Election Day: Questions, What to Look For and a Few Predictions

Voting boothElection primary day is finally here in California. Watching much of the rest of the country’s voters engage in the process of choosing presidential nominees is little more than a spectator sport for Californians. While the choices of whom to vote for have been limited by those other states’ voters, Californians now will get a chance to speak through the ballot. Other important races will be decided, as well, and analysts will be looking for trends that could indicate how November campaigns turn out.

A few items to think about and a look into a cloudy and cracked crystal ball:

The Presidential Campaigns

Questions/What to Look For: Is the reported surge in Democratic registration a sign that the Bernie Sanders campaign is bringing in new voters? Will they show up on Election Day? On the Republican side, does Trump’s presumptive nominee status keep some Republicans away from the polls affecting down ticket races? Is there a protest vote against Trump by some GOP voters who either skip the presidential ballot or vote for another name in the Republican column?

Prediction: Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic primary by a larger margin than the 2-percent edge most polls have been predicting. A protest vote against Trump will be measured by his securing about 75% of the Republicans who vote, meaning one-quarter of the Republicans are not satisfied with the GOP presumptive nominee.

U.S. Senate

Questions/What to Look for: Will Attorney General Kamala Harris have a large commanding lead over the second place finisher or will the race be within 10-15%. If the latter, and that second place finisher is Congress member Loretta Sanchez, that will set up an interesting fall campaign for the first major seat affected by the top two primary. Will Latino voters rally to Sanchez in big numbers? (And how will that affect the thinking of those considering statewide races in 2018? I’m thinking of you, Antonio.)

Prediction: Harris has a comfortable win. If Sanchez qualifies for the finals, her fall campaign will turn on how Sanchez manages to find the sweet spot of corralling enough Democrats while attracting a strong Republican vote.

Shaping the Legislature

Questions/What to Look for: Outside competing interests are pouring in big money to help shape a legislature supportive of their issues. Will a trend of more business friendly Democrats continue to blossom or will labor and progressive candidates score big? Much of the independent expenditures come from advocates on both sides of education and environmental issues and success could lead to dramatic changes on how those issues are addressed by the next legislature. If the environmental candidates do well, will that increase the interest of environmentalist/financial player Tom Steyer to consider a gubernatorial run? Will a dominant Democratic showing increase the chances of the Democrats securing supermajorities in both houses in November? Or will supermajority even matter if a large number of Democratic victors are considered pro-business Democrats?

Prediction: Californians deep-blue hue will only become deeper—at least on the surface. However, business will do well enough to make for some interesting top two runoffs in November and keep the intramural conflicts within the Democratic Party active.

Local Measures

Questions/What to Look for: Many tax and bond measures appear on local ballots. Will success or failure of these measures be a harbinger for how voters will respond to statewide tax and bond measures in the fall? Will success of a nine-county parcel tax to protect the San Francisco Bay mean more regional ventures around the state in the future?

Predictions: According to the historical record, a large number of the tax and bond measures pass at the local level. That record remains intact. However, this may not be an indication of how voters will respond to statewide measures in November. The statewide measures often have more sophisticated opposition campaigns than local measures face. If the San Francisco Bay parcel taxes pass–close, but I think the measure will pass–it will encourage those who believe dealing with some of California’s problems over a sprawling area calls for regional solutions and we will see more efforts in that direction.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Steyer says state oil tax ‘looking less likely’ for 2016

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer said it’s increasingly unlikely he will follow through with threats to put an oil-extraction tax on next year’s ballot, but he still expects to help bankroll other measures.

While he hasn’t formally closed the book on the oil tax or related transparency measure aimed at oil companies, Steyer said his team has yet to accomplish everything he said needs to happen to qualify and ultimately pass a statewide initiative next year. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down for prospective proponents.

“It’s looking less likely, I would say,” he said after an event Thursday in Sacramento.

Steyer, an early supporter and co-chairman of a campaign to raise the cigarette tax by $2 a pack, said he plans to get behind a couple of other efforts once the election picture is clear.

New eClaim System Makes It Easier to Reclaim Your Property From CA Government

California’s chief fiscal officer is making it easier to reclaim private property held by the state.

