Archive for the ‘Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters’ Category
The annual Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association [California State] Legislative Report Card report is out. The ratings are based on tax votes, with an emphasis regarding attacks on Prop 13.As one would expect, since most of our legislators are Democrats, the majority of our legislators rate an “F” ranking on taxes. The table of information can be sorted interactively in each category (I’m easily entertained).
California columnist Joe Mathews raises a great issue in a U-T op-ed — California’s growing problem of increasingly paying more for less. It’s a major issue, especially with government services.
But then he fails miserably — not identifying the single biggest factor. In this case, he never addresses the principal reason why the cost of California government services are so high — and how that high cost impacts the quantity and quality of such services.
The primary problem? We overpay and over-pension our CA state and local “public servants” — compared to other states, and especially compared to the California private sector. That unnecessary expense adversely impacts government’s ability to adequately deliver its services.
CAUTION: The following commentary will trigger intense feelings of hatred (of me) among some firefighters. My apologies in advance.
Firefighting has always been an honorable profession. It’s a job that, from time to time, definitely can be more dangerous than most occupations. But the “problem” for the California Fire Foundation (CFF) and other boosters of firefighters is that — these days — too few firefighters are dying on the job.
Now, MOST of us think fewer firefighter deaths is a good thing. I suspect most firefighters strongly agree. Better equipment, safer procedures, better exercise programs, less firefighter cigarette smoking and — MOST IMPORTANT — significantly fewer fires have all contributed to this drop in the firefighter mortality rate.
In America, we have a double standard when it comes to tax issue groups. The press and the Left labels any group that opposes tax increases as “anti-tax.” Yet I’ve NEVER heard the left wing groups pushing higher taxes defined as “pro-tax.” Why is that?
Okay, okay — the Left controls the MSM and academia — we all get that. But “anti-tax” is a labeling double standard that too many conservative pundits routinely employ when describing the position of taxpayer advocate groups.
Moreover, an “anti-tax” group is periodically accused of being opposed to taxes, PERIOD. ALL taxes.
In a just-released survey by the nonprofit TRIP, among U.S. urban areas exceeding 500,000 population, my city of San Diego is tied nationally for having the seventh worst city road conditions. Californians will be disappointed (but not surprised) to find that four of the six large population areas that are ranked even worse than San Diego are also located in the Golden State. An “Olympic” state, California sweeps the “top” three spots in road disrepair. Great.
What makes these rankings particularly galling is that California gouges us for the nation’s second highest total gasoline tax — which most people foolishly think is dedicated to road building and repair. Would that it were so!
One of the many liberal talking points against Prop 13 is that it “gutted” public education. Supposedly Prop 13, which passed in 1978, is the main reason our CA schools are so underfunded today — ruining what progressives now claim was once the best K-12 public school system in the nation. But were the CA public schools really that great before they were “gutted”? Indeed, was school funding gutted at ALL?
Short answer to the second question: “Au contraire.”
Private Firefighting In the U.S.
Private firefighting is a rapidly growing industry. Yes, private firefighters make up just 4.3 percent of the nation’s total firefighters, but this is an industry on the verge of catching fire because of a growing trend toward privatization.
According to a 2012 study conducted by market research firm IBISWorld, there are 256 private firefighting companies in the United States — a number that’s expected to grow to more than 320 by 2017. At the same time, the number of firefighters employed by private companies will increase from 16,880 to 27,206.
Recently there’s been a nationwide effort to get some overseas manufacturing jobs “reshored” to the United States, apparently with modest success. But California has received only 2.4% of those jobs — a pretty dismal result.
It’s particularly distressing when one considers that CA holds 12.18% of the nation’s population. That means that, per capita, on average the other 49 states got more than 5.5 times the “reshoring” jobs that California received.
California Attracts 2.4% Of U.S. Reshored Jobs
By Gino DiCaro
Vice President of Communications for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association
Thursday, June 18th, 2015
The LA TIMES owners recently purchased the historically more conservative SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Naturally the U-T readers — primarily right of center — are concerned with the change in tone of the paper, and content. I’ve been monitoring this, and so far, I must say my concerns have not been (yet) realized.
