Victor Davis Hanson warns Californians of higher user fees and traffic tickets to pay for California government
The California Legislature is in session.
An important deadline to remember:
- February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.
Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.
On to today’s California headlines:
- California Tax Move May be at the Local Level – Despite talk in Sacramento that pro-tax advocates might want to push for more statewide tax increases, the move to raise revenue through tax increases well could focus on local governments. Governor Jerry Brown has been clear that he wants the state to live within its means. The state already secured two tax increases through Propositions 30 and 39 last November.While the schools and state agencies will see revenue from those ballot propositions, local governments feel left out. Moreover, the governor’s pledge to keep a reign on the state finances does not reference local taxes.Already, legislation has been introduced to make it easier to raise local taxes. Bills to lower the two-thirds vote for earmarked local taxes have been introduced to allow for 55-percent votes for schools and libraries. Transportation interests are also waging a campaign to get a lower standard to pass transportation measures.
- California lawmaker wants to banish sugary drinks from CalFresh menu – Californians who get help under CalFresh, the food stamps program, may soon be put on a diet by state lawmakers, who are considering barring use of the benefits to buy sugary sodas and other fattening beverages.State Sen. Michael J. Rubio (D-East Bakersfield) introduced legislation that proposes to modify the list of allowable food items that can be purchased under CalFresh to exclude many sweetened beverages containing more than 10 calories per cup.“With the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the Central Valley and throughout California, SB 134 is simply the first step in trying to reverse this alarming trend, particularly among children,” Rubio said.
He said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “reports that over 20% of Californians are obese, but could well exceed 45% if trends continue.”
- California abandons algebra requirement for eighth-graders – By falling in line with other states, California is abandoning its push for all eighth-graders to take algebra.Last month, the State Board of Education unanimously shifted away from a 15-year policy of expecting eighth-graders to take Algebra I. The state will allow them to take either Algebra I or an alternate course that includes some algebra. New state standardized tests will focus on the alternate course — the same one adopted by most states under the Common Core curriculum being rolled out across the nation.Supporters welcome the change as more in line with current practice, of schools offering two tracks of math for eighth-graders. But critics fear that the new standard will let schools avoid offering rigorous courses for all. They point to a report released last week showing that some schools are not placing black and Latino students in advanced math courses even when they’re prepared.
The change is controversial because success in Algebra I is the single best predictor…
- Bill would allow charging commercial properties a bigger parcel tax – A newly elected assemblymember has introduced a bill that could make parcel taxes more attractive to school districts by allowing them to impose different tax rates on residential and commercial properties.The bill, AB 59, by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would nullify a state Appeals Court ruling in December overturning an Alameda Unified School District parcel tax that levied one rate for residential and small commercial properties, and another for larger commercial properties. Bonta also represents Alameda.A product of Proposition 13, parcel taxes typically are a flat tax imposed on every real estate parcel regardless of its size or use. They are one of the few ways school districts can raise additional revenues on their own. Parcel taxes require a two-thirds majority to pass, although this year the Legislature will consider a constitutional amendment lowering the requirement to 55 percent.
- Kevin L. James a Long Shot in Race for Mayor of Los Angeles – Kevin L. James, a conservative talk show host running for mayor of Los Angeles, was sitting in his campaign office recently pondering which was his bigger obstacle to victory: being openly Republican, or being openly gay.
- California teachers pension fund faces $64 billion deficit – The trust fund that provides pensions to retired teachers has a $64 billion deficit and would need a $4.5 billion per year infusion of revenue to become fully solvent, according to a new internal study.The California State Teachers Retirement System produced the report in response to a legislative resolution.Its release came just days after the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, indirectly chided Gov. Jerry Brown for ignoring “huge unfunded liabilities associated with the teachers’ retirement system and state retiree health benefits” in his new budget.
- Vast Oil Reserve May Now Be Within Reach, and Battle Heats Up – Secure in this state’s history and mythology, the venerable Midway-Sunset oil field near here keeps producing crude more than a century after Southern California’s oil boom. Many of its bobbing pump jacks are relatively short, a telltale sign of the shallowness of the wells and the ease of extracting their prize.
- Cardinal in Los Angeles Is Removed From Duties – Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who retired less than two years ago as the leader of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, was removed from all public duties by his successor, Archbishop José H. Gomez, as the church complied with a court order to release thousands of pages of internal documents that show how the cardinal shielded priests who sexually abused children.