These are my links for February 25th from 19:14 to 19:44:
- Cato Institute Praises Pawlenty, Disses Daniels – Pawlenty's grades from Cato were slightly better than Daniels's during the years that both were in office. Here are the reports for 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004 in that order (click on any year to read the full report):
Pawlenty: A, B, C, B
Daniels: B, B, D, na
The two earned their low marks during the years when they agreed to tax hikes. But the fiscal records of both Daniels and Pawlenty compare favorably to other potential 2012 candidates who were governors during that same period:
Mike Huckabee (Ark.): na, na, F, D
Mitt Romney (Mass.): na, na, C, C
Haley Barbour (Miss.): C, D, C, na
Rick Perry (Tex.): B, B, B, D
Huckabee, the only aforementioned governor who was graded by Cato in previous years, got a "B" in 1998, a "C" in 2000, and a "C" in 2002. Cato doesn't score the governor of Alaska because of peculiarities of the state budget.
Read it all
- Report: California Pension benefits “unsustainable” – A respected California government watchdog commission issued a scathing report today on the state’s pension system, calling for cuts in benefits for current and future employees, caps on pensions, an end to “pension spiking” and other reforms.
The Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy, known as the Little Hoover Commission, calls the current system “unsustainable” and says it has morphed from a program that provided retirement security into one that seeks “wealth accumulation” for public employees.
The commission traces the growth in pension obligations to 1999, during the stock market’s dot-com boom, when lawmakers approved pension increases that included retroactive bumps for employees who were about to retire. About a quarter of the growth in pension costs can be traced to that legislation, the report says. About half of the growth is tied to an increase in the number of employees and their average salaries, and the rest is attributable to demographics and investment losses.
The most controversial proposal in the report is the idea of reducing benefits for current employees. Most pension experts have said that doing this would be legally questionable because the benefits are considered a “property right” that cannot be taken away. But the commission urges lawmakers to try this anyway, and test the legal theory in court.
Download the full report here.
A long legal battle if they change retirement benefits for existing employees.
- Internet sales tax: California legislation would tighten rules on Internet sales tax – latimes.com – For the third time in three years, California lawmakers are pushing for legislation to make it harder for Internet sellers to avoid collecting sales taxes, and prospects for getting it passed are stronger than ever.
Passing the bill is a question of "e-fairness," said Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who is sponsoring one of several Internet sales tax bills.
It also would put an extra $300 million into the state's depleted coffers in its first year as a law, she said, and would add California to the growing group of states creating their own Internet sales tax rules.
A big mistake for a little money and Californians who are affiliates will lose their business/jobs.
I suspect there will be a federal court challenge as well.
- Ex-congressman tapped for Chapman law school dean | campbell, law, school – News – The Orange County Register – Chapman School of Law has selected former Congressman Tom Campbell as its new dean, betting on the prominent academic and veteran politician to continue the 15-year-old school's ascent among the nation's law colleges.
Campbell, 58, served as dean for the premier Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and prior to that was a tenured law professor at Stanford University. Campbell accepted a visiting professorship at Chapman School of Law and moved to Irvine from the Bay Area in 2009, part of a strategy of to broaden his geographic base for a statewide political campaign.
The Republican then launched a campaign for governor before switching to the U.S. Senate race, in which he lost the primary to former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. But Chapman is keeping him in town.
"I fell in love with Chapman," said Campbell, who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. "This opportunity is great and might not come again. This is huge."
Chapman School of Law has climbed steadily up the rankings since opening its doors in 1995, and cracked the top 100 in U.S. News and World Report's most recent ranking, landing at 93. It's 8.9 student-to-faculty ratio is seventh best on the list.
Chapman University President James Doti said that despite its rapid ascent, the law school is remains relatively unknown – and is turning to Campbell after a national search to help change that.
"One thing Tom Campbell will bring is recognition," he said, noting that Haas under Campbell's deanship went from 15th to second in the Wall Street Journal's ranking of business schools. "I'm quite confident in Tom recruiting the best and the brightest faculty, and the best and the brightest students."
Doti is scheduled to formally announce the selection of Campbell today.
I frankly don't care who Chapman Law School chooses as its Dean. But,
I do care if Tom Campbell a RINO extraordinnaire ever runs for public office again.
Campbell is a disaster and has moved from one political/government job after another.
These are my links for February 23rd from 14:35 to 14:41:
- How California cities invited the death of redevelopment – Last fall, the League of California Cities, which spent $2.5 million to promote a ballot initiative, argued forcefully that property taxes should be used only to pay for essential public services.
In their official ballot argument for Proposition 22, the head of the association's Fire Chiefs Department and the president of the California Police Chiefs Association wrote that property taxes should be used "to fund vital local services like 911 response, police and fire protection."
It's the same argument that Gov. Jerry Brown is using these days as he makes his case to disband the state's 400-plus local redevelopment agencies and to instead spend the property tax revenues they now receive on bread-and-butter services for California taxpayers.
"Redevelopment funds come directly from local property taxes that would otherwise pay for schools and core city and county services such as police and fire protection and care for the most vulnerable people in our society," Brown said in his State of the State address. "I come down on the side of those who believe that core functions of government must be funded first."
Read it all
California Redevelopment Agencies have been an abuse that has gone on for decades.
They are really an attempt to recapture local property tax revenues before they go to the state and are wasted on state spending priorities.
The State of California turned a blind eye to this money grab by local communities while taxes and spending increased.
Now, the state is broke and wants its money back.
The state is right but the repercussions to local cities and counties will be widespread but what does Jerry Brown care – that is their problem.
- Indiana lawmakers pass immigration curbs like Arizona – The Indiana senate passed a sweeping immigration bill that echoes Arizona's tougher measures on illegal immigrants and despite opposition from some of the largest employers and business groups in the state.
