Posts Tagged ‘Stockton’

Texas vs. California Update for April 20, 2017

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

This didn’t get done while I was doing my taxes, but here, at last, is another giant Texas vs. California update:

  • Appeals court finds San Diego’s pension reform legal. “California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.” San Diego transitioned to a 401K style program. Naturally public employee unions screamed bloody murder and sought to have the reforms overturned. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Unions attempts to role back San Diego’s pension reforms amounted to an attempt to retroactively apply collective bargaining to older laws.
  • More: It’s “shocking the agency’s officials would have even argued that a union’s right to negotiate pay and benefits trumps the public’s right to hold an election.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “The number of people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in California alone exceeds the total populations of 44 of the other states of the union, according to data published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Census Bureau.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California exports its working poor to Texas.

    Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.

    About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.

    Snip.

    The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

  • Hat tip for the above is this Zero Hedge piece, which notes “By some measures, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. And as more and more residents leave, the burden to fund the state’s welfare exuberance will fall more and more on the wealthier (that actually pay taxes). Rather than secession, perhaps it’s time for the wealthy to join ‘the poor’ exodus and beat the crowd out of California…”
  • A look at a California tent city of 1,000 people.
  • Kevin Williamson on why Houston’s diversity is different than the liberal ideal of same:

    Living in a place where it is less of a struggle to pay the rent or make the mortgage payment does indeed chill most everybody out a little bit. But it is not at all obvious that what Houston — or Texas at large — enjoys is in fact a culture that is generally welcoming to immigrants in a way that is different from Scottsdale or Trenton or Missoula. What Texas does have is something close to the opposite of that: a large and very well-integrated Mexican-American community. Anglos in Texas aren’t welcoming to Latinos because we are in some way uniquely open to the unfamiliar, but because they are not unfamiliar.

    This matters in ways that are not obvious if you didn’t grow up with it. My native West Texas, along with the whole of the border and much of the rest of the state, has a longstanding, stable Anglo–Latin hybrid culture. Houston does, too, but Houston, being a very large city, is a little more complicated; I had lunch yesterday with a conservative leader who chatted amiably with the staff in Spanish at . . . an Indian restaurant.

    That robust hybrid culture ensures that the people Anglos hear speaking Spanish are not always poor, not mowing the lawn or cleaning a hotel room, that they are not usually immigrants, not people who cannot speak or read English — not alien. They are neighbors who, if you are lucky, make Christmas tamales. And they might be your employer or your employee, the guy who sells you a car or approves your car loan, a pastor at your church, a professor, a member of your Ultimate Frisbee team . . . or an illegal immigrant, or a criminal, or someone who is in some way unassimilated, alien, or threatening. When one out of three people in your county is “Hispanic” — a word that in Texas overwhelmingly means “Mexican-American” — then you tend to know Hispanic people of all descriptions: the good, the bad, and the ordinary.

    That is not the case in, say, Arlington, Va., which does not have a large and well-assimilated Mexican-American population but does have a large and poorly assimilated population of Spanish-speaking immigrants. The two things are not the same — more like opposites. Add to that the fact, sometimes lost on Anglos, that there is no such thing as a “Hispanic” culture or population, that people with roots in Mexico do not think of themselves as being part of a single cultural group that includes people from Central America and South America. A while back, I heard an older fellow of Mexican background complaining about the Guatemalans moving into his area — and he was an illegal immigrant. That’s a funny reality: In Texas, even some of the illegals don’t think that we can let just anybody cross the border. But ethnic politics is a strange business: In West Texas, young whites without much money (college students and the like) who would never for a moment seriously consider moving into a low-income black neighborhood will not give a second thought to moving into a largely Hispanic neighborhood.

    All of which is not to say that Texas does not have a fair number of poorly assimilated Spanish-speaking immigrants: It surely does, especially in the big cities. (People forget how urban Texas is: Six of the 20 largest U.S. cities are in Texas.) But it is easier to accommodate — and, one hopes, to assimilate — those newcomers when you have a culture of mutual familiarity and trust, which is based not on newcomers but on oldcomers. Texas’s ancient Mexican-American community — whose members famously boast, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!” — is a kind of buffer that makes absorbing newcomers less stressful.

  • Leaving coastal California is a ‘no-brainer‘ for some as housing costs rise.”

    Huntington Beach residents Chris Birtwistle and Allison Naitmazi were about to get married and decided it was time to buy a home.

