Change in Priorities for California Voters

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows a continuing trend in voters moving their top priority in state spending from K-12 education to health and human services. The homelessness issue is undoubtedly fueling that movement.?

Looking at the current PPIC poll issued yesterday, there is little space between voters’ choosing the top two concerns for California government spending. PPIC asked likely voters which area of state government spending should be the top priority. Likely voters chose health and human services at 40%; K-12 public education 38%; higher education 12% and prisons and corrections 7%. All Adults polled broke dead even on health and human services and K-12 public education at 39% apiece.?

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Leading California Democrats Try to Govern. National Democrats Don’t Like That

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

California Democrats will never be woke enough to match national Democratic leaders.

As the California presidential primary approaches, the gap between Democrats who run California and those who seek to run the United States is growing.

Gov. Newsom and other leading Democrats in Sacramento keep spending low and build rainy day funds. The leading presidential contenders are competing with each other to spend trillions on new programs, without making clear how they’ll pay for it.

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Californians have subsidized Hollywood for a decade. Has it been worth it?

Adria Watson Watson
Adria is a senior at Sacramento State University where she is majoring in journalism. She wrote this for CalMatters.

When Oscar night rolls around, Californians rooting for “Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story,” or “Ford v Ferrari” will be able to thank themselves as well as the Academy. In all three cases, Golden State audiences not only paid for the movie tickets and Netflix subscriptions underwriting their production, but also let their tax dollars be leveraged by movie studios to produce those Best Picture nominees in-state.

Intended to promote and help keep film and TV production in California, the state’s?Film & Television Tax Credit, now in its third iteration, just celebrated its 10th year in business. Once controversial, it has become, over the years, a sort of “Titanic” of fiscal programs — sprawling, sentimental and popular across the political spectrum despite its formidable expense.

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Give Moms a Break or Suffer Costs

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

I’ve asked a dozen or so business operators in recent months if they’ve created lactation rooms yet. Most of them have given me a blank stare, with several saying they were unaware of the new state law, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Alas, inaction could be costly. The reason: If an employer does not provide private rooms for nursing mothers, the new statute allows employees to file suit under the Private Attorney General Act. PAGA suits are frightening to business operators because they can elevate what would be a routine fine from the state into a legal fight in court that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe a million or more, to settle.

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Tax Reform and the Strength of the Pragmatic Angel

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

At his budget press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom was asked what he plans to do about tax reform. According to one account, the governor said that the state desperately needs to change the tax structure and added, “I can be stubborn. I can be pragmatic. Here, I’m stubbornly pragmatic.”

He can be stubborn in demanding certain changes but the pragmatic side softens stubbornness because it calculates what can actually be accomplished. If he has a stubborn devil perched on one shoulder and a pragmatic angel on the other it seems that the pragmatic angel has the governor’s ear.

Spending interests, particularly representing schools, have reached out to the governor to come up with a tax solution that might avoid big-time battles over tax increase ballot initiatives going forward. These interests want Newsom to drive a tax package through the legislature before the November ballot is finalized.?

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Thoughts About the California Presidential Primary

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

With the withdrawal of California’s junior Senator Kamala Harris from the presidential race, the state will not have a “favorite daughter” on the ballot in March.

Hers was a strategic decision as much as a financial imperative after a steep decline in her ability to raise funds with the all-important Iowa Caucus looming in less than 4 weeks where most candidates are focusing their resources.

Given the growing likelihood of a poor showing in the traditional first-in-the-nation presidential contest which carries considerable weight a bad loss there would have effectively ended her campaign. It was a risk the Harris forces wisely rejected.

Taking a leaf from President Obama’s winning playbook in both 2008 and 2012, the idea was to hold on long enough to capture the South Carolina primary a few weeks later in a state which offers a far more diverse demographic including a very large African-American voter population.

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Abolishing Single-Family-Only Zoning Expands Freedom and Choice

Steven Greenhut
Greenhut writes for American Spectator, Reason and the Orange County Register.

A bedrock principle of conservatism is that individuals should be allowed to live as they please free from the overly meddlesome dictates of regulators. Another conservative mainstay is a belief in property rights—the right to do largely what we choose in our homes and on our land. When it comes to zoning issues, however, many conservatives have become “but” heads. They believe in freedom and markets, “but” not in their neighborhoods.

The latest debate centers on efforts by some states to outlaw single-family zoning—a move opponents depict as a nearly totalitarian plot to force everyone out of their picket-fenced homes into “stack-and-pack” subsidized-housing projects. The critiques have gotten overheated after Oregon recently passed a bill to eliminate this type of zoning. Virginia also began considering a similar plan.

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Governor’s Homeless Proposal is All Wrong

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

As sure as California has an exploding homeless problem, it’s almost a certainty that our state and local leaders – elected and otherwise – don’t have a clue as how to deal with it.? To wit, Joel Fox, in this space recently, conducted an excellent examination of Governor Newsom’s pre-budget plan to spend nearly $1.5 billion to build housing for homeless individuals.? To that I add this critique:? It’s a pointless plan.? Primarily because for most street people shelter is not what is most needed.? Help with their mental illness maladies or abuse of both drugs and alcohol is.? An investment in treatment would be a better use of the money.

Building more emergency shelters is the only smart thing about the Governor’s proposal.? In many instances, emergency shelters make sense.? And, there is a serious shortage of them in the state, for sure.? So, state dollars to build more is a good thing, so long as the sponsors work with tenants before rulemaking.

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Legal Obligation on Homelessness Must Include All Parties to the Issue

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The governor’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors called for a legal obligation for local governments to provide housing for the homeless under the threat of penalties. But, it should not be just the local governments that are held accountable under such a legal mandate. The homeless themselves must cooperate in such a program and the accountability measures must protect taxpayers who will be called on to fund any expanded housing program.

Simply put, under a legal mandate for obligating local governments to fund increased housing for the homeless, the homeless must accept that housing—a step in the “right to shelter” debate requiring government to build housing while also requiring the homeless to use that housing the governor’s homeless advisors did not take in their recommendations. Further, if the taxpayers spend money to make more housing a reality—something understood must happen in the recommendations that were made—then the mandated accountability should not punish taxpayers.

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Can Steyer Be Stopped?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The Californian in the race is gaining.

Tom Steyer has surged in polls in early state polls. In South Carolina, he’s second, and he’s gaining fast in Nevada.

Why? He’s spent more than $100 million on TV ads, raising his name recognition. And yet he’s not seen as a real contender, so there is relatively little critical coverage of him.

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