MOORLACH UPDATE — No, Not, or Nyet? — March 29, 2017

The joys of showing up or not? On Monday afternoon, I decided not to attend the Joint State of the Judiciary Session for the third year in a row.

Regretfully, the State Supreme Court and its Chief Justice, refused to hear Orange County’s lawsuit in regards to creating a massive debt without voter approval with the granting of retroactive defined benefit pension benefits (see MOORLACH UPDATE — California Rule Recuse? — November 28, 2016 november 28, 2016 john moorlach).

So, I’m not a big fan. Especially when it meant having to listen to another rant about what is happening on the national scene. The Daily Journal asked me for my impressions and they are provided in the first piece below.

I did attend the Senate Floor Session on Monday and we congratulated the San Clemente Triton football team for their CIF success. It’s always a treat to celebrate an Orange County victory. The OC Register provides the details in the second piece below.

Last Thursday, I argued against a Senate Resolution that was asking Congress to investigate Russia’s involvement in the Presidential election (something it is already doing) and requesting the release of the President’s tax returns. I addressed this item by providing the Federal Election Commission’s financial disclosure prepared by Donald J. Trump. It’s a balance sheet account that is 104 pages long, with very small print. It would be much more valuable than a tax return, which is an income statement.

I’m just not in the business of telling another level of government what to do, when our Legislature is doing a very poor job of running California, based on its own Balance Sheet (the 2016 CAFR was released today and the Unrestricted Net Deficit has not improved). Consequently, instead of encouraging a "no" vote, I encouraged a "nyet" vote. The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Report caught it and it is mentioned in the third piece below.

Chief justice defends ‘rule of law’ in sharply-worded speech

By Malcolm Maclachlan
Daily Journal Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye gave an unusually fiery State of the Judiciary speech in the Assembly chambers on Monday afternoon, criticizing aspects of the federal immigration crackdown and casting the courts as the protectors of "the rule of law."

Cantil-Sakauye began her annual speech by thanking her colleagues and paying tribute to retiring state Supreme Court Justice Kay Werdegar. But she quickly veered into political territory. She noted that Gov. Jerry Brown recently stood in the same spot for his annual State of the State speech and spoke about "how California must preserve our values in a time of upheaval."

While the name Donald Trump never appeared in the speech, much of the text was clearly aimed at the new president and his immigration policies.

"We are governed by laws and rules, not by a monarch," Cantil-Sakauye said, adding, "The rule of law is being challenged."

The chief justice went on to describe how her Japanese-American in-laws, Jiro and Dorothy Sakauye, spent four years in internment camps during World War II.

"We have strength in the diversity of our residents," Cantil-Sakauye said, before describing several court cases that upheld the rights of immigrants and racial minorities.

Earlier this month, Cantil-Sakauye sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying she was concerned that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were "stalking" people who entered the U.S. illegally at courthouses in California, which she said "should not be used as bait."

Despite being a Republican appointed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the chief justice’s speech was not well-received by some members of the GOP.

Senate Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said Cantil-Sakauye should "learn from" U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and stay out of politics.

In July, Ginsburg said she regretted making a series of negative comments about then-candidate Trump; she has generally avoided political statements since then.

"That’s not her job," said Moorlach. "Her job is to review cases of import to the citizens of California."

"The judiciary feels threatened by some of the federal government’s actions, in particular by ICE agents showing up at courthouses," countered Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego. "She is appropriately defending her branch of government."

Cantil-Sakauye also touted the Judicial Council’s new online self-help directory for immigrants, which was unveiled earlier on Monday. The directory was the work of the California Immigration Information Resource Workgroup, which she announced on Feb. 1.

"We commend Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye for calling on California’s three branches of government to deliver on California’s promise of opportunity and fair treatment for all," said Natasha Minsker, director of the ACLU of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy.

Much of the rest of the speech focused on areas of typical concern for State of the Judiciary speeches: legal reforms and the underfunded court system.

Court funding has remained essentially flat in Brown’s austere 2017-18 budget, which takes into account flattening state revenues and uncertainties with federal funds.

Yet Cantil-Sakauye also praised legislative initiatives on changing bail, fines and fees rules — efforts that some say could further cut into court funding.

Forty percent of traffic fines and fees go to the courts, but several Democratic legislators say both fines and bail unfairly penalize low-income people.

malcolm_maclachlan

State champion San Clemente football team honored in Sacramento

By SHANE NEWELL / STAFF WRITER

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/state-747779-team-san.html

State Sen. Pat Bates honored the San Clemente Triton football team alongside State Sen. John Moorlach and State Sent. Janet Nguyen.COURTESY OF LORIE LEILANI SHELLEYHTTP://WWW.OCREGISTER.COM/ARTICLES/STATE-747779-TEAM-SAN.HTML

Two players and the head coach from the state championship-winning San Clemente Triton football team returned to Sacramento Monday, March 27, to receive an honor in the state Senate.

State Sen. Pat Bates of Laguna Niguel spoke about the team’s first CIF State championship in 52 years on the senate floor. Coach Jaime Ortiz and players Brandon Reaves and Turner Tonkovich joined her.

“The win marked the end of a historic season for the Tritons,” Bates said to her colleagues.

“Maybe they can teach the Los Angeles Rams a thing or two about winning a championship,” she joked.

The honor came after the Tritons came back from a 17-0 deficit to Del Oro of Loomis. The Tritons won the game 22-17 at Sacramento State in December 2016.

“We are so proud of San Clemente’s football team for their achievements,” Bates added. “Their hard work and determination to win, especially when they were behind in the game, is an inspiration to us all.”

State Assemblyman Bill Brough of Dana Point also honored the team on the assembly floor.

“San Clemente football has one saying in town, ‘One town, one team.’ Now they can add something else to that saying: state champion,” Brough told his colleagues.

Contact the writer: snewell

Capitol Alert AM

WORTH REPEATING: “I encourage … a ‘nyet’ vote.” – Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, opposing a resolution calling on Congress to independently investigate President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article140703923.html

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Letter In Support — March 25, 2016

Senate Bill 720 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 9th. It will not be heard next Tuesday, March 28th, during Judiciary’s next meeting. Instead, we will hear eleven other bills. Therefore, it may come up on Tuesday, April 4th or 11th.

