MOORLACH UPDATE — SKY FELL — July 15, 2016

The concerns about the future impact of utilizing a defined benefit pension plan to provide a retirement benefit for public employees is sinking in, to steal a phrase (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Sinking Further — July 13, 2016 july 13, 2016 john moorlach).

Bob Citron, former Orange County Treasurer-Tax Treasurer, relied on returns that the market could provide. Well, the market doesn’t always cooperate, as he sadly found out. But, the participants in the Orange County Investment Pool, and their advisers, assured everyone that everything was fine. They arrogantly stated that they knew what they were doing, that they had done it for years, and that adequate reserves were in place. Unfortunately, the media bought into these lines.

Six months after the conclusion of my failed campaign, Orange County was in Federal Bankruptcy Court with a Chapter 9 filing. But, just a few short months before this occurred, a reporter with the OC Register once again went after me with the "Chicken Little" theme (see 9/11 Lookbacks september 12, 2009 john moorlach).

The headline was front-page, the top-of-the-fold, of the Business section, and it read "O.C.’s SKY DIDN’T FALL — Government: Critics of the tactics of Treasurer Robert L. Citron had predicted financial doom." It was another piece of evidence how reporters can be misled by individuals who are directly benefiting from a particular investment structure.

I really tried to prevent the train wreck that Orange County endured. I’m trying to do the same with pension plans. So, you can see that when I found that "SKY FELL" was an available license plate, I grabbed it.

The OC Register and its sister publications, in the piece below, provide an editorial that shows that the OC Register now "gets it." Thank goodness. Now the participants of CalPERS and its plan sponsors need to appreciate the predicament they are in and start discussing solutions. The time for arrogant platitudes has to stop.

SYMPATHIES: Allow me to share my sincere condolences on the loss of my colleague, Senator Sharon Runner. She passed away yesterday after fighting serious health issues. It was a deep honor to serve with her and wish her families comfort at this time. For news stories, see http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-california-republican-sen-sharon-runner-of-lancaster-dies-2016-7 and http://www.courthousenews.com/2016/07/14/california-senator-sharon-runner-dies-at-62.htm.

LA Daily News

EDITORIALS

Is sky falling on state’s pension finances?

The beleaguered California Public Employees’ Retirement System has been plagued by exceedingly generous retirement benefits for government employees, overly optimistic actuarial assumptions and some years of poor investment performance — exacerbated by excessively risky, politically driven and otherwise bad investment decisions, including the questionable use of private equity firms with large fees.

It now has only about 73 percent of the assets needed to cover its liabilities.

Unfortunately, the news is not getting any better, as the pension fund lost 2 percent of its market value during the just-ended fiscal year. That is significantly below the pension system’s 7.5 percent assumed annual investment return and discount rate. If the pension fund underperforms, or other actuarial assumptions turn out to be overly optimistic, taxpayers have to make up the difference.

And it looks to be much more than the case of just a bad year or two. In fact, the next three to five years are expected to be “a challenging market environment, not just for CalPERS, but for all investors,” CalPERS chief investment officer Ted Eliopoulos said during a committee meeting. “It’s going to test us.”

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, knows a thing or two about failed government investments, having gained fame — and public office — after predicting Orange County’s bankruptcy in 1994. “What has me baffled is that this is causing me great anxiety, but it does not seem to have the same impact on my colleagues in Sacramento,”Mr. Moorlach told the Orange County Register. “The governor has just signed the largest budget in state history, but he is not making any effort to prepay CalPERS, a 7.5 percent interest-rate charging debt.”

“CalPERS, like virtually all of its peers, is in deep denial about its fix,” writes Yves Smith on the nakedcapitalism.comblog. “While CalPERS is effectively accountable to no one, by virtue of having a protected status in the state constitution and an exceptionally weak and cronyistic board, if it continues with its delusional posture that it can earn its way out of its underfunded position, pushback is inevitable.”

More realistic assumptions would be welcome, but real reform will necessitate reining in government pay and benefits to private-sector levels and replacing the current pension system with 401(k)-style defined-contribution retirement plans for employees.

Some defenders of the status quo, particularly public employees unions, pooh-pooh the dire pension fiscal warnings. Those beating the drum for public pension reform are merely “crying like Chicken Little about how the sky is falling,” Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of unions representing 1.6 million active and retired public employees, insisted to the Register.

But the tales of financial ruin have proven all too true for many governments. For examples of the results without reform, just look at Vallejo, or San Bernardino, or Detroit. Or just ask Sen. Moorlach, who heard the derisive Chicken Little claims more than a few times before Orange County went bankrupt. His license plate, as he related in his recent e-newsletter, says it all: “SKY FELL.”

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Sinking Further — July 13, 2016

Yesterday’s themes return today (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Likely to be Flat — July 12, 2016 july 12, 2016 john moorlach).

I brought up the disappointing CalPERS performance on the Senate Floor last month, when I expressed my opposition to the State Budget bill on June 15th (see http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senator-moorlachs-warning-state-budget). I was hoping the net return for the last fiscal year would again be 2.4 percent, although I was sensing it would be closer to zero.

The Fox & Hounds piece, the first below, expresses what many shared with me as I was making calls to personally invite as many friends and supporters as possible to tonight’s "Teddy Roosevelt" event (see the invitation below).

The agenda item on modifying term limits was continued at yesterday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting and it is covered by MyNewsLA in the second piece below.

Believe it or not, these two subjects are related. Some Supervisorial candidates accept public employee union contributions, endorsements, and independent expenditures. Even in Orange County, the unions have a significant toehold. Keeping terms shorter, thus allowing Supervisors to avoid considering the long-term impacts of their fiscal decisions in bargaining unit negotiations, has been the cause of what will be the next "Citronesque" fiscal debacle. I’ll try to leave it at that, but you may want to reread MOORLACH UPDATE — Seeking Independence — July 3, 2015 july 3, 2015 john moorlach.

CalPERS Sinks Further into Fiscal Insolvency

David Kersten
By David KerstenKersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2016/07/calpers-sinks-fiscal-insolvency%EF%BB%BF/

Orange County Register reporter Teri Sforza quietly released a story that blows the whistle on another fiscal bombshell of bad news at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).

The story states that according to unofficial preliminary numbers from CalPERS the fund lost about 2% of its market value in the 2015-16 fiscal year that just ended–which represents an estimated $28.5 billion increase in the fund’s unfunded liabilities, according to my rough calculations.

The fund assumes a 7.5% per year annual return despite the fact that no investment officer in the country believes that is achievable in the current environment.

Stanford Professor Joe Nation estimates CalPER’s total unfunded liabilities have increased to an estimated $150 billion, compared to $93 billion just two years ago, according to the Orange County Register report.

And if one assumes a more realistic 4% rate of return (a “Treasury” or “risk-free” rate) the funded liability for Calpers alone is now $412 billion, or the equivalent of three state general fund budgets, Nation said.

For anybody who knows the numbers, and I do, CalPERS is speeding down the track toward financial catastrophe but none of the state’s leading Democrats will even acknowledge that there is a major problem here.

And this ignorance of the problem by California Democrat politicians is perhaps what is most upsetting to me and the small community of pension reform advocates that fully understand the magnitude of the problem and what this means for the state’s future.

The lone voice in the legislature for reform continues to be Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) who has a significant background in public finance and accounting.

“What has me baffled is that this is causing me great anxiety, but it does not seem to have the same impact on my colleagues in Sacramento,” Moorlach said.

Inside sources say most if not all California Republican State Legislators in Sacramento understand the magnitude of the problem but there is not much to be gained politically by going out on the issue prior to a critical mass being reached for reform.

The true culprit for this code of silence in the Legislature is the state’s powerful public employee unions, their political threats, failed logic, and propaganda on the issue.

Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, says the pension reformers are a case of “crying like Chicken Little about how the sky is falling,” according to the Orange County Register report.

Low and the state’s public employee union bosses are playing a dangerous game here that will inevitably blow up in their face and result in major financial hardship, lost benefits, and jobs for their public employees at some point in the not so distant future.

Low won’t even acknowledge a problem with the escalating liabilities, and this is the same position taken by the California Democrat Legislature.

This is an unconscionable policy position to anyone who cares about the future of our state and illustrates why the California Democrat Party is no longer fit to lead California.

California Democrat politicians are too tied to their base which is the public employee unions, and are unable to make decisions that will benefit the state’s future and prevent financial catastrophe.

This whole facade is rapidly deteriorating and the problem will soon become so big that nobody will be able to ignore it.

The only question, is whether it will be too late to save the State of California and its local governments from financial disaster at this point, or whether we will first cross a point of no return that permanently saddles our public agencies and state taxpayers with trillions of dollars in debt that we cannot afford to pay.

David Kersten is an expert on fiscal issues and teaches a masters’ course on public budgeting for the University of San Francisco.

OC Supervisor Nelson defends term limits proposal

POSTED BY HOA QUACH

http://mynewsla.com/orange-county/2016/07/12/oc-supervisor-nelson-defends-term-limits-proposal/

Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson Tuesday defended his proposal to ask voters to approve a change to the county’s charter that would allow supervisors to serve three consecutive terms before leaving the office.

Nelson placed the issue on the agenda of today’s board meeting, but it was postponed until a later meeting because officials are still researching if past service can be counted against any incumbents such as Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who is on a second tour of duty on the board having first served on the board from 1997-2002. He was elected again to the board and started another term in 2013.

Jon Fleischman, president of the California Term Limits organization, criticized how the proposal was placed on a supplemental agenda for today’s board meeting “without substantial public discourse” beforehand.

Fleischman also objected to the supervisors getting three terms.

“We believe that two terms is better than three terms because we believe by that third term you start to detach from public life,” Fleischman said.

While it was “not ideal” to let supervisors get termed out and return after sitting out for some time, as Spitzer has done, “it’s preferable to three (consecutive) terms,” Fleischman said.

“If this is placed on the ballot we will oppose it,” Fleischman warned the supervisors. “And we will make a big deal out of it. We think it’s a bad idea.”

Nelson said he placed it on the agenda at the request of state Sen. John Moorlach, who first proposed the idea.

Nelson said the “loophole” that allows elected officials to be termed out after being re-elected, but then allows them to run again, ought to be closed because it violates the spirit of term limits that voters have approved.

“I think there should be a lifetime ban” after the three terms, Nelson said. “When people voted for term limits we understood it to be a lifetime ban.”

And 12 years appears to be the best way to do it, Nelson said.

“I think three terms is the appropriate amount, not because I served two,” Nelson said. “I’m planning on running for something else, if anything.”

Nelson said he is planning to run for judge.

