It’s the Spending, Stupid

By Jon Coupal

“Government is like a baby,” Ronald Reagan was fond of saying. “An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”  If the former California governor were observing Sacramento today, he would probably add that our state government functions more like “triplets,” and has been doing so for more than ten years.

Back at the beginning of the millennium, the California treasury was overflowing due to capital gains tax receipts from what has become known as the “dot.com bubble.”  Almost everyone in the state understood that these tax producing profits were the result of a short-term business cycle, and the excessive flow of tax revenue would not be a permanent condition.  Unfortunately, there were a small group of Californians who did not understand these basic economic principles, including the majority in the state Legislature and Governor Gray Davis.

These officials responded to the increased revenue by spending it all and committing Californians to pay for expensive long-term programs, like radically increased pensions for government workers, that now have state and local governments facing nearly a half-trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.

This profligate approach to governing was a contributing factor to the successful recall of Davis.  However, governor Schwarzenegger, and the party-hearty lawmakers that continued to dominate the Legislature carried on like there was never a problem.  When the state came up short, they used accounting gimmicks that allowed them to carry on spending as if there were no tomorrow.

Between 2003 and 2007, spending increased by one-third.  Then the housing bubble burst, and these same suspects imposed the largest tax increase in the history of all 50 states.  They had learned their lesson, they said, and pledged to taxpayers they would use the two years of massively higher taxes to buy time to reorganize and reform their spending ways.  Two years later, and in spite of California families having paid about two-thousand dollars in extra taxes, the state is now facing a $26 billion shortfall.  The “spendaholics” have fallen off the wagon, again.

All of this could have been avoided if the malefactors, who clearly lack self-control, had been compelled to work under a hard spending cap.

Because the politicians that control the Legislature and our current governor – the Department of Finance shows that Governor Brown’s budget will grow 31% by 2015 – are still in a state of denial regarding spending, there is an urgent need to take measures to restore a strict spending limit on state government.

This is why Senator Tony Strickland has introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 10, sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, that would impose a firm spending cap on lawmakers.  The expenditure limit includes General Fund and special funds, and contains no exemptions for education or local government funding.  It creates a reserve of up to 10% of spending; this reserve can only be tapped to backfill revenue shortfalls in the current budget year and to fund non-fiscally related emergencies.  Funds could only be used by a Declaration of the Governor and two-thirds vote of the Legislature.  Half of the excess revenues beyond the 10% cap would be used to pay off existing debt.

Back when Bill Clinton was running for president, a big sign that read, “It’s the economy, stupid” was placed on his campaign office wall.  In an ideal world every member of the Legislature would be required to post a sign on their office wall that said, “It’s the spending, stupid.”  Sen. Strickland’s SCA 10 is the taxpayers’ way of sending this message.

New anti-deficiency law for short sellers hits the state 1/1/11

A ray of good news for homeowners in California. Lame-Duck Arnie actually signed a bill that provides some relief for short-sellers.

Existing law prohibits a deficiency judgment by the holder of a first trust deed on a property that has sold through foreclosure. SB931 extends that protection to short-sellers of a property as well. If the holder of a first trust deed or mortgage gives written consent to a short sale, that lender is obligated to accept the sale proceeds and discharge the remaining amount owed (the deficiency). Prior to this law, lenders could pursue a homeowner even after approving a short sale for the balance of the deficiency. It still allows the holder to pursue the seller in the event they determine there was fraud or waste by the borrower and it does not apply to holders of second or subsequent notes.

The California Association of Realtors was optimistic that the Gov. would also sign our sponsored bill SB1178 that would have extended anti-deficiency protection to owners who had refi-ed their homes only to the extent that the subsequent loan was used to pay debt or costs incurred in the purchase of the home. In other words, if you refi-ed only to get a better interest rate but took no  money out, your original anti-deficiency protections would still accrue.

We all know that during the boom years, banks were quick to offer refi-s but slow to disclose that you were giving up a valuable protection by taking them up on the offer. You sacrificed your anti-deficiency protection when you refi-ed. Arnie sided with the banking lobby and declared that SB1178 would interfere with the contract between the bank and the borrower. No matter that there was no disclosure or explanation of the ramifications. CAR will be looking to again sponsor this bill in the upcoming legislative session in hopes that a new Governor will have a better grasp of the issues.

Governor Schwarzenegger holds the distinction of vetoing more real estate friendly and CA sponsored bills than any previous governor of our state. But he talked such a good line when he came to talk with us – we thought he really meant all his accolades about real estate making him the man he is today. Oh well, he turned out to be much less of a man than we all hoped. Some people light up a room when they enter, others when they leave. Don’t let the door hit ya in the bum on the way out.

Gov. Vetoes CAR Anti-deficiency bill. Thanks Arnie. Are you almost gone?

Update!

Governor Vetoes C.A.R.-Sponsored

Anti-Deficiency Bill

On Thursday, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1178 (Corbett), C.A.R.’s sponsored bill that would have expanded anti-deficiency protections. In his veto message, the Governor made clear his view that the bill interferes with an existing contract. While disappointed in the Governor’s misinterpretation of the bill, C.A.R. is grateful to the almost 13,000 California REALTORS(R) who urged him to sign the bill by responding to the Red Alert.

C.A.R. sponsored SB 1178 to better protect homeowners going through foreclosure. SB 1178 would have ensured that homeowners keep the same “anti-deficiency” protections they have in the original loan after the loan has been refinanced.

California’s anti-deficiency protection for “purchase money” mortgages says that if a homeowner defaults on a mortgage used to purchase his or her home, the homeowner’s liability on the mortgage is limited to the property itself. The law has worked well since the 1930s to protect borrowers, ensure the quality of loan underwriting and allow borrowers brought down by financial crisis to get back on their feet.

Unfortunately, the 1930s law hasn’t kept up with current times. Current law doesn’t apply to loans used to refinance the original purchase debt, even if the refinance was only to gain a lower interest rate. Recent years of low interest rates have induced tens of thousands of homeowners to refinance their mortgages. During those years, almost no one realized that refinancing their mortgage to obtain a lower rate, they were forfeiting their protections and were becoming personally liable on the new note.

SB 1178 would have corrected this injustice by extending anti-deficiency protections to those who have refinanced their loans.

Thank you again to everyone who joined C.A.R.’s Government Affairs Team and fought for our clients.

For More Information

California Water Bond Pulled from Ballot – 2 more years

Well, there was some question as to whether it would happen or not but apparently little Johnny got his way so the $11 billion water bond initiative will be pulled from November’s ballot.

Good riddance… or not.

Many (myself included) would argue that we desperately need this bond to pass so we can start to address the chronic water problems that plague this state. And when I say ‘desperately need’ to do this, I’m not just whistling Dixie. The construction of additional storage damns is critical, the implementation of an alternative conveyance method (i.e. peripheral canal) should have been done 14 years ago. The water issue will have greater long term consequences on this state than unemployment and Prop 32 combined.

