CA Legislators Get 4 Percent Pay Bump

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

A state panel approved a 4 percent increase in pay for legislators and statewide elected officers on Wednesday.

The average legislator’s salary will rise to $104,118 annually, although several have refused any increases. Gov. Jerry Brown’s salary will increase to $190,103 annually.

The other officers receiving increases are: lieutenant governor, attorney general, controller, treasurer, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner and the members of the Board of Equalization.

The increase will go into effect Dec. 7.

About the CCCC

Pay is determined by a seven-member panel of citizens representing different sections of the community. In fact, one of the positions, which is required to be filled by a representative of the “general population,” is actually filled by a wealthy, well-connected developer from Stockton.

Brown — who is tasked with appointing members of the California Citizens Compensation Commission — has not filled three vacancies in at least a year, which exceeds the 15-day window mandated by the state’s Constitution.

The CCCC had to cancel it’s May meeting due to lack of quorum.

Pay Scale History

California has the highest paid state legislators in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. They are also paid well above the state’s median income of around $61,084.

On the whole, base salary for legislators has increased since 2005. To be more precise, legislators have received six increases, three freezes and two reductions since 2005. To be even more precise, base salary went from $99,000 in 2005 to the $100,113 base salary it is today — after salaries had been frozen between 1999 to 2005.

The two reductions were largely orchestrated by the former chairman Charles Murray, a holdover appointee from the Schwarzenegger administration. Murray stepped down almost a year ago to the day.

The six increases: 2005 – 12 percent increase; 2006 – 2 percent increase; 2007 – 2.75 percent increase; 2013 – 5 percent increase; 2014 – 2 percent increase; 2015 – 3 percent increase.

The two decreases: 2009 – 18 percent reduction; 2012 – 5 percent reduction.

And the three freezes were in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

As readers can probably imagine, the decreases were unpopular in Sacramento. In fact, one former legislator fought a cut — the 18 percent reduction in 2009 that slashed salaries from $116,208 to $95,291 — by appealing to both Brown and the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.

Neither appeal was successful.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Treasurer John Chiang to Run for Governor in 2018

As reported by the Associated Press:

SACRAMENTO — California Treasurer John Chiang announced Tuesday that he will begin raising money to run for governor in 2018, marking an early start to his bid to become the state’s first Asian chief executive.

Chiang, a Democrat, emphasized his experience managing the state’s cash and pledged to “build the best California” that fulfills the aspirations of voters.

“I put greater accountability and transparency into the state’s finances. … Frankly that’s how you protect education, that’s how you protect health care, that’s how you protect other essential services,” Chiang told The Associated Press. “You can’t blindside people at the very end.”

Chiang’s announcement was not a surprise; he’s been saying for …

Click here to read the full story

 

More Consider the Gov. Race in 2018, but Not the Senate in 2016

The story last week that state Treasurer John Chiang is “contemplating” a run for governor in 2018 potentially expands the field in what could prove to be a very interesting and competitive race. Already announced for the seat is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Former state controller, Steve Westly is said to be considering another run for the corner office. Other well-known names have been floated as well, including both the current and former mayors of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti and Antonio Villaraigosa and environmentalist Tom Steyer.

Democrats all.

But don’t count out a credible Republican candidate. As noted here previously, one Republican consultant said he expects a strong contender backed by influential Republican donor Charles Munger. Who might that contender be? Already discussions have focused on San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer or Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin as possible candidates. Other possibilities include Assembly Minority leader Kristin Olsen or Pete Peterson who ran a credible race for Secretary of State. There is the perennial talk about a Condoleezza Rice candidacy.

With all this attention on a governor’s race years away, it makes you wonder why there are not more candidates with strong name identification willing to challenge for the United States Senate seat that is opening up next year.

Attorney General Kamala Harris seems to have the field nearly to herself with congresswoman Loretta Sanchez making an effort to challenge. There are some Republican challengers as well, but none that have the name ID or well-established positions from which to launch their campaigns.

Who knows — considering Harris’s official title and summary on the pension reform initiative released this week — once again blasted by the measure’s authors — maybe instead of taking the issue to court the proponents will seek some sort of retribution by taking on the AG herself. Chuck Reed or Carl DeMaio for Senate anyone?

CARTOON: Brown Tractor Pull

Brown tractor pull cartoon

Are Republicans on Right Path to Take Back Governor’s Office in 2018?

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

Republicans will have a serious, competitive candidate for governor in 2018, Republican consultant Kevin Spillane told a conference sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California last week. Spillane was a member of a panel that discussed California’s Changing Electorate.

Spillane’s certainty that Republicans will field a top candidate was summed up in one name – and that was not the name of any prospective candidate. The consultant said that wealthy Republican donor Charles Munger will make an effort to see that a strong Republican candidate is in the field.