Twelve years is enough time for an elected leader to get experience to participate in all of the committees and other agencies that go along with being supervisor, such as work on the Orange County Transportation Authority board, Nelson said.

“I think term limits are a pretty good idea and they should be for life, and a reasonable time — not too long and not too short,” Nelson said.

–City News Service

You’re Invited to a Moorlach for Senate 2016 Fundraiser

WHEN: Wednesday, July 13th — 5:30 – 7:30 PM

WHERE: Pacific Club — 4110 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach

SPECIAL GUESTS: Chris Epting – Author of "Teddy Roosevelt In California — The Whistle Stop Tour That Changed America" and Shaun MacGillivray — Producer of The IMAX Movie "National Park Adventure"

Celebrating the Centennial of the National Parks Service

OPPORTUNITIES: Individual Tickets: $250, Co-Host: $4.200, Gold Sponsor: $2,000, Silver Sponsor: $1,000, and Bronze Sponsor: $500

RSVP: David – david

Paid for by Moorlach for Senate 2016 (ID# 1376462)

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Likely to be Flat — July 12, 2016

The OC Register is on top of it. As you can imagine, our office tracks the rate of return data that CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) provides on its website on a regular basis. I’m very concerned. For the fiscal year that just ended on June 30, 2016, it looks like CalPERS will not achieve its 7.5 percent assumed rate of return.

When you have $400 billion in liabilities, not earning 7.5 percent puts this system behind another $30 billion! Doing simple math, this means that the plan sponsors will have to pay another $1 billion per year over the next 30 years. This doesn’t take into account the 7.5 percent interest rate. So, using a mortgage calculator, you find that the actual cost is 150 percent higher. Municipalities in CalPERS are looking at paying an additional $2.5 billion each year over the next 30 years.

Let’s get to some specifics. Plan sponsors are the state, some 30-plus counties, and cities, maybe yours, that utilize CalPERS as its public employee defined benefit pension plan provider. This means that you, as a resident of your city, will be chipping in to pay this additional cost. It may mean that some of your city services will be cut in order to find the necessary funding within the city’s existing budget.

With interest rates at all-time lows and the stock market at all-time highs, things will get very awkward for CalPERS if interest rates rise and the stock market adjusts downward. It could mean another poor performing year for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.

The OC Register provides the news in the first piece below and reminds me that I am proud of my license plate: SKY FELL.

The next three pieces deal with the topic of term limits for the OC Board of Supervisors. The first is from the OC Register and the next two are from the Voice of OC.

On the subject of term limits, I said my peace in MOORLACH UPDATE — Term Limits Plus — January 26, 2012 january 26, 2012 john moorlach. I stated that an elected official is just hitting his or her stride after serving close to two terms, and I have not changed my position. Supervisor Nelson is bringing my 2012 idea back up and it will be voted on at this morning’s Board of Supervisors’ Meeting. I did throw in my two cents and that has me included in this topic. But, as far as I know, neither Supervisor Nelson or myself want to serve additional terms (I am able to serve another two terms under the current law.)

Thirdly, you are invited to attend my District Fund Raiser tomorrow evening at the Pacific Club. The topic will focus on a famous camping trip, one that changed this country as to how it handles public lands. I look out my window for Half Dome on my flights back home to the District. This backpacker has enjoyed numerous backpacking excursions in Yosemite. Get ready for a fun summer reflection. The details are immediately below.

Fourthly, my wife and I now have a daughter-in-law. Our oldest son married his beautiful bride this Saturday and the Moorlach family had a wonderful weekend in Inyo County for a beautiful ceremony in the shadows of the Eastern Sierras. Highway 395 was part of the setting for the destination wedding, and it is filled with wonderful personal memories, making it fun to reflect and share that "life is a highway." Congratulations to Caleb and Monika!

Finally, I want to share my condolences to the Bergeson family on the loss of former State Senator and Orange County Supervisor Marian Bergeson. She played a big role in the journey that I have been on. I want to thank the Bergeson family for allowing Marian to have nine decades of impact in and on our state and county.

You’re Invited to a

Moorlach for Senate 2016 Fundraiser

WHEN:

Wednesday, July 13th

5:30 – 7:30 PM)

WHERE:

Pacific Club

4110 MacArthur Blvd

Newport Beach, CA 92660

SPECIAL GUESTS:

Chris Epting – Author of

"Teddy Roosevelt In California

The Whistle Stop Tour That Changed America"

and

Shaun MacGillivray — Producer of

The IMAX Movie

"National Park Adventure"

Celebrating the Centennial of the National Parks Service

OPPORTUNITIES:

Individual Tickets: $250

Co-Host: $4.200

Gold Sponsor: $2,000

Silver Sponsor: $1,000

Bronze Sponsor: $500

RSVP:

David – (714-824-0256)

david

Paid for by Moorlach for Senate 2016 (ID# 1376462)

WATCHDOG STAFF COLUMNIST
Another tough year for CalPERS
Public retirement fund lost billions. Blip or trend?

Read online HERE

By TERI SFORZA

Public workers are pumping more money into retirement funds. Public agencies are pumping more money into retirement funds.

Yet the market seems distinctly unimpressed.

The California Public Employees Retirement System – the nation’s largest – lost about 2 percent of its market value in the fiscal year that just ended, according to unofficial numbers published last week on the CalPERS website. This came despite doubled-down efforts to beef up its bottom line.

The value of CalPERS investments was $293.7 billion on June 30, down from $301.9 billion one year earlier, according to CalPERS’ daily valuation report. That number accounts for daily movement of some assets but not others, which are updated quarterly.

Challenges are expected to continue for years, even as the wave of graying baby boomers heads into retirement.

CalPERS is slated to release its official 2015-16 numbers next week, and declined to discuss details with the Register beforehand (though officials noted that the fund’s July 7 value was nearly $295.7 billion.) But last month, Ted Eliopoulos, CalPERS’ chief investment officer, tried to prepare officials for a bumpy ride going forward.

“Last fiscal year, our return was 2.4 percent,” Eliopoulos said during a committee meeting. “And this fiscal year, as we head into July, we’re likely to be flat, which is a nice way of saying zero.”

The next three to five years are shaping up to be “a challenging market environment, not just for CalPERS, but for all investors,” Eliopoulos added. “It’s going to test us.”

Projections from independent third parties are “materially lower” than what CalPERS forecast just two years ago, he said. With its current mix of investments, CalPERS can expect a total return of just 6.4 percent over the next decade.

It has assumed a return of 7.5 percent.

That difference is of great import, because investment income is the bulk of public pension payments. And since pension payments are guaranteed, any shortfall would have to be made up by taxpayers.

‘GREAT ANXIETY’

Whether this represents a bump in the road or a major sinkhole depends on who you ask.

“What this means is simple: employers, employees and taxpayers will pay more to keep CalPERS afloat in the future,” said Joe Nation, a professor of public policy at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and a former Democratic Assemblyman.

A zero return this year would likely drag CalPERS’ 10-year average rate of return below 6 percent, yet the system continues to assume returns of 7.5 percent per year, Nation said. That means unfunded liabilities grow.

Those unfunded liabilities – the difference between what CalPERS has and what the agency has promised to pay people for work already performed – are about $150 billion, compared with $93 billion just two years ago, Nation said.

And if one assumes “a more realistic 4 percent rate of return” (a “Treasury” or “risk-free” rate) “the unfunded liability for CalPERS alone is now $412 billion, or three state general fund budgets,” Nation said.

David Crane, a research scholar at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research who was an adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said CalPERS needs to earn much more than that assumed 7.5 percent rate to keep unfunded liabilities from growing.

Public agencies and workers will see their required contributions to pension funds continue to rise, said state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. His back-of-the-napkin calculations put the hike at an extra $1 billion next year, to try to make up lost ground.

“What has me baffled is that this is causing me great anxiety, but it does not seem to have the same impact on my colleagues in Sacramento,” Moorlach said. “The governor has just signed the largest budget in state history, but he is not making any effort to prepay CalPERS, a 7.5 percent interest-rate charging debt.”

While many on the left attack the big bank bailouts that taxpayers were forced to fund during the Great Recession, these anemic returns will force taxpayers to bail out government pension programs, said Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member.

“Both bailouts are wrong,” said DeMaio, a Republican. “It is time for action.“

DeMaio and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, have been pushing for a ballot initiative to address the problem.

‘CHICKEN LITTLE’

Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, said he expects critics like Crane, Nation, Reed and DeMaio to be “crying like Chicken Little about how the sky is falling.”

“They were awful quiet when returns were double digits, but now they will raise the same straw man arguments about why pensions are out of control,” said Low, who heads a coalition of public labor unions representing some 1.6 million people.

Investment returns are by nature volatile, Low said, and the impact on Joe Citizen is minor for several reasons.

“When returns exceed expectations, they are folded into the fund and smoothed over a funding period. When returns are below expectations the same process occurs. Therefore, they generally balance out over time,” he said.

CalPERS’ average return over time has been pretty much right on the projected mark, and expectations have been lowered over recent years; employers and employees continue to make contributions to the fund; and just as citizens don’t see changes when CalPERS earns double digits, they don’t see changes when returns are down, Low said.

“Maybe we should also think about how everyone’s 401(k) plans did this past year and what that means for retirement security,” he said.

An independent report from Wilshire Associates in Santa Monica, a CalPERS consultant, warned that forward-looking assumptions are quite low but cautioned CalPERS against taking chances to try to regain ground.

“While the reduced portfolio return expectation vs. three years ago could encourage additional risk-taking in an attempt to maintain a higher expected return, such action would seem contrary to the committee’s long-term plans for portfolio de-risking,” it said.

Eliopoulos, CalPERS’ chief investment officer, was optimistic and stressed teamwork while delivering his sober news last month.

“Of course we can’t predict the future,” he said. “And we hope we’re surprised by the upside.”

Contact the writer: tsforza

Orange County supervisor proposes change to term limits

Read online HERE

By JORDAN GRAHAM

An Orange County supervisor has proposed a countywide initiative for the November ballot that would change term limits for him, his colleagues and future board members.

If approved, supervisors would be allowed to serve a maximum of three four-year terms in their lifetime and could serve all three consecutively. They are currently limited to two consecutive terms, but there is no lifetime limit.

“Is 12 years lifetime better than an eight-year revolving door? That’s the issue,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who proposed the initiative this week, saying he wanted to give supervisors enough time to become experienced but not allow the same faces to repeatedly return to the board. “Under this, you could serve three terms in a row, and then you’re done forever.”

