The gas tax bait-and-switch

By Jon Coupal | Cassandra of Greek mythology was blessed with the gift of prophecy and doomed by the curse that no one would ever believe her.

Conservatives in California know just how she felt.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

California’s modern day Cassandras have repeatedly warned about the misuse and diversion of public funds for roads and highways. In no other area have California voters been lied to more frequently and more brazenly than with transportation spending.

Nearly 30 years ago, voters were told that California’s roads, freeways and bridges were crumbling and that spending on transportation was so seriously inadequate that a gas tax increase and other taxes were desperately needed to save California from ruin.

Based on the promises from special interests — in a very well-funded political campaign — in 1990 voters approved in Proposition 111, a 9-cents-a-gallon tax increase combined with a 55 percent increase in truck weight fees.

Demonstrating that not much has changed in three decades, promoters of Prop. 111 trotted out long lists of projects that would be completed with the billions of dollars in new revenue. Advertising focused on the benefits of Proposition 111, without ever mentioning taxes.

Sound familiar?

Fast forward to 2017 with the infamous passage of Senate Bill 1, a massive tax increase of another 12 cents per gallon on gasoline, an additional 20 cents per gallon on diesel fuel and a sharp increase in the cost of vehicle registration.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Tonight’s city council meeting agenda

The Agenda

To read or download tonight’s detailed council meeting agenda from the City’s website, please click here.

The public participation portion of the meeting begins at 6:30 with presentations and awards. Actual city business normally doesn’t start until 7:00 or 7:30 . . . or even later.

And you can also watch it at home on cable Channel 3 (Spectrum — formerly Time Warner Cable).

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Assembly Bill 133 can help keep seniors in their homes

By Jon Coupal and Sharon Quirk-Silva | Prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, it was not uncommon for seniors on fixed incomes who had already paid off their mortgages to nonetheless lose their homes because they couldn’t afford to pay their property taxes.

While Proposition 13 continues to protect millions of older Californians by providing reasonable and predictable property tax liability, for low-income seniors it may not be enough.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

Voter approved local bonds and parcel taxes that are added to property tax bills above and beyond Proposition 13’s one percent cap have typically added hundreds of dollars a year to individual property tax bills across the state.

One of the state programs meant to help seniors over age 65, the blind, and the disabled stay in their homes is the Property Tax Postponement program or PTP.

The concept behind the Tax Postponement program is simple. A lien is placed against the home of an eligible individual and all property taxes are deferred.

Later, when the homeowner moves, the taxes are paid out of the sale of the home plus simple interest.

The program worked perfectly for 40 years. Beyond paying for itself, 6,000 homeowners from across California benefit from the Property Tax Postponement program.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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A glimmer of hope for California taxpayers

By Jon Coupal | California’s 2019 legislative session recently came to a merciful end. Despite the fact that the Legislature passed dozens of bills assaulting basic economic rights, it could have been far worse for taxpayers. Indeed, in remarkably good news, the most dangerous threat to Proposition 13 was defeated.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

Proposition 13 has been called the third rail of California politics. Touch it, and the electric shock risks ending your political career. However, few have been as virulent in their hatred of Proposition 13 as Asm. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters. She introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1, a bill to make it easier to raise taxes at the local level by lowering the vote needed to approve bonds and special taxes from two-thirds to just 55 percent.

Typically, direct assaults on Prop. 13 fail to receive votes of the full Assembly or Senate because it is difficult for Democrats in marginal or suburban districts to support them. But, emboldened by the fact that Democrats have a supermajority in the Assembly, Aguiar-Curry attempted to muscle the bill through. ACA 1 received just 44 votes, ten votes shy of the 54 needed for passage. Seventeen of 61 Democrats either opposed or abstained on the bill.

While we are thankful that Proposition 13 remains intact, we are under no illusions that the battle is over. Aguiar-Curry has already publicly pledged that she intends to try again.

The defeat of ACA 1 is not the only victory for taxpayers. Interestingly, a number of punishing tax-hike proposals never came up for full legislative votes.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Fullerton City Hall is closed today for another three-day weekend

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

2019
January –1*, 11, 25
February – 8, 18*, 22
March – 8, 22
April – 5, 19
May – 3, 17, 27*, 31
June – 14, 28
July – 4*, 12, 26
August – 9, 23
September – 2*, 6, 20
October – 4, 18
November – 1, 11*, 15, 28*, 29*
December – 13, 24*, 25*, 26^,27^, 31*

*Holiday observed
^Winter Closure

Fullerton City Hall
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Assembly Bill 1451 is an attack on direct democracy

By Jon Coupal and Martin Wilson | The tools of direct democracy — initiative, referendum and recall — are a powerful check against intransigent or corrupt politicians. These powers are enshrined in the California Constitution for reasons that are just as compelling in 2019 as they were in 1911. That’s when Governor Hiram Johnson, seeking to constrain the absolute control the railroads had over the state Capitol, pushed to give ordinary citizens a “legislative battering ram” — using the language of the Supreme Court — to address issues that for whatever reason the legislature refuses to address.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

Political elites abhor direct democracy. From their perspective it allows the great unwashed and unsophisticated to deal with matters such as taxation, victims’ rights, insurance and most importantly political reform. These are issues over which politicians strongly desire to exercise a legislative monopoly. The latest assault on Californians’ rights to initiative and referendum is Assembly Bill 1451, introduced by Asm. Evan Low, D-Campbell, which has already cleared both houses of the California Legislature. Gov. Newsom should veto it.