Munger’s name has been floated in political circles from time to time as a possible candidate for high office but Munger has dismissed the notion.

When pressed which Republican might be that competitive candidate, Spillane mentioned first San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer. He also suggested that Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin and former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner could fit the role.

The distant gubernatorial race was also evident in CJAC’s choice of the luncheon keynote speaker. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced his intention to run for the office. Newsom agreed that the discussion about the 2018 governor’s race has already gone mainstream even before the 2016 presidential election has been contested.

Other notes from the panel discussion:

Democratic Assembly consultant and former labor staffer Charu Khopkar said that labor was concerned with the Top-Two primary proposal because organized labor would have to spend much more money engaging in the Top-Two contests picking favorites among same party candidates. He admitted that the prediction has come true.

While the Top-Two was designed to select more moderate candidates, Political Data’s numbers guru, Paul Mitchell, challenged the idea that the Top-Two has had great effect except in a couple of isolated instances. He also argued that because Californians seem to self-select where they live in communities with pockets of like-minded liberals or conservatives, that has blunted the effect of redistricting reforms to select more moderate candidates. However, he suggested that the extension of term limits would have a greater effect on changing the nature of the legislature.

Spillane said the Republican caucus has become more moderate because it “caught up with political reality.” He said Republicans are on the right path, choosing appropriate candidates for competitive districts.

CJAC’s mission is to confront the litigious atmosphere in California, which ranks near the bottom of states in lawsuit climate.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Gavin Newsom Starts Fundraising for 2018 Gubernatorial Bid

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he has opened a fundraising account to run for governor in 2018.

In an email to supporters, Newsom said “our state is defined by its independent, outspoken spirit.  When Californians see something we truly believe in, we say so and act accordingly – without evasiveness or equivocation.

“So today I’m announcing that I’m creating a committee to run for California governor in 2018.  Because I truly and passionately believe in the future of this great state.”

Newsom has long wanted to be governor …

Click here to read the full story

Kashkari draws a media crowd

Neel Kashkari, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Republican challenger, has been playing a long game.

That hasn’t been immediately evident from the frenetic activity surrounding his final month of campaigning. Using a string of concept-driven political stunts, ranging from free prizes to a masquerade as a homeless man, Kashkari has established a reputation for putting elbow grease into his run for governor.

Yet into the active effort and strident rhetoric Kashkari has added a relatively tongue-in-cheek approach to the uphill run before him. Unusual for a Republican trying to make a name in other states — but not so out of place in California — the combination of smarts, sarcasm and street hustle has inspired the media, if not Democrats, to take a closer look.

A new brand

Interest has swirled around whether Kashkari plausibly can portray a character that many have referenced but few have embodied — a “different kind of Republican,” as The Economist put it. Over the summer, some conservative stalwarts began to notice Kashkari’s recipe for change involved scrambling old battle lines, not simply moving to the progressive left or the pro-corporate center.

In a column hailing Kashkari, George Will depicted him as the heir to Barry Goldwater, who in 1964 famously lost in a landslide to President Lyndon Johnson — yet inspired a conservative movement that elected Ronald Reagan president in 1980. “If California becomes a purple state and Democrats can no longer assume its 20 percent of 270 electoral votes, Republicans nationwide will be indebted to the immigrants’ son who plucked up Goldwater’s banner of conservatism with a Western libertarian flavor.”

Goldwater turned his electoral blowout into an opportunity to shift the national Republican Party. Kashkari’s underdog status has afforded a similar opportunity — and the political press has picked up on the strategy. Rather than offering the media a retread of tales of California Republicans’ past, Kashkari has presented a surprising spectacle. Wealthy political novices from business backgrounds, such as Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, have tried to unseat top-tier Democrats before. They failed — leading national political journalists to question why the state GOP was willing to tolerate such a bad investment.Neel-Kashkari-Down-and-Out-300x165

Kashkari, who is not personally short on cash, has raised a far more modest campaign chest. But his small budget has become a buzz-building advantage. Not only has it fueled the kind of stunt-driven campaigning that grabs headlines, it has given state Republicans a feeling that neither donors nor the party have thrown good money after bad. And it has changed the media narrative, differentiating Kashkari from the political losers who have come before him.

The shift hasn’t necessarily played well with Kashkari’s natural allies across the country — Republicans close to Wall Street. After hitting the stump for him in early summer, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie couldn’t find time to share the state with Kashkari in the election season’s final weeks. Rather than a personal slight, however, the decision was strictly business: Christie was dispatched by the Republican Governors Association to help put well-positioned candidates over the top.