However, the new rules could let some current supervisors stay longer. The initiative cannot count past board service, according to state law, potentially allowing Supervisors Nelson and Todd Spitzer to serve consecutively well beyond what current term limits allow.

Nelson said he doesn’t plan to benefit from his proposed change, saying, “I don’t plan to seek another term on the board. I intend to run for judge.

“There’s never a time to propose it where it won’t look like someone might benefit, but right now you have three people on the board in their first term,” he said. “Now is the best time to do it, because it changes the least.”

Supervisors Andrew Do, Michelle Steel and Lisa Bartlett are in their first terms. Under the proposed change, Steel and Bartlett could each serve two more consecutive terms. Do, who was elected in a 2015 special election, could serve three more full terms.

Spitzer – who previously served six years on the board before being elected to the Assembly and then returning in 2012 – could serve an additional 12 consecutive years. And Nelson, who will be termed out in 2018 under the current rules, could run for an additional two terms.

According to county records, Spitzer is the only county politician ever to be termed out as supervisor, leave for another office, then return to run again. The county’s term limit rules were passed in 1996, and before that some supervisors served as long as two decades.

However, a local campaign account titled Friends of Supervisor Janet Nguyen 2020 had $261,621 at the start of this year in support of the current state senator should she decide to run for supervisor again. Nguyen served on the county board from 2007 to 2014.

Nelson said the impetus to alter term limits came from state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who wrote the board asking supervisors to change the rules. He proposed a similar change as a supervisor in 2012, but the board rejected it by a 3-2 vote.

Supervisors will vote Tuesday whether to place the initiative on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. Supervisors Spitzer, Do, Bartlett and Steel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Contact the writer: jgraham or 714-796-7960

Nelson Draws Flak for Proposing to Extend Supervisors’ Term Limits

Read online HERE

By Nick Gerda

Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson has proposed an extension of term limits for county supervisors, prompting criticism from prominent fellow Republicans who claim it’s a last-minute deceptive move to benefit himself.

Nelson’s proposal, which was revealed last week and is up for a vote by supervisors Tuesday to place it on the November ballot, would extend supervisors’ term limits from two four-year terms to three four-year terms and impose this as a lifetime limit.

The county’s current law allows a termed-out supervisor to run again for the office as long there’s a gap in which he or she is not on the Board of Supervisors.

Nelson is in his second term and will be termed out in late 2018 under the current law. But if his proposal goes to the ballot and voters approve, Nelson’s term limits clock would reset to zero, giving him up to 12 extra years as a supervisor.

Nelson says his proposal is rooted in a similar effort in 2012 by then-Supervisor John Moorlach. Both Nelson and Moorlach argue that it takes years for supervisors to get up to speed in understanding the complexities of county government and policy.

“Forcing an individual out of office after eight years of service (as is current practice) only diminishes a Supervisor’s and his/her staff’s ability to capitalize on the years of education and experience to achieve significant and sustained reforms on behalf of Orange County taxpayers,” wrote Nelson and his chief of staff, Denis Bilodeau, in a staff report on the new proposal.

Nelson has also said recently that he isn’t planning to seek another term as supervisor in 2018, instead aiming to run for a judgeship.

But some of his colleagues, as well as a prominent local Republican activist, are crying foul.

“With no conversation about this, there are a lot of frustrated people that are very angry…this thing came out of nowhere,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer told Voice of OC on Monday.

“He’s made campaign promises [before], and then he’s figured out how to get around those campaign promises. He unequivocally said he wouldn’t take the pension” but created a ballot initiative “that required him to take the pension,” Spitzer added.

“It’s rushed, there’s been no dialogue, no transparency, and it’s completely self-serving…the whole thing is just crazy to me.”

Local GOP activist Jon Fleischman railed against Nelson’s proposal in a blog post last Friday.

“Nelson’s cynical ploy – if he can grab two co-conspirators – would create an entire board of career politicians, taking in their big paychecks and building up massive pensions, while avoiding a return to private life,” Fleishman wrote.

“Nelson’s proposal also cynically is framed to ask voters if they want a three term-limit for Supervisors, without making it clear that there is already a two-term limit in place!”

Fleishman also wrote that Supervisor Michelle Steel, a close ally of Fleishman’s, “strongly opposes” placing Nelson’s measure on the ballot. A spokeswoman for Steel didn’t dispute the characterization.

Nelson didn’t return a phone message seeking comment for this story.

Spitzer said he’s not opposed to having a conversation about term limits, but that it should be done in a way that invites public input and isn’t led by someone with a direct interest in the outcome.

“The Board of Supervisors today are still being punished [through the current term limits] for the sins of the 1994 supervisors that created the bankruptcy,” Spitzer said.

“I think it would be helpful to have a conversation about term limits in general, but not in a rushed fashion when it affects Nelson and he’s the one leading the conversation, and he’s not included the public at all.”

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. He can be reached at ngerda.

Santana: It’s Time to Talk Change for OC Government

Read online HERE

By Norberto Santana, Jr.

It might actually be their most honest moment ever.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson and state Sen. John Moorlach – two conservatives who often talk about how much they miss the private sector – apparently want to stick around public life a bit longer.

Tuesday they’ll propose that the county supervisors’ term limit be extended by one term, allowing a supervisor to serve three consecutive terms for a total of 12 years in office.

“When term limit policies are brought forward, many times public officials must learn on the job and are forced from office before attaining the knowledge and skill set required before they can make substantive positive changes,” wrote Moorlachlate last month in asking supervisors to consider the idea.

Now while some conservatives, like Flash Report Publisher Jon Fleischman, are raging hot over the idea – as term limits have now become a Republican mantra – it is important to listen to what Moorlach and Nelson are really saying.

Most supervisors don’t know what they are doing.

And just about when they figure out the job, it’s time to move on to the next electoral office.

That creates a dangerous trend.

It’s a fact that Orange County residents are now governed by the most politicized board of supervisors in history.

You get crime victims’ monuments at Irvine Regional Park for Supervisor Todd Spitzer (who is vying for DA) and statues to a Vietnamese general, a Mexican hero and Ronald Reagan for County Supervisor Andrew Do (who is up for re-election in November) at Mile Square Park.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Michelle Steel has produced a dog beach area and Supervisors’ Chairman Lisa Bartlett has become an expert at pet events.

Nelson is still working on getting a bike lane loop finished after nearly eight years in office.

All fluff. All the time.

Meanwhile, our supervisors ignore the real problems they were hired to fix, like homelessness, civilian oversight over police, infrastructure spending, social services and health care.

All these agencies run on auto pilot.

That is until it’s time to publicly embarrass a county department head at the weekly supervisors’ meeting, complaining that government doesn’t work.

Now keep in mind that old-time supervisors didn’t have term limits.

They got elected. And then did what they thought was right.

That ended when they bankrupted the county in 1994.

Ever since then, supervisors have been talking about reforming local government here in Orange County.

Term limits is basically the only reform they ever get to.

Debating what else to do has become a bit of a sport with no game day.

Nearly twenty years after the anniversary of the bankruptcy and the reform panel anointed to plot out solutions, the best supervisors can do is to try to figure out how to stick around longer for a job they say they hate.

We need a real discussion about how our local government should be working.

We are, after all, driving around a car – county government – built in 1889.

Ironically, this week, I’ll be joining Rick Rieff, the Orange County Register’s opinion Guru Brian Calle and Common Cause’s Bill Mitchell on Inside OC, broadcast on PBS so Cal, to talk about what kinds of structural changes are really needed in local government.

Here’s a tip.

We need much more complex fixes than term limits.

We need a public that is engaged because while you weren’t watching, your politicians – Republicans and Democrats – gave you a police state out of simple inertia.

Most of your cities are increasingly moving to have their discretionary budgets primarily focused on police and fire services.

That is what offers key political endorsements for politicians so that’s where the discretionary budget focus in local government has increasingly moved in recent decades.

With tight budgets and given what’s happening across our nation on police relations, many politicians at the city level – note Santa Ana and Westminster most recently – have said they will cut every other service rather than police.

At the county level, the sheriff’s department and the district attorney’s office are already taking up an increasing portion of the discretionary budget.

Which prompts the question, what do we need county supervisors and council members really to do if so much of our discretionary budget spending is public safety and the rest is pass-through mandates from the federal and state government?

At the county do we need all five supervisors and their million dollar staff budget each?

Is there a better way to spend $5 million?

Most entitlements for residential development in county areas are done.

Supervisors now only meet on average, a few times a month.

Should they be part-timers? Do we need a countywide elected CEO?

Most importantly, state policies like ballot initiatives like Prop 47 and legislation like AB 109 have changed how we jail residents – mainly because of the costs of jailing them.

Yet we can’t expect to put police officers in the midst of social upheaval and just ask them to keep things calm by themselves.

Instead of complaining about new approaches like Prop 47 and AB 109, local politicians need to get to work and actually turn on the other levers of government – things like social services, health care, parks, open space and libraries – in order to turn things around in problem neighborhoods, where we are spending so much of our public safety budget.

Getting at root problems actually solves things.

The rest, like talking term limits, is deck chairs.

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Fruit Basket — July 5, 2016

I’ve only been in the State Legislature since last March. But, I’ve now gone through two budget cycles and a few bargaining unit ratification exercises. And I’ve seen a massive long-term spending initiative — the minimum wage — approved within hours of its introduction, similar to SB 400 back in 1999 (which began the massive public employee defined benefit pension plan enhancements that are now coming home to roost).

Consequently, with a Governor and Legislature that does the following, bad things are going to happen in the future.

1. Approve ever increasing annual budgets without fully addressing long-term unfunded liabilities and deferred road maintenance.

2. Agree to bargaining unit agreements that give larger salary increases in order to have employees pay for their retiree medical, which only exacerbates the defined benefit pension plan liabilities (and not one employee will actually fully fund their retiree medical — a sad smoke and mirrors maneuver).

3. Granting a 50 percent increase in the minimum wage, from $10 to $15, that not only impacts a significant number of state employees who perform in-home support services, but also puts significant pressure on other government jobs through wage compaction or where their contracts are tied to some multiplier of the minimum wage​.

Add to this recipe an investment market that is not providing positive results for the last two years, thus requiring ever increasing pension plan contributions, and you can see the mess that has been created.

But, that’s not all, this group also wants you to approve bond measures in the fall that will further impact the state’s annual budgets in the decades to come.

Locking in major spending initiatives is reprehensible. No wonder the cry for ever more taxes is all we’re hearing.

What else is there to do? Stop the massive spending increases? Not with this majority running Sacramento.

Hire brighter contract negotiators? Not with a Governor who is beholden to these very same employee unions.

