The Golden State is Not So Golden
It is always disheartening to read an article that states that most people in California are happy with the legislature. It makes a person wonder what planet these folks are living on.
California is in trouble. More people are leaving the state and more companies are also leaving. Are most low information voters unaware of what is going on? They must be, otherwise they would vote differently and send different Representatives to the legislature. We will list a number of the hot button issues in the state that seem to be flying under the radar.
In 2012 Jerry Brown pushed a $6 billion tax increase by promising that almost half of the money would go to public schools. In fact, Proposition 55 on the November ballot is a continuation of this “temporary” tax. It appears that the critics of this increase were right. Much of the new revenue has landed up in California’s severely under funded pension system. It would appear that the many groups that are supporting this proposition don’t understand where the money will go.
In June, Governor Brown signed legislation requiring school districts to increase funding for teachers’ pensions from less than $1 billion in school year 2014-15 to $3.7 billion by 2021.
School pension costs will keep increasing through 2021 and will remain elevated for another 25 years to pay off $74 billion in unfunded teacher liabilities.
California taxpayer advocate Joel Fox has stated that no matter what local politicians tell voters, when you see tax increases, “think pensions.”
Calpers has also demanded more money for the state’s general government pension fund.
In a typical manner, many politicians throughout the country awarded increasing retirement benefits for workers without setting aside adequate funding. The 2008 financial crisis has left American cities and states with somewhere between $1.5 trillion and $4 trillion in retirement debt.
Now we have Dave Jones, the California Insurance Commissioner pushing for more power under the guise of “routine administrative act.”
Mr. Jones, who is now the guru of climate change, has issued a list of demands to insurance companies that do business in California. He wants an annual accounting of their investment holdings in companies that derive 30% or more of revenue from fossil fuels. He also wants them to dump their coal holdings or explain why they won’t.
Mr. Jones statement says: “Divestiture is voluntary but companies that decline to divest will be publicly identified” and subjected to “examinations” due to the “risk that coal assets will become ‘Stranded Assets.’ ”
Insurers are also required to sign a “Pledge to Refrain from Future Investments in Thermal Coal,” indicating “Yes/No.”
It is a wonderful thing to watch a politician grab as much political power as possible. By the way, Mr. Jones has already announced plans to run for California Attorney General in 2018. Taking such a stand on “climate change” might just bring in a large donation from Tom Steyer, the millionaire who is convinced that we are all going to die if we don’t fix the climate.
THE BULLET TRAIN
In 2008, voters in California approved the “bullet-train” project which was covered under
Proposition 1A. Prior to the vote the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) had stated that the entire high-speed train system would be about $45 billion. The proposition that passed was a $9.95 billion bond measure authorizing construction of a high-speed “bullet train” between downtown San Francisco and the greater Los Angeles area. The measure had key details regarding cost, dedicated tracks, trip time and the plan for financing. Since 2008, many of these key details have been changed.
In the original 2012 business plan (CHSRA) set the price tag for the train at $98 billion. The storm of disagreement with this figure caused the Authority to backtrack. The revised 2012 plan lowered the cost by $30 billion. Based on the redesign, CHSRA stated that the entire 520 mile system would be completed in 2029 at a cost of $68 billion. The plan details constantly changed. Dan Walters of the Sacrament Bee wrote: “Those charged with building California’s north-south bullet train system have been more or less making it up as they go along.” Regardless of any new figures one fact is clear. The cost of the bullet train far exceeds the $45 billion approved by voters in 2008 and now there are substantial redesigns.
Officials have also changed the initial route by moving the first leg of construction further north which delays construction on a tunnel through the Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountains. That tunnel will probably destroy the current $64 billion budget.
Please remember that the bullet train is Jerry Brown’s most prized program right after he saves the state from climate change and global warming.
The FBI recently released its annual state-by-state breakdown on crime. In 2015, California saw a 7.6 % increase in violent acts from the previous year to 166,883 or 426.3 per 100,000 population. That is 2½ times the 3 % national increase, the 13th highest of any state. California’s overall violent crime rate is also the nation’s 13th highest. The homicide rate increased by 8.5 %, well over the 4.9 % recorded nationally.
Now, most people think that persons convicted of felonies should not be treated as if nothing changes in their life when they are in prison. However, Assembly Bill 2466 allows felons serving time in jail to vote from jail. Governor Brown has signed the bill. Therefore, convicted felons in California who have committed murder, rape, aggravated assault and other felonies can vote in elections and possibly be the deciding vote in close elections. This law takes effect in 2017.
Law enforcement is against this bill but Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, (Democrat – San Diego) argued that being allowed to vote would reduce the likelihood of a convict committing new crimes.
Are we to believe that allowing felons to vote will lower the increase in crime in California? Unfortunately, for many people results do not matter. What matters is that they have good intentions.