West coast credentials

The absence of monied East Coast support isn’t really a disadvantage for Kashkari. Earlier in his primary campaign, he had to shake his political association with the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP — the massive 2008 bailout program he was instrumental in designing and implementing under President George W. Bush. Kashkari seems to have determined that the West Coast — not Wall Street or his home state of Ohio — is the most hospitable territory for his brand of Republicanism.

Indeed, the swell of attention surrounding his approach has led some observers to suggest Kashkari could emerge from even a losing campaign as a powerful force in California Republican politics. Asked by the Santa Monica Mirror if he would consider a race for Senate in the years to come, Kashkari was blunt. “In all honesty, I’ve never ruled out any of those opportunities,” he said. Although, he added, he was “100 percent focused on November,” Mirror columnist Tom Elias placed his bet “on Kashkari starting right in on his next effort.”

And whereas he’s running against an incumbent this year, the next California U.S. Senate race is for the seat of Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2016. Last month the Chronicle reported:

“Sen. Barbara Boxer says she has yet to make up her mind about seeking a fifth term in 2016, but there’s no shortage of signs that the Democrat may be opting out.

“It’s not just that she has less than $200,000 in her campaign account, compared with $3.5 million at this stage before her last election fight. Some comments from those who know the 73-year-old senator are also telling.

“‘She is not running for re-election,’ said one longtime Democratic fundraiser with deep ties to Boxer, who spoke only on background.”

Of course, she still might run. But if she retires, the open field, combined with Kashkari’s experience with this year’s campaign, could give him a big leg up in 2016.

This piece was originally published on CalWatchdog.com

Neel Kashkari: Returning CA to Path of Prosperity

When I started thinking about running for governor more than a year ago, it was in large part because I was frustrated by the Democrats’ ascension to one-party rule in Sacramento. Their big-government policies have continually failed millions of middle-class families across the state; that was no surprise. Since then, we’ve also seen a culture of corruption revealed in Sacramento that underscores the urgency of electing new leaders to guide our state.

The truth is, California is in desperate need of fresh, bold leadership that is unafraid of taking our state in a new direction. California has the potential to be the best place to live, but the fact of the matter is that we have been in a downward spiral for years. If you were to listen to Governor Jerry Brown, however, you would think that things have never been better in the Golden State. But his claims of a “California comeback” ring hollow for families, businesses and communities up and down the state.

In fact, Governor Brown has completely lost sight of California’s priorities. At a time when the state ranks 47th in jobs, 46th in education and 1st in poverty, his focus continues to be on his legacy: A $68 billion high-speed rail project that Californians don’t want and can’t afford.

jerry brown tax increase

California is perennially listed as one of the worst places to do business – Chief Executive Magazine awarded us the dubious honor again just a few weeks ago – yet Sacramento politicians turn a blind eye to these troubling statistics and continue to pass laws and regulations that make it more and more difficult for small businesses to grow. It sometimes feels as though a California company talks about moving to, or expanding in, Texas every other day. Businesses should be flocking to the Golden State – not from it.

California has some of the highest taxes in the nation, yet the tax-and-spend culture in Sacramento continues to thrive. Politicians can’t wait to get their hands on taxpayer dollars to waste on frivolous government programs. I recently called on Governor Brown to repeal the sales tax increase portion of Proposition 30 in order to bring relief to middle-class Californians who are working tirelessly to make ends meet – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We know our state’s taxes are too high, they’re poorly designed and we’re not getting our money’s worth for the taxes we pay. And the ones who are struggling most as a result? Millions of middle-class families – and it’s time we held Governor Brown accountable.

The good news is that we know how to turn this around. We know how to unleash the private sector and to improve our schools. All across the nation, Republican leaders have implemented bold reforms that have produced remarkable results. We know that this can work – but it does require a willingness to challenge the status quo.

My first order of business as governor will be to cancel the high-speed rail project and instead invest it in water storage to help prepare for our state’s next, inevitable drought. I want to create incentives for companies that open manufacturing facilities and create jobs here. By safely tapping into our state’s natural resources, we can create thousands of jobs. Regulatory reform can make a huge difference in making our state friendlier to job creators.

Reforming our education system starts by giving control back to parents and teachers. Our kids aren’t all one size, so our policies shouldn’t be either. Giving schools and parents much more control over their budgets and how they educate their students provides them the opportunity to innovate in ways that can lift student achievement. Likewise, making higher education more accessible opens up doors to social mobility that can help close the inequality gap that’s grown ever larger in recent years.

As Election Day approaches, I am more convinced than ever that Republicans can take back Sacramento. Californians are fed up with the same tired rhetoric from career politicians who have run this state into the ground. The task won’t be easy, but I am up for the challenge. With voters’ support, we can win in November and return California to the path of prosperity.

