22 May

Fiscally Fed-up or Just a Freeloader?

““The freeloaders — I’ve had enough of them,” Brown said”

That’s California’s Governor Jerry Brown insulting taxpayers who are fed up with the tax-and-spend-and-tax-some-more policies of Sacramento.

Hyperbole and demagoguery at it’s finest. Not to mention an insult to working Californians who want even a modicum of fiscal sanity for the taxes that are picked from our pockets year after year.

Over $6Billion is sent to the state via the current excise taxes on every gallon of gas sold in California. Then there’s the diesel taxes, weight fees, vehicle registration fees, carbon taxes, cap and trade taxes, regulations that artificially inflate the prices of our gas via our “special blend” and on and on and on ad infinitum. Then we have sales taxes and property taxes and fees out the wazoo for half of what we want to do in our day to day lives. Then we have the things that cost us time like licensing and permitting and regulatory red tape for things that typically aren’t even enforced once you get through the red tape.

Yet we’re freeloaders. The taxpayers.

Jerry Brown has refused to address how the already collected money is currently spent. He has refused to justify why we truly need more. He won’t address disparities in how California contracts services or rates we pa. He has refused to stem the tide of the Pension Tsunami ready to engulf our once great state. He has refused to do just about anything of substance to justify his newest taxes so of course he resorts to grandstanding and political theater.

If anybody in California could be labeled as a freeloader it’s the governor who used state time to survey his private property. It’s the governor who refuses to shut down the vanity project known as High Speed Rail. It’s the governor who cannot and will not explain why spiked pensions are more important than anything else in government.

Freeloaders? If wanting accountability from an overzealous and corrupt government makes me a freeloaders so be it. Sign me up.

11 May

A Case to Recall CA State Senator Josh Newman

Newman-Ferguson

Today I will heading down to ARCO at 519 S. Harbor Blvd here in Fullerton to participate in the recall effort of CA State Senator Josh Newman. I will be there while KFI640’s John & Ken Show as well as KOGO600’s Carl DeMaio live broadcast while attempting to collect the required signatures. Many people will likely show up both for and against the recall and each will have their own reasons and their own beliefs. But why am I supporting the recall of Senator Newman?

I’ve been asked in various outlets and in person how I could support removing an official who was duly elected.

I’ve been asked if its fair to recall Senator Newman simply because he voted to our raise taxes.

I’ve been asked if there’s even a legal case to recall Senator Josh Newman.

I’ve also been accused of being used in a game of partisan bickering and political grandstanding. Being told that I’m nothing more than a tool of a party that lost all power when Newman beat Ling Ling Change thereby securing the Super-Majority for the Democratic Party.

I’ve also been yelled at quite a bit both online and off for my support of this contentious effort.

Obviously anything with a partisan angle or flair will allow people to adorn their blinders and lock arms with their tribe. For most the very answers to the above questions will depend on whom you ask being that (D)s will say that there is no case or justification for a recall whilst (R)s will clearly state the opposite.

None of that matters to me. As I have never been a member of a political party I am unaffected by tribal political grandstanding. Therefore I am going to answer these questions from the perspective of somebody who voted for Newman and yet is supporting his removal from office. Read More

25 Apr

How Much Tax Money Do We Need for Mah Roads?

Gas Tax Increase Ahead

How much money do we need to raise yearly for our roads and infrastructure? If you listen to Governor Brown he’ll tell you that we have a $59Billion backlog of Highway Repairs with $71Billion in local repairs needed. That’s why we needed to pass SB1 because the new taxes are slated to raise $52Billion over 10 years.

Of course we have a backlog because the legislature is more interested in waste/fraud such as the Governor’s Legacy Choo-Choo than they are in actual repairs. That has historically been the case and it will continue to be the case. We never prioritize the basic functions of government or the items for which we specifically tax.

Need to repair the Oroville Dam? That can wait a decade or two. Want to give out tax credits so the 1% can buy Teslas? No problem. Priorities, you see.

But getting back to the math of SB1. If we have a $130Billion backlog is that on top of the repairs we ARE doing or is that just everything we haven’t done yet? Because the amount we need to raise varies based upon that answer.

It also matters because before we raise taxes we should really focus on how much money we’re already bringing in as well as where it’s going. If it isn’t going where it’s supposed to we need to change that and fire the people ripping us off. Let’s look at that first point.

Last year Los Angeles voters approved Measure M which is slated to raise $860Million/Year. Orange County’s Measure M took in approximately $300Million last year.

LA Measure M Impacts

In fact according to the California Department of Transportation as of 2014 there are  around 20 Counties that have passed similar measures.

County Sales Tax Increases

That says $3.793Billion for 2014. Los Angeles’ Measure M from 2016 isn’t included in that so that would add an additional $860Million taking the total to cool $4.65Billion.

I’m unsure of these numbers because I find it interesting that the chart says “2 Million” for Orange County when OCTA says (Page 145) we did $60,097,127,000 in commerce last year and .5% of that would be  $300,485,635 with 2014 (the date of this report) at nearly $278Million.

277 > 2.

OCTA CAFR

2014 Shows $277,939,000

It needs to be noted that those numbers are Sales Tax based and not based upon Gas Mileage and therefore didn’t drop with higher fuel efficiency. Also, those totals go to local city & county roads and not Federal or State projects.

