Are teachers underpaid?

Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute applies the same data and statistical methods that produce “the teacher pay gap” to other professions to determine whether or not teachers are underpaid.

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HJTA wins lawsuit to stop use of public funds for campaigns

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and retired state Senator and Judge Quentin L. Kopp prevailed Monday in a lawsuit to invalidate Senate Bill 1107, a 2016 California law that would have allowed political campaigns to be financed with taxpayer dollars.

“California voters passed Proposition 73 partly to prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used as political slush funds,” said Jon Coupal, president of HJTA. “If politicians want to change that, they have to take the issue back to the voters.”

In a unanimous decision, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that voters outlawed public funding of political campaigns when they adopted Proposition 73, co-authored by Kopp, in 1988.

Proposition 73 provided,“No public officer shall expend and no candidate shall accept any public moneys for the purpose of seeking elective office.” Senate Bill 1107 would have provided instead that “a candidate may expend or accept public moneys for the purpose of seeking elective office.” The Legislature, in passing Senate Bill 1107, included a finding that the bill furthered the purposes of Proposition 73. The Court of Appeal rejected that finding.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposed SB 1107 and consistently opposes public funding of campaigns.

HJTA and Kopp are represented by Charles H. Bell, Jr., a leading California political law attorney with the firm of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk; Anthony T. (Tom) Caso, with the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence; and Allen Dickerson, with the Center for Competitive Politics.

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A victory for California taxpayers

By Jon Coupal | This past week a direct attack on Proposition 13 was resoundingly voted down by the California State Assembly. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 would have changed a key element of Prop. 13 by lowering the current two-thirds vote needed to pass local bonds and special taxes — including parcel taxes — to just 55 percent.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

Bond debt and parcel taxes are paid by adding extra charges to property tax bills, sometimes for decades, which are not subject to Proposition 13’s one-percent cap. The two-thirds vote requirement is a crucial taxpayer protection because while everyone gets to vote on these local measures, only property owners pay for them.

If ACA 1 had been approved by two-thirds of each house of the state Legislature, it would have gone on the ballot, where it would have needed only a simple majority to pass. That would have changed Proposition 13 to allow tax increases for anything defined as “infrastructure” to pass with the approval of only 55 percent of the electorate in any (or every) subsequent election.

Taxpayers face a treacherous landscape in California. Legislative Democrats have more than super-majority control over the Assembly, meaning seven Democrats could oppose ACA 1 and it still would have passed. Taxpayer advocates, led by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, were outnumbered by about 15 to 1 in the halls of the Capitol as lobbyists for local government entities including cities, counties, special districts and firefighters raced from office to office looking for last-minute support.

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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Watch last night’s city council meeting

To watch the two-and-a-half-hour video (2:39), click here.

Fullerton City Council Meeting
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Don’t blame Proposition 13 for high building fees

By Jon Coupal | Another week, another lie about Proposition 13. Recall that last week this column burst the bubble on the myth that schools are “starved” for revenue. This week’s narrative from the Prop. 13 opponents is that California’s high fees for building homes and commercial property is due to Proposition 13 denying local governments the ability to raise revenue.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

A study just released by the University of California Center for Housing Innovation concluded that the “impact fees” that local governments charge developers are a big reason why it’s so expensive to build a home in California. The fees are not only costly, they’re also unpredictable, lack transparency and can kill a project’s viability, according to the study.

On these points, the study is absolutely correct. The size and scope of developer fees in California is more extensive than in any other state. Originally intended to ensure that the cost of infrastructure for development (like sidewalks and utilities) is covered, developer fees have morphed into a free-for-all that now includes fees for such things as parking lots, parks, affordable housing, transportation and public art. In the Bay Area, developer fees to construct a single-family home can exceed $150,000.

But instead of blaming the housing shortfall on these excessive costs passed through to home buyers, the study places the blame expressly on Proposition 13.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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More than $20.4 billion a year in higher taxes and fees introduced by state lawmakers

The total could nearly double if a “spot bill” is amended to impose a tax on services

California lawmakers have proposed more than $20.4 billion a year in higher taxes and fees so far during the current legislative session, the nonpartisan California Tax Foundation reported today.