Why is this important? Well, I serve as Vice Chair of Judiciary and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson serves as Chair. So, writing us letters, with copies to the other five members, is a good thing to do for bills that will be heard by this committee.

That’s how this process works. My office files copies of these letters in support or opposition of bills in our electronic drop box. This way we all have access to them and I can review them when I do my research and preparation for committee meetings.

I do take into consideration the organizations that take a public position on bills.

As for SB 720 (Allen), this seems like a bill that would be easy to support. If a city is doing all that it can to provide safe fire pits, then it should be rewarded with some form of immunity for these efforts. And, those using the fire pits know that they are utilizing an attractive nuisance that has elements of risk.

There is nothing more tragic than a toddler falling into a pile of still hot charcoal. But, just like having a child near a swimming pool, responsible adults should be carefully monitoring these toddlers who are around high risk activities.

What makes this bill interesting is that it will foreclose using certain municipalities as deep pockets for litigation purposes. I would think that this will draw out those who make a living from filing law suits.

Now that bills have had their thirty-day waiting period, I will be busy reviewing them in the various committees on which I serve and when they come to the Floor. I hope this provides a little window on the process.

Huntington Beach backs bill to reduce fire pit and BBQ liability

By Ben Brazil

http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-hb-bbq-20170322-story.html

The Huntington Beach City Council is supporting a state Senate bill that would relieve cities of liability when people are injured by beach fire pits or public barbecue grills.

Mayor Barbara Delgleize sent copies of a letter to California state senators John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) last week on behalf of the council, endorsing SB 720 and asking the two officials to support it as well.

The letter says the council voted unanimously in favor of the bill, which was introduced by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) on Feb. 17.

It says the city is a prime tourist destination and the fire pits are particularly popular with visitors, but they can be dangerous when not used properly.

"There are times where users of these fire pits operate them in an unsafe and reckless manner and act irresponsibly around the fire pits even though the city takes necessary steps to warn of potential hazards and, as we do in Huntington Beach, clean out the fire pits every night," the letter says.

It goes on to say the city has to endure "costly litigation and/or settlements" following some injuries.

SB 720 would eliminate the city’s liability for injuries sustained "as a result of a fire or the remnants of a fire" from fire pits, rings, circles or barbecue grills located in parks or on beaches.

According to the letter, existing laws "immunize" cities from being sued for injuries caused by "a natural condition of unimproved property, such as a beach, despite the presence or absence of safety services such as lifeguards and beach cleanup services." But, it adds, injuries caused by fire pits and barbecues have left cities open to lawsuits.

"SB 720 is a needed piece of public policy that removes the city and public entities from costly liability and allows these monies to be put to better use," the letter says.

benjamin.brazil

Twitter: @benbrazilpilot

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Criminal Audit — March 17, 2017

If given a magic wand, I would establish the position of CEO for the State of California. If this title goes to the Governor, we’re all in big trouble. It seems to me that no one is adequately overseeing the state’s some 137 departments.

The State Auditor and the Legislative Analyst’s Office publish reports of how various departments are doing. It would be sweet if the reports stated that the investigated department was so well run that it exceeds the national averages for similar agencies around the nation.

Regretfully, although the audit reports are honest and valuable, they are also gut-wrenching and aggravating to someone in leadership, like me. Because I know that it is highly likely that no one will do anything. There is no CEO to call in the department heads. And, if I have to manage through legislation, then that is a sad and lengthy process to right the wrongs.

So I vented in the front-page article in the OC Register below. I’m the closer and will not hold my breath until something is done to rectify the disturbing findings.

P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I was appointed to the position of Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector on March 17, 1995 and I was elected to this office, State Senator, on March 17, 2015. March 17 is a special day.

SOCIAL SERVICES

Are criminals working at state-licensed care homes?

They can still get clearance to work in these facilities

By Teri Sforza

tsforza @terisforza on Twitter

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/state-746689-care-social.html

A woman convicted of identity theft was clearedto work as an administrator for an elderly care home, complete with access to residents’ sensitive personal information.

Another, arrested for committing a “lewd or lascivious act upon a dependent person,” was permitted towork for months in a senior home before California’sDepartment of Social Services learned of her conviction and forbade her from entering.

Convicted of pimping or pandering adults? Identity theft? Rape of an unconscious spouse? Rape under the color of authority? One can still get clearance to work in state-licensed child care, senior and foster homes in California, according to a troubling new report by State Auditor Elaine Howle.

“Social Services does not always obtain or review all appropriate information before allowing individuals access to facilities,” concluded the review byHowle, whose office is charged with keeping an eye on the machinations of state government.

The agency has allowed people to work with vulnerable clients even before their out-of-state criminal histories are completed; has inappropriately directed staff to ignore some minor convictions; and relies too heavily on an honor system where workers self-disclose their criminal histories.

The Department of Social Services is the statewide gatekeeper charged with evaluating background checks for more than 70,000 state-licensed care facilities that care for hundreds of thousands of Californians from Oregon to the Mexican border. The agency decides who can and can’t work in those facilities.

In the last fiscal year, the Department of Justice responded to more than 366,000 criminal background check inquiries for would-be care workers. More than 23,000 of them – about 6 percent – produced criminal histories that Social Services needed to evaluate further, Howle said.

But Social Services doesn’t receive all the information it needs to protect vulnerable clients, she said. Other local and state agencies with potentially vital information – police departments, courts, the Justice Department and others – often fail to promptly or effectively share that information, Howle wrote.

She recommended a host of changes to streamline the process and better ensure publicsafety, and called on the Legislature to add more crimes to the list of those that would prevent care workers from obtaining stateclearance. Crimes that should disqualify them include the pimping and prostitution of adults, rape under color of authority and of rape of an unconscious spouse, among others, the report said.

The Legislature should also require Social Services officials to wait for California and out-of-state criminal histories to be completed before granting people access to licensed facilities, it said.

In separate responses, the departments of Social Services and Justice largely agreed with Howle’s findings and recommendations, particularly as they relate to swifter and more complete sharing of information between them.

At least one legislator called Howle courageous, and bemoaned that her work often falls on deaf ears.

