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By Jim Mayer
The Internet was humming recently with the news that the California economy has generated $4.6 billion more in state tax revenue than budget writers had anticipated.
Now comes the big question: What to do with it?
Californians in November 2014 are scheduled to vote on a constitutional amendment, the California Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund Act, which would restrict what state officials can do when revenues jump above the 20-year average growth line.
In fact, Californians were supposed to vote on that amendment –championed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and agreed to by the Legislature – in November 2012. But with Read more »
California Legislators Race to Play Catch-Up with Internet Privacy Concerns—and Consumers’ Evolving Online Habits
By Greg Lucas
Sacramento News & Review, April 18, 2013 — Big Brother has been watching since 1949 when George Orwell’s book 1984 was published. He keeps getting better at it.
Orwell’s dystopia is bereft of privacy. “Newspeak” is the language perverted to mirror the policies of the totalitarian government overseen by Big Brother, who peers relentlessly into every aspect of every citizen’s life.
While always more reactive than prescient, the California Legislature can’t help but recognize the threats to businesses and consumers posed by hacking and identity theft. There Read more »
By Christopher J. Steinhauser
Hanging on the wall just outside my office here at the Long Beach Unified School District is a framed, yellowing copy of a budget for a local grammar school from 1913. Created with pencil and ruler, the budget is a simple ledger of revenue and expenditures. It takes up just one page.
Somewhere between 1913 and 2013, school finance in California became a whole lot more complicated. School spending has been tightly controlled by the state through more than 40 well-meaning categorical aid programs, layered one upon the other over the years in order to meet specific needs of specific Read more »
“California lawmakers hurriedly pass hundreds of bills with little or no discussion.”
Words like those will appear in various media reports during the week ending May 31 when Assembly bills must move to the Senate and vice versa.
Even though this feverish several-day flurry of seemingly indiscriminate bill passage occurs annually, it’s a spectacle worth spotlighting.
Change after change to California’s already voluminous body of law swiftly approved after little more than a lawmaker haltingly reading a brief, staff-written summary of the bill that conveys nothing so much as the lack of knowledge the legislator has about the content of Read more »
(From the Sacramento News & Review, March 21, 2013)
If CEQA stood for “Challenge Everything, Question Authority” instead of California Environmental Quality Act, there probably wouldn’t be all this political drama. CEQA would be celebrated. Like YOLO. The Lonely Island might even follow up its “YOLO” tune with a CEQA number:
The system’s insane,
Got bats in the attic.
It’s the right way to go.
Don’t be some button-down schmo.
It’s harder—but not impossible—to build a catchy tune around the California Environmental Quality Act.
“Will the Flurry of Gun-Control Bills Even Matter?”
By Greg Lucas
Sacramento News & Review, January 24, 2013 —The National Rifle Association is right:
People kill people. The use of firearms makes it significantly easier, however.
Put as nicely as possible, guns are facilitators. The number of California thumbtack-related deaths in 2010 pales against the 2,811 deaths involving guns the same year, a little more than half of which were suicides. (In comparison, 12,830 Californians died of lung cancer in 2012. Alcohol contributed to 886 traffic fatalities in 2011.)
Massacring 20 first graders, whether in Connecticut or Karachi, is horrific enough to galvanize politicians—even members of Congress—into trying to Read more »
“State revenues should cover expenses. But the balance will vanish if a bunch of stuff doesn’t break California’s way.”
By Greg Lucas
Sacramento News & Review, January 24, 2013 — Budgets bite. Mainly because spending can’t be more than money received. Budgets allow for spending on some fun stuff, but require saying no to other good stuff, which is usually the really super primo good stuff, since that’s the only stuff for which there never seems to be enough money available in the budget.
For almost all Californians, budgeting means choices among lots of painfully real stuff. Rent, mortgage, sustenance, Read more »
By Greg Lucas
Sacramento News & Review, January 10, 2013 –Perception depends on the perceiver. But also on the perceived.
Loath to buck the fact-based belief of America’s citizenry that they’re a tawdry nest of slack-jawed, self-promoting wastrels, the members of Congress piddled around for months before hurriedly cobbling together a rinky-dink hodgepodge of major tax-law changes, whose principal benefit, albeit temporary, is hastening the removal of “fiscal cliff” from what is generously called a “national dialogue.”
Most Americans did far more good for the economy than Congress or the president simply by completing their holiday shopping. The sniping between Read more »
By Greg Lucas
Sacramento News & Review, December 27, 2012 – Elected officials aren’t mutants from an alternate universe sent to infect our world with madness.
They used to be regular folks anonymously striving to meet their monthly nut, not piss off partners (business or otherwise) and navigate life’s pothole-pocked path without major catastrophe.
That means—at least once upon a time—they made New Year’s resolutions like pledging to drop the balance on the Kohl’s credit card to zero and shed seven pounds—starting right after Super Bowl Sunday—through the miracle of Nancy Pelosi’s kale and dichondra diet.
But now that they’re Read more »
Sacramento News & Review, December 13, 2012 – Imagine trying to run a successful business in which every two years one-third of the veteran employees leave and are replaced with green sieve heads who require training, mentoring and vigilant supervision to avoid All-World clusterfucks that feature overzealous health inspectors, class-action lawsuits, mangled co-workers—or a combination of the three.
That kind of turnover ain’t exactly the chamber-of-commerce-seal-of-approval model for profitability. Yet California’s 17 million voters expect the Legislature to boldly smack down the state’s ills, despite that this year, 40 of California’s 120 lawmakers are brand-spankin’ new to Read more »
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