The U-T editorials still deliver primarily the conservative viewpoint most readers expect. The editorial they just published on the dishonest Prop 13 split roll “reform” is first rate. It appears the same opinion editors still hold sway in the paper.
You’re gonna LOVE this. As you know, the Los Angeles city politicians voted almost unanimously to establish a $15 minimum wage. They did so at the behest of the labor unions. Now the labor union bosses want an exemption for unionized workers!
As union boss Rusty Hicks so eloquently put it, “With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”
Lots of funny captions provided by readers for this U-T cartoon. But my wife made an interesting observation: Reverse the roles — make it two MEN with the big gun — and an empty pair of smoking WOMEN’s shoes.
I suspect that would NOT be deemed funny, or even offered up for caption-adding to the public. If it were published, letters would pour into the paper from people “deeply offended.”
Such is the double standard of today’s (selectively) sensitive society.
I’d like to see the actual Chargers stadium proposal, but based on the task force’s official write-up which I presume is accurate, appears to be a $467 million taxpayer giveaway to keep the Chargers here — ignoring cost overruns and “surprises.” And apparently that’s not counting the 60 acres of land valued at $180 million (not sure how land ownership is handled). Again, I caution that my interpretation of the proposal may not be completely accurate.
The fact that there is no actual tax INCREASE is no surprise — the proponents were desperate to avoid any taxpayer vote on the matter. I predicted this wrinkle months ago.
The U-T recently ran a guest op-ed touting all the benefits to society of mandated prevailing wage contracts — which jack up the price of public works projects 15%-30% (not counting the inefficiencies of union work rules). But it was fraudulently presented.
This piece was authored by some flunky from the “Middle Class Taxpayers Association.” It’s a bogus outfit (though well funded).
Any cursory check reveals this is a front group completely funded by the local labor unions and liberal foundations. The U-T fails to disclose this. And therein lies the fraud.
Michael Zucchet, president of the San Diego Municipal Employees Association, said . . . restoring those [past city worker] cuts will require hiring new workers, which he described as a struggle because many city positions have salaries below market rate based on pay freezes and some pay cuts in 2010.
“Funding the positions is only half the battle,” Zucchet said. “It’s just not clear the city is going to be able to hire those people at the current compensation.”
Interesting hypothesis: Nobody wants a San Diego city government job. Seriously??
Here’s a San Diego city firefighter hiring reform we need. Four, actually.
1. Do what EVERY OTHER CITY IN THE COUNTY DOES — hire already qualified firefighters who graduate from accredited firefighter academies — primarily our community college programs. Let the students pay for their firefighter education. No need to start from scratch with a new recruit — putting him (occasionally her) though the city’s own firefighter academy totally at city taxpayer expense. If the city wants to do additional training on top of that, fine — use OJT or hold a short academy for new hires. That’s what other cities do.
Given that the Chargers Task Force meeting clearly was going to be pretty much a Chargers pep rally, I saw little reason to attend and speak. But I DID submit in writing the following short email on crucial points I’m concerned about:
TO THE CHARGERS TASK FORCE: I will not be attending tonight’s meeting, but I’d like to submit a couple thoughts on the stadium issue via this email.
Of course, I have a host of considerations I’d like to present as to why the Chargers stadium should not be subsidized by taxpayers. But doubtless you get a lot on that matter — from both sides.
The Chargers are disdainful of their Qualcomm stadium, paid for by the taxpayers. The team’s annual rent isn’t much. They CLAIM they pay $2.5 million a year, but — as the Voice of San Diego points out in its fact check article — that is “misleading,” to put it charitably.
Indeed, on a net outlay basis, the Chargers’ rent is usually less than ZERO. Yes, for all intents and purposes, they play at Qualcomm stadium rent free.
Sooooo, what are the odds the team owners are keen on paying much if anything to the city for the NEW billion dollar-plus stadium? Where will the “revenue” to pay the revenue bonds come from?