"Not getting this information to protect vulnerable clients is unconscionable. Not sharing information between departments is unacceptable. Not fully reviewing all of the required information is insubordination," said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

"Allowing 40 individuals with arrests or convictions, without documentation fully explaining their ability to enter facilities where vulnerable clients are located, is a dereliction of duty. Not devoting time to the tasks at hand is unexplainable. But, if there is no one to follow up on the Auditor’s reports, then the accountability is hollow."

A CEO would jump in and work with Justice to improve forwarding information to Social Services, he said. But if the worst that can happen is that a legislator introduces a bill to tell these departments to do their jobs, where’s the incentive?

"Bad roads. Bad dams. Bad communication. Bad work product. Big raises. More tax increases. No wonder constituents are angry. I know I am," Moorlach said.

Contact the writer: tsforza

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MOORLACH UPDATE — New Caucus Leader — March 15, 2017

The decision and the time line has arrived for the California State Senate Republican Caucus to make a peaceful transition in its leadership (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Sieve — March 2, 2017 march 2, 2017 john moorlach). The big questions have been resolved (“Who is willing to take it and when do we do it?”).

Please allow me to announce and welcome our new Leader, Sen. Pat Bates (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Resolution 8 — February 6, 2017 february 6, 2017 john moorlach).

The first piece below is out of Bakersfield, in the Tehachapi News and The Californian, and provides all of the details. The job of Caucus Leader is very critical. The Leader gets to herd cats, recruit candidates, and raise money. Sen. Fuller did a very good job. It’s just very unfortunate that the results were not as positive as we all wished they could have been.

I will do my best, again, to assist the Leader. At least this time I’m not involved in two major campaigns in two years. And I have a model to pursue: the State of Kentucky. More on this later.

The East Bay Times provides an editorial submission in the second piece below. It’s great when citizens understand the gravity of the pension crisis in California and are appreciative of our reform efforts with SB 32 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — PEPRA 2 With SB 32 — January 15, 2017 january 15, 2017 john moorlach). More on this later, too.

Fuller steps down as state senate Republican leader

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox?compose=15ad07f61a5ee827

http://www.tehachapinews.com/news/fuller-steps-down-as-state-senate-republican-leader/article_a6ee69de-091c-11e7-a409-f3d7ef5c9b8a.html

State Republican legislators finally found someone to take Jean Fuller’s job.

Following a two-month search for a state senator willing to lead the Republican caucus of a legislative body dominated by Democrats, Fuller’s colleagues elected Patricia "Pat" Bates of Laguna Niguel on Tuesday.

Fuller, the former Bakersfield educator who became the first woman of either party to lead a state legislative caucus, will formally step down as Republican leader April 12, an aide confirmed.

She is termed out of office in 2018.

The effort to find a successor for Fuller was difficult because some prominent Republican senators said in recent weeks that they did not want the job, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Fuller started talking to colleagues about eventually stepping down and passing the torch to another member not long after she began her current term as caucus leader last December.

“(Fuller) has been calling all of us to say, ‘Hey, are you interested,’” Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, told the Times on March 1. “The question is, who is willing to take it and when do we do it?”

Bates was approached about the job by colleagues because term limits will not force her out of office until 2022.

GOP senators, outnumbered 27-13 by Democrats, selected Bates in a closed door meeting Tuesday.

The new leader’s challenge will be keeping her caucus relevant at a time when the Democrats enjoy two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature, giving them power to increase taxes without any votes from the minority party.

Fuller acknowledged the difficulty that presents.

Republican caucus leader "is a very tough job, but we have a great collegial team that works very hard," Fuller told The Californian.

Serving as Republican leader "is a lot like being the superintendent of the Bakersfield City School District," she said. "The list is endless and the resources are limited, but you do the best you can for your constituents."

Fuller, who represents the vast 16th Senate District, won her first election in 2006. She served two terms in the Assembly and is now serving her second term in the State Senate. She served as superintendent of the BCSD, the largest K-8 school district in the state, before turning to politics.

Fuller said she is prepared to help Bates ease into the job.

“I look forward to working with her during the transition to ensure that the voices of the 13 million Californians that we represent as a caucus continue to be heard in the Senate,” Fuller said in a prepared statement.

Before her election to the State Assembly in 1998, Bates served four terms as mayor of Laguna Niguel, starting in 1989, when the city was incorporated.

— With reporting from the Los Angeles Times

My Word: Why are we crippling

our kids with our retirement?

By RONALD STEIN

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/03/14/my-word-why-are-we-crippling-our-kids-

with-our-retirement/

It’s unfortunate that future generations, unable to vote today, will bear the costs of many enacted pension programs, entitlements and boondoggle projects, requiring them to pay higher taxes and work later into their lives to pay for these promises.

It’s the inmates running the pension asylum that have negotiated extraordinary pension and retirement benefits today without considering the unfair financial burden it places on future generations.

The international business world is intelligent enough to know that “defined benefits,” neither capped nor precisely quantifiable in advance, are financial disasters to any business, thus, all businesses focus on the known, i.e., defined contributions alone.

Stealing from the young who have no votes but silently shoulder the costs and bear the burden of unfunded promises of these programs to enrich the old, seems to describe the government’s expansion of entitlement benefits and other government services as well as the taxes young people will have to pay to support them. They mostly subsidize older Americans.

The inmates know that debt for our future generations buys votes. Over the decades, the proven “concept” practiced by voters is to defer as much financial responsibility as possible to future generations. Simply stated, if we cannot afford it today, pass it off to the future generations to minimize any impact on our current lifestyles.

Another insult to the taxpayers and future taxpayers is that many of those early retirees collect their guaranteed pensions and then take another job.

Many elected officials are heavily financed by unions, which are focused on entitlements for their current members. The unions, elected officials and bureaucrats have been very successful in manipulating the system to enrich themselves. Thus, no changes can be expected in the foreseeable future.

Even before those young folks can vote, our Golden State schools are on track to force substantial budgetary cutbacks on core education spending, as public schools around California are bracing for a crisis driven by skyrocketing worker pension costs that are expected to force districts to divert billions of dollars.

The GASB requirement for accounting and financial reporting standards now provides accountability and transparency for county, city and state budgets to show how those unfunded pension liabilities and expenses will be funded in the decades ahead, i.e., either tax increases, and/or a reduction in current services to meet those funding requirements.

The theory behind GASB was that maybe if the uninformed citizens can “see” the full impact of the pension tsunami that’s coming, they’ll either accept the rip off or revolt.