But sensing, probably with more prescience than he has exhibited for a long time, that this proposition would go down to defeat at the hands of voters this fall, Gov. Arnold requested that the vote be delayed for 2 years and placed on the ballot again in 2012 when, apparently, all the state’s other ills will have been resolved and voters will be in a better mood to pass this bill.

That’s a stretch. Facing another $19 billion budget deficit this year and the very real prospect of higher taxes to cover it, it was probably an accurate assumption that we wouldn’t be in the proper frame of mind to pony up to another $11 billion bond. But since our budget deficit seems to have become an integral part of our state’s dysfunction, what’s the likelihood that in two short years we will have licked that problem?

Every year the budget impasse seems to get worse. We’ve resolved past years budgets by raising a few taxes, cutting a few costs and simply kicking the can further down the road. Those defrayed bills will be coming due soon, if they haven’t already. Unemployment shows no sign of letting up, housing and tech aren’t going to rebound fast enough to save us, our Democratic legislators continue to chase jobs away at prodigious rates while ramping up hiring in the public sector – why should 2012 be so much rosier than 2010?

Then there’s the bill itself. What should have been a $6 or $7 billion proposal got larded up to $11 billion by the time it hit the floor. Why? Because to insure the votes needed to pass both houses and qualify for the ballot, deals were made. Everybody with an interest in the outcome, from our legislators to the Sierra Club to the public unions and water commission insisted on plugging in their pet project to insure their acquiescence. A few million over here for Delta research, a few million over there for the Salton Sea, a few more for endangered species, pretty soon you’re talking real money – another $4 or $5 billion of real money. Don’t think for a minute that the bills opponents would have let you forget that during the run up to the election.

And aside from my concern that our water crisis is still not being resolved, as passage of this bill might have at least initiated, I’m concerned about what it will cost us to pull it off the table. The report I read stated, “After some intense late-night vote wrangling, AB1260 and AB1265, the two bills necessary to pull the water bond off the ballot, passed the Senate relatively easily but ran into heavy opposition in the Assembly”. I’m not sure if ‘heavy opposition’ is a shot at Assembly Leader John  Perez’ weight but Perez made sure everybody knew he was using this as a bargaining chip to solidify his none-too-subtle agenda. Perez, as you may be aware, is the newly anointed leader of the Assembly and thus far has exhibited all the tact and finesse of a bull at Pamplona. Be assured this marks a victory of some sort for him and if some new fee or tax emerges unopposed, you’ll know the price for Perez’ vote.

So another ‘teachable moment’ emerges from Sacramento. A badly needed solution to our state’s water crisis starts it’s humble journey only to have mountains of pork piled on it’s flanks by the greedheads charged with making it work. What may have been at least a beginning to resolving water issues has now become a victim of the same greedheads charged with making it work because they couldn’t get their acts together on the rest of their job (running our state). As one legislator put it – ‘Maybe we need to roll up our sleeves and work on a bond with more chance of success.’ I’m betting that if this bill does manage to be resuscitate in 2012, the cost will have bloated to $15 billion or more. And not one penny more will have anything to do with water. Welcome to California.

$700 Bailout for California Homeowners? Don’t hold your breath.

$700 Million OK’d for California Homeowners!

That’s  a headline that would reach and and grab you over your oatmeal, wouldn’t it? It certainly caught my attention yesterday. Here’s a new program (4 actually) designed to help homeowners avoid foreclosure  and the Department of Treasury has just approved $700 Million of those old leftover TARP funds just for us in California. The article went on to say it’s to help:

  • unemployed homeowners in danger of defaulting on their loans (lenders must match federal funds)
  • borrowers who are a little behind on their mortgage but could catch up with a little help (lenders must match)
  • reduction in principle for borrowers needing it to avoid foreclosure (lenders must match)
  • transition assistance for families who can’t afford to keep their home.

I guess if I had any faith in any program the government was trying to foist on us right now this sounds like it has possibilities. I mean, who knew there was still a spare $700 million in TARP funds laying around for just one state over a year into the program. That program, along with all the other great unveilings like HAFA, HARP, HAMP, etc, have been such resounding successes you’d have thought the money would already have been used up to stimulate the economy. At least the Administration will tell you that’s why our jobs & housing market are roaring along so robustly right now.

Of course I don’t have much faith in anything the government is doing right now and wish they’s simply get the hell out of the housing business. This is no different. CalHFA’s Keep You Home Program plans to use the money to develop those four programs, oh, out around November 1. When? People are hurting TODAY. The money is available TODAY. The programs may be available in 4 months?  Well, yeah. There’s that government sense of urgency thing.

And that’s assuming they can get the lenders to match up to $700 million in order for homeowners to qualify. You think lenders in California are gonna just pony up another $700 million? Wasn’t TARP supposed to go to lenders to begin with?

Oh well, don’t hold your breath. Even the CalHFA spokeshole cautioned people not to get their hopes up. “We recommend that if homeowners are currently having financial difficulties, they do not wait for these programs.” They should contact lenders and HUD counselors to see if they can make use of one of the other worthless programs being touted by the administration or get screwed over by a loan mod or short sale scam artist. He also had no additional advice for those that have already been hosed by lenders and counselors and need assistance before the programs might start. He encouraged people to visit their website http://keepyourhomecalifornia.com/. Here you can find out about how close you came to actually getting assistance including a great quote from our Governor about the new future program “The new funding announced today will play a vital role in aiding the state’s neediest homeowners. Blah, blah blah blah blah KawLeeForKneeya.”

Read beyond the headlines folks. There’s no free lunch, the check is in the mail and we’re from the government and we’re here to help you – provided you can hang on until November.


Calling All California Veterans – Needs Assessment Survey.

Calling all Veterans

vetThe California Department of Veteran Affairs (CalVet) is looking for feedback from Californians who have served in the armed forces, including family members or anyone interested in veterans services.

The State of California is trying to prioritize its efforts in addressing the needs of veterans living in the state and they have posted a Needs Assessment Survey on-line to get that direction.

To respond simply visit www.calvet.ca.gov or www.veterans.ca.gov and click on the Veterans Needs Assessment link. The survey ends May 15, 2010 so take a moment to help them help you.

Dear California Veteran,

The people of our Golden State are indebted to you for your incredible service and bravery. You and your loved ones have sacrificed much to keep our nation safe, and we thank you for your actions.

But more than just saying thanks, we want to show you how much your service means to us. One way we are doing this is by offering you a new program called Operation Welcome Home. It is a one-stop shop that will help you find jobs, education, housing, health care and much more. This is a great program and one that California is excited and honored to offer to you.