Neel Kashkari, Republican candidate for governor, previously served in the U.S. Treasury Department during former President George W. Bush

Editor’s note: A column by state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, Republican candidate for governor, will be published Saturday on CAPoliticalReview.com

A New Chapter For California: Chapter 11

As a state, we take in about $70 billion a year. That looks like big number, except for one problem. We spend about $90 billion a year. You don’t have to star in Good Will Hunting to figure out that there’s a hole in that math and some blame to be placed.

Actually, there’s tons of blame to shovel around. You can go back to Gray Davis, who somehow thought that the rising tide of tax receipts from the Internet boom would last forever. Actually, he wasn’t alone–pretty much everybody felt that way, but pretty much everybody wasn’t Governor. With all that money flowing in, he was a laydown for the state unions that demanded and received all manner of salary increases, retirement goodies, and other means of reward not tied in any way to performance.

Once that particular beanstalk crashed to earth, California was stuck with enormous transfers to its unionized workers that it could no longer afford. But it had to pay them anyway.

Schwarzenegger followed, and we as a state are waking up from that political equivalent of a one-night stand with the same question on Schwarzenegger’s housekeeper’s mind–What were we thinking? Or were we just blinded by his muscular good looks?  He’s free, and we’re stuck with his love child, a $20 billion deficit.

Schwarzenegger’s next movie shouldn’t be a Terminator film. It ought to be a remake of Gulliver’s Travels, re-christened Governor’s Travels, or Governor’s Travails.  Here’s the plot:  Ahh-nold is tied down to a bed of concrete cigar boxes by a bunch of girly men playing the part of Lilliputians playing the part of members of the State Assembly and Senate. The only person who got more money out of Schwarzenegger than the unions will be Maria.

Then you’ve got the left, which has somehow made a moral issue out of violating borders and demanding handouts. Frankly, as a businessman, I’m astonished I have time to write this column. I’m so busy supporting not just my family but sixteen union workers and approximately forty-three undocumented individuals who are attending California schools and universities, benefiting from California hospitals, and otherwise enjoying the crumbling infrastructure of California, all on my dime.

I actually agree with one liberal shibboleth–people aren’t illegal. Illegal acts, however, are illegal. Breaking the law is illegal. If the numbers were reversed–if California took in $90 billion in taxes and only spent $70 billion–I might feel a little more charitable. As it is, I’m feeling a little pinched.

That’s why I say it’s time for California to declare bankruptcy. A clean slate. A fresh start. Just like you see on those late night infomercials. California ought to go to one of those bankruptcy guys you see advertised on the backs of buses and declare itself bankrupt, for the low, low fee of $249.00, plus filing fees. If we did that, what would we get?

We’d get a chance to start over. We’d get a chance to rewrite all the agreements with the unions, and maybe we’d have enough money left over to buy back some of the legislators whom the unions currently own.

We’d be able to reallocate spending in this state, so that there’s more of a connection between who earns money and whose kids get educated.

We would no longer be tied to the craven, secret giveaways that governor after governor has offered to special interests in exchange for campaign contributions, cigars, hookers, junkets, or whatever the currency of Sacramento really is.

With that kind of clean slate, we’d be able to pay people what they are worth, instead of what their union leaders have been able to carve out for them over decades of wheeling and dealing.

We’d be able to pay our prison guards what they would make in other states, which would allow us to build more prisons and arrest more bad guys to fill those prisons.  We might even have enough left over to hire some more prison guards.

As a result, the state and municipalities might not be so broke that they have to spend all their time nickel and diming businesses to wring out every ounce of tax revenue to pay for the bloated expenditures that are destroying our state.

There might even be enough money left over to re-open the courtrooms, libraries, and emergency rooms that have been shuttered by our endless financial emergency.

Would it be a black eye for California if we went bankrupt? Yes, but compared to what? The knuckleheads in Washington, who nearly took down the world economy and may have torched America’s fragile economic recovery in the name of scoring a few points during the debt ceiling fiasco? Compared to Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain–five European nations who make Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown look like Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton?

Although, come to think of it, Thomas Jefferson died broke, so maybe that’s not the best analogy.

You get what I’m saying. As one economist put it, “Things that can’t go on, stop.” It’s time we put a stop to the idiotic, seemingly unstoppable spending that is bankrupting the state, driving businesses to Texas or other healthier, more business-friendly locales, and get things headed in the right direction.

Going bankrupt, for California, would hardly be a badge of shame compared to what’s been going on in Sacramento for decades. It would be a situation where the state finally told the truth.

 

Michael Levin is a New York Times bestselling author and runs BusinessGhost.com, America’s leading provider of ghostwritten business books.