Stop caving in to ballot-measure leverage? No. This Governor would rather offer a similar terrible deal than to fight the public employee unions that gathered the necessary signatures.

Their answer is to continue raising taxes and fees, hoping that it doesn’t exasperate the state’s high income generators enough to push them to move out of state. Not a week goes by without someone telling me that they are leaving California. This weekend, it was a young couple heading for Ohio.

Let me remind you that the state’s budget is supported by taxes, of which two-thirds comes from personal income tax. Of those that pay, some 17% pay 87% of these tax revenues.

In fact, some 1 percent pay 50 percent, which is confirmed by the LA Times article, the first piece below.. To make the point, I joked about sending a fruit basket to these taxpayers to thank them for staying in California. I guess reporters do listen in on hearings.

Taxpayers are listening. The OC Register has a letter to the editor that reacted to an "all is fine at Caltrans" submission this past week. Someone in Tustin gets it and his comments are in the second piece below.

BONUS: The third piece is an invitation to participate in my July 13th fund raiser. For me to continue our efforts to share some fiscal saneness in the Capitol, I need you to assist financially in any way that you can. Please invite as many of those who deserve a fruit basket to attend. You will enjoy hearing Chris Epting’s account of President Teddy Roosevelt’s visit to California, a major excursion for that day. His insights will amaze you. I hope to see you then.

Can Gov. Jerry Brown keep the promises he made with Proposition 30?

By Chris Megerian

The day after California voters helped patch the state’s recession-battered budget by approving Proposition 30’s temporary tax hikes in 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown promised to treat the money as a short-term stopgap.

“It will be my goal to make sure the state is in such fiscal health that we can keep gliding into the future without having to go back to the well for more taxes,” he told reporters at the time.

Four years later, making good on both of those commitments — keeping the taxes temporary and keeping red ink out of California’s budget — has presented a predicament for Brown.

A coalition of unions and other advocacy groups is pushing a new initiative, which will be on the November ballot as Proposition 55, that would keep some of Proposition 30’s taxes instead of letting them expire as Brown pledged.

Proposition 30 raised the sales tax by a quarter-cent through 2016, and it increased income tax rates on individuals making at least $250,000 annually until the end of 2018. Proposition 55 would let the sales tax hike lapse but keep the higher income tax rates until 2030.

Without the increased revenue, the state could face a $4.3-billion deficit in the coming years, according to Brown administration estimates. The gap would be even larger if California’s economy slows down or is struck by another recession.

Rather than “gliding into the future,” Brown would be forced to slash spending shortly before finishing his final term.

The scenario is “not pretty” and education funding could face billions of dollars in cuts, said Jennifer Wonnacott, a spokeswoman for this year’s tax campaign.

“Schools are just beginning to recover from the cuts that were made during the recession,” she said. “But there’s still a long way to go.”

The money from Proposition 55, which nonpartisan legislative analysts estimate would range from $4 billion to $9 billion annually, would go to local schools, community colleges and public healthcare.

Brown has not endorsed the initiative, but neither has he opposed it. Once it became clear that the tax campaign was moving forward earlier this year, Brown insisted that supporters tweak the proposal and ensure that some of the money raised would be deposited into the state’s newly strengthened rainy-day fund. The original version had exempted the revenue from that requirement, which Brown called a “fatal flaw.”

Brown has insisted that the state can manage any deficit that could occur, whether or not voters pass Proposition 55.

“I am prepared to manage without it,” he said in May. “I am prepared to manage with it.”

Critics feel Brown is trying to have it both ways — keep the budget balanced but avoid backtracking on his promise that the taxes would be temporary.

“There’s a wink involved,” said Joel Fox, a conservative political consultant who campaigned against Proposition 30 four years ago.

The tax extension is being pushed by some of the state’s most powerful organizations, including the California Teachers Assn., the California Medical Assn., the Democratic Party and the Service Employees International Union.

Also on board are top Democrats, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Treasurer John Chiang, who are jockeying to succeed Brown in the governor’s office. Legislative leaders in the Capitol endorsed the initiative, too.

“It’s something we need in order to continue to make sure that our fiscal shape continues to be healthy,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). “I think we need it in order to preserve programs I think are important at the current funding levels.”

Brown pushed for Proposition 30 in 2012 after promising voters he wouldn’t raise taxes without asking for their permission. At the time, the state was facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit and Brown was slicing money from government programs for the poor to make ends meet. Without the taxes, he said, there could be billions of dollars more in cuts to schools.

Brown pushed for Proposition 30 in 2012 after promising voters he wouldn’t raise taxes without asking for their permission. At the time, the state was facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit and Brown was slicing money from government programs for the poor to make ends meet. Without the taxes, he said, there could be billions of dollars more in cuts to schools.

Brown pushed for Proposition 30 in 2012 after promising voters he wouldn’t raise taxes without asking for their permission. At the time, the state was facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit and Brown was slicing money from government programs for the poor to make ends meet. Without the taxes, he said, there could be billions of dollars more in cuts to schools.

In the years since Proposition 30 passed, the state’s economy has rebounded, contradicting opponents’ warnings that higher taxes would choke growth. Brown has also restored spending that was cut during the recession, although not as much as his fellow Democrats in the Legislature would like. They’ve urged him to loosen the purse strings even more when it comes to child care, public healthcare and other programs.

Brown has refused, warning about the possibility of another recession and insisting on bigger deposits into the state rainy-day fund.

“The surging tide of revenue is beginning to turn,” he said in May.

California is particularly vulnerable to economic downturns because it relies heavily on taxing the wealthy, whose incomes rise and fall with an unpredictable stock market. Roughly half of the state’s income tax revenue came from 1% of taxpayers in recent years, according to state statistics. State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) joked during a Wednesday hearing that lawmakers should send California’s wealthiest residents a fruit basket to thank them for not moving to more lightly taxed states.

It’s an issue Brown and the Democrats who control the Legislature have not addressed. Betty Yee, the state controller in charge of managing Sacramento’s cash flow, has called for changes to stabilize California’s finances, but she’s also endorsed extending the Proposition 30 income taxes.

“The revenues generated by this temporary tax on higher incomes will be needed to pay California’s bills with minimal reliance on external borrowing,” Yee said in a statement. “However, this is not a permanent fix, but rather another sign that we must immediately get to work on comprehensive tax reform in this state.”

It appears that Californians are inclined to agree. In a poll released in April by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, 62% of likely voters said they supported extending the taxes.

It’s unclear how much opposition there will be.

“I don’t see much money for the campaign,” Fox said. “There will be people on radio talk shows, maybe some mail.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., a reliable opponent of tax measures, said it would oppose the extension. The National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small business owners, has spoken out against it as well.

If voters agree to extend the taxes, what happens when they come close to expiring a second time? Wonnacott didn’t make any promises.

“Any decision to whether to pursue another extension or not would be made in the future,” she said.

For his part, Brown isn’t telling voters how they should treat Proposition 55.

“I’m leaving that to the people of California,” he said.

chris.megerian

Twitter: @chrismegerian

Letters: Caltrans spending money in wrong places

Re: “Improving Caltrans requires new revenue and reasonable reforms” [Opinion, June 30]: Mr. Brian P. Kelly thinks there should be an increase in user fees for transportation infrastructure. The users have been paying higher fees than any other state in the union. According to AAA, “California motorists pay $13.5 billion in related taxes, fees and other charges,” July/August Westways magazine. The same magazine states, “The state’s general fund owes $20 billion in general obligation bonds used for transportation, as promised to voters when they approved them in 2006.” The monies the people of California pay for road repair and or new construction are being used elsewhere. We need to get those monies back where they belong along with getting the proper leadership in Caltrans. Sen. John Moorlach is trying, but other senators and assemblymen need to step up.

Mr. Kelly sounds like a long-time politician: All we need is more money, so just tax some more. What we need is people that will spend the money in the department it was designed for.

Tom Parker

Tustin

You’re Invited to a

Moorlach for Senate 2016 Fundraiser

Please Join:

Assemblyman Travis Allen – Assemblyman Bill Brough – Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang – Assemblyman Matt Harper – AssemblywomanYoung Kim – Supervisor Andrew Do – Supervisor Shawn Nelson – Irvine Mayor Steven Choi – Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait – Costa MesaMayor Steve Mensinger – OC GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker – OC GOP Chairman Emeritus Scott Baugh – Michael Capaldi – Dr. JustinMcCusker – Rick Muth – Mark Bucher

SPECIAL GUEST:

Chris Epting – Author, discussing one of his most recent books,

in honor of the National Park Service Centennial

Topic:

"Teddy Roosevelt In California — The Whistle Stop Tour That Changed America"

Opportunities:

Co-Host: $4.200 – Gold Sponsor: $2,000 – Silver Sponsor: $1,000 – Bronze Sponsor: $500 – Individual Tickets: $250

When:

July 13th 2016 – 5:30 – 7:30 PM

Where:

Pacific Club

4110 MacArthur Blvd

Newport Beach, CA 92660

RSVP:

David – david

Paid for by Moorlach for Senate 2016 (ID# 1376462)

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Religious Liberty — July 1, 2016

Allow me to focus on spiritual matters before I get to the political ones. First, the issues raised by SB 1146 continue to draw media attention (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Oblivious — June 28, 2016 june 28, 2016 john moorlach).

The Religion News Service provides its perspectives in the first piece below, which was picked up by a number of other media outlets. The Christian Science Monitor also provides it take in the second piece below. It is a very thorough review of the entire bill.

Recently, I recognized the Orange County Rescue Mission as the first recipient of what should become the annual tradition of recognizing nonprofit organizations. One of the highest priorities of Christian-based organizations is loving your neighbor as yourself. The Orange County Rescue Mission exemplifies this mandate in an exceptional manner. In fact, I was sworn into the State Senate last March in their chapel in the city of Tustin. The Orange County Breeze provides the news inthe third piece below.

The fourth piece is another attempt to send you a photo of me and a recent visiting dignitary. My apologies to those who did not receive it last time (including my blog).

The fifth piece is an analysis of the General Election, as propositions keep being added to the November ballot. I voted against AB 2444 on Wednesday, in the Senate Governance & Finance Committee, because the state cannot endure any more debt and there are more propositions this year than we’ve seen in the past sixteen. The LA Times covers this topic in detail.

The sixth piece is the conclusion of a column in the Daily Pilot about campaign events. Save the date. Chris Epting will be presenting his recent book, "Teddy Roosevelt In California — The Whistle Stop Tour That Changed America."

Please accept my wishes for a safe and sane Fourth of July weekend with family and friends. Happy 240th Birthday, U.S.A.!