AB1451 erects roadblocks to initiative qualification by requiring that at least ten percent of the petition signatures come from unpaid sources and also by banning paid signature gathering on a per-signature basis. While backers claim that this will reduce fraud, this justification doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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California’s contractor law AB 5 manages to be bad for workers, customers and companies

Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva votes to kill the gig economy

By Adrian Moore and Teri Moore, Orange County Register | California is often viewed as the nation’s leading state.

Unfortunately, its latest piece of landmark legislation risks lassoing the flourishing gig economy and dragging it back to the pre-internet age under the guise of protecting workers.

California’s Assembly Bill 5, headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk (and he’s said he’ll sign it), redefines how companies can define independent contractors and employees, which could dramatically alter the state’s economy.

The internet-based industries and services that form the on-demand or “freelance” economy have risen to fill holes in the market, creating opportunities for workers and consumers and boosting local economies across the state.

Digital platforms like Upwork, TaskRabbit and ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft connect workers, goods and services to customers by offering contract work to part-timers, temporary workers and even some full-timers without the structures of traditional, full-time work.

This “gig” work fills market demand dynamically, something traditional work often fails to do.

For example, Uber and Lyft drivers make more money and have more opportunities when they choose to work during surges of consumer demand, making it a win-win for drivers, ride-hailing customers and companies.

To read the entire commentary, please click here.

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A big win for California taxpayers

By Jon Coupal | In a victory for taxpayers, the Fresno Superior Court decided in favor of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association on Thursday, ruling that special taxes proposed by a voter initiative are not exempt from the state constitution’s two-thirds vote requirement.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

At issue was Fresno’s Measure P, a sales tax initiative on the November 2018 ballot that proposed a 3/8 percent sales tax increase to provide extra funding for city parks, recreation, and after-school programs. The measure received 52% of the vote and was declared failed for lacking the two-thirds voter approval required by two constitutional amendments – Proposition 13 (1978) and Proposition 218 (1996).

The special interests that put the initiative on the ballot filed a lawsuit against the city of Fresno and other government officials claiming that Proposition 13 should be ignored. They argued that the two-thirds vote requirement applies only to special taxes proposed by public agencies such as cities and counties and that it didn’t apply to taxes proposed by a voter initiative. Interestingly, the city of Fresno filed its own lawsuit against the proponents simply seeking clarification of its legal obligations to collect the tax or not. Because of the city’s apparent neutrality, it left no one to defend Proposition 13.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association intervened on the grounds that the interest of taxpayers was unrepresented in the litigation. HJTA filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that it would open a huge loophole in the two-thirds vote protection if taxes proposed by initiative were exempt.

On Thursday, the Fresno County Superior Court agreed with HJTA in a five page decision explaining that the two-thirds vote requirement was not imposed on public agencies, but on the voters. Regardless of who authors the proposal, it must be submitted to the voters who must approve it by two-thirds, otherwise it is rejected.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Fullerton City Hall is closed today for another three-day weekend

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

2019
January –1*, 11, 25
February – 8, 18*, 22
March – 8, 22
April – 5, 19
May – 3, 17, 27*, 31
June – 14, 28
July – 4*, 12, 26
August – 9, 23
September – 2*, 6, 20
October – 4, 18
November – 1, 11*, 15, 28*, 29*
December – 13, 24*, 25*, 26^,27^, 31*

*Holiday observed
^Winter Closure

Fullerton City Hall
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Court ruling upholds ban on public funding of political campaigns

By Jon Coupal | It’s no secret that California, perhaps America’s most progressive state, is controlled by a political establishment openly hostile to the interests of taxpayers. Taxpayer victories over the state’s liberal power structure are rare, but they do happen.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

Last week, taxpayers prevailed in a long running lawsuit involving public funding for political campaigns. The dispute began in 2016 when the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, Senate Bill 1107, which purported to amend a part of the Political Reform Act of 1974.

The Act itself was previously amended in 1988 by Proposition 73, an initiative measure that expressly prohibited public funding of political campaigns. SB1107 attempted to reverse the ban by permitting public funding of political campaigns under certain circumstances.

There was just one problem: Initiative statutes, laws that are approved by voters, cannot be amended by the California Legislature except by a vote of the people or under circumstances permitted by the initiative itself.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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