Newsom makes a few good moves

By Jon Coupal | There is little debate that California is a harsh, anti-taxpayer environment ruled by a tax-happy majority party.  However, in this super-partisan environment that grips both California and the entire nation, it is important to point out when our political adversaries do something positive.

In that spirit, let’s acknowledge what Gov. Gavin Newsom did right for California’s taxpayers.

A weekly column by Jon Coupal

First, he vetoed Senate Bill 268, which would have weakened important tax transparency laws that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association fought hard to enact several years ago. Specifically, SB268 sought to alter Assembly Bill 809 and AB195 (2015-2016) which, taken together, require that the rate of a tax, its duration, and amount of money sought to be raised be included in the ballot label for local bond and special tax measures, including parcel taxes. That ensures that this critical information is visible to voters on the ballot itself, and not just printed in a separate voter information pamphlet.

The ballot label is commonly the last thing taxpayers see before voting on a measure, and is the most accessible way to reach voters. SB268 would have removed this information for local bonds and some parcel taxes, to instead bury it in the voter information guide, far from the eyes of most voters.

To read the entire column, please click here.

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Newsom’s gas-tax switcheroo

By Steven Greenhut | “Never give the bastards more money,” a friend always says when discussing proposed tax increases. “They’ll only squander it.” That also epitomizes my philosophy over decades of voting and writing about ballot initiatives and bonds. I always recommend a “no” vote, even if the proposal would fund legitimate and badly needed infrastructure projects — and especially if tax supporters hysterically predict the end of civilization if the measure fails.

Steven Greenhut

California voters almost always ignore such advice. Few people track the spending priorities of government officials after voters grant them the cash. After the Santa Ana Unified School District convinced residents to pass a bond to upgrade its overcrowded schools, the board immediately approved a “project labor agreement” that gave union contractors a monopoly over construction. That squandered 10 percent to 20 percent of the budget for nothing (other than winning union favor), and the district could only upgrade five of the 13 promised schools. It’s sadly typical.

My favorite local example involved the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District, which scared the heck out of residents about West Nile virus and an encroaching menace: the red imported fire ant. Such pests could be handled by, say, calling an exterminator if you found a nest in your back yard. Instead, voters gave the district more money. Its main priority after the increase was to increase its workers’ pensions by 62 percent. A few years later, the agency tried to spend from $1 million to $10 million hatching a mosquito museum.

It’s even worse at the state level, of course. In 2017, California lawmakers decided to finally do something about the state’s overburdened infrastructure of roads, freeways, and bridges. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown muscled the Legislature into passing increases in gas and diesel taxes and a significant boost in vehicle-license fees. Brown had a nasty habit of holding transportation funding hostage during budget negotiations. To most of us, roads should be at the top of a state’s funding priorities, but instead Democratic officials prefer to ignore them — and then claim that there wasn’t enough money to expand capacity without a tax hike.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 to boost taxes to pay for such funding, as poor road conditions had been stirring up a public furor.

To read the entire column in The American Spectator, 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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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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