State Controller Betty T. Yee announced earlier this month an expansion of the eClaim feature for the state’s unclaimed property program. Property owners will now be eligible to submit their claims for property valued up to $5,000 using the controller’s streamlined paperless electronic claim process.

“The eClaim process is simple, efficient, and can be completed in a couple of minutes,” Yee said in a press release. “An increased threshold of $5,000 will allow many more Californians to claim lost or forgotten property online and quickly receive a check in the mail.”

Unclaimed Property: Your Money Held by the State

Under state law, when there’s been no activity on an account for three years, financial institutions are obliged to report this unclaimed property to the California Controller’s Office. In turn, the controller holds the funds until it is claimed by the owner. The most common types of unclaimed properties are bank accounts, stocks, bonds, uncashed checks, wages, life insurance benefits and safe deposit box contents.

Among the biggest problems facing the state’s unclaimed property program: a lack of public awareness about where people can find their old property. Most people don’t realize they’re owed money from a forgotten insurance settlement or an abandoned stock dividend.

However, for those owners aware of the program, obtaining the necessary paperwork to prove ownership can be costly and time-consuming. Many find the hassle of paperwork not worth a small dollar amount.

Unclaimed Property: eClaim created by Chiang

To address the paperwork hassle problem, in January 2014, then-Controller John Chiang created the eClaim feature to expedite the return process for properties valued at less than $500. Later that year, Chaing increased the value to $1,000. In total, more than 315,000 properties have been returned through the Controller’s eClaim feature.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 10.35.42 AMThe state currently holds more than $8 billion in unclaimed property that rightfully belongs to more than 32 million people and businesses. More than three-quarters of unclaimed properties are estimated to be eligible for the new expanded eClaim feature. Yee says that by increasing the threshold to $5,000, she’ll be able to return another $9.4 million per year.

Among those who could benefit from the eClaim feature is billionaire hedge fund manager turned environmental activist Tom Steyer. The former hedge fund manager has three unclaimed properties, each valued at less than $50, dating back to his time as founder of the San Francisco-basedFarallon Capital Management.

LAO Report: State Can Do More

For decades, the state has made it difficult for owners to obtain their property. From 1990-2007, state law prohibited the Controller’s office from contacting approximately 80 percent of owners.

Earlier this year, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report critical of the state’s unclaimed property system. The state could do a better job of finding owners, the report concluded, instead of passively waiting for the cash to be claimed.

It also argued that the state has a conflict of interest in managing the program.

“In particular, because property not reunited with owners becomes state General Fund revenue, the unclaimed property law creates an incentive for the state to reunite less property with owners,” the report found. “Now generating over $400 million in annual revenue, unclaimed property is the state General Fund’s fifth-largest revenue source. This has created tension between two opposing program identities — unclaimed property as a consumer protection program and as a source of General Fund revenue.”

Unclaimed Property: How to Search for Unclaimed Property

To find out if you have unclaimed property held by the state, go to www.claimit.ca.gov.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Billionaire Tom Steyer Donates $1 Million To Hike Taxes On Smokers And Vapers

cigarette smoking ashesBillionaire liberal activist and environmentalist Tom Steyer has donated a cool $1 million to a campaign to raise California’s tobacco tax by $2.

A long-time fundraiser for prominent Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, Steyer has turned his attention to making smokers cough up more money for their cigarettes.

“We have a moral responsibility to stand up to tobacco companies and keep kids from becoming lifetime smokers, and we can do that by raising the tobacco tax,” Steyer said in a statement.

But its not only smokers who would be hit if Steyer’s health crusade proves successful. The tax would also cover e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and are 95 percent safer than regular smokes.

The campaign to raise the tobacco tax is supported by a number of public health lobby groups like the California Medical Association as well as the California State Council of Service Employees, who have donated $2 million to the effort so far this year.

Supporters of the tax say it will raise $1.5 billion that will be spent on increasing the number of physicians in California. All previous efforts to introduce a tobacco tax in California via ballot initiative have failed. Californians currently pay 87 cents per pack in state taxes.

“Big Tobacco profits from a product that kills millions of people around the world every year and is the leading cause of preventable death in California,” Steyer said. “The best way to prevent these smoking deaths is by protecting children from ever becoming addicted to this deadly product in the first place.”