In order to ensure that Operation Welcome Home provides the best services tailored to your needs, we want to hear straight from you, the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces. I have directed the California Department of Veterans Affairs – the agency running Operation Welcome Home – to put together an online survey that will help us know how to better coordinate the numerous services provided at all levels of government. I encourage you and all our veterans, especially combat veterans, to fill out this important survey, which you can find at www.veterans.ca.gov/veterans_assessment.htm. Thank you for taking a few minutes to let us know how we can better serve you.

On behalf of your fellow Californians, I express my gratitude for your courageous work to protect America and the freedoms we hold dear. You have done your job, and now it’s our turn to do ours.

With appreciation and respect,

Governor's Signature

SB 401 Tax Relief Bill Signed By Gov.

This release doesn’t mention the half dozen or so tax increases that are also contained in the bill. But hey, a least some folks get a tax break. This is considered a ‘REVENUE NEUTRAL’ bill, folks. By definition, if some people are paying less tax, then some others must be paying more. If you aren’t getting a tax break then you’re one of the others. Actually even if you are getting a tax break from SB401, you’ll probably be paying higher taxes in other areas.

And you thought lunch was free…..

Office of the Governor

PRESS
RELEASE

For Immediate Release:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Contact: Aaron McLear

Mike Naple

916-445-4571

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Legislation

to Provide Greater Assistance

to California Homeowners

Tax Conformity Bill Also Promotes
Growth in California Renewable Energy Projects

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed SB 401 by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), legislation that will bring much of our state tax policy in line with federal policy while specifically providing greater tax relief to struggling California homeowners who have sold their homes as short sales or modified their mortgage loans. This bill will also assist companies that are developing new renewable
energy projects in the state that are financed by economic stimulus grants received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).

“This legislation is a great example of what we can accomplish when we work together to solve problems that affect Californians, and I applaud Senator Lois Wolk, Senator Ron Calderon,  Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez and Assemblymember Anthony Portantino for their work. It is important that we continue to provide all possible assistance to homeowners who were negatively impacted by the mortgage crisis, and this bill will provide them with necessary mortgage debt relief and protect them from thousands of dollars in unfair taxes,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.
“SB 401 will also help promote the growth of renewable energy projects in California by providing tax assistance to businesses to get their projects of the ground, which is good news for our economy.”

SB 401 extends the law providing mortgage debt forgiveness to homeowners who have already lost their homes due to declining home prices and cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars in taxes because the mortgage company forgave the remainder of the loan. This means that Californians who have sold their homes as short sales are allowed to exclude from taxable income the amount that was still owed to the mortgage company. The legislation, which increases the amount of mortgage debt forgiveness available, also applies to homeowners who have made loan modifications in 2009.

The bill also assists renewable energy companies that are currently establishing the financing to build their projects in California. By designating federal economic stimulus grants received through the Recovery Act for renewable energy projects are not treated as income for tax purposes, this legislation will help companies move these projects forward and help their business thrive in the  state.

Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger

State Capitol Building

Sacramento, CA 95814

http://go.emaildirect.com/t/_p_ga4x2nq3yjfubkqx6a4r6jkxrjrz2nrxrdrubuqx7grub8tsr4uw3js5vjjw7tdrr4jqy69fn64xntjs388r3a5n_p_/msg.gif

Tax Forgiveness Bill? Watch Out For the Strings!

108 pages! 108 mind-numbing, single-spaced goddam pages!

The goal was simple – bring California’s tax code regarding debt forgiveness – specifically regarding short-sales and foreclosures – into conformity with federal tax code. In Sacramento nothing is simple, folks.

I was on a conference call with CAR Chief Lobbyist Alex Creel yesterday when he broke in to announce that both our Senate and Assembly had rushed a bill through and sent it to the Governor for signature. This was a ‘cleaned-up’ version of a bill the Gov. vetoed a couple weeks ago because it had a bunch of frivolous crap tacked on by Democrats. We didn’t have any specifics on exactly what was in the bill or even who voted for and against because it was essentially introduced yesterday morning and passed within an hour or so in the interest of ‘helping those in distress’.

So last evening I was at a campaign event with Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries and thanked him for getting this bill through since, in concept, it is similar to a bill sponsored by CAR to accomplish the same goal. Kevin said “Don’t thank me – I didn’t vote for it.” Nor did any Republican in the Assembly or Senate for that matter. Here’s why.

The bill does contain the provisions to bring California tax code into conformity with federal tax code regarding the forgiveness of debt for short sale and foreclosure situations as promised. But the other 106 pages contain a number of new and/or increased taxes that everybody else gets to pay. As is customary in Sacramento, all 108 pages of this bill were dropped on Legislators desks and asked for their immediate vote. Republicans called their caucus together to at least give themselves a chance to read the bill (drafted by a Democrat). As they discovered at least 6 new taxes in the bill, they determined they could not, in good conscience, vote for the bill even though it contained the provision badly needed by as many as 87,000 Californians.

screwdHow did this happen and how were Democrats able to get new taxes through without the required 2/3 vote? Simple. They called the bill ‘revenue neutral’. In a classic tit-for-tat Democrats said – if you want tax breaks for this classification of people it’s going to cost other segments of the populace. So since, in theory, the bill does not increase taxes across the board, it can pass on a simple majority vote, which the Democrats hold in both our houses.

So the bill allows tax breaks in conformity with federal law set to expire in 2012. But the tax increases go on and on and on. That’s what ‘revenue neutrality’ looks like to the Democrats. The bill is so cumbersome I would challenge anybody to read it and make sense of it in an hour, let alone the few minutes given before the vote. (you can read the bill here)

There is even one provision I know is in the bill and I can’t find it. Republicans referred to it as the ‘kiddie tax’. If you’ve got a minor that earns money by mowing lawns or working fast food or delivering newspapers, they will now be taxed at their parents tax rate, not on the paltry few bucks they earn. Way to encourage our entrepreneurial youth you dim-bulbed bastards. The only good thing to come out of that will be to encourage a whole new generation of pissed-off people who, by the time they reach voting age, will be ready to throw the scoundrels out. Building a Tea Party one (young) businessperson at a time.

So if you have sold your home short in 2009 and will benefit from this new legislation, congratulations. The Association of Realtors has been supportive of this relief all along. But just be aware that your relief comes with an additional tax burden that will be born by the rest of us long after your immediate gratification runs out. Thank Lois Wolk and the Sacramento Democrats for that.

SB401: The bill would bring a number of areas of California tax code in line with federal law, including a provision that excludes “forgiven debt” on a principal residence from being considered taxable income. Currently, people who sell their homes back to the bank for less than what they owe on their mortgages are being hit with tax bills counting the difference between the mortgage balance and sale price as income. The bill would apply to short sales, foreclosures, deeds in lieu of foreclosure and loan modifications that reduce the principal due. The Legislature is expected to pass this bill today, and it appears likely the governor will sign it. The 108-page bill would be retroactive to the 2009 tax year.