California bill would limit exemptions for religious colleges

By Kimberly Winston

(RNS) A bill wending its way through the California Legislature would limit religious colleges’ ability to claim an exemption from federal Title IX regulations that bar discrimination against LGBT students and faculty.

Only schools that prepare students for pastoral ministry would be allowed the religious exemption under California Senate Bill 1146 — which passed the state Senate in May and is scheduled for a hearing in the state Assembly on Thursday (June 30).

In other religious schools that receive Title IX money, students who believe they have faced discrimination on the basis of their sexual identity would have the right to sue the school.

The bill would also require religious schools to inform prospective students if the schools have a Title IX religious exemption.

Title IX, a 1972 law, forbids colleges that receive federal money from engaging in sexual discrimination. While Title IX does not expressly deal with sexual orientation, courts have upheld its use to protect LGBT students from harassment, bullying and discrimination in schools that receive Title IX money.

While the law is seen by some as an attempt to get California religious schools to comply with the state laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, it could have national implications. Human Rights Watch, which calls the Title IX religious exemption “a license to discriminate,” reports there are 56 schools nationwide that have requested such exemptions, including Wheaton College, Liberty University and George Fox University.

Forty-two California colleges qualify for Title IX religious exemptions, according to the National Center for Law & Policy, a California-based Christian legal defense group. At least seven have applied, including Biola University, Simpson University and William Jessup University.

The bill is proving divisive. Some see it as a long-overdue advance in protecting LGBT students, while others view it as an infringement on the religious freedom of schools that adhere to forms of Christianity that reject homosexuality as sinful.

“This threatens religious institutions ability to require that students attend daily or weekly chapel services, keep bathrooms and dormitories distinct according to sex, require students to complete theology classes, teach religious ideas in regular coursework, hold corporate prayer at events such as graduation, and so on,” Holly Scheer wrote in The Federalist, a web-based magazine. “In other words, it threatens every practice that makes religious institutions distinct from secular institutions.”

But state and local LGBT rights advocates support the bill.

“Prospective students have a right to know if a university they are considering attending discriminates against LGBT people,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This bill would let any school seeking to skirt federal anti-discrimination protections know that its policies would be public, and that anyone discriminated against would have legal recourse.”

State Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican whose district encompasses a swath of Southern California coastline, voted against the bill in the Senate.

The bill “does not safeguard against discrimination, but rather is a form of discrimination against religious liberty itself,” he said in a statement to constituents. “Restricting private institutions from adhering to its religious beliefs is a violation of their First Amendment rights and an act itself of intolerance.”

Would California bill infringe on religious liberty of Christian colleges?

FINDING PATTERNS

The legislation, passed by the state Senate in May and taken up by the state Assembly Thursday, would, among other things, allow LGBT students to sue religious educational institutions.

By Harry Bruinius

NEW YORK — When the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right last year, many religious conservatives worried that simply maintaining their traditional views could be considered acts of discrimination.

And now, as lawmakers in the blue-state bastion of California debate a bill that would limit the religious freedom exemptions of private colleges and universities, many are saying their fears are starting to come to pass.

The California legislation, passed by the state Senate in May and taken up by the state Assembly on Thursday, would allow lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students to sue religious educational institutions if they were denied married student housing, dorms, or bathrooms consistent with their gender identities, or otherwise subject to rules of conduct that singled out their sexuality or identity.

“It just seems hard to believe that a state could punish a private, Christian educational institution for simply having behavioral expectations for their students and staff, and in accordance with their faith-based teachings,” says Chelsen Vicari, the Evangelical programs director at the Institute on Religion & Democracy in Washington, D.C. “This doesn’t make sense to me.”

Since the landmark Supreme Court ruling last June, religious conservatives and Republican lawmakers have worked to expand religious freedom laws – allowing florists, bakers, and, in some cases, even public clerks to opt out of participating in same-sex wedding ceremonies, if doing so violated their sincerely held religious beliefs.

It is an attempt to hold together traditional religious beliefs on marriage in a dramatically transformed social landscape, some scholars say. To many conservatives, such efforts stand within America’s traditions of pluralism and tolerance, as well its unique traditions of religious freedom.

In many ways, supporters of the California bill move in the opposite direction, seeking to expand a new social norm into the private spheres of religious institutions. They seek to require conservative religious institutions themselves to fully accommodate LGBT students, in a way akin to social mores about racial equality, or face legal sanctions. Only seminaries and schools who prepare students for ministry would maintain the long-held religious exemptions to certain federal and state antidiscrimination laws.

“These universities essentially have a license to discriminate, and students have absolutely no recourse,” said state Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara, sponsor of the bill, in a hearing last week. “Universities are supposed to be a place where students feel safe and can learn without fear of discrimination or harassment.

Mississippi’s opposite path

The constitutionality of both the red and, should the California bill become law, blue state paths are likely to have to be worked out in the courts, legal experts say.

On the same day the Assembly took up California’s bill, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Mississippi law an hour before it would have taken effect. Legal experts said Mississippi went further than any other state by allowing those with a moral, rather than religious, objection to refuse service to LGBT residents. It included protections for a wide array of professions including public clerks, foster care, and counseling services.

Calling it “a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Judge Carlton Reeves said that by choosing particular beliefs for protection, the law unconstitutionally “put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others.”

In liberal California, legislators appear to be putting a legal thumb on religious beliefs that are said to constitute discrimination, some suggest.

The California bill also would require religious colleges that claim an exemption from federal and state antidiscrimination statutes to publicly disclose the reasons for seeking such exemptions in “prominent locations” around campus and on school websites. Schools would also need to disclose these reasons to all prospective students, and during all orientation programs every semester.

The California bill goes further than the federal government: This spring, the United States Department of Education included on its website a searchable database of colleges seeking federal religious exemptions to Title IX.

Furthermore, colleges would be required to submit any materials concerning their exemptions to California’s Student Aid Commission, which disburses state funding for students. The state commission would then maintain a list of all religious schools seeking exemptions, along with their reasons, and post it on the commission’s web site.

“Prospective students and employees have a right to know if the school they are considering attending or working at will treat them with dignity and respect, or will make them a target of discrimination,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, in a statement.

The new bill, Mr. Zbur said, “makes that bias public, and will inform students, faculty and staff at these academic institutions and allow individuals to protect themselves.”

Alarm at religious colleges

Republican lawmakers and the administrators of dozens of religious colleges and universities in California have reacted with alarm, seeing the bill not only as an aggressive encroachment on their fundamental religious liberties and right of free association, but a confirmation that last year’s Supreme Court ruling could make traditional views on marriage essentially against the law.

"This bill confirms those fears. The slippery slope has begun,” says state Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican representing a district in southern California, in an email. “[The bill] is an illustration of the building discrimination against religious entities in the U.S. [and] a direct assault on religious liberty.”

Barry Corey, president of the Evangelical institution Biola University in La Mirada, says his community’s behavioral expectations – including strict antibullying policies for all students – including LGBT students who chose to attend his school, does not mean it has to conform to changing cultural mores on sexual conduct and gender expression.

“Faith-based colleges and universities are not asking for the freedom to discriminate,” Mr. Corey wrote in an opinion piece in the Orange County Register this week. “We are asking for the constitutionally protected freedom to live according to deeply held and time-honored beliefs within a pluralistic society.

“Religious educational communities are valuable for a pluralistic democratic society insofar as we are allowed to be who we are and are not legislated to look, believe and behave in the same way as the dominant culture,” he continued, adding that society is stronger when traditional Jewish, Muslim, and Christian institutions can remain distinct. “If all institutions were forced to walk in homogenous lockstep in terms of belief and behavior, democratic society would falter, if not crumble.”

Whose discrimination?

But advocates of LGBT rights maintain the issue is actually similar to well-established mores regarding race. In a Supreme Court case in 1983, Bob Jones University, which forbade interracial dating and only admitted married blacks, was stripped of its tax exempt status and forced to pay millions in back taxes.

Conservatives question the validity of that comparison, citing Scripture.

“Scripture does not talk about marriage between races as sinful,” says Ms. Vicari at the Institute on Religion & Democracy. “There are expectations for Christian sexual ethics that simply can’t be ignored.

And for conservatives, the aggressive California bill could be a warning sign that those who hold traditional beliefs could themselves face discrimination and become social pariahs.

“This is not a new kind of intolerance, but it is a redirected one,” says state Senator Moorlach. “Restricting a private institution from adhering to its religious beliefs is a violation of their First Amendment rights and an act itself of intolerance. [This bill] does not safeguard against discrimination, but rather is a form of discrimination against religious liberty itself.”

Orange County Rescue Mission to be honored at first California Nonprofits Day Celebration

NON-PROFIT
Courtesy photo.

Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) joined the California Association of Nonprofits to honor the Orange County Rescue Mission as the 2016 California Nonprofit of the Year from the 37th Senate District. Orange County Rescue Mission President Jim Palmer joined Senator Moorlach to accept the award at a luncheon at Sacramento’s Sheraton Grand Hotel, with a keynote address from Sacramento mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg, and presentations featuring Assemblymember Richard Gordon and Jan Masaoka, CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits).

Acting as a dynamic community organization, the Orange County Rescue Mission seeks to “minister the love of Jesus Christ to the Least, the Last, and the Lost”. In 2015, the Rescue Mission provided over 1 million meals, 156 thousand hot showers, and some 57 thousand medical examinations. With multiple shelters and a consortium of affiliated aid-oriented organizations, the Orange County Rescue Mission is poised for many years of incredible and life-saving service to the community.

“I have been a long-time supporter of the Orange County Rescue Mission. Jim Palmer, and his wonderful staff, do incredible work with the least, the last, and the lost of Orange County. This recognition is well-deserved,” said Moorlach.

“Nonprofit organizations are vitally important to the economy and well-being of California. But too often nonprofits are ‘hidden in plain sight.’ We are thrilled that the State Assembly has passed a resolution putting the spotlight on nonprofits as an economic power that uses that power for the common good. We congratulate all of the award recipients on being honored for the great work they do every day to make California a better place,” said Jan Masaoka, CEO of California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits), a statewide alliance of over 10,000 organizations, representing and promoting California’s growing nonprofit sector and working to bring the full power of nonprofits to strengthening communities.

This article was released by the Office of Senator John Moorlach.

California’s very long November ballot is now official — and it might get even longer

By John Myers

California elections officials announced Thursday that 17 measures have earned a spot on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot, a bumper crop of voter choices ranging from marijuana legalization to repeal of the death penalty and even new workplace rules for actors in adult movies.

It is the longest list of state propositions on a single ballot since March 2000, and could grow longer still as lawmakers consider placing three more measures on the ballot in August.