But what about the dropping fuel taxes? Doesn’t that eat into our funding which is necessitating these new taxes?

Estimates that I’ve seen say that we’re using approximately 8-10% less in gas than 10 years ago thanks to more fuel efficient vehicles. That decrease has led to a drop in state gas tax revenue of about $200Million/year which is a lot.

However a drop doesn’t mean we aren’t getting enough to do the job the money is intended to do in the first place. If I win $10Million in the lottery and then it turns out that I had to split it and only won $5Million I’d still be able to do the many things I wanted to do with my windfall.

This is government logic though. First they misspend money. Then they enact legislation that decreases their own funding and finally they find other taxes to raise to start the cycle anew.

Seriously California gets between 85-90% (depending on the source) of the $0.18.4/Gallon Federal Excise Tax back from the Feds in the form of grant money (which isn’t bad considering how bad the State bends over Cities/Counties). If that 8-10% drop is true and we’re only using about 14Billion gallons of gas in CA how much are we getting?

Let’s Math.

$0.18/Gallon x 14Billion = $2,520,000,000.

$2,520,000,000 – 15% Fed Finders Fee = $2,142,000,000 per year from the Feds to pay for MAH ROADS.

Then we had Proposition 1B from 2006 which allowed for $19.9Billion in General Obligation Bonds for Infrastructure.

So less fuel is being used therefore we can say $2,142,000,000 x 10 fairly because today is less and therefore the smallest number. Between Prop 1B ($19,900,000,000) and the Federal Fuel Excise Tax ($21,420,000,000) over ten years we’ve blown through $41,320,000,000.

Plus the $2.95 Billion that those counties shown above have been getting each year through their sales tax increases (excluding the taxes that took place after 2006). That’s another $29,520,000,000 locally.

So now we’re up to $70,840,000,000 for Mah Roads since 2006. 70Billion. Seventy Billion! In ten years.

Plus the money we got from the “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”. Plus Plus Plus.

We haven’t even begun talking about the Excise/Sales taxes paid inside California. Or the Vehicle License Fees. Or Diesel Fuel Taxes. Or Weight Fees. Or. Or. Or.

It seems we keep upping the amount of money that we raise for MAH ROADS but never manage to actually, you know, pay to fix them regardless of how much money is out of our pockets and on the table.

How much money do we have to collect before we actually spend it on what we claim we’re going to spend it on?

All of it. Obviously.

23 Apr

Another Great High Speed Rail Train Robbery

Jeff Morales, the Chief Executive Officer for California’s High Speed Rail boondoggle is stepping down this summer. After goosing the taxpayers for about $2Million in Salary/Benefits since 2011 he finally has decided to step down before the High Speed Rail gets anywhere near completed or let alone high speed. From 2011-2015 Mr. Morales made just over $1.5Million in Salary/Benefits so unless he miraculously took a pay-cut in 2016 his total compensation comes near or just over the $2Million mark for 5 years of work. Great unaccountable work if you can get it.

Because he’s stepping down, and the position isn’t being eliminated, we’re going to have to replace him with some other goon who’ll get that fat paycheck. No wonder we keep needing to sell bonds to finance this nonsense boondoggle of 19th Century technology.

In the Press Release announcing Morales’ decision to leave they give some highlights of his tenure. Here’s a partial list with my notes in red:

  1. Injected upwards of $4 billion into California’s economy. Bond Debt with no way to pay for it. This is bad.
  2. Supported thousands of jobs in areas that have suffered chronic unemployment and put almost a thousand tradesmen and women to work. Make work jobs for the low-low price of $4 billion so far…
  3. Engaged well over 300 California small and disadvantaged businesses. What does “engaged” even mean here?
  4. Grown from just over a dozen employees to more than 200 employees. MOAR Bureaucracy! MOAR Make-Work! I’m not sure how that’s a good thing.
  5. Managed three successful procurement bids totaling more than $3 billion in contracts for 119 miles of construction, with each bid coming in hundreds of millions of dollars below engineers’ estimates. They are literally selling the point here that he spent $3 Billion. I could spend $3 Billion better for no money, let alone $500K/year. That’s another bad thing.
  6. Advanced the unprecedented environmental approval of the remaining segments. “Unprecedented”. In California? This stuff can’t be made up. For those who think environmental concerns in CA can EVER be “unprecedented” see: Smelt, Delta.
  7. Secured approval of the “d” plan for expenditure of bond funds, with first bond sales occurring this week. More plaudits for spending money we don’t actually have. He’s getting praised for saddling my kids with debt.
  8. Improved the right of way acquisition process, recovering from early delays. Improved? First of all this is something that should have been figured out BEFORE we started spending money and building Not Really High Speed Rail. Second the word “imrproved” is setting the bar pretty low here isn’t it?

I’d continue but you get the point I hope. This man is being applauded for spending money we don’t have, borrowing more money (bonds) we don’t have and getting things slowly moving on a project that will likely never get completed. Or if it does get completed won’t be used unless the State just bans all other forms of transportation. It seems the only thing High Speed about this project is the speed at which they spend money. I await finding out which HSR-Connected private firm Mr. Morales ends up working for after his departure.