Inmate Releases Making Our Communities Safer

The headline in today’s Californian sums it up pretty accurately – ‘Violent Parolees not being watched‘. Of course you’ve been keeping up with this prisoner release debacle that has saddled our state after the passage of AB 3X 14 last year. As many as 40,000 inmates will be released into our streets and cities and the exodus has begun.

You may recall we were assured by the lying hypocrites that voted for it (21 Democrats. all 15 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted NO) that NO ‘violent criminals’ would be released. At the time the bill was passed I published a partial list of crimes which would either qualify for immediate release, or which were being ‘written down’ in severity to facilitate immediate release.

These include: Gross vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated, Kidnapping, Kidnapping in the commission of car jacking, Assault with the intent to commit rape or other sex crimes, Human trafficking, Sexual battery, Assault with deadly weapons, Rape in concert, Pimping a minor, Aggravated sex crimes on a child, Felony child abuse, Child abuse resulting in death, Female genital mutilation child abuse, Domestic violence, Forcible sodomy, Lewd and lascivious acts on a child, Child pornography, Elder abuse, Burglary, Identity theft, Attempted murder, Crimes against children under 14 and the developmentally disabled, Rape by people who know they have AIDS, Infliction of injury on a pregnant woman (with the intent to do so), & aggravated arson. (list courtesy of Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, Mushroom Alert, 8/20/2009)

Well that includes a pretty sweet cross-section of our populace, don’t you think?

But here’s something you may not be aware of. The vast majority of people being released are NOT ON PAROLE. That’s right. Pimps, child abusers, rapists, sodomizers, kidnappers and the like are being turned onto the streets – at a time of record high unemployment – with no record being kept as to where they’re released, where they migrate to and nobody keeping track of them!

That’s because according to Gov. Arnie & state correctional officials, dumping this many new parolees into the system would totally overwhelm an already shaky system so the argument went that releasing these convicts without paroled supervision would actually ‘improve public safety by concentrating parole supervision on only the most dangerous felons’. There was a further ‘benefit’ in that if they weren’t on supervised parole there would be fewer of them sent back to prison for parole violations as they could only be sent back to prison for ‘new crimes’. I swear to God I’m not making this up.

The releases started on January 25th, 2010. In less than 24 hours one releasee had already been re-arrested for rape, the crime he was originally imprisoned for. Of the 1,944 convicts released through the end of February, 96 had been in jail on weapons or explosives charges, 120 had been in for stalking, domestic violence and/or child neglect or cruelty, and several had been in for a variety of sex crimes, battery and involuntary manslaughter, arson, soliciting murder and false imprisonment. We can only thank our lucky starts they’ve still got all those 1 joint pot smokers locked up tight.

Well folks, the fun has just started. If you question my veracity, talk to any local police chief. I got a lot of my info from Murrieta Chief Mark Wright. The PD is absolutely thrilled at the prospect of thousands of the ‘non-violent’ convicts descending on our communities at a time when even honest, hard-working people are having trouble finding work. They are released with no notice to the community and no monitoring or supervision whatsoever. Is it any wonder applications to carry firearms has skyrocketed in the past 6 months? It’s gonna be a long, hot summer. Realtors beware – be aware walking neighborhoods, doing open houses. Don’t become a statistic.

Senator Hollingsworth to be Honored Guest at RAF Luncheon

hollingsworth

The Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors is pleased to announce that Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) will be our honored guest at a June 18th luncheon. Senator Hollingsworth has been a champion of legislation to benefit Southwest California during his tenure as as Assemblyman and more recently as Senator. Over the years he has also carried several bills on behalf of Realtors® and for property rights issues.

Senator Hollingsworth has been a staunch anti-tax crusader, a position that elevated him to his current role as Minority Leader when his predecessor got a little too chummy with the tax-and-spend majority in Sacramento. As presented in numerous posts to this site, Hollingsworth has continued to rail against tax increases and the spending abuses that plague our state. Hollingsworth has led the Republican Caucus in advocating reduced spending and smaller government at a time when state government has expanded at a prodigious rate.

On a personal note, I have also credited Hollingsworth with helping Gov. Arnold find his balls late last year at a time when all seemed lost. Hollingsworth, who shares an affinity for cowboy boots and stogies with the Gov., was often spotted with Arnie in the Governors ‘smoking tent’ on the back lawn of the Capitol. It was during this time that Arnold experienced a brief resurgence of the vigor and focus that gave so many hope when he first ascended to the office.

As a former President of the Riverside County Farm Bureau, Hollingsworth has brought a unique knowledge and perspective to his position. He understands the need for conservation and the preservation of property rights. But he also understands the need to balance those needs with infrastructure requirements and job creation. He has lobbied the federal government on the Endangered Species Act and specifically, de-listing the Delta Smelt – the wee beastie that has wrought havoc on our state water supply. He has also led several efforts on behalf of Southwest County as well as the entire state, for more local control of funds, projects and power.

Senator Hollingsworth has also just been confirmed as the Keynote address during CAR’s Legislative Day on June 9th. Delegates from SRCAR and other associations will be meeting privately with the Senator in the afternoon. Attendance at our June 18th event will be limited to those members of our Realtor Action Fund Champions who have invested the ‘True Cost of Doing Business’ prior to June 1, 2010. If you would like to find out more about this event and how to get your name on the guest list for this exclusive opportunity to chat with our Senate Minority Leader, please contact me at GAD@SRCAR.org.


CA Legislature Ready to Act on Tax Forgiveness Bill

The Legislature appears close, again, to passing a bill to help homeowners who are forced to make short sales of their homes. Jim Wasserman reports, “State lawmakers said Monday they plan to cancel the state tax obligations with a vote Thursday. Shannon Murphy, spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, said legislation will go before the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee today and the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, and will receive a full vote Thursday.

“A similar Senate floor vote planned Thursday would send the bill immediately to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has repeatedly stated his support. The new bill is similar to one he vetoed March 25. But this time it omits a part he opposed – financial penalties for businesses that routinely seek state tax refunds. Democrats removed the section despite their contention that some firms “fish” for refunds whether or not they’re owed.”

Short-sellers Take It In The Shorts on Taxes

California short sellers to pay tax on mortgage debt
Governor Schwarzenegger last week vetoed a bill that would have prevented California homeowners who sold their homes via short sales or received loan modifications in 2009 from being taxed on the forgiven mortgage debt.  Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, which would have aligned much of the state’s tax code with that of the federal government’s, because it contained an unrelated provision regarding tax refunds for the state’s largest businesses.  Although the governor vetoed this particular bill, he expressed his support for banning taxation of forgiven mortgage debt, and immediately called for the legislature to send him a bill to provide tax forgiveness prior to the April 15 tax-filing deadline.