“The proposals cumulatively would represent 14 percent of general fund revenue at a time when California has a record-high budget, robust reserves and an operating budget surplus,” the Tax and Fee Report states.

A $4.2 billion-per-year tax on sweetened beverages (AB 138) is the largest tax documented in the report, which is based on higher taxes, fees, assessments and charges proposed from the first day of the legislative session (December 3, 2018) through today, when the Legislature reconvenes after its summer recess. During this period, lawmakers introduced 2,647 bills and constitutional amendments, including 81 that contained higher taxes or fees.

Another bill states legislative intent to apply to sales tax to some services – a tax increase that could top $14 billion per year – but this fiscal estimate was excluded from the report’s cumulative total because the bill (SB 522, Hertzberg) is in “spot bill” form. The report notes that the tax impact could be significantly higher or lower once the bill is amended with substantive provisions.

In June, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $214.7 billion state budget for 2019-20 that includes almost $30 billion in reserve accounts, and $13.4 billion in increased spending over the 2018-19 budget. Since taking office, Newsom has signed into law $2.81 billion in additional taxes and fees.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation totaling $200 million in new annual taxes and fees.

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Are California’s schools really ‘starving’ for revenue?

By Jon Coupal | Whenever you see politicians and special interests throwing statistics around like the cafeteria food in “Animal House,” it’s a better-than-even bet that they’re distorting their respective claims about how we fund schools in California.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

Here are some basics about school financing that every taxpayer should know. First, it’s complicated. K-14 schools get funding from a variety of federal, state and local sources.  (K-14 includes community colleges but not the University of California or California State University).

Second, it should be no surprise that California spends more on education than any other state given our population. But we also spend significantly more per student when all sources of revenue are considered.

Third, the biggest slice out of the state’s general fund pie goes to education. This is due in large part to Proposition 98, a constitutional initiative barely approved (50.7%) by voters in 1988. It requires a minimum percentage of the state budget to be spent on K-14 education and has a complex series of “tests” to determine annual increases in spending. Generally speaking, it requires that at least 40% of the state budget to go to K-14 education. The 40% guarantee is ironclad even though enrollment in K-14 has fallen significantly in recent years.

According to its sponsor and biggest funder, the California Teachers Association, Prop. 98 was the panacea to fix all that was wrong with education. The first sentence of the ballot argument in favor of the initiative, signed by CTA’s president, states “Proposition 98 is a well-thought-out plan for California’s schools to once again be among the very best in the nation.”

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Watch last night’s city council meeting

To watch the nearly five-hour video (4:53), click here.

Fullerton City Council Meeting
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Government compounds insult by cheating on tax collections

By Jon Coupal | It’s bad enough that California taxes its citizens more than almost all other states, but adding insult to injury, government entities often cheat on the way that they collect taxes.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

This happens in several ways. First, there are times when a government entity knows a tax is illegal but imposes it anyway either hoping no one will notice or knowing they can collect tons of revenue while the issue is resolved in court.  This author’s first experience with governments’ complete disregard of the law occurred 25 years ago in the 1994 case of Hoogasian Flowers v. San Francisco Educational Financing Authority.

In an effort to circumvent Proposition 13’s two-thirds voter approval requirement for special taxes, San Francisco created an entity called an “educational financing authority” for the purposes of imposing a supplemental sales tax. Although the Court of Appeal easily saw through the charade and struck down the tax as illegal, the only remedy that was given was a small refund for the handful of retailers who filed the suit. Thousands of businesses never received relief and the city was allowed to keep millions in illegal tax proceeds.

Taxpayers need to remain aware that government entities at all levels have no incentive to make things easy for taxpayers. Just one recent example involves the L.A. County Recorder’s Office and the implementation of Senate Bill 2, which imposes a $75 tax on documents filed in conjunction with real estate transactions.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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