    They wanted to stay in the area but couldn’t find a house they both liked and could reasonably afford — despite a dual income of around $150,000.

    So they decided to go inland — all the way to Arizona, where they recently opened escrow on a $240,000, four-bedroom house with a pool just outside Phoenix. Their monthly mortgage payment will be about $500 less than what they paid for a two-bedroom apartment in the Orange County beach community.

  • “California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities.” Versus zero for Texas. So they have the nation’s most stringent pollution laws…and the nation’s worst air pollution. (Golf clap) (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore’s Twitter feed.)
  • 16 Reasons Not To Live In California. Samples (snippage implied):

    #2 Out of all 50 states, the state of California has been ranked as the worst state for business for 12 years in a row…
    #3 California has the highest state income tax rates in the entire nation. For many Americans, the difference between what you would have to pay if you lived in California and what you would have to pay if you lived in Texas could literally buy a car every single year.
    #4 The state government in Sacramento seems to go a little bit more insane with each passing session.
    #5 The traffic in the major cities just keeps getting worse and worse. According to USA Today, Los Angeles now has the worst traffic in the entire world, and San Francisco is not far behind.

  • CalSTRS’ funded status falls to 64% as deficit grows $21 billion following rate reduction.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas is on its way to passing a conservative budget.
  • A Democrat-sponsored bill in the California legislature guarantees free healthcare for all, without specifying a way to pay for it. Maybe they’ll institute a unicorn tax… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection spells out exactly what Californians would actually get under the plan:
    • With no choice, there is no competition, unless you are wealthy enough to leave the state for medical care. However, this is a golden opportunity for medical tourism companies!
    • There will be a limited supply of doctors, as those who don’t want to go through the bureaucratic hoops for procedures and payment will also leave the state.
    • Clinicians will be forced to make their treatment decisions based on the state-run rules: Why choose surgery when a pill will do?
    • Shockingly, some funds need to be directed to other budget items instead of perks for illegal aliens (refer to Oroville Dam for a handy reference).
    • Medicare, the system that is the foundation for this proposal, is rife with waste, fraud and abuse (e.g., 3 Floridians bilked the system for $1 billion).
    • Co-pays and deductibles will be transformed into monies paid for non-state government healthcare services (like the Canadians who cross into the United States to obtain MRI’s and other innovative treatments).
    • Public oversight will translate into political wheeling-and-dealing strictly for the benefit of those plugged into the rigged system. An indication that Sacramento may be headed for such a system, I offer this piece published in The Sacramento Bee for consideration: Why California must accept more corruption.
    • The cost of drugs has soared, despite Obamacare. As an example, I had a skin medication that would cost me $150 for an annual supply. The same medication now costs nearly $1000 a year, and I no longer use it.
  • In order to further bestow members of the ruling Democratic coalition with rights and privileges mere citizens don’t enjoy, California’s Senate Bill 807 proposes making teachers exempt from state income tax. Some pigs are evidently way, way more equal than others…
  • Teacher’s unions have helped create California’s teacher shortage. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California hikes its gas taxes yet again, making them the highest in the nation.
  • Pension liabilities are pinching in Gilroy, California: “Gilroy’s three biggest public employers have amassed more than $183 million in unpaid pension liabilities. That’s likely more than ever, and a figure that, absent major reform, will grow and siphon budget funds from essential public services, say officials and pension experts. In Gilroy, 23 city pensions exceed $100,000 and more than 60 exceed $70,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Court to determine whether California’s public employee union members can simply continue to buy years of service rather than actually working them.
  • Silicon Valley slows down. “Tech companies in San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost 700 jobs from January to February and tech employment has dropped by 3,200 jobs since hitting a peak last August.”
  • What the lords of Silicon Valley actually think: “Inequality is a feature, not a bug.”
  • Hold on to your seats for this one: California’s government actually did something right, legalizing the selling of home-made food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Hotel construction continues apace in the United States, and dozens of new properties are expected to open this year in two major corporate and tourist destinations, New York and Los Angeles. But the three other cities with the most hotels projected to open in 2017, according to the industry research company STR, are all in Texas — Dallas, Houston and Austin.” Notice the implied condescension in the NYT piece: New York and LA are real places, whereas Dallas, Houston and Austin are “other cities.”