C.A.R. currently is supporting two stand-alone measures, AB 1779 (Niello) and SB 14 (R. Calderon and L. Correa) of the Sixth Extraordinary Session, that would fully conform to the federal rule extending “phantom” income debt forgiveness through December 31, 2012.

New CA Homebuyer Tax Credit is Official.

Dear C.A.R. Member:

I’m gratified to report that late this afternoon, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 183, the Homebuyer Tax Credit legislation, into law. His actions today are the result of our efforts in Sacramento over the last several weeks as members and our team in the capital worked for the bill’s passage before it landed on the governor’s desk.

AB 183 will provide $200 million for home buyer tax credits, allocating $100 million for qualified first-time home buyers of existing homes and $100 million for purchasers of new, or previously unoccupied, homes. The eligible taxpayer who purchases a qualified personal residence on and after May 1, 2010, and on or before Dec. 31, 2010, or who purchases a qualified principal residence on and after Dec. 31, 2010, and before Aug. 1, 2011, pursuant to an enforceable contract executed on or before Dec. 31, 2010, will be able to take the allowed tax credit. The credit is equal to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000, in equal installments over three consecutive years. Under AB 183, purchasers will be required to live in the home for at least two years or forfeit the credit (i.e., repay it to the state).

The positive impact of the federal home buyer tax credit is clear. Nearly 40 percent of first-time home buyers said they would not have purchased a home if the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers was not offered, according to C.A.R. research conducted last year.

The state’s previous home buyer tax credit program was so successful that it ran out of tax credits by the end of June 2009, eight months before it was set to expire and just as housing markets appeared to be turning a corner.  Unlike last year’s legislation, AB 183 adds a tax credit for the purchase of an existing home by a first-time home buyer.

AB 183 will significantly contribute to the effort to stimulate jobs-creation within California’s housing market by helping to incentivize first-time home buyers to purchase homes that have been abandoned, foreclosed upon and returned to the lender, or have been sitting on the market for extended periods of time. It is these homes that will require substantial rehabilitation by the new owners, which will in turn generate a tremendous increase in jobs and accessory purchases connected to home improvement activities.

Your Association’s efforts at the state and federal level to help protect private property rights and your right to conduct business are ongoing. This promises to be another busy year in the state legislature and in Washington, D.C.

If you’re not already involved in the political process, I encourage you to do so. You can go to http://www.car.org/governmentaffairs/getinvolved/ for a quick guide to involvement opportunities at the local, state, and national levels.

New Homebuyer Tax Credit in the Works for CA

Schwarzenegger expected to sign new $10,000 California homebuyer tax credit

By Jim Wasserman
jwasserman@sacbee.com

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2010 – 10:48 am

Homebuyer tax credits are almost certainly returning.

Sacramento-area buyers can begin claiming $10,000 tax credits starting May 1 under a bill expected to be signed soon by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The legislation allocates $200 million for more state tax credits – twice what was offered last year to 10,659 buyers of new, unoccupied homes. The state’s newest housing stimulus will grant $100 million in tax credits to first-time buyers of existing homes and $100 million to anyone who buys a new, unoccupied home.

The state Franchise Tax Board on Tuesday estimated nearly 32,000 homeowners statewide might get the tax breaks. Buyers must close escrow or reserve a credit on or after May 1 and before or on Dec. 31 to qualify.

The bill, AB 183, passed both houses of the Legislature by near unanimous votes. But one local lawmaker, Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, voted against it.

“I think it’s a lot of money in a deficit situation that doesn’t have the desired benefit,” Niello said Tuesday, noting that housing prices are still depressed despite earlier credits designed to stimulate the market.

Niello’s view was clearly a minority one, however.

“This tax credit has a proven track record,” said Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, who authored the bill along with Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield. Caballero said California’s construction industry reported a 39 percent increase in building permits after the first round of tax credits began in March 2009 and proved more popular than expected. It ran out last July 2.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Mike Naple said Tuesday the governor supports the bill “and is expected to sign it.”

The governor signaled his intent Monday while signing two other budget bills. In a signing message, he commended the Legislature for approving the tax credit bill, saying it will stimulate “the housing industry, creating jobs for thousands of Californians.”

Schwarzenegger proposed the housing stimulus in his January State of the State Address to help revive the California economy. The new state tax credit would take effect one day after expiration of a federal $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

As was the case last year, buyers won’t be eligible for the full $10,000 credit if they owe the state less than that amount over a three-year period. Buyers can get up to $3,333 off their tax obligation in each of the three years after buying a house.

Buyers must be at least 18 years old and be unrelated to the seller. They must live in the home they buy. First-time buyers are defined as those who have not owned a home in the past three years.

The Franchise Tax Board estimates the tax credit will cost the state $6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 and $69 million next year. For three years after that, it will cost the state treasury $67 million, $54 million and $4 million.

This year’s legislation is different in that it allows buyers of new homes to reserve a tax credit in advance. A buyer signing a sales contract in June can claim the credit in November when the house is completed, a capital-area building industry official said Tuesday.

“In our parlance, that allows dirt sales,” said Dennis Rogers, a vice president at the Roseville-based North State Building Industry Association. “We’ll be able to build new houses now and get jobs going.”

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/24/2629239/schwarzenegger-expected-to-sign.html#ixzz0j9gKwH0N

Sen Hollingsworth Calls Dems on Job Killer Record

Senator Dennis Hollingsworth

Senate Republican Leader Echoes Governor’s Call to Action on

Budget and Job Creation

“As millions of Californians continue to suffer through the worst recession in 35 years, the Democrat-led Legislature could not even rise to the Governor’s call to pass a single private-sector job creation bill. I applaud the Governor’s continued call to action, but it appears to again fall on deaf ears with Democrats.

“During the last 45 days, Senate Republicans have introduced 54 job creating bills in response to the Governor’s special session to address the massive budget deficit and high unemployment rate that is plaguing all regions of the state. Unfortunately, every job creation bill we introduced was either killed by Democrats in committee or by closing the emergency budget session.

“The flurry of ill-conceived, anti-business bills recently passed by the Democrats that are now awaiting action in the Assembly are exactly what we do not need. Democrats have not offered any tax policy revisions that would make California more competitive with other states or countries in creating new businesses and jobs, both of which produce revenue. The Democrats seem determined to stymie any economic recovery and further drive businesses out of the state.” – Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta)

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Big Money Talks – FPPC Releases PAC Investment $$

If you want to play with the Big Boys, this is the arena they play in. We didn’t make the top 15 but pulled in at #16. If you do the math, that $49 contribution from EVERY MEMBER only comes to $4.4 million. We invest just 16% of what the Teachers Union does, 31% of the SEIU, less than half of the Pechanga’s. We did edge out the Correctional Workers this year but they already got their big raise a couple years ago. That was money well spent and part of the reason the state budget is in the dumper now.