To get the government’s own house in order, California State Sen. John Moorlach is pursuing a 2017 “SB 32”-type initiative to cut California’s unfunded liabilities at CalPERS down from the current $168 billion to the near zero 1980 levels. It is a parallel approach to the decade-old emissions crusade to roll back state emissions to 1980 levels.

We would appreciate it if our representatives stop promoting the unsustainable defined benefit programs and come to grips with the real problems facing all Californians.

A few other problems that deserve some priority time and action from our Legislature are:

1) Affordable housing continues to be out of the reach of most citizens.

2) California’s energy costs for transportation fuels and electricity continue to be the most expensive in the country.

3) The mid-’70s pioneering California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has created a nightmare for those seeking affordable, conveniently located housing, workplaces and shopping centers.

Ronald Stein is founder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Thou Shalt Not Whine — March 14, 2017

California is whining. So this morning I moved a sign that we’ve kept in our home for decades, that reads "Thou Shalt Not Whine," into my Capitol Office.

Every Monday’s Senate Session finds the super-majority party discussing an anti-Trump Administration Senate Resolution of some form or fashion that was not in the published agenda from the Friday before. There are four to date.

I recently had to ask on the Floor if Resolutions were exempt from Proposition 54 and its 72-hour in-print rule. (This would actually provide Senators time to digest what we’re going to be debating on the Floor.) The answer: Yes. Go figure.

Yesterday’s topic was the repeal and replace efforts regarding Obamacare and how it was being done in "late-night sessions." Now, isn’t that rich.

So I stood up (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp2Syf1sscU&feature=youtu.be). I did make one mistake. CalOptima has some 500,000 members, not 500 million.

California can play a role in this awkward merger of the medical industry and the Federal government. But, voting for resolutions is not it. It’s whining. And the LA Times, in their electronic coverage, provides the details below.

California Senate Democrats rip the Obamacare replacement plan, while GOP lawmakers say quit whining

Melanie Mason

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-california-senate-democrats-eviscerate-1489448326-htmlstory.html

It has become almost a reflex in the California Legislature: When Republicans in Washington act, Democrats in Sacramento make some show of opposition.

On Monday, it was about healthcare, with Senate Democrats taking up a speedily crafted, non-binding resolution assailing the House GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The measure, which was decidedly pro-Obamacare in its tilt, called on Congress not to repeal the law unless its replacement would provide Americans at least the same level of coverage.

Democrats were armed with just-released numbers from the Congressional Budget Office that found that, under the proposal, 24 million fewer Americans would have insurance by 2026. Of that number, 14 million Americans could lose coverage by next year.

"Let that sink in," Senate leader Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles) said. "By next year, 14 million people will actually lose their healthcare."

Democrats pulled no punches in assailing the Republican plan. Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), noting that President Trump had promised no one would lose coverage, accused Trump and the Republican Congress of peddling "snake oil."

"A fraud is being perpetrated on the American people right now by this administration," Wiener said.

But while Democrats were quick to tout how the Affordable Care Act has increased coverage in California, Republicans said the law has hurt residents.

Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) said his "blue-collar, middle-class" constituents saw their "premiums rise, saw deductibles become catastrophic … to the point where they can barely afford it."

Stone also bemoaned how the state Senate had an "obsession with doing everything they can to poke this president in the eye."

Other Republicans voiced similar weariness with the regular anti-Trump actions from ruling Democrats.

"We have marches, we have rallies, we have protests and now we have resolutions, but we’re still not leading," said Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), adding that "it just seems like we’re constantly whining."

Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), the author of the resolution, said it was appropriate for lawmakers to weigh in on federal action.

The healthcare debate is the "absolute most important thing we have to be discussing in this state and in this country," he said.

The resolution passed 25 to 9, with the vote divided along party lines.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Mismanagement — March 11, 2017

"Does anyone listen to you?" I heard this question a few times after sharing about the Senate Governance and Finance Committee meeting this past week (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1 — March 9, 2017 march 9, 2017 john moorlach).

Well, I am very glad to announce that an editorial board did. The LA Daily News and the Redlands Daily Facts provide their editorial thoughts against raising the gas tax in the piece below. In fact, many of their closing arguments parallel those that I have made.

Having served many years ago as Chairman of a credit counseling nonprofit, I can tell you that people find themselves in financial distress due to one of three occurrences: misjudgment, misfortune, or mismanagement. Sometimes it could be a combination, but for the state of California, the main reason for its financial precariousness is mismanagement. And this editorial board calls it out.

State needs transportation reform and better priorities, not tax increases, to fix infrastructure

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20170310/state-needs-transportation-reform-and-better-priorities-not-tax-increases-to-fix-infrastructure

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/general-news/20170310/state-needs-transportation-reform-and-better-priorities-not-tax-increases-to-fix-infrastructure

There is broad agreement that California has allowed its infrastructure to seriously deteriorate, but not much accord on how to pay for the necessary improvements.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, half of the state’s public roads are in poor condition, each motorist pays an average of $844 per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repair, 1,388 bridges (5.5 percent) are structurally deficient and there are 678 “high-hazard potential” dams.

The funding problem is pretty substantial. The administration has identified approximately $77.4 billion worth of deferred maintenance needs alone, the vast majority of which are for transportation ($57 billion) and water resources ($13.1 billion). And just last month Gov. Jerry Brown valued the state’s total unmet transportation and water infrastructure needs at $187 billion.

“We’ve ignored some of the fundamentals for too long,” state transportation secretary Brian Kelly recently told the Sacramento Bee.

Brown’s proposed fiscal year 2017-18 budget includes a plan to raise more than $4 billion in revenue for transportation by hiking vehicle registration fees by $65 a year, increasing gas excise taxes and dedicating an additional $500 million in cap-and-trade auction proceeds. Under the proposal, the gasoline tax rate would rise from 27.8 cents per gallon to 39.5 cents per gallon — a 42 percent increase — and the diesel fuel tax rate would soar from 16 cents per gallon to 27 cents per gallon — a 69 percent jump. Both increases would go into effect in FY 2018-19, and would be adjusted based on inflation thereafter.