    More:

    The number of new hotels in Texas is notable. In 2017, Marriott plans to open eight hotels in Austin, seven in Houston and 23 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the company. Ninety-two other Marriott hotels are in the planning stages for the three metro areas. Hilton says it is planning for 75 new hotels there. InterContinental Hotels Group has more than 100 hotel projects in the Austin, Dallas and Houston metro areas, including the Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts and Staybridge Suites brands.

    Austin is home to the state capital; the University of Texas at Austin, a campus with 50,000 students; and a long list of technology companies. Its growing recreation and dining scene is attracting more leisure travelers, filling guest rooms on weekends and making the city “more of a seven-day-a-week hotel market,” according to Tim Powell, the managing director for development for Hilton’s southwest region.

  • A bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of California plays Santa Claus with a bank’s money.
  • Just what illegal aliens cost California.
  • “L.A. To Worsen Housing Shortage With New Rent Controls.”
  • “California Dems Promise Taxpayer Dollars to Defend Illegal Immigrants.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Calpers Is Sick of Paying Too Much for Private Equity…Pension fund’s private-equity returns were 12.3% over 20 years, but they would have been 19.3% without fees and costs.” (WSJ hoops apply.) (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Texas top state for number of new, expanded corporate facilities for fifth consecutive year.”
  • It’s not just Oroville Dam that needs maintenance: a section of Highway 50 collapsed in February. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Jerry Brown wants to spend nearly $450 million on flood control following dam emergency.”
  • “A state senator is removed from the chamber for her comments about Tom Hayden and Vietnam.” Namely for noting that Hayden supported “a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family.” Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) came to America as a Vietnamese refugee, and Democrats were incensed she was allowed to speak truth to power when it came to hagiography for one of their own. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Crime Increasing in California After ‘Prison Reform.'”
  • Selling carbon indulgences just isn’t what it used to be under Trump:

    February’s quarterly auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances under California’s cap and trade program was another financial washout for the state.

    Results for last week’s auction were posted Wednesday morning, revealing that just 16.5 percent of the 74.8 million metric tons of emission allowances were sold at the floor price of $13.57 per ton.

    The state auctions emission allowances to polluters and speculators as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds are supposed to be spent on public programs to slow climate change.

    February’s auction is being closely watched by market analysts because the last three quarterly auctions in 2016 posted sub-par results.

    Almost all of February’s proceeds went either to California’s utilities, who sell allowances they receive free from the Air Resources Board, or the Canadian province of Quebec, which offers emission allowances through California. Both are first in line when auction proceeds are apportioned.

    The ARB was offering 43.7 million tons of state-owned emission allowances, but sold just 602,340 tons of advance 2020 allowances, which means the state will see only $8.2 million, rather than the nearly $600 million it could have received from a sellout.

    (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore on Twitter.)

  • California’s high speed train-to-nowhere is still doomed.
  • “Six former LA safety officers collected pension payouts of over $1,000,000 apiece last year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Oakland Fire Chief Announces Retirement Days After Pension Vested, Warehouse Fire Probe Continues.”
  • San Rafael has the the highest pension costs in California by percentage of their total budget (18%). “Money that goes to one thing can’t go to another thing, so if you’re spending almost $1 out of $5 on pension payments, that is a lot less money available for tangible public services such as filling potholes, keeping the library open and making sure there is sufficient police protection.”
  • Remember Anthony Silva, mayor of formerly bankrupt Stockton? He’s been arrested again, this time for embezzling “at least $74,000 from the Stockton Kids Club over the past five years.” That would be the same Anthony Silva who is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, whose own guns were stolen and used in crimes, and who was also arrested for “for playing strip poker with minor and giving them alcohol while at a youth camp.” Given such august leadership, I can’t imagine how Stockton went bankrupt… (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • New survey of the Permian Basin in Texas shows that there’s another 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil than previously thought.
  • More on the fracking boom:

  • Minimum wage hike watch: Wendy’s to try out more than 1000 self-serve kiosks.
  • San Francisco’s wage hike is already closing restaurants. Especially those that serve affordable food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • California’s “hide actor’s age” law struck down.
  • “Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca found guilty on obstruction of justice and other charges.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • I would like to celebrate Austin Austin having the shortest commute time in this study of major cities except, since I now experience that commute time every weekday, I can tell you that 16 minute estimate is utter crap. Maybe Austin is the best if the commute time for other cities is similarly underestimated. By contrast, the Austin rental rate of $476 a week seems slightly high, while the London rate of $489 a week seems way too low…
  • Kubota Tractor Corp. finished its’ U.S. headquarters from Torrance, California, to Grapevine, Texas. (Previously.)
  • “West Plano’s $3 billion Legacy West development has landed another big name business. Boeing will locate the headquarters for its newly formed global services division in the 250-acre mixed-use project at the Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121.”
  • Los Angeles-based fashion company Nasty Gal declares bankruptcy. Also, nice proofreading on this subhead, LA Times: “Why couldn’t they the company hold on to shoppers?” Note: That’s still up for a story published February 24th…
  • Los Angeles clothing brand BCBG Max Azria Group, owner of Hervé Leger, also filed for bankruptcy.
  • The City of St. Louis sues the NFL, and all 32 NFL teams, over the Rams relocation to Los Angeles.
  • “L.A. County Sheriff’s Department switches from silver to gold belt buckles at a cost of $300,000.” That’s some might fine resource allocation there, Lou… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Texas vs. California Update for August 10, 2016

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • How California screwed itself:

    Then-Gov. Gray Davis and the Legislature had quietly, virtually without notice, decreed a massive, retroactive increase in state employee pension benefits, which was quickly emulated by hundreds of local governments.

    At the time, CalPERS was ringing up big earnings from the 1990s’ bullish stock market — so big that it had reduced contributions from member governments to near zero. Public employee unions hankered for a share of the bounty and pressed for a benefit increase.

    The CalPERS board, dominated by public employees and union-friendly politicians, sponsored the increase, Senate Bill 400, with assurances that it would cost taxpayers nothing. A state Senate analysis of the bill said CalPERS “believes they will be able to mitigate this cost increase through continued excess returns of the CalPERS trust.”

    Years later, it emerged that the assurances reflected the most optimistic of several scenarios developed by the CalPERS staff. More pessimistic scenarios were kept secret — but they were the ones that came true. By the time Seeling delivered his dark appraisal in 2009, the state was being hammered by an ultra-severe recession, and the CalPERS trust fund was losing what turned out to be nearly $100 billion in value.

    Seven years later, CalPERS and other pension funds still haven’t fully recovered, and they’re sharply raising mandatory “contributions” from state and local governments to cover the gaps left by meager investment earnings.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • California is deluding itself if it thinks it’s “turned to corner” and is on the path for sustainable growth:

    Between 2000 and 2015, Austin has increased its jobs by 50 percent, while Raleigh, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Nashville, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix and Salt Lake City – all in lower-tax, regulation-light states – have seen job growth of 24 percent or above. In contrast, since 2000, Los Angeles and San Francisco expanded jobs by barely 10 percent. San Jose, the home of Silicon Valley, has seen only a 6 percent expansion over that period.

    Obviously this runs counter to the notion of California being business friendly, since the ratio of jobs to workers is lower here than in Texas and the rest of the United States, and sometimes a lot lower.

    Snip.

    Gov. Brown has achieved bragging rights by suggestions of a vaunted return to fiscal health. True, California’s short-term budgetary issues have been somewhat relieved, largely due to soaring capital gains from the tech and high-end real estate booms. But the state inevitably will face a soaring deficit as those booms slow down. Brown is already forecasting budget deficits as high as $4 billion by the time he leaves office in 2019. As a recent Mercatus Center study notes, California is among the states most deeply dependent on debt.

    The state’s current budget surplus is entirely due to a temporary tax and booming asset markets. The top 1 percent of earners generates almost half of California’s income tax revenue, and accounts for 41 percent of the state’s general fund budget. These affluent people have incomes that are much more closely correlated to asset prices than economic activity, and asset prices are more volatile than economic activity generally. Brown’s own Department of Finance predicts that a recession of “average magnitude” would cut revenue by $55 billion.

    More critically, the state continues to increase spending, particularly on pensions. Outlays have grown dramatically since the 2011-2012 fiscal year, averaging 7.8 percent growth per year through FY 2015-2016. Seeing the writing on the wall, the state’s labor leaders now want to extend the “temporary” income tax, imposed in 2012, until 2030. This might not do much to spark growth, particularly in a weaker economy.

    During this recovery, California has made minimal effort to eliminate the state’s budget fragility. To use a recently popular term, this is gross negligence. It is, thus, no surprise that credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service ranked California second from the bottom in being able to withstand the next recession. Someday the bills will come due.

  • More on California’s business climate vs. Texas:

    Note that across the entire decade the unemployment rate in California was consistently greater than that in the United States, averaging 1.5 percentage points greater overall and maxing out at 2.9