Any questions about why Arnold listens when the CTA speaks? Any questions on why the state continues to hire people and dole out raises while Riverside County unemployment hits 15%?

You’re either at the table or …

Over $1 Billion Spent by 15 Special Interest Groups on Political Campaigns and Lobbying Efforts

Today the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the state’s political watchdog agency, released a new report detailing how 15 wealthy special interests spent more than $1 billion throughout the last ten years in an attempt to shape public policy by influencing California’s voters and public officials.

The report, “Big Money Talks,” details the staggering amounts of money these interest groups spent on candidates, ballot measures and lobbying efforts, since electronic filing went into effect in 2000.  Included in this list are six corporations, three Indian tribes, two labor unions and four business associations.

“This tsunami of special interest spending drowns out the voices of average voters, and intimidates political opponents and elected officials alike,” said FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson.

These five interests are responsible for over half of the $1 billion spent by the top 15:

  • California Teachers Association—$211,849,298
  • California State Council of Service Employees—$107,467,272
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America—$104,912,997
  • Morongo Band of Mission Indians—$83,600,438
  • Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians—$69,298,909

“The message from special interests is unmistakable—that they’re willing to spend millions of dollars to protect their narrow interests,” Johnson continued.  “The spending also serves as a warning to officeholders:  ‘Don’t forget, we can use our money to help or hurt you.  Think about it.’”

The complete report is available on the Commission’s website and the list follows.

The Top 15 That Spent $1 Billion to Influence California Voters and Public Officials

1)    California Teachers Association                                                         $   211,849,298

2)    California State Council of Service Employees                                 $   107,467,272

3)    Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America              $   104,912,997

4)    Morongo Band of Mission Indians                                                      $     83,600,438

5)    Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians                                                    $     69,298,909

6)    Pacific Gas & Electric Company                                                         $     69,240,759

7)    Chevron Corporation                                                                            $     66,257,132

8)    AT&T Inc.                                                                                               $     59,619,677

9)    Philip Morris USA Inc.                                                                          $     50,756,360

10)  Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians                                             $     49,078,448

11)  Southern California Edison                                                                 $     43,412,031

12)  California Hospital Association                                                           $     43,281,456

13)  California Chamber of Commerce                                                      $     39,065,861

14)  Western States Petroleum Association                                              $     35,214,325

15)  Aera Energy LLC                                                                                   $     34,671,163

Total of Top 15 $1,067,726,126

The Next Ten

16)  California Association of Realtors $     33,329,943

17)  California Correctional Peace Officers Association                         $     32,452,083

18)  California School Employees Association                                         $     31,861,749

19)  San Manuel Band of Mission Indians                                                 $     29,747,811

20)  Reynolds American Inc.                                                                       $     29,213,942

21)  Pala Band of Mission Indians                                                              $     24,021,356

22)  United Auburn Indian Community                                                      $     24,019,877

23)  California Medical Association                                                            $     23,064,218

24)  Anthem Blue Cross                                                                               $     21,993,466

25)  Consumer Attorneys of California                                                      $     21,294,921

Total of Next 10                                                                   $270,999,366

GRAND TOTAL OF ALL 25                                   $1,338,725,492

Meg Whitman – The Real Deal?

This past Monday I had the opportunity to hear Meg Whitman at a small meet & greet. Whitman is one of two Republicans running to be Governor of this great state of California, though why any sane person would do that I’m still not certain. I made the trek with a couple other political hacks and cynics who had similar questions about her sanity, her commitment and her qualifications.

We all came away converts.

meg whitmanFirst, a few basics. Whitman is richer than God. As the former CEO of eBay, she is a billionaire and she has been spending a bunch of her own money on campaign ads since last year to get her message out. This is in contrast to the other Republican candidate who has done nothing but whine about what Whitman is doing, and Jerry Brown, who finally decided to throw his hat in the ring yesterday and about whom we know too much. I got no problem with her spending her own money because it’s a money game folks, and Jerry Brown’s already got the union money tied up.

Whitman looks better in person than she does on TV (you can’t trust my crappy little cell phone camera). She is poised, well-spoken and confident – she looks and sounds like what you want a political candidate to look and sound like. I know all candidates aspire to that but most come up way short. She sounds sincere because I think she really is sincere – like her TV moto says – ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’. She also has a laser focus and is not easily jolted off-message –  which is a talent she will need in order to succeed.

She has three main platform issues and brings every other discussion around to how it relates to her big three:

  • Jobs
  • Spending
  • Education

Whitman points out that jobs are her top priority. Without jobs there is no revenue, there is no recovery, there is no hope. One job killer? Eliminate AB 32 – which drew rousing applause from the house. Next – cut taxes across the board – but not first. First you need to create jobs to get the revenue stream, then you cut taxes to super-charge the momentum of creating more jobs, streamline regulations and make California competitive in the job market again..

Second – cut spending. Judicious and consistent use of the blue-line veto is one avenue she plans to utilize, along with actually reducing the state workforce rather than just reducing the increase. This years budget was ‘slashed’ all the way down to $85 Billion. Whitman suggested this is not as draconian as liberals would have you believe since the last time we had an $85 Billion budget was just 6 years ago. 2004 was a pretty good year in California – it’s just that when the money was rolling in SOME people who should have known better figured it would go on forever. She is again promising, as did Arnie, to review the relevancy pf departments, commissions and regulations.

Third – fix education. There’s no reason, given the amount of money we spend per pupil, which is among the highest in the country, that our students should rank where they do nationally, which is among the lowest. Maybe the 40% going to administration instead of students has something to do with it. Maybe tenuring dead wood forever has something to do with it. Maybe rewarding teachers that do a good job might help.

On why she wants to put herself in the position to try to govern a state many are convinced is ungovernable, she is very upbeat. She knows it is a challenge and one that her background uniquely qualifies her to tackle. She cites her real world corporate experience at Disney, Hasbro, Procter & Gamble and, of course, the fact that she took eBay from 30 employees to 15,000. But in addition to the eBay experience, she also credits it with giving her a unique insight into the true job creation engine – small businesses showing how eBay helped create thousands of small businesses and created a cottage industry which she believes could be extended to the entire private sector.

She appears to be going into it with her eyes open – acknowledging the massive economic hurdles, legislative stalemate, union and special interest control, and the myriad of other problems we know exist in Sacramento. But she has a plan to deal with all of them – one at a time. She believes Arnold had the right idea when he started but he decided to tackle all the major issues right up front. He never fully recovered from the shellacking he took from the unions, teachers, nurses etc in the early days.