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, has offered his own alternative, Senate Bill 1, which would generate an additional $5.5 billion a year in revenue. It includes a smaller annual raise in vehicle registration fees ($38), a similar 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax hike (over three years), a 20-cents-per-gallon increase in the diesel excise tax, a 4 percent increase in the diesel sales tax and a new $100 annual fee on drivers of zero-emission vehicles, who are able to avoid gas taxes.

The gas tax is at least a fairly close approximation to a user fee, which is preferable because those who use the roads should bear the burden of maintaining them. But the state has not proven that it can responsibly spend the money it already has. The California Department of Transportation is rife with waste and inefficiency, as numerous reports from the State Auditor and the Legislative Analyst’s Office have revealed. The LAO reported in 2014 that Caltrans maintains approximately 3,500 redundant engineers and architects at a cost of more than $500 million a year. State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, notes that Caltrans also does very little contracting, and estimates that if we outsourced 50 percent of our transportation engineers and architects, like most other states do, we could save another $200 million a year.

California has mismanaged its scarce resources through waste, devoted a greater and greater share of transportation funds to public transit, which accounts for only a small fraction of the total number of trips taken and has seen declining ridership, and poured billions of dollars into an unnecessary high-speed rail boondoggle that will not address the state’s transportation problems. Bailing out such mismanagement with tax increases will only enable more of the same dysfunctional behavior. Until the state gets serious about putting its own house in order and making transportation a real priority, policymakers should put the brakes on any tax increases.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 861 and SCA 8 — March 10, 2017

Barbara Venezia provides a number of fun topics in her Daily Pilot column below. Allow me to include more color.

PRISONS

On February 23rd, the Senate’s Budget and Fiscal Review Committee held a hearing on the increased costs for the state’s prison system, although the population has declined or remained level. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary, Scott Kernan, was one of the panelists. My office invited him to participate in our panels on Propositions 47 and 57, but he declined.

He was rather infuriated that these Propositions were blamed for the recent death of a Whittier police officer. I informed him that many of my constituents, especially housewives, were finding it more difficult to go to the neighborhood grocery stores. There are many individuals that linger and loiter and make shoppers somewhat nervous. Law enforcement officials have expressed concerns that match these anecdotal stories to members of my District staff. I asked the good Secretary for his thesis as to why I should feel more comfortable (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Propositions 47 and 57 — December 8, 2016 december 8, 2016 john moorlach and http://senate.ca.gov/media-archive).

MOUs

The state is approving $2.7 billion for employees, including $2,500 "signing bonuses" for existing employees, but not one dollar in additional spending for our roads (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Dam Problem — February 22, 2017 february 22, 2017 john moorlach).

CalPERS EXIT

I recently introduced Senate Bill 681, which will more professionally allow cities to exit the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) (see http://district37.cssrc.us/search/node/681).

CALIFORNIA RULE

Senate Constitutional Amendment 8 is also introduced. The "California Rule" has prevented common sense remedies to the lobster trap know as public employee defined benefit pension plans (see http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-constitutional-amendment-8-california-rule).

COSTA MESA BARGAINING UNIT NEGOTIATIONS

As for her conclusion, yes, as of November 8th, Costa Mesa has become a public employee union town. Costa Mesa’s council majority was placed in office with the sole help of union money and now there is a price for its citizens to pay. That’s how this nonsense works. So Costa Mesa is now like the cities of Vallejo or Richmond. Let’s hope the next election cycle provides for a better composition scenario.

Is Moorlach right this time too?

By Barbara Venezia

http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/opinion/tn-dpt-me-0310-barbara-venezia-column-20170309-story.html

State Sen. John Moorlach is ringing a warning bell regarding California’s financial health.

This is the same guy who predicted the Orange County bankruptcy in 1994. At the time, no one was really taking him seriously, and we all know how that turned out.

Fast forward to today. Should we again be listening to this Costa Mesa Republican?

Californians pay the highest rate of personal income tax in the country, yet according to a March 1 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, "More than 1 in 5 Californians live in poverty, the highest rate in the country when you factor in the higher cost of housing and living in the state."

Reading Moorlach’s email updates, he’s concerned on several fronts. Prison costs and unfunded pension liabilities are among the factors contributing to California’s fiscal house of cards.

So I called him last week to chat about his concerns in Sacramento, and to discuss legislation he’s planning to bring forward.

Crime is one topic he’s hot to talk about after attending a recent budget and fiscal review hearing. At the meeting, reasons for the increase in costs for our prison system were discussed, even though populations have decreased. And Assembly Bill 109 and Propositions 47 and 57 — a bill and two voter-approved referendums, respectively, that allowed early release of inmates — were also touched on.

"I took on the Department of Finance at the beginning of the three hour-plus hearing," Moorlach says, noting that "$1.155 billion of the $2.141 billion in increased costs were due to normal increases in wages and pension contributions."

He says each inmate costs California $70,000 a year, a cost that can be reduced to as low as $29,500 by outsourcing the prison population.

"If they were serious about reducing costs, the answer was sitting right there," he says.

The Senate recently voted to approve three bills related to the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between the governor and nearly two-thirds of the state’s employees, through their respective bargaining units. Senate Bills 28, 47 and 48 will cost $2.7 billion.

Moorlach voted against all three.

And one wonders how the state doesn’t have enough money to fix roads and dams, but does for paying employees higher benefits?

Moorlach says cities should have more control over their pension funds and wants to propose a plan in which they can exit the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) without a huge payout.

Leaving CalPERS is expensive for cities. CalPERS computes a city’s pension liability at a 2% to 3% investment-return formula, then the city gets a massive bill that must be paid immediately because the pension system was making contributions based on a 7.5% assumption, Moorlach says.

He’s proposing to change that calculation formula.

He’s working on a bill that would calculate what a city paid into CalPERS over the years, what it made in investment income and what it paid in retiree benefits. The sum would be paid in full to the respective city to start its own retirement trust fund that meets federal codes, making it responsible for their own pension liability destiny.

Moorlach also explained the day an employee starts with a city they get benefits that cannot be legally reduced.

He wants to introduce a bill that can tier the benefits so they can be changed prospectively.

"We need to give tools to these cities," he says.

Moorlach says residents are starting to realize "unfunded pension liabilities are going to run us over."

Yet in his home town, he says, "it’s a crazy move in Costa Mesa to lower pension input."