“Hardly anything on this ballot is boring,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego who studies the initiative process. “These are all hot-button issues, and ones that will generate big time advertising expenditures.”

Four of the propositions earned a spot on the fall ballot with only hours to spare on Thursday, including two tax proposals and a sweeping prison proposal championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Millions of Californians signed petitions to place the initiatives on the fall ballot, signatures collected on street corners and in shopping mall parking lots. Political consultants said this was one of the most challenging seasons for signature gathering in recent history, with some campaigns paying for-profit companies as much as $5 per voter signature.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla finalized the list on Thursday, as required by law 131 days before an election.

Six of the 17 propositions seek to amend the state constitution. They include Brown’s effort to revamp the rules on parole from state prison, and a requirement that neither house of the Legislature pass any bill that hasn’t been available for public review for at least three days.

Nine measures will ask voters to enact new state laws, with proposals on everything from new background checks for buying ammunition to a $9-billion bond for school construction and modernization projects. Voters will consider, too, the merits of an effort to impose a cap on prescription drug prices paid by state healthcare officials that will be fought with an expensive opposition campaign by the pharmaceutical industry.

The ballot also includes a referendum — voters will choose to accept or reject a law that bans single-use plastic bags statewide. That law was signed by Brown in 2014 and will take effect only if voters cast a “yes” vote on the referendum.

While some of the issues seem relatively simple on the surface, others will likely require voters to take a much deeper look.

“It’s not only a very long ballot, it’s also a very complex ballot,” said Beth Miller, a Republican political strategist.

Miller, whose firm is working against a November initiative to raise tobacco taxes by $2 a pack, said the challenge for all ballot measure campaigns this fall is finding a way to cut through the political noise generated by as much as $500 million in total spending on TV commercials, mailers and other advertising.

“It’s definitely going to be challenging for the campaigns to get voter attention,” she said.

Ballots loaded full of propositions were a staple of California elections as recently as the 1980s and 1990s, and were common, too, in the early years after the state’s initiative process was created in 1912.

This fall’s statewide ballot could have been even longer, were it not for a 2014 state law that allowed initiative proponents to negotiate with the Legislature even after submitting enough signatures to qualify a measure. Bolstered by a successful initiative campaign, backers of a $15-an-hour minimum wage forced the governor and lawmakers to take similar action in March.

John Matsusaka, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at USC, said the historical average is 17 propositions, the same as now slated for November.

“I think there’s pretty good evidence that voters make good decisions if they have the time,” he said.

Matsusaka’s research finds no significant evidence that voters facing a long ballot skip over some propositions — a common fear among campaign consultants — but rather that they simply seem to get angry at having to wade through a long list.

“The longer the ballot, every single proposition gets more ‘no’ votes,” he said. “And a tight race on a long ballot could fail.”

While Thursday marked the official deadline, the fall ballot could potentially get even longer by the end of August. Three additional proposals are making their way through the Legislature: Two bond measures for housing and parks projects, and one effort to reclassify some property crimes as felonies, which supporters say would fix a 2014 initiative passed by voters.

In a state Senate committee hearing on Wednesday to consider the proposed parks bond, lawmakers admitted that they worry about further expanding the panoply of propositions for the fall.

“I’m having a real tough time saying, how do you add one more?” asked state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

john.myers

Political Landscape: 3 Costa Mesa council candidates plan events

By Daily Pilot staff

Moorlach schedules reelection event

State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) is planning a reelection event for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 13 at the Pacific Club, 4110 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach.

Chris Epting, an Orange County history book author, will be a guest speaker.

RSVPs are requested by calling David Mansdoerfer at david.

Moorlach is running against Ari Grayson, a Democrat from Laguna Beach, in the November election for the 37th District state Senate seat.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Oblivious — June 28, 2016

The Governor signed the Budget last evening. KRON Channel 4 and the Los Angeles Daily News provides the coverage in the first piece below.

SB 1146 has finally achieved "e-mail forwarding" status. Thanks to the many who have sent or forwarded me e-mails concerning this legislation. For the record, I tried to tell you about it (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 899 and SB 1146 — May 27, 2016 may 27, 2016 john moorlach).

Western Journalism provides its perspective, in the second piece below, on the comments in a correspondence I placed on my website (see http://district37.cssrc.us/content/sb-1146-response).

With so many college campuses in California for a high school graduate to chose from, including the CSU and UC systems, that offer hedonistic freedoms, one wonders why someone preferring such a lifestyle would even select a campus that strongly emphasizes chastity. Oh, well. Get ready for headlines on the topic tomorrow.

There’s also a BONUS at the bottom. A photo with last week’s visitor to the Capitol.

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs budget of more than $122 billion

By Jonathan J. CooperAssociated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state budget Monday that uses a slice of California’s revenue surplus to boost assistance for the poor and send more money to universities but keeps other new ongoing spending commitments to a minimum.

The Democratic governor did not use his line-item veto authority to erase any specific budget items, leaving the budget the Legislature approved intact for the first time since 1982, when Brown was in his first spin as governor. It’s the fourth time since 1966 that a governor has declined to veto a portion of the budget, with vetoes sometimes reaching well over $1 billion, according to data from the Department of Finance.

In negotiating with Democratic legislative leaders on the $122.5 billion spending plan, Brown secured a commitment to boost the state’s rainy day fund, pay down debts and use cash instead of debt for building maintenance and construction.

Using billions for savings and one-time purposes is a victory for Brown, who warns repeatedly that California’s current budget surpluses are based largely on capital gains income of wealthy taxpayers. That revenue will quickly plummet during economic difficulties, he says, forcing the state to take back money approved during the boom times.

“This solid budget makes responsible investments in California and sets aside billions of dollars to prepare for the next recession,” Brown said in a statement announcing that he has signed the budget.

Brown has suggested that he’ll later be judged on how well the budget weathers the next recession. His predecessors saw their popularity plummet when they were forced to accept steep spending cuts, he said.

“I don’t want to repeat these errors, because we had two governors who were riding high. And paradoxically, that very moment when everyone’s feeling the best is the very moment when the recession is about to hit,” Brown said last month. “So instead of pulling back in the last two recessions, the state of California accelerated its spending and therefore made the budget cuts all the more painful.”

Brown’s signature allows state agencies to continue operating for another year after June 30.

But even as Brown signed 13 budget-related bills, several related measures remained in limbo. The Senate budget committee declined to endorse an energy spending bill Monday morning when lawmakers said they hadn’t had time to understand provisions Brown’s administration had added late.

The Senate and Assembly also have yet to agree on a natural resources budget bill.

Brown negotiated the spending plan with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles.

The package includes a $2 billion additional deposit in the state rainy day fund on top of the $1.3 billion contribution required by the state constitution, bringing the total balance to $6.7 billion. The budget also includes a regular reserve of $1.75 billion to cushion against a drop in revenue. Another $2 billion was earmarked for deferred maintenance and state building construction.

Brown also secured $270 million in bonds for jail construction, though he would have preferred to use cash. Democratic lawmakers fought unsuccessfully to cut the jail funds that they say would be better spent on rehabilitation programs.

Lawmakers agreed earlier in the year to reserve $240 million to fund future health care costs for state workers once they’re retired, a priority for Brown.

“Our final product means California is in stronger fiscal shape than we have been for years,” Rendon said in a statement.

However, Brown has made little progress in his quest to raise taxes or fees to fix crumbling highways.

And despite his reluctance to bless new ongoing spending, Brown gave in to several priorities for Democratic lawmakers, including an expansion of state-funded day care that will eventually cost $500 million a year. He also agreed to repeal a welfare policy known as the maximum family grant, which denies additional aid to families that have more children while receiving aid, at a cost of more than $220 million a year. A special account will take over the long-term cost, limiting the general fund hit to the next three years.

The main spending plan was approved by lawmakers June 15 with only one Republican vote. GOP lawmakers said the budget sets the state on the course for deficits despite Brown’s effort to limit recurring costs. They also criticized the lack of funding for road construction.

“It’s a budget that seems to pay lip service to an upcoming recession and doesn’t do anything aggressively to deal with our unfunded liabilities,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. “So it’s as if it reflects a rising economy with an oblivious legislature.”

The budget raises vehicle registration fees from $70 to $80 a year starting in April, to generate $400 million a year for the Department of Motor Vehicles, California Highway Patrol, Air Resources Board and other departments.

Brown and legislative leaders agreed to set aside $400 million for low-income housing, assuming lawmakers and Brown can agree on a plan to bypass construction review processes in certain neighborhoods. The policy has drawn strong opposition from neighborhood activists who fear it will allow developments that change the character of their communities.

Calif. Senate Bill Would Severely Restrict Religious Freedom For Universities

"… a freedom that is constitutionally protected.”

R. McKinley

A bill currently in the California Senate would strictly limit the freedom of religious schools to admit and teach students, hire professors, and engage in religious practices in line with their beliefs.

Senate Bill 1146 was sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, who represents the 33rd district of California. His purpose in drafting the legislation was to prevent religiously affiliated schools from obtaining exemptions from Title IX, a federal law that was originally intended to prevent discrimination against women in educational programs that receive federal funding. The U.S. Department of Education has recently attempted to extend the protections to transgender students.

Schools can currently get exemptions from certain requirements that, if followed, would undermine their religious beliefs. The bill would force schools that have obtained exemptions to inform the California Student Aid Commission, as well as students and staff.

Under current law, schools do not have to disclose this information. The bill would also allow students who claim to have been discriminated against under the exemption to file a lawsuit.

“All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether they are public or private,” Lara said in a statement. “California has established strong protections for the LGBTQ community and private universities should not be able to use faith as an excuse to discriminate and avoid complying with state laws. No university should have a license to discriminate.”

Organizations supporting the bill include the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Equality California and the Transgender Law Center.

“Students and staff have a right to know when their school requests a license to discriminate against the LGBT community,” said Dave Garcia, director of policy and community building for the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “This bill will protect LGBT people who work and study at private universities and will allow all Californians to be more informed.”

Equality California also supports the measure. “Prospective students have a right to know if a university they are considering attending discriminates against LGBT people,” said Rick Zbur, the organization’s executive director. “This bill would let any school seeking to skirt federal anti-discrimination protections know that its policies would be public.”

Not every state senator is in agreement. Sen. John Moorlach of the 37th district wrote in a letter to constituents, “Senate Bill 1146 goes far beyond the appropriate role of government designed to provide protections against discrimination. In fact, Senate Bill 1146 discriminates against private and independent universities that hold themselves and their student body to a certain moral code that is thousands of years old. Punishing private institutions for adhering to long-held codes of conduct consistent with their beliefs is inappropriate and destructive to our education system. This legislation unfairly targets the beliefs of the schools, their students and community.”