One thing you may not know – I’ve not seen it written about out here. Whitman is also an avowed conservationist and environmentalist. She recently purchased hundreds of acres around the Alta Mines outside Telluride Colorado, my home town. Previous owners were trying to keep the acreage out of the hands of developers and were encouraged by Whitmans commitment to leaving the land untouched. She also contributed nearly $1.5 million dollars to help the Town of Telluride purchase their Valley Floor a couple years ago – again making sure this land remained a natural asset rather than being heavily developed. If you’ve read my summer vacation posts, you’ve seen the pictures of the Elk herd that roams this land today instead of the condos and estate homes planned by the former owners. Whitman is taking some flack from the extreme enviro’s questioning how she can claim to be an environmentalist while advocating the overturn of AB32. But I think most reasonable people understand that there are true environmentalists on both sides of the political spectrum. They also understand that AB32 really has little to do with saving either the environment or jobs in this state. Whitman understands that.

I didn’t take any notes at the meet & greet – I just wanted to get the flavor of the event, a feel for the candidate. I’ve gotta tell you I was impressed as were my political hack friends. If she only accomplishes 1/4 of what she plans to it will mark a tremendous improvement for California. And look at it this way – our alternative is Jerry Brown. Nuff said.

meg whitman



CA CEQA law under attack. Job creation urged.

Long a thorn in the side of anybody wanting to build anything in this state, CEQA is under attack this year by members of both parties. The ally of every no-growther in the state, CEQA has  had a hand in delaying or eliminating numerous projects including much needed road, hospital, water infrastructure and home development. Many viable projects have been derailed simply by having their costs explode due to ongoing and capricious environmental requirements. Often just the threat of CEQA is enough to drive project developers to throw their hands in the air.

Want to build windmills to generate electrical power? CEQA compliance will add 6 years to the timetable. Want to put solar collectors out in the middle of the Mojave Desert? Sorry, CEQA says it might disrupt animal migration patterns. Want to add another lane to the I-215? Sorry, you need to re-do all the CEQA stuff you already complied with once even though nothing has changed. Want to build a hospital in Temecula? CEQA will keep you hopping from makework to paperwork in no time at all.

Finally some in our state capitol are growing cajones and saying ‘enough is enough’. We need infrastructure, we need dams and roads and disaster relief and we need JOBS. You’ll note with no great surprise that the Sierra Club bemoans this ‘attack on CEQA’ and ‘developers using the recession as an excuse for rollbacks.’ When the Sierra Club gets into the business of helping create jobs in the state, let me know and I’ll start caring about what they say.

SRCAR has sent a letter to Senator Dennis Hollingsworth in SUPPORT of his bill SB X8-56, outlined below.

capitol weekly

State’s main environmental law targeted on broad front in Capitol

By John Howard | 02/23/10 12:00 AM PST
Years of exemptions from California’s principal environmental protection law are being crafted in the Capitol by the Schwarzenegger administration and lawmakers in both parties, who believe speedy approval of dozens of projects, public and private, will create jobs and spur economic growth. The projects are potentially worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs — although just how much money and how many jobs have not yet been identified. “If there is a list, if it exists, nobody has seen it,” one Capitol staffer said. “California is going through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa, author of one of the exemption bills. “This continues to provide environmental protection and balances that with the opportunity to create jobs.”

Environmentalists say the proposed end-run around the California Environmental Quality Act constitutes one of the most significant changes to CEQA since the law was written 40 years ago and inspired environmental legislation across the country. CEQA is a frequent target of lawsuits and legislation.

Four bills – two in each house – contain Schwarzenegger’s proposal to exempt 25 projects, selected geographically by county, from court review and CEQA each year through 2014. Two of the bills are regular-session measures, the other two were introduced in the 8th Special Session. All are mirror images of each other. Privately, those familiar with the legislation say there is a scramble among lobbyists to get clients’ projects on the exemption list.

The proposals are supported by manufacturers, builders, engineers, developers, business interests and others. They say the proposals will expedite construction of numerous, still-unknown projects and jumpstart the weak economy. They restrict the power of the courts to review the projects and give final authority over the projects to the administration.

The projects could range from refineries to commercial development, housing tracts, highways and water works, among others.

A fifth bill, which would apply retroactively, would exempt critical infrastructure projects for flood control, highways, port security, disaster preparedness and air quality. The proposal is similar to a plan that was proposed last year and rejected. Funding for the projects was approved by voters in 2006 as Proposition 1B, the $19.9 billion transportation bond, and Proposition 1E, the $4.1 billion flood protection bond. Of the funding that was approved, about $16 billion worth of bond funding remains unissued.

The measures containing the administration’s proposals have Democratic and Republican authors. The fifth bill, the infrastructure plan, is authored by Senate GOP Leader Dennis Hollingsworth.

CEQA has long been a target of developers, builders, manufacturers, timber and mining interests and others, but the latest series of bills seeking changes is unusual for their number and scope, observers say. They cite the Legislature’s earlier approval of exemptions for air-emission credits for the South Coast Air Quality Management District and a proposed NFL stadium in Los Angeles County as the progenitors of the latest legislation. Those two proposals constituted the most significant environment-related legislation of 2009.

“We said at the time that they would encourage more of these proposals, and it’s done exactly that,” said Bill Magavern of Sierra Club California. “We’re seeing a stepped-up attack on CEQA this year, and I think we’re seeing development interests using the recession as an excuse for the CEQA rollbacks that they have been gunning for.”

The administration’s proposal, reported by Capitol Weekly in January, is being carried in the Assembly as AB1805 and AB37 8x by Assemblymen Charles Calderon, D-Montebello, and Brian Nestande, R-Riverside. In the Senate, Sens. Correa and Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno, are authoring virtually identical bills, SB 42 8x and SB 1010.

The infrastructure exemptions are contained in SB 56 by Hollingsworth, R-Murietta.

The administration’s proposal allows exemptions for at least 25 construction projects located across California. Ten would be chosen from Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties; five from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties; five from Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare; and five projects located in the rest of the state.

The proposal, which includes a provision for at least one public hearing and legislative input, gives final authority over the projects to the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, or BTH, a cabinet-level superagency whose secretary, a gubernatorial appointee, reports directly to the governor.

The goal of the governor’s proposal is to expedite projects that would generate jobs and stimulate the sluggish economy.

The proposal sets up a timetable for projects to be approved, and allows for approval if the entity seeking the project expects the project ultimately to receive environmental approval. If the project fails the environmental certification, the BTH can choose alternates. The plan calls for BTH to give lawmakers and the public a list of the projects that win final approval.

Environmentalists said the governor’s plan would weaken environmental safeguards, and questioned whether the language barring court review would pass constitutional muster.

Last year, the governor signed AB 81 3X by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, that streamlined certain CEQA requirements to construct a new NFL stadium in the City of Industry. The stadium proposal, already exempted, would not be covered by the latest legislation.

The governor also signed SB 827 by Sen. Rod Wright, D-Los Angeles, with an estimated $4 billion economic impact affecting some 65,000 jobs in the L.A. basin. The bill allows air regulators to distribute valuable emissions credits in the way they did before the courts, responding to environmentalists, blocked them.

