Will Vie for State Senate in 2016

lingling changAssemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, has announced her campaign to replace termed-out State Senator Bob Huff.

Chang’s campaign for the 29th State Senate district sets up a showdown with former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang for a seat that Democrats see as an opportunity to reclaim their supermajority in the upper house. Her campaign came at the urging of the Senate Republican Caucus, which sees the former mayor of Diamond Bar as the strongest candidate to replace the termed-out Senate Republican leader.

On Friday morning, the Republican Assemblywoman, who has been on the job for less than six months, announced her campaign with endorsements from Huff, Rep. Ed Royce and Asm. Young Kim. With a united front behind a top-tier candidate, Republicans hope to take the 29th Senate seat off the table in 2016.

Chang: Self-Described Tech Geek

In just her first term in the State Assembly, Chang has quickly risen to the top of the freshman class. A powerhouse fundraiser, Chang raised more than $632,000 for her 2014 Assembly campaign.

That fundraising prowess helped her land a spot on Asm. GOP leader Kristin Olsen’s leadership team as Republican Whip. In addition to serving as Vice Chair of the powerful Assembly Rules Committee, Chang holds key spots on the Appropriations Committee, Business & Professions Committee and the Privacy & Consumer Protection Committee.

Senator_Bob_Huff

Her current district includes substantial portions of the 29th Senate district. Prior to representing the 55th Assembly District, she served on the Diamond Bar City Council and Walnut Valley Water District Board of Directors.

“My mom didn’t understand why a young girl would be so obsessed with computers, so she would try and prohibit me from going online. I found my way around it until my mom started removing the keyboard,” Chang told the Sacramento Bee earlier this year. “Now she completely regrets it. Technology, to me, it’s like second nature. I can actually work something without having to read the user manual.”

The self-described “tech geek” has endeared herself to her colleagues by being a team player. In advance of the 2014 general election, she contributed more than $60,000 to party committees and legislative targets, including colleagues Kim, David Hadley, Tom Lackey, Marc Steinorth, Catharine Baker and Eric Linder. However, she’s also stumbled in her first few months in the state legislature, backing a plan to bring back redevelopment that is strongly criticized by property rights advocates.

Shaw expected to withdraw from the race

Chang’s candidacy changes the dynamics of the race and likely brings to an end the short-lived candidacy of fellow Republican Tim Shaw, who currently works as an aide to Huff. A La Habra City Councilman, Shaw has struggled to raise money since announcing his campaign in February. He had yet to file a campaign finance report, according to the state’s financial disclosure database.

Sukhee KangAs a result of Shaw’s perceived weaknesses, Democrats recruited former Irvine mayor Sukhee Kang to run for the seat. During his final term as mayor of Irvine, Kang won praise from liberal Democrats for his plan to ban single-use plastic bags. That’s helped him secure early backing from prominent statewide Democrats, including Senate Pr­­esident Pro Tem Kevin de León and former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

Kang’s candidacy has its own baggage. Namely, he only recently packed his bags and moved into the district. He’s also weighed down by the ongoing audit of the Orange County Great Park. According to OC Weekly, while on the Irvine city council, in an alliance with former councilman Larry Agran and councilwoman Beth Krom, “Sukhee Kang diverted more than $174,000 per month in park funds to three political operatives — George Urch, Chris Townsend and Arnold Forde — allegedly performing ‘public relations’ for a government park that still hasn’t been built — and then shrugged their collective shoulders about why there was no money left for the noble endeavor.”

In 2012, Kang unsuccessfully challenged Rep. John Campbell for the 45th Congressional District. A first-generation Korean immigrant, Kang hoped to appeal to the district’s more than 89,000 Asian American voters in a uphill race against Shaw, a white Republican.

As the first Taiwanese-born woman to serve in the state Assembly, Chang undercuts the Democrat’s campaign strategy. According to voter registration statistics from Political Data, Inc., there are approximately 10,000 more registered voters with Chinese surnames than Korean surnames. Voters in the 29th Senate district have requested nearly twice as many Chinese language ballots than Korean ballots.

Kang’s campaign adviser Garry South seemed unfazed by Chang’s announcement. “See ya in a presidential year!” he said, welcoming the news.

Republicans hold a 3.5 percent edge in voter registration, with 37.3 percent of all registered voters in the district, according toAroundtheCapitol.com. The district’s high overall registration rate makes it difficult for Democrats to invest in a registration program to close that gap. The GOP has 15,000 more voters than Democrats. Orange County makes up more than 70 percent of the 29th State Senate district, which also includes portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. In 2012, Huff retained the seat with 55.1 percent of the vote, after spending minimal funds on his reelection campaign.

Under the state’s revised term limits law, Chang is eligible to serve two terms in the State Senate as well as one additional term in the State Assembly.