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

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