What he’s referring to is a newly approved contract that decreases the amount city employees pay toward their pensions from 17.04% to 12% by year three. The proposed contract is expected to cost taxpayers $5.65 million more over the life of the agreement than the previous one.

Moorlach will most certainly continue to ring this financial warning bell. Let’s see if anyone will listen.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1 — March 9, 2017

Yesterday morning’s Senate Governance and Finance Committee meeting only had one bill on its agenda, Senate Bill 1, Senator Beall’s transportation tax proposal. I stated that we all can agree that our roads need to be better maintained, but lamented that California’s legislature requires those living in homeowner associations to set funds aside, when it does not follow this sage advice itself.

I also lamented that the Legislature placed a higher priority on employees than roads (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Dam Problem — February 22, 2017 february 22, 2017 john moorlach). And I shared that the high-speed rail project should be stopped and the funding used for roads (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Fresno High-Speed Rail — March 8, 2017 march 8, 2017 john moorlach).

Then I asked a few questions (see the hearing here: http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=4222).

Here are the majority of them, paraphrased for conciseness:

1. With the approval by the voters last year of Proposition 55 and its personal income tax increase continuance and Proposition 56, the tobacco tax of $2 per pack, has the state hit the Gann limit? I cited a recent LA Times article for my question (see http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-gov-jerry-brown-s-effort-to-define-1488495505-htmlstory.html). This is based on an recent brief by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

2. With the signing of last year’s Senate Bill 32, which furthers the mandate in reducing the consumption of gasoline, why are we still focusing on taxing it to maintain our roads?

3. With our young people driving long distances to their places of employment due to the high cost of housing (drive until you qualify), why aren’t we modifying CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) – which severely restricts developers’ ability to produce in-fill housing – to build more housing closer to job centers? After all, it is the state’s bad and severely antiquated laws that are now ruining our byways.

4. With the percentage of those at or below the poverty rate at the highest levels in the nation, why are we taxing the poor to fix our highways? We constantly hear about college students that are actually starving and families having to decide between food or gas. Why are the Democrats increasing costs for our poor? (Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Sieve — March 2, 2017 march 2, 2017 john moorlach).

5. Why are we trying to invest in public transit when ridership is down? Are the poor, who are supposed to benefit from this public service, driving or carpooling instead? Plus, something that is not often discussed is the significant wear and tear to arterial highways caused by the constant use of heavy buses.

6. Why not increase the Vehicle License Fee? At least it would be deductible on individual income tax returns and would capture cars that are not paying the gas tax.

7. Why not have an electricity tax for those who charge their zero-emission vehicles at home?

8. The bill provides for $70 million in “efficiency improvements” at Caltrans (though I have no idea what that means or how one would measure it). If Caltrans reduces the 3,300 architects and engineers that have been deemed excessive, we can save $500 million. Then, if Sacramento outsourced 50% of our architects and engineers like most of the other states do, California can save another $200 million. I proposed a bill to do just that last year, SB 1X 9 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SBX1-9 — July 18, 2015 july 18, 2015 john moorlach). You can also review the information we gathered here. Right there, we can achieve $700 million in savings. Why are we only aiming for ten percent of that amount? After all, Caltrans is one of the worst performing departments of transportation in the country. (Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Seven Solutions for Caltrans — August 15, 2016 august 15, 2016 john moorlach).

I closed by stating that the majority party just approved $2.7 billion in state employee wage and benefit increases, but have not allocated one dollar to our roads. So rather than keep going to the people for tax increases , why don’t we tax the state. A five percent across the board reduction for every department, something that is done during economic downturns, will provide $6.125 billion without a tax increase. It is all about priorities.

Without an overall reform of the state’s budgeting plan to address our roads and other deferred expenditures, Californians will see another tax increase soon to address the unfunded defined benefit pension plan liabilities. And then another tax increase a couple of years later to fix our dams. And the nonsense continues. That’s how this blue state strategy works. Wait until it is really broken and scream for a tax increase.

KCRA Channel 3 was intrigued by my questions and came by for an interview. It is the first piece below. The LA Times must have been watching, as they provide the second piece below.

Obamacare has resurfaced as Washington, D.C. finally fixes this sad and tragic era in our nation’s history. I’ve been here before. I even predicted this massive and wasteful program would fail and be a heavy weight for our children and grandchildren (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Obamacare — March 8, 2012 march 8, 2012 john moorlach). The Sacramento Bee has me recalling these fun memories from four years ago, when I was serving as Chair of the Board of Supervisors, in the third piece below.

California bill aims to pay for infrastructure through gas tax, fees

Senate Bill 1 could produce $6B a year

Max Resnik

http://www.kcra.com/article/california-bill-aims-to-pay-for-infrastructure-through-gas-tax-fees/9110371

California’s Senate Bill 1, which is aimed at improving the state’s transportation infrastructure, easily cleared the state Senate’s Governance and Finance Committee by a 5-1 vote Wednesday.

If passed, SB1 would generate an estimated $6 billion annually for the state’s roads, bridges and transit systems.

FAST FACTS:

  • SB1 clears Senate Governance and Finance Committee
  • SB1 would raise the gas tax, diesel tax and vehicle registration fees to pay for infrastructure improvements
  • Increase in the gas tax would be the first of its kind in 23 years

The money would be split down the middle between state and local agencies for maintenance and repairs.

Money raised by SB1 would help tackle the state’s 10-year, $59 billion maintenance shortfall and local governments’ $78 billion shortfall for roads, bridges and highways.

Here’s how the bill aims to pay for infrastructure improvements:

  • Increase the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon over three years, with a 6-cent increase in the first year followed by two years of 3-cent increases
  • Increase the diesel fuel excise tax by 20 cents and increase the diesel sales tax by 4 percent
  • Increase vehicle registration fees by $38
  • Require drivers of zero-emission vehicles to pay an annual $100 fee toward maintenance and repair

“We hope to make Caltrans a more efficient organization and by doing so, we will use the savings for more road repairs,” SB1 author Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said. “So, that’s the goal of this bill.”

If SB1 makes it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk in its current form, the gas tax would increase for the first time since 1994.

“You’re actually paying less taxes now in gasoline taxes than you did in 1994 because the economy of the average car – fuel economy – is better,” Beall said. “If you use less gasoline, you’re paying less taxes.”