CA Senate Illustrates Egregious Cluelessness In Pursuit of Reality

Just when you think our Legislature might get a clue as to what’s going on in the world they are quick to remind us – they are so far out of touch it’s almost comical. Two items from today’s news:

#1 – Our illustrious State Senate passed a bill yesterday cracking down on… FREE PARKING. Yeah, you read that right, FREE PARKING. They don’t have enough to do figuring out how to make up a $20+ Billion budget deficit or how to get water to 70% of the state – they’ve got to stick their nose into yet another local issue.

Sen. Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat (there’s a shocker for ya), says there’s just too darn much free parking. It encourages people to drive instead of walking, riding a bike or taking a bus. All that driving caused by free parking is contributing to traffic jams, pollution and, of course, the ever-present bogeyman of global warming. “Free parking has significant social, economic and environmental costs,” according to Lowenthal. “It increases congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Want to decrease greenhouse gas emissions Al? Try shutting your pie-hole. Meanwhile I’ll try to explain to people living in Southwest California why they should be riding their bikes or walking 70 miles to work in your city. (We’ve got no buses.) And why you feel their employers should eliminate free parking if the lazy schmucks do feel the continued need to drive their car to work.

Dumb Ass. And all your Democrat colleagues who voted for this too. Dumb asses.

#2 – Even Obama figured this one out but it’ll apparently take a 2X4 to the side of the head to get the attention of the jack asses in our state senate. One headline in todays paper – datelined Washington DC – ‘Healthcare Bill is on Life Support’. You know it, everybody else in the country knows it… BUT, in an adjacent article datelined Sacramento – ‘California Senate OK’s single payer healthcare plan’. They don’t know it.

Sen Christine Kehoe, a Democrat (there’s another shocker for ya), says “If it’s not to be done at the national level, let’s take the lead in California.” The proposal by Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat (yet another shocker), establishes a commission (ooooh, we need more of them) and will give them $1 million to decide how to pay for this ‘plan’. Well, what’s another million against the $20+ billion we’re already in the dumper, eh Mark?

Let me put on my ‘Carnac the Magnificent’ hat for a minute a see if I can predict the future. After burning through the initial million, and needing several more before the end of the year, the commission will determine we need to a) increase taxes on the wealthy, and b) increase ‘fees’ on everybody else. The commission will still be draining money from our state budget in 2099.

Republican Sen. George Runner says “This plan is to the left and more radical of what wouldn’t get out of Washington,” A spokeshole for the Gov. sums it up “… they are clearly out of touch with what the voters need and deserve.”

Yeah but I’ll bet they all get re-elected in November. Who’s the dumb asses now?


Jail time for under-inflated tires? Only in CA.

This state has completely lost it’s freakin’ mind. I know that probably doesn’t come as a shock to many of you, which is pretty telling in and of itself, but there’s some wacky shit going on in Sacramento. And it’s going to impact EACH & EVERY one of US..

Let me start with what’s currently coming out of the State Air Resources Board. You know these folks – they’re another of those appointed boards (like the renowned Water Resource Board – more on them later) that apparently don’t answer to anybody and operate without oversight or accountability and exist to, well, let me quote their website on this…

“The Air Resources Board leads the country in working with the public, the business sector, and local governments to protect the public’s health, the economy and the state’s ecological resources through the most cost-effective reduction of air pollution. The Board now employs roughly 1,200 engineers, scientists and attorneys, with an annual operating budget of more than $750 million.”

Apparently they’re not suffering from the states unemployment or budget cuts.

So as a result of AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (saints preserve us), the ARB has been charged with figuring out all these ways to vastly reduce our emissions by 2020 and beyond so as to save our planet from the politicians that…, no that’s not right. To save us from ourselves is what they’re supposed to do. Last year they came up with an ill-advised ruling which would have shut down most long-haul truckers in the state. Before saner minds over-ruled their lunacy, they did make the accurate point that this would have greatly reduced deadly emissions in this state and, according to a since discredited study, would have saved over 3,500 lives each year.

They currently have a proposal on the table as a result of one paragraph in AB32 which would regulate under-inflated tires. That’s right. This state is $22 Billion in the can, unemployment is 12%+, we can’t get enough water to drink but these clowns have nothing more important to worry about that if your tires are inflated to within 1% of the manufacturers recommended amount and if you used an approved and certified tire gauge to tell you that. Honest. You can read the whole shebang right here.

REGULATION TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS FROM VEHICLES OPERATING WITH UNDER INFLATED TIRES

Here’s the bottom line – every time you get an auto service (and there’s some debate about whether just stopping for gas might qualify), you would be required, at some undetermined cost, to let the servicer check your tires with an approved tire gauge. If you are under-inflated by as little as one (!) pound per square inch (PSI) under the manufacturers recommendation, they will have to insist that you immediately inflate them to the proper poundage or, if you promise to get it done, you can do it yourself within seven (7) days but then you have to get certified that your tires have been brought into compliance or you face the possibility of fines and/or incarceration.

The servicer also has to maintain all these records for 3 years and make them available to some sub-committee of the ARB or somebody upon request. Yeah. That won’t increase costs at all. I imagine your corner mechanic will be able to readily maintain voluminous & accurate records ready at a moments notice and incorporate that easily into their daily routine.

Yes indeedy – this is serious stuff you damn scofflaws with your under-inflated tires. Your callous disregard for your tire pressure is responsible for putting tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day causing at least 3,500 deaths in the state every year. Oops, sorry, that was the last discredited study – but I’m sure it’s valid here.

You can read a more detailed analysis of the proposal here: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck AB 32 California Climate Change Initiative

Well, the good news is we’re in a 15 day public comment period due to expire on January 27, with the proposal scheduled for implementation on July 1. If you feel like making a public comment, you can read what some other folks have written about this winner and post your own comments here: Board Meeting Comments Log.

While you’re there, I would also encourage you to read the bio’s on the members of this board. While there appear to be a couple folks, like Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge, who have some real-life experience, the board appears to lean heavily to those who have made a career of feeding at the public trough. The current Chair returned in 2007, 30 years after serving as Chair under Moonbeam Brown. She has spent the intervening years  in public and not-for-profit service; with the EPA; as one of California’s ‘first environmental lawyers’ initiating ‘precedent setting test cases under the Federal Clean Air Act; and moving California’s ‘landmark climate change agenda’ ahead. Oh JOY!

Jeez. Is it any wonder much of what comes out of there has little relevance to the everyday lives of people who have to make a living here? And is it any wonder businesses, jobs and regular people are leaving this state by the truckload – with or without appropriately inflated tires? I think not.

Well, that’s just one of 44 different programs the ARB is working on under AB32 to give our lives greater meaning by 2020. I can hardly wait to hear the rest.

Of course that’s just my opinion – I could be wrong.