The polls appear to be in Steyer’s favor with a survey funded by California Wellness Foundation showing 67 percent of voters favored a $2 rise in the state tobacco tax, with only 30 percent opposing the move.

Steyer is the founder and former Co-Senior Managing Partner of Farallon Capital Management, LLC and the co-founder of Beneficial State Bank, an Oakland-based community development bank. Funded by California Wellness Foundation, the survey showed 67 percent of voters favored a $2 rise in the state tobacco tax, with only 30 percent opposing the move.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Tax Increases Die, Assisted Suicide Lives

CA-legislatureDuring California’s 2015 legislative session, which recently ended, a small cadre of Republicans demonstrated once again the value of preventing Democrats from holding two-thirds of the seats in each house. GOP lawmakers held the line against tax hikes pushed by the majority Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown. The call for tax increases, which require two-thirds of the legislature to pass, came despite a $10 billion windfall in unexpected tax revenues.

In the session’s manic final days, Republicans also joined with moderate Democrats to cut out the worst part of Senate Bill 350, which would have mandated a 50 percent cut in gasoline consumption in the state by 2030. The bill was the work of senate president pro tem Kevin de León, the Los Angeles Democrat who spent $50,000 last year on an inauguration partyfor himself. If it had passed, SB 350 would have guaranteed sharply higher gas prices, with many of de León’s low-income constituents hardest hit.

Naturally, the governor blamed impersonal corporate forces for the defeat. “Oil has won a skirmish,” Brown said. “But they lost a bigger battle, because I am more determined than ever to make our regulatory regime work for the people of California.” Yet it’s unlikely moderate legislators will change their positions during an election year. By 2017, Brown will be a lame duck with two years left in his final term.

On September 14, Brown also warned that failure to take drastic measures against fossil-fuel consumption would have geopolitical consequences. “What we’ve [seen] in Europe now with mass migrations, that will happen in California, as … Central America and Mexico, as they warm, people are going to get on the move.” Considering that California makes up just 2 percent of the world’s economy, cutting gasoline use in half — if such a thing were even possible — wouldn’t produce so much as a ripple in the global climate. And that’s assuming Brown is correct about the climate’s imminent apocalypse.

Unfortunately, other elements of SB 350 remain mostly intact. It mandates that 50 percent of electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030, up from the current 33 percent standard by 2020 that Brown signed into law four years ago. The bill also requires “a cumulative doubling of statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas final end uses of retail customers” by 2030, as determined by the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission.

Another de León bill, SB 185, is a sop to anti-carbon-energy fanatics like hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer, who is heavily invested in the renewable-energy sector. The bill would prohibit the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the nation’s two largest public-employee pension funds, “from making new or additional investments of public employee retirement funds in thermal coal companies.” Fifteen years ago, state treasurer Phil Angelides, a Democrat and failed gubernatorial candidate, pushed the pension funds to divest their holdings in tobacco companies. As Steven Malanga noted, “Depressed at the time, those shares soon began to rise; a 2008 CalSTRS report estimated that the funds missed $1 billion in profits because of the divestiture.” Whatever may happen with coal stocks isn’t as important as the additional restrictions SB 185 would place on state pension-fund managers’ freedom to judge which investment strategies are best for maximizing equity. Ultimately, any losses that CalPERS and CalSTRS sustain must be borne by the taxpayers.

California legislators’ penchant for “boutique legislation” was on display with Santa Monica Democrat Richard Bloom’s Assembly Bill 888. The bill would ban “the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads” in 2020 because the beads can be swallowed by fish and fauna. Bloom’s legislation is part of a global “Beat the Microbead” movement. Microbeads largely are used in cosmetics. If Brown signs the bill into law, don’t be surprised if a grey market in contraband cosmetics springs up in Hollywood.

One of the last bills that the legislature considered was among the worst. ABX2-15, sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, would allow physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. A nearly identical bill was withdrawn over the summer when its sponsors couldn’t persuade enough Democrats to vote for it, despite crucial support from some powerful members of the state’s medical industry. Eggman, a Stockton Democrat, revived the bill during a special session devoted to Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, and Brown signed it Monday. Whatever one thinks of legalizing physician-assisted suicide—and critics insist it is likely to be widely abused—it’s no small irony that lawmakers would pass such a bill as part of their effort to shore up a bloated entitlement.