Beall said the state’s increase in population and cost of living make the current budget for road repairs unsustainable.

The lone voice of opposition in committee on Wednesday came from Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who argues the bill places too much of a burden on the state’s poor.

“They’re hurting those at the poverty level or below, which is right now the highest of any state in the nation,” Moorlach said.

However, Moorlach and Beall do share common ground.

Both believe zero-emission drivers need to pay some sort of fee because they’re able to use state and local highways and roads without contributing to their maintenance through the funds collected from a gas tax.

However, Moorlach said the Democrat-controlled legislature is missing the bigger picture.

“We’ve got a state that has said, ‘We want to incentivize the acquisition of electric cars. Oh, and by the way, we fund our roads through gas taxes,’’’ he said. “So, again, there’s this disconnect, where Jerry Brown is incentivizing one, penalizing the other.”

The bill heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee next. If it passes there, it would then head to the Senate floor.

 

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A state transportation plan that would include tax increases takes another step forward

Patrick McGreevy

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-with-deadline-approaching-state-1488999446-htmlstory.html

A bill that would raise gas taxes to chip away at California’s massive backlog of road and highway repairs passed its last of three Senate policy committees Wednesday as the clock ticks toward an April 6 deadline for acting on a transportation financing plan.

The deadline was set by Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown, who is in negotiations with lawmakers to reach an agreement on differences between their proposals and his own plan with smaller tax increases. The goal is a plan that can win the two-thirds vote needed for passage to address the state’s $136-billion backlog .

One leading option is the bill approved Wednesday by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee that would raise an additional $5.5 billion annually for road repairs and mass transit, in part by increasing the per-gallon gas tax by 12 cents in phases over three years.

The measure by state Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) also would set the price-based per-gallon gas excise tax at 17.3 cents, increase the diesel tax by 20 cents, boost the sales tax on fuel by 4% and increase the annual registration fee for all vehicles by $38 a vehicle.

“Our roads are falling apart, and we are going to have to pay more the longer we delay this,” Beall told the committee before its vote of 5-1 to support SB 1.

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) voted against the bill, saying Californians already pay high taxes for roads.

“How do we justify raising the gas tax when such a large percentage of people are at the poverty level and below, and they need their cars to get to jobs?” Moorlach asked.

Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles), another committee member, called the proposal “a necessary solution.”

Many cities and business groups support the measure, but it was opposed Tuesday by Michelle Pariset of Public Advocates, which represents low-income residents. She said more money is needed for mass transit. Others asked for more money for bike lanes.

The measure also was opposed by David Wolfe of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

“The public doesn’t want tax increases without reforms,” he told the panel.

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GOP Obamacare repeal plan could hurt fight against Zika, hepatitis, other health problems

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article137303703.html#storylink=cpy

BY SAMMY CAIOLA

scaiola@sacbee.com
http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article137303703.html

In the Sacramento area, the fund has supported major public health projects including:

▪ A $98,950 UC Davis effort to prevent the spread of viral hepatitis through early identification.

▪ A $101,999 project at Sierra College in Rocklin to fight suicide among college students.

▪ A $484,389 initiative from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy in Davis to reduce chronic disease in diverse communities.

▪ A $2,661,141 effort by the California Rural Indian Health Board in Sacramento to prevent diabetes among American Indians. In 2017, the fund will award more than $900 million to programs throughout the U.S. addressing Alzheimer’s disease, immunizationbreastfeedinglead poisoningyouth suicide and more.

The Republican plan proposes discontinuing the fund starting in fiscal year 2019. The Affordable Care Act, which went into effect in 2010, not only expanded insurance coverage but also started initiatives to address a range of health issues, such as high hospital readmission rates, electronic medical record adoption and rising drug prices for Medicare enrollees.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund “is one of those very, very small and very, very unknown pieces of the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Ronald Chapman, public health officer for Yolo County and former state health officer at the California Department of Public Health. “In the scheme of the ACA, $1 billion is actually not much at all. But for public health at the CDC, it’s really vital.”

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have called the Prevention and Public Health Fund an “Obamacare slush fund” and criticized it for supporting causes such as soda taxes, fast food bans and health care enrollment efforts. Republican legislators began calling for the fund to be slashed shortly after its creation. In 2012, Barack Obama cut the fund by 33 percent through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he has historically supported efforts to trim health education spending.

“I felt the federal government was getting into so much debt that this was more fluff than really useful tax dollars,” he said of health education programs. “It shouldn’t take much to educate someone to be preventative. … You could have saved more money by just giving everybody a gym membership.  It makes sense to pare that down a bit.”

Chapman said county health departments use the fund for much more than education. The fund has provided more than $28 million in vaccine supplies to the California Department of Public Health, which county health departments rely on to immunize children and adults, Chapman said. Without free vaccines available, low-income families may vaccinate at lower rates, increasing the likelihood that once-common diseases such as measles and polio will return.

The fund also supports laboratory capacity at the state and local levels so health departments can more rapidly diagnose infectious diseases and quarantine people to prevent their spread. Testing capacity was an issue during both the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the Zika virus outbreak last summer.

The proposed cut to the fund alarmed state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, a pediatrician who called it a short-sighted move that could harm state and local efforts to respond to potential outbreaks.

“When you erode our public health infrastructure, it’s going to curb our ability to respond effectively and quickly to health and safety,” he said. “It’s all about prevention. We need the capacity to track down and fight contagious diseases. When we don’t, people get sick and die.”

Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County, said the fund was key during a bacterial meningitis outbreak at Santa Clara University in February 2016.

A few months before the outbreak, the county had already hired employees to create emergency preparedness protocols and work in the infectious disease lab. So when the outbreak occurred, Cody and other staff members were able to act quickly to diagnose students and request free vaccines from the state to stem the disease’s spread before tourists flocked to the area for Super Bowl 50, Cody said.

“We needed to mount a rapid and sure public health response to protect the students and to communicate very broadly what we were doing and that everyone was safe,” Cody said. “Right now we have enough of an infrastructure in place that we can turn on a dime and serve the people of Santa Clara County. Prior to this, it was much more of a nail biter.”

In Sacramento, the fund helped launch the Healthy Sacramento Coalition, which has worked with the county public health department to track chronic disease trends in minority and low-income communities, said Diane Littlefield, vice president of programs and partnerships for the Sierra Health Foundation. In 2011, the foundation received a three-year, $500,000 grant from the fund, via the CDC.