One thing that would help with public employees is to drastically reduce their number. Do that by contracting out every possible government service.
Yeah, police probably have to be public employees, but most of the other jobs can be outsourced to private companies. And often are around the country.
1. It can be done for less cost. The evidence is overwhelming.
2. Contracting out would gut the public employee labor union monopoly, which usually is the most powerful force in electing their city and county bosses!
If only we could all work at those really cool HQ complexes of Apple and Google. Sadly, we can’t.
Meantime more good paying, minority-friendly jobs are abandoning California for a more business friendly state. Here’s a recent example — not even considered news any more in California.The Democrat Party — champion of the “little people” — runs California. Yeah, like THAT’S going well for their claimed constituency.
What Recovery? Farmers Brothers Taking 350 Jobs to Texas or Oklahoma—From Los Angeles
by Stephen Frank
How can you lose money running a golf course when the land is “free” and you pay zero property tax? You’d think you’d charge enough to pay for the operational costs of such an endeavor. Not so, apparently — if you’re government.
Indeed, the City of San Diego’s annual $2 million municipal golf course operating deficit is understated, as the city doesn’t include the unfunded pension, disability and employee retirement liabilities in its budget or income statement. If the operations of these two golf courses were leased out like the OTHER seven city golf links, there would be no such unfunded liabilities — and no deficits.
“GIGO.” Garbage in, garbage out.
The city of San Diego lifeguards are probably the highest compensated in the state — but America’s Finest City has a policy of not reporting the full cost of benefits. Or even MOST of the costs. “Too much trouble,” apparently.
Looking at the highest CA lifeguard compensation figures in the article below, it appears to me that the only benefit cost my city includes is health insurance — nothing for pensions, 401k plan, disability insurance, life insurance, retiree health care, etc., etc. And let’s not overlook the unfunded liability cost (seldom reported) for employee pensions, retiree health care, disability, etc.
Unstated in California Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ proposed new annual $52 DMV driving “fee” for infrastructure is the bogus assumption that Californians pay too little taxes. False.
* CA has by FAR the highest state income tax rate.
* The highest state capital gains tax rate (2nd highest combined capital gains rate in the WORLD).
* The highest state sales tax rate.
* Easily the highest gasoline and diesel taxes.
* The 10th highest homeowner property taxes.
* The 6th highest state corporate tax rate.
Is California “back,” as the liberal press and our governor so proudly proclaim? No. Not hardly.
In November, California was tied for the second highest/worst state unemployment rate. In December, we’ve got second place all to ourselves at 7.0%.
The national unemployment rate was 5.6%. Only “Deliverance” Mississippi was worse. The national unemployment rate not including CA is 5.4%, making the CA unemployment rate 29.4% higher than the average of the other 49 states.
We were at 4.8% in Nov, 2006 – vs. national 4.6%
Here’s an interesting exercise in NFL economics. Some “sports economist” referenced in this otherwise excellent U-T article (Gee, I wonder who funds his academic chair?) has projected that a new San Diego stadium will mean $50 million more annually for the Chargers. Put aside for the moment the biased nature of this “study.” Suppose it’s true.
Where does the $50 million come from?
A. From increased stadium revenues that go to the Chargers.
Is the $50 million a “net to the Chargers’ (and visiting NFL teams)” figure?
A. Apparently so.
A Defense of Proposition 13 Property Tax Revenues
by Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters
***Updated 28 January, 2015***
When it comes to gathering sufficient property taxes, Prop 13 is no problem at all – except for profligate spenders. Look at the history of my San Diego County – a history which pretty much reflects the history of property taxes in the urban/suburban counties that hold over 85% of California’s population.
According to San Diego County, in 1977 – the year BEFORE Prop 13 took effect (when everything was working great, according to Prop 13 critics) – our countywide property tax revenue was about $639 million. For the recently completed 2013-2014 fiscal year, our county treasurer reports that real estate property tax revenues were $4.932 BILLION.