Originally published by City Journal Online

50% Petroleum Cut Dropped From SB350

Gas-Pump-blue-generic+flippedAfter the governor and legislative leaders announced pulling the 50-percent petroleum cut mandate from Senate Bill 350, the controversial climate change bill, fallout whirled about the capitol from finger pointing to relative silence from a main supporter to a defiant stand from the state’s chief executive.

As argued here previously, the economic consequences of passing the measure in tact would certainly affect lower income and middle class Californians. It was an argument that moved some Democrats who stood up for their constituents against pressure brought by legislative leaders and even movie stars.

Still, Senator Kevin de León yesterday was dismissing the argument that electric costs would increase when a Univision reporter asked him on camera about costs. De León’s answer was to suggest the information was a mistake put out by oil companies. However, a study issued by the Manhattan Institute reports that California’s green energy policies have driven up energy costs.

Meanwhile, one of the most noticeable proponents of SB350, billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, was mostly invisible after the measure was amended. Steyer, who stood with Sen. de Leon when the bill was introduced seven months ago, simply put out a short release praising the pieces of the measure that remained in SB 350 and said more work must be done.

On this site yesterday, Loren Kaye, president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education associated with the state Chamber of Commerce urged legislators to wait and see if what has already been passed to confront climate change works before rushing ahead with new plans that could put the economy at risk.

But perhaps the most significant message delivered in the aftermath of the intense battle over this one bill came from a frustrated Governor Jerry Brown. He told a press conference that; “I am more determined than ever to make our regulatory regime work for the people of California.” He added, “We don’t have a declaration in statue but we have absolutely the same authority. We’re going forward.”

This Admiral Farragut declaration (“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”) hints at bypassing the people’s representatives and making changes through executive regulatory action, this time through the authority of the California Air Resources Board.

CARB’s authority to implement the provisions of SB 350 with no legislative oversight was a major sticking point in discussions about the legislation. The governor declared he would not diminish CARB’s power. From his statement, it appears he intends to use it.

Yet, a full-blown public debate over an important issue affecting all Californians should not be disregarded because it did not come out the way proponents wished. Any major change on climate legislation should be accomplished only after the people’s representatives or the people themselves vote.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Tom Steyer’s $1 Billion “Green-Jobs” Initiative is a Bust

prop. 39California’s initiative process has sometimes been a boon to taxpayers — think Proposition 13, which checked the uncontrolled growth of property taxes. On other occasions, however, it has yielded some mighty boondoggles. Chief among these are the “boutique initiatives” advanced by celebrities and Silicon Valley billionaires to make themselves feel good or to advance pet political causes — think Proposition 10, Hollywood director Rob Reiner’s early-childhood-development measure that created a host of busybody commissions funded by cigarette taxes.

Boutique initiatives usually come with boutique prices. Among the costliest is Proposition 39, a 2012 measure that hiked corporate taxes on out-of-state businesses to “create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs” and fund “green energy” projects. Prop. 39 was the brainchild of hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who happened to make a substantial chunk of his fortune from coal and other “dirty energy” investments. Steyer poured $29.6 million of his own money into the campaign. Opposition was negligible; even several large corporations that would face hefty tax increases, such as General Motors, backpedaled from their initial opposition. Sixty-one percent of California voters approved the measure.

Three years on, the results are in: Proposition 39 is a massive waste. An Associated Press investigation found that the state legislature spent half of Proposition 39’s tax revenues “to fund clean energy projects in schools, promising to generate more than 11,000 jobs each year. Instead, only 1,700 jobs have been created in three years.” Moreover, the initiative has fallen well short of the revenue the state Legislative Analyst’s Office projected it would generate. According to the AP, “Proponents told voters in 2012 that it would send up to $550 million annually to the Clean Jobs Energy Fund. But it brought in just $381 million in 2013, $279 million in 2014 and $313 million in 2015.”

Naturally, Steyer and his allies didn’t respond well to the AP’s revelations. State senate president pro tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, defended Proposition 39’s record in a joint statement with Steyer published Monday: “It’s irresponsible and more than a little misleading to prejudge a long-term, multi-year program this early in the process. We are disappointed that the Associated Press did not take time to present an objective or comprehensive analysis of what is still a developing program.” Would Steyer say the same about a three-year, private-sector investment that turned sour?

De Leon and Steyer have been super-glued together of late. As the Bakersfield Californian reported, “Steyer, a major donor to Democrats nationwide, is pouring money into the California Capitol, and de Leon is introducing bills that echo Steyer’s environmental agenda.” Steyer has appeared at hearings for de Leon’s Senate Bill 350, which would mandate a 50 percent cut in gasoline consumption in the Golden State by 2030. The only way to achieve that goal would be to increase prices substantially. Hardest hit by Proposition 39 and the scorched-earth environmentalism of SB 350 would be de Leon’s own constituents in East Los Angeles, one of the poorest areas in a state with the highest poverty rate in the nation. Working- and middle-class Californians with long commutes or who drive trucks for a living would suffer the consequences.

De Leon and Steyer’s protests notwithstanding, the AP investigation might spur some corrective action in Sacramento. “It’s clear to me that the legislature should immediately hold oversight hearings to get to the bottom of why yet another promise to the voters has been broken,” insisted Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of San Dimas. “We should hold some oversight hearings to see how the money is being spent,” said Fresno Democratic assemblyman Henry Perea, “where it is being spent and seeing if Prop. 39 is fulfilling the promise that it said it would.”

At least somebody is getting a nice piece of the action: of the $297 million already doled out to public schools, half went to consultants and auditors. Turns out that “green jobs” means more green for government contractors. Maybe voters will respond more wisely the next time Steyer tugs at their environmental heartstrings.

Steyer’s Prop. 39 Promises Fall Flat

Tom SteyerA decade ago, former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg authored a book titled “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.” If Goldberg were writing today about Californians, he would no doubt include billionaire Tom Steyer near the top of the list.

Steyer achieved his extreme wealth as a hedge fund manager, an uber capitalist whose profitable investments have included oil, gas and coal.

In 2012, he separated from the management of  his company – he still owns shares – and committed to a “green” agenda. He became the leading sponsor and financial backer of Proposition 39 on the 2012 ballot, which was sold as pro-environmental reform measure virtually guaranteeing its passage by Californians understandably concerned about the environment. Proposition 39 increased taxes on businesses — those evil companies that provide so many Americans their jobs — and directed the money be put into something called The Clean Jobs Energy Fund. Steyer promised it would bring in $550 million and create 11,000 jobs per year. But a recent investigation by the Associated Press reveals that it has raised less than 60 percent of that amount over three years, and has created only 1,700 jobs mostly for consultants and auditors.

Steyer has shied away from taking responsibility for, or being critical of, these dismal results, even though one of his top advisors serves on the Proposition 39 oversight committee that, ironically, has yet to meet.

However, Steyer continues to insert himself and his views into the political arena. In 2014, he spent $57 million of his personal fortune in support of out-of-state candidates for the Senate and governor, most of whom lost. And there is talk of his being a candidate for governor in 2018.

When it comes to Steyer, voters may continue to have a bad taste in their mouths if the promises of Proposition 39 are not kept. He may come to be regarded as a guy with a huge ego who uses his money as a megaphone to promote ill-conceived plans on which he stamps a green label to gain public acceptance.

With the Sacramento politicians, led by the current governor, continuing to dedicate themselves to spending nearly 100 billion taxpayer dollars on a “green” bullet train that will be neither fast nor cheap, as promised, will they be ready to accept another politician with a pie-in-the-sky agenda, one who seems to have more money than sense?

Average Californians are tired of paying high taxes for little or no return. They are rapidly getting fed up with having to carry the burden for the dreams of limousine liberals who are concentrated in idyllic coastal enclaves where only the wealthy can buy homes. Those who can afford to insulate themselves from life’s rough edges should not ignore those who struggle to get to work, feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. If they do, they do so at their own peril.

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.

Originally published by HJTA.org

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?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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