The measure, passed on Tuesday night by a vote of 31-18, would allow state and local police to ask a person stopped for infractions like traffic violations for proof of legal residency if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" they may be in the country illegally.
Another provision would call for, with some exceptions, the use of English only in public meetings, on Web sites and in documents.
The bill still needs to be adopted by state's House of Representatives, where opponents say they will now turn.
Likely in more states as well.
These are my links for February 22nd from 14:50 to 18:56:
- California fees boost traffic fines to aid budget – Justin Jachens learned of California's soaring traffic penalties when he got slapped for a red-light violation.
Ticketed drivers have been squeezed hard during the budget crisis, perhaps because few complain until they get fined – then it's too late.
"We're the ones taking the brunt for everything," said Jachens, 21, a student at California State University, Sacramento. "It's outrageous."
Jachens was nabbed by a red-light camera for not making a complete stop at the intersection of Watt Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard. Three years ago, the offense would have cost Jachens $371.
Now it's $470.
With unemployment soaring and median income foundering, California's rising traffic fines stand out. Lawmakers generally have not increased base fines, but they have raised total penalties for each ticket the past three years by expanding or tacking on assessments:
• $20 for court security.
• $35 for court construction or renovation, plus an "immediate and critical needs" fee of $2 for every $10 of base fine.
• $4 to bolster emergency medical air transport services.
• $2 for every $10 of base fine to assist crime labs in processing DNA samples.
Jachens plans to attend traffic school, for which state-approved fees have doubled to $49 over the past three years. He also must pay a $7 county charge and tuition for the course itself, perhaps $25, lifting the total tab for attendance above $80.
Jachens' bottom line to clear his red-light camera ticket? More than $550.
"It's an entire paycheck for someone like me," Jachens said.
California is nickel and diming its citizens to pay for public employee pensions and benefits for illegal alien's children,etc.,etc.
- California teachers’ pension system headed toward insolvency – As California school districts anticipate possibly the worst budget crisis in a generation, many will try to lighten their burden by enticing older teachers into retirement. But as more and more teachers retire — with a pension averaging 55 percent to 60 percent of salary — they will be straining a system that already can't meet its obligations.
The California State Teachers' Retirement System is sliding down a steep slope toward insolvency. The threat isn't to teachers who have retired or plan to, but to the people of California. Taxpayers, who already pick up 23 percent of CalSTRS expenses, will be increasingly burdened as the giant pension system fails to meet its obligations.
"We're on a path of destruction," said Marcia Fritz, president of pension-reform group California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.
And merely rejiggering formulas for new employees won't rescue the system, she said. Simply put: "We overpromised."
Among those promises, "Californians have typically given their public employees richer retirement benefits" than have other states, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.
Read it all
Another example of Big Government and Big Labor promising too much to a constituent group.
- Flap’s Links for February 21st through February 22nd | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Flap’s Links for February 21st through February 22nd #tcot #catcot
– Koch Membrane Systems and Santa Paula Water Recycling Facility – I uploaded a YouTube video — Koch Membrane Systems and Santa Paula Water Recycling Fac…
California is always having a fiscal emergency because the Democrats who have controlled the California Legislature for decades spend and spend and spend. Bankruptcy for California is not the answer and I am amazed that it is being considered.
Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers
Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.
But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.
Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides.
You know, I believe in political accountability and the states are soveriegn entities as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. If California or Illinois have a massive insolvency problem, then the states MUST solve them.
I mean, didn’t they cause their own problems in the first place?
A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times posted an online state budget balance calculator for readers to attempt to balance the California budget. It took me about 3 minutes. In California, Jerry Brown, the new and former California Governor and the Democrat dominated legislature can do likewise – if they have the political will.
A California state bankruptcy would stiff retired older workers and state/city/county bond holders immediately and have other long term effects without delivering the needed political will or reforms – to say NO to excessive government spending. Bankruptcy would simply delay the enactment of appropriate budgetary solutions – like cutting spending and prioritizing government spending.
BK would simply reset the clock for the POLS.
Bankruptcy could permit a state to alter its contractual promises to retirees, which are often protected by state constitutions, and it could provide an alternative to a no-strings bailout. Along with retirees, however, investors in a state’s bonds could suffer, possibly ending up at the back of the line as unsecured creditors.
“All of a sudden, there’s a whole new risk factor,” said Paul S. Maco, a partner at the firm Vinson & Elkins who was head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Municipal Securities during the Clinton administration.
For now, the fear of destabilizing the municipal bond market with the words “state bankruptcy” has proponents in Congress going about their work on tiptoe. No draft bill is in circulation yet, and no member of Congress has come forward as a sponsor, although Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, asked the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, about the possiblity in a hearing this month.
State bankruptcy is a bad idea.
If Jerry Brown cannot balance the state budget, have him call me – I’ll do it for him in about 3 minutes.
As far as an oversight panel for California, as a California voter I reject that idea. If voters don’t like what their POLS are doing, then WE THE PEOPLE will take care of the problem. If insolvency occurs, then the POLS have to go and we will elect others.
No federal bureaucrat or federal judge should be disenfranchising me or other California voters.
Just say NO to State Bankruptcy
Jennifer Rubin asks the question.
A reader calls my attention to an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Bill Lockyer, the state’s Democratic treasurer, and Stephen Levy, the director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. The two argue that California’s not all that bad.
Read all of her piece.
I am a native Californian and have lived here for over fifty years and have never seen economic conditions so grim.
The California Democratic Party has had control of the Legislature (except for some brief periods) for most of my life (6 decades). They have simply spent the state into insolvency.
Not so bad?
Ridiculous – it is worse.