Though federal funding for the coalition ended in 2013, it continues to educate people about health in 15 disadvantaged Sacramento ZIP codes and promote healthy eating, tobacco-free living, access to clinical services, social and emotional wellness and safe physical environments, Littlefield said.

County health departments and nonprofit groups say they’ve been working with budgets already shrunk during the recession. Many doubt the state can backfill federal public health funding if the replacement plan cuts the fund.

“Prevention isn’t very sexy – we don’t talk about it a lot until we have a problem,” Littlefield said. “If we dismantle the infrastructure that’s in place, we won’t be able to respond to crisis immediately.”

Claudia Buck contributed to this report.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636@SammyCaiola


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article137303703.html#storylink=cpy

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Fresno High-Speed Rail — March 8, 2017

California must drop high-speed rail if it is serious about its roads and dams. How can the Governor, in clear conscience, raise taxes on the poor and continue this unneeded project (see MOORLACH UPDATE — High Speed Shafter — June 21, 2016 june 21, 2016 john moorlach)?

Television stations KSEE and KGPE out of Fresno provided me an opportunity to give another prophecy in the piece below. Predicting financial debacles has become my hobby. And high-speed rail will be a boondoggle of massive proportions. Hit the link, as the video is well worth watching (see Your Central Valley).

A little clarification. My old and dear friend, Henry Perea, Sr., former Fresno County Supervisor, provides the pro-side of this debate. His son, Henry, Jr., was, until recently, a California Assemblyman. So, in the piece, Henry, Sr. is identified by his son’s former title. Henry, Sr. recently ran unsuccessfully for the Mayorship of Fresno and is a highly regarded leader in this community.

Funding Woes Spell Trouble For High Speed Rail Project

By: Eric Luttrell

http://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/funding-woes-spell-trouble-for-high-speed-rail-project/668398828

California’s High Speed Rail project is in trouble after a one-two punch from the Federal Government, and word that a critical California revenue stream appears to be drying up. Leaders of the sixty four billion dollar project trying to figure out what to do next after word that president trump is pulling funding for a critical component of the Rail system ..along with disastrous numbers from a vital cap and trade auction.

Fresno County Assemblyman Henry Perea addressed the Trump administration’s decision to stop a half billion dollar grant for construction of a major component of the "blended" bullet train system on the San Francisco Peninsula. "And they’re saying that pending the completion of their budget they want to hold of for the $647 million dollars for the electrification of cal train" Perea says. He adds funding for the valley portion of the project remains secure.

Washington, D.C is only part of the problem. A recent California cap and trade auction projected to generate six hundred million dollars for the project only produced ten million. "Everybody knows deep inside that the minute that train is done, Southwest Airlines will reduce the cost of their plane tickets and you’ll get to San Francisco in one hour, not four, and you’ll do it a lot cheaper on a jet. and that train will languish and be the biggest boondoggle in U.S.. history", according to Senator John Moorlach, (R), Costa Mesa.

Assemblyman Perea says the central valley portion will be built.. what comes next is anyone’s guess. "we’re confident that we will complete the valley system on time within budget we will connect to the silicon valley", said Perea, adding that he remains confident in Governor Brown’s vision for the project.

Perea says the trump administration should reconsider it’s priorities.

"when you think about now some folks wanting to build a fifty billion dollar wall , on the southern border of our country instead of spending the money to build high speed rail another major infrastructure project it shows that there is a level of politics",

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MOORLACH UPDATE — SCA 1 Warranty — March 7, 2017

Our introduction of SCA 1 in yesterday’s UPDATE provided an editorial endorsement today (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SCA 1 — March 6, 2017 march 6, 2017 john moorlach). Sweet!

The Fox & Hounds piece below provides a thorough discussion of the topic in a very concise and professional manner.

SCA 1: A Warranty on Government Promises

Joel Fox

By Joel FoxEditor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2017/03/sca-1-warranty-government-promises/

California legislators can prove they believe their own promises if they pass Senate Constitutional Amendment 1 guaranteeing taxpayers would not be liable if the Secure Choice retirement plan for private workers has financial troubles.

During debate over the Secure Choice plan legislators in support of the idea insisted that neither taxpayers nor businesses would be liable if the retirement plan could not meet its financial obligations. Business opposed the plan until amendments were made to the law providing protection from liability.

Now it is time for taxpayers to get similar liability protections by having the legislature put Sen. John Moorlach’s SCA 1 on the ballot for voters’ approval. Moorlach wrote the proposed constitutional amendment to give long-term assurance to taxpayers. “While some language safeguarding taxpayer funds was included in the original bill, there is nothing prohibiting a future legislature from changing the law – and increasing taxpayer liabilities for private sector retirement systems – by a simple majority vote,” Moorlach wrote.

Secure Choice was authored by Senate president pro tem Kevin De Leon to create a retirement program for approximately six million workers who do not have a retirement plan offered by their employers. Secure Choice is a state run retirement savings plan. Private employers with five or more employees are required to enroll employees and make payroll deductions into the state retirement plan. Signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, the plan will take a couple of years to become operational.

Business opposed the bill until the liability amendments were made but businesses still have responsibilities under the law. There is also the additional issue of Congress reversing an action of the Obama Administration that untangled programs like Secure Choice from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) that posed potential business liabilities. Business will have to consider if Congressional action would put businesses in jeopardy.

One of the criticisms of the plan was that Secure Choice conceivably might need to rely on taxpayers for a bailout in difficult economic periods if retirement investments don’t meet their goals. There is precedent for such concern as a I wrote after the bill was signed. I noted that when Gov. Gray Davis signed extended benefits for public employees with SB 400 in 1999, promises were made that additional tax revenue would not be needed to meet the new public employee pension obligations. Now public agencies are being asked to increase payments (in other words, pony up more taxpayer money) to cover retirement costs that are outstripping the investments that were supposed to pay for them.

Taxpayers were promised a similar scenario would not play out under Secure Choice. Okay, legislators, back that promise by approving the constitutional amendment that would prohibit the state from incurring debt under Secure Choice or transferring General Fund money for the program (beyond start-up costs.)

Think of SCA 1 as a product guarantee for government work.

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