Moorlach based his stance on constitutional rights, such as the freedom of religion. “Senate Bill 1146 does not safeguard against discrimination, but rather is a form of discrimination against religious liberty itself,” he wrote. “Restricting private institutions from adhering to its religious beliefs is a violation of their First Amendment rights and an act itself of intolerance.”

It should be noted that the California Constitution expressly protects both freedom of religion and freedom of speech, as well as guaranteeing the right to “assemble freely.”

The consensus among religious schools that would be affected by the bill is that it would severely limit their religious freedom and educational mission.

Jon R. Wallace, president of Azusa Pacific University, said he listened to the testimony on the bill and believes those involved all want the same things for students — “care, love, safety, and security.”

“The California higher education system has always been robust,” Wallace said. “I really think this is a solution looking for a problem.”

Wallace discussed the diversity of the Los Angeles area, which has dozens of cultures and languages, as well as many religious institutions. He described religious schools as filling a need in the area. “The church wants a place to send students,” he said. “The danger [with the bill] is that the important voice of religious schools could be silenced. This bill guts student choice. [These schools] are safe places for students [to explore their beliefs] in Christian environments.”

Concordia University Irvine concurs. “As written, the bill would severely limit our schools’ ability to faithfully live out our religious mission,” Kurt J. Krueger, president of Concordia, said in a letter written to the Assembly’s judiciary committee chairman. “The ability of a Lutheran Christian university like ours to act in a manner consistent with our religious tenets and mission is not a problem to be solved, but a freedom that is constitutionally protected.”

Richard Kriegbaum, president of Fresno Pacific University, pointed out that the issue the bill purports to address seems to not be an issue on religious campuses.

“The bill would be bad public policy in part because the bill seeks to force schools to address an issue that does not exist on our campus or at other similar schools,” he stated in an email. “No data-based or even anecdotal evidence supports the existence of mistreatment or lack of educational success among the LGBT students who choose our school(s).”

Holly Scheer, writing in The Federalist, makes the point that no one is forcing students to attend universities whose beliefs and teachings they disagree with. “It seems sensible that if you don’t want an education imbued with the values of a religion—any religion—attending classes at a religious school would be a poor choice for you,” Scheer writes. “This is not a day or age of limited academic choices.”

The bill will go before the state Assembly Judiciary committee on Tuesday.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Tampon Tax — June 23, 2016

The purpose of having a bill go before various committees is to have appropriate debate based on the benefit of having multiple eyes reviewing the proposed legislation.

The joy of being up in Sacramento is that I’ve had twenty years of local government experience. Cities and counties have to bear the brunt of bills passed in the legislature and signed by the Governor.

The author and co-authors of AB 1561 have a righteous bill, but it does not come at a cost entirely borne by Sacramento. It is easy for those under the Dome to give away someone else’s money. And, it is frustrating to make piecemeal adjustments without looking carefully at the whole. (Get ready for a larger discussion of California’s revenue generating structure next year.)

With that said, I engaged in the debate and argued the position of two organizations that were opposing the bill, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC). Please note that I served on the CSAC Board and, during the last few years of my service as a County Supervisor, served on its Executive Committee. So, it would only be natural that I would defend their concerns.

The Whittier Daily News catches my overall concerns in the first piece below. The Los Angeles Daily News provides the Associated Press piece on the discussion in the second piece below. ABC Channel 10 covers it in the third piece below.

As someone who served at the local level, Sacramento considers bills that takes local revenues away. Believe me, local municipalities are having enough trouble making ends meet (dare I mention pension plans?).

Another recent righteous bill waives tolls to drivers who are veterans. That’s all well and good, but the toll roads need the revenues to pay their bondholders in accordance to the bond indenture.

Consequently, I proposed that the sales taxes paid for tampons during the year, that are supported by receipts, be a tax credit on the State’s Form 540 Income Tax Return. That way the state alone provides the rebate. Otherwise, Sacramento has to figure out a way to reimburse the tax revenue loss to those innocent bystanders of these types of bills. I have no trouble reducing taxes, that’s easy. But, let’s not do it at the expense of someone else without providing a satisfactory remedy.

Local community things to know and do for the Whittier area for June 23, 2016

SACRAMENTO

Committee approves bill to eliminate tampon tax

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s bill to exempt feminine hygiene, i.e. tampon products, from sales tax was approved Wednesday on a 5-0 vote by the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance. It next goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Officials from the California State Association of Counties asked that the exemption not apply to sales tax for cities and counties but the idea was rejected.

“It’s so easy to give away somebody else’s money,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who abstained on the bill. “That’s what we’re doing. We have cities and counties relying on these taxes.”

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said he’s a former 12-years county supervisory but the sales tax is regressive and applies only to women.

“That’s exactly the area we should exempt taxes.” Beall said.

California lawmakers advance bill to end tampon tax

By Darcy Costello, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO >> California lawmakers on Wednesday joined a growing number of legislators in other states showing support for repealing so-called “tampon taxes” on feminine hygiene products.

A California Senate committee approved AB 1561 with a 5-0 vote, sending it to the appropriations committee for further consideration.

Supporters of the bill say tampons and sanitary pads are necessities for women and should not be subject to state taxation.

Five other states have already enacted laws ending such taxes. Two other state measures that were passed this year in New York and Illinois await signatures from governors.

Connecticut exempted the products in its most recent budget bill, which takes effect in 2018. Similar bills are pending in Michigan, Ohio and Washington, D.C.

The co-author of the California bill, Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang of Diamond Bar, called the tax unjust.

“If you think about a sales tax, it’s a tax on luxury items,” Chang said. “This is not a luxury item. You cannot go without this item.”

The bill’s authors estimate that California women spend an average of $7 a year to cover sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

The movement challenging the financial burden of menstruation gained ground Tuesday in New York City, where lawmakers voted to require free tampons and sanitary pads in city public schools, homeless shelters and jails. It would be the first law of its kind if Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio signs it. A similar proposal in the Wisconsin state Legislature has stalled.

In California, Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he was supportive but also concerned about the effect of removing the sales tax on local jurisdictions that rely on it for revenue. He abstained from voting on the bill.

In response, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, acknowledged the need for a comprehensive discussion on the state’s tax policies. Still, he supported the bill, saying feminine hygiene products are a necessity just like food and medicine.

Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills raised her hand with a tongue-in-cheek question: Would the bill include state tax refunds for previous years?

“We should consider that,” Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, its co-author, replied, laughing.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California lawmakers are becoming the latest among several states to advance a measure to repeal sales tax for tampons and feminine hygiene products.

The Senate’s governance and finance committee voted 5-0 Wednesday to eliminate the tax, sending it to the appropriations committee.

At least five other states have enacted similar tax exemptions amidst a national and international movement to exempt the products, which advocates call necessities.

The bill’s co-author, Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang of Diamond Bar, calls the sales tax unjust for women, adding that the law should never have been on the books.

Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa says he is concerned about the effect of removing the tax for local jurisdictions that rely on sales tax as a source of revenue.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — High Speed Shafter — June 21, 2016

Messaging is an important part of what we’re doing here in Sacramento. We’re looking at what is being done and sharing our thoughts with you through these UPDATEs, press releases, and e-mails and social media blasts.

I recently commented on the state’s budget, see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2016-17 Budget Bill — June 15, 2016 june 15, 2016 john moorlach. It was picked up by the Editorial Board for the OC Register and The Press-Enterprise in the first piece below.

The next day it was picked up by the Sacramento Bee’s Editorial Board’s electronic newsletter, The Take, which I edited down for the second piece below. It’s nice that our messages are getting out and that the Bee can give a whole new meaning to "Shafter," the name of a Kern County city (and the home of California State Historical Landmarks #923 and #1022).

On the topic of the ongoing high-speed rail debacle, the LA Times just released a piece on how this project will not pencil out. I know, you’re shocked, just shocked. See http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-bullet-train-subsidies-20160609-snap-story.html.

P.S. I had the privilege to hear and meet the Dalai Lama during yesterday’s Joint Session (see below).

State budget boosts fees
High-speed rail boondoggle still receiving funds from Sacramento.

The California state budget passed Wednesday by the California Legislature came in the shadow of the $7 billion tax extension on the Nov. 8 ballot. The budget is for fiscal year 2016-17, which begins on July 1, and anticipates a $4 billion deficit by 2020 – and that’s if there’s no recession.

The argument will be that, without the extension of Proposition 30, passed in 2012, crucial state budget items will be cut. But the budget jumps $5 billion above the previous year.

On the positive side, the budget places $3.3 billion into the state rainy-day fund, $2 billion more than mandated by Proposition 2, which voters passed in 2014. The fund’s total now will be $6.7 billion. That will prove crucial should the country slide into a recession. The budget increases funding to K-12 education by 4 percent, to $71.9 billion. That fully funds the Proposition 98 mandate that 40 percent of general fund revenues must go to education.

But there are negatives. The budget spends $1.7 billion on the troubled high-speed rail program, although most of that is carried over from previous budgets. Yet just a month ago a “contract revision” delayed the completion of the first link of the system by four years, to 2022, reported Investor’s Business Daily. “Even when completed, the first leg will only run from Madera (population 63,105) down to Shafter, a small town north of Bakersfield.”

And the day before the budget was passed, reported Reuters, “the state announced that it had raised just $10 million from the May carbon permit auction, more than $500 million less than it brought in during the February sale.” Yet 25 percent of that money is supposed to go to the rail project.

The rail boondoggle money certainly could have been better spent fixing the state’s heavily potholed roads. The Sacramento Bee reported, “There is no plan to pay for a $57 billion backlog in repairs to California’s crumbling state highway system.”

“This budget does not position the state for forecasted cost increases in salaries and pension contributions,” state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, pointed out in a statement. “With an Unrestricted Net Deficit of $170 billion, California must stop mortgaging its future and prepare for the next economic recession by paying down debt and putting even more money away in the rainy-day fund.”

The vehicle license fee, better called the car tax, would jump $10, to $80 per vehicle on average, taking in an additional $400 million even as gas prices at the pump have been rising recently and are expected to go higher this summer.

Although the economy is growing now, the state remains only partly ready to weather the next economic slump.

Dalai Lama, guns, Donald Trump’s mistake and summer heat

The Take for Tuesday, from The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board

BY DAN MORAIN

Good morning. On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter.

Their take

The Orange County Register: Sen. John Moorlach is right to warn that California is mortgaging its future. And about that high-speed rail boondoggle, Shafter is a long way from Santa Ana.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy Father’s Day — June 19, 2016

Allow me to wish you a Happy Father’s Day.

The editorial board disappointment concerning the failure of SB 1286 to make it to the Senate Floor continues. The Press-Enterprise and the OC Register weigh in below.

For background on this bill, please see MOORLACH UPDATE — Misconduct — June 2, 2016 june 2, 2016 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Open-Government Bill — May 28, 2016 may 28, 2016 john moorlach, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Other’s Senate Bills – 1286, 443, and 899 — April 18, 2016 april 18, 2016 john moorlach.

BONUS: On his sixtieth Father’s Day, my father is traveling home from South Dakota. He went there to pay his last respects for his younger brother, Meindert.

Many are curious about my name. In appropriate Dutch tradition, the first born son is named after the father’s father. In my case, and in the case of my two first-born male cousins (born to my father’s brothers), we share the first name of Johannes. In the states, John is the easier version.

My middle names are for my father’s two brothers, Meindert (Michael) and Willem (Wim). Hence, the handle John M. W. Moorlach. Last month I adjourned in memory of my Uncle Meindert on the Senate Floor, letting my colleagues know that I had lost the "M."

On this Father’s Day, I want to remember my uncle’s four sons, my American cousins, John, Robert, Richard, and Brian, and their wonderful mother, Aunt Marilyn, at their time of loss. Uncle Mike’s obituary is provided below.

I also want to thank my father for also making the major life decision of moving his young family to California and for being a hard-working, steady, and devoted father to me and my three siblings. Thanks, Dad! I’m sorry for your loss. And I’m so proud that you flew to South Dakota this weekend, with my brother, Edward, to represent the California clan. I love you, Dad!

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Right to remain silent

Public losing out to police in state Capitol

There’s no contest when it comes to police privacy vs. the public’s right to know. The cops are winning all the lobbying battles in the state Capitol this year.

Next up is a bill by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, that would allow a law enforcement officer to block a public agency from responding to a Public Records Act request for body-cam footage or other recordings.

This is an unwise and counterproductive bill, bad for the public and bad even for police in the long run. Yet Mr. Santiago’s Assembly Bill 2533 sailed through the Assembly and is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

The bill – sponsored by the Peace Officers Research Association of California and opposed by the California Newspaper Publishers Association – would require a public agency to provide an officer at least three business days’ notice before posting on the internet any audio or video recording of the officer, recorded by the officer or involving the officer. That would give the officer time to seek an injunction and tie up release of the recording in court, even if the agency wants to comply with the public-records request.

As James Ewart, CNPA’s general counsel, wrote to Asm. Santiago, his bill “would allow a self-interested individual to have a stranglehold over information that the public has an overwhelming interest in obtaining and that a law enforcement agency may want to disclose immediately for the good of the community.”

He cited as an example LAPD’s infamous beating of Rodney King: In a similar case today, if AB 2533 were the law, the agency could not release any officer’s body-cam footage for three days – or more, if the public has to overcome an injunction – while graphic videos by bystanders would be ubiquitous. That would stoke the community’s suspicion about police rather than allaying it, as a quick release of footage might.

The members of the Senate Public Safety Committee should stop this bill in its tracks.

On the other hand, a bill that would have greatly improved transparency for California’s police agencies died quietly in the Senate late last month.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, used his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee to kill SB 1286, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, without debate. The bill had been passed by two Senate committees, but Sen. Lara placed it on suspense May 9 and didn’t bring it back for consideration by the deadline to move bills to the Senate floor.

Sne. Leno’s bill, co-authored by Sens. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa and co-sponsored by the CNPA, the ACLU and other organizations, would have allowed the public access to records of investigations and discipline in police use-of-force cases – but only when a police agency had found its officer had violated public rights, not when there are mere allegations.

It also called for members of the public who file a police misconduct complaint to be told how the department responded to it.

Those are records the public has access to in states like Texas and Utah, for example, but not in California. And our Legislature is keeping it that way.

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Meindert “Mike” Moorlach of Brandon, SD died, Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Dougherty Hospice in Sioux Falls, SD.

Memorial service will be 11:00 am Saturday, June 18, at George Boom Funeral Chapel-Brandon, 2500 E. Aspen Blvd.

Mike was born October 11, 1930 at Uithuizermeeden, the Netherlands, the son of Johannes and Geziena Cornelia (Ausema) Moorlach.

Mike completed his early education in Uithuizermeeden. He attended Milling College following the Second World War. Mike worked in flour mills in Germany, Sweden and Holland while waiting for his visa to immigrate to the United States.

Mike came to the United States in 1956 to work for Montana Flour Mills near Bozeman, MT. After a time, he worked for a flour mill in Fergus Falls, MN where he met Marilyn Miller of Glencoe, MN. They were married on September 23, 1961. After five years living and working for the Moorlach Flour Mill in Holland, they returned to the United States living in Minnesota, Iowa and Utah before settling in the Brandon Valley area of South Dakota.

Mike worked as a salesman for several companies before his retirement in 2009. In retirement, he became very active in scroll-sawing creating many crafts. Later, Mike developed a successful internet business called Mike’s Workshop importing and selling scroll saw blades internationally under the name "Flying Dutchman Scroll Saw Blades."

Mike is survived by his wife, Marilyn; four sons, John (Kate) Moorlach, Indianola, IA, Rev. Robert Moorlach, Jackson, MN, Richard (Kathy) Moorlach, Fishers, IN, and Brian (Hilary) Moorlach, Farmington, MN; five grand-daughters, Meghan, Olivia, Alexandra, Ava, and Amelia; six grandsons, Lane, Leighton, Ben, Matthew, Adam, and Luke; two brothers, Kent (Rita) Moorlach, Buena Park, CA, Wim (Dortje) Moorlach, Uithuizermeeden, the Netherlands; two sisters, Autje Moorlach, Hoogeveen, the Netherlands and Carla Moorlach, Groningen, the Netherlands; along with several nieces and nephews.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Hilje.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Photo Bomb — June 17, 2016

I accidentally "photo bombed" the President Pro Tem, the Budget and Fiscal Review Chair, and fellow freshman Senator Steve Glazer shortly after the state budget was approved by the Senate (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2016-17 Budget Bill — June 15, 2016 june 15, 2016 john moorlach).

Before I could walk away, the world famous Associated Press photographer, Rich Pedroncelli, caught the moment. The photo made it to the OC Register and is in the first piece below.

The OC Register’s Fountain Valley View weekly provides the details of my impromptu participation in the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislator event. I attended every year, as Fountain Valley was in my Orange County Supervisorial District. I received a call the night before, while disembarking my plane, asking if I would come as things came up with the expected legislators. Loyalty makes you be flexible, so I squeezed it in. It’s covered in the second piece below.

BONUS: In a previous update, I informed my readers that my Chief of Staff, Tim Clark, went on to lead Mr. Trump’s efforts in California (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Tim Clark — April 13, 2016 april 13, 2016 john moorlach). After his successful endeavor, he’s decided to stay in campaign mode and will not be rejoining my policy staff at the State Capitol. My staff and I will miss his daily counsel and insight, but we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

I have promoted my Deputy Chief of Staff, Lance Christensen, to the position of Chief of Staff, since he ably handled the challenge while filling in for Tim over the last few months.

I’m currently in the process of finding a Legislative Director who will guide my policy goals and legislation in Sacramento. I have several resumes on my desk, with more on the way, and will be making some decisions soon.

Trish Lenkiewicz and Rob Nash will continue working as my Senior Legislative Analyst and Legislative Analyst, respectively. And if you need to ever schedule a meeting in the Capitol office, Alicia Belmontes is the go to person as my Executive Assistant/Scheduler.

After several months in the Capitol Office, Jacob Ashendorf will take his Legislative Analyst skills back to my District Office and work on coalitions and constituent outreach services.

In my District Office, David Mansdoerfer has been promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff and Scott Carpenter will be my new District Director. Amanda Smith continues to be my Communications Director. And last, but certainly not least, Aly John is my Executive Assistant and District Representative and keeps the office and my District calendar humming.

For more on my staff, please go to http://district37.cssrc.us/content/staff-bios.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, right, chairman of the Senate budget committee receives congratulations from Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, center, after lawmakers approved the 2016-2017 state budget, Wednesday in Sacramento Both houses of the legislature voted to approved the $122.5 billion spending plan sending it to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown who is expected to sign it into law. Second from right is Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. Rich Pedroncelli — The Associated Press

Chamber legislative event mixes business and breakfast

By CURT SEEDEN / GUEST COLUMNIST

If you wanted to know some of the pressing issues facing our elected officials, the place to be was the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Breakfast, which was held Friday at the Mile Square Golf Course banquet facility.

About 100 people attended the free breakfast and heard from state Sen. John Moorlach and Assemblyman Matthew Harper as well as from representatives of other legislators who could not attend the event because they were in Sacramento or out of the country.

The entire City Council also attended, and guests got a city update from Mayor Cheryl Brothers.

The legislative breakfast is put together by the chamber’s Governmental Affairs Committee led by Beth Hambleton from Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, and Chamber CEO Mary Parsons.

Former Mayor Larry Crandall served as moderator.

A wide range of topics was discussed – everything from challenges facing small businesses to the minimum wage, vaccinations and Caltrans issues.

Among those who attended the event that we spotted were my fellow Chamber of Commerce board members Cheryl Westley, Beth Hambleton, Jerry Supernaw, Brian Genovese, Alex A. Accetta, Eduardo Higuchi and Zenia Joyner.

The audience was scattered with familiar faces – and there’s obviously not room to mention everyone – but I saw Fountain Valley School District Superintendent Mark Johnson, City Manager Bob Hall and City Planning Director Matt Mogensen.

Also spotted local business people (and Chamber members) Vince Sosa(Valley West Financial Insurance) Ed Martel (Ed Martel & Associates) and Attorney Kevin Hizon, as well as Michelle Clark from Rainbow Environmental Services, Marisa Demes from Pacific Premier Bank, Bob Marsh from The File Depot, Dao Tran from Hue Oi restaurant, Dina Edwards and Edward Littlejohn from Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, Theresa Fili from Mitsubishi Materials and Jennifer Vaughn from Southern California Gas Co.

The Orange County Association of Realtors was the event’s title sponsor. Gold sponsors: Care Ambulance, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center, Mitsubishi Materials, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, and Rainbow Environmental.

Silver sponsor: Southern California Edison.

Bronze sponsors: Fountain Valley Schools Foundation, Hyundai Motor America, Mimi’s Jewelry and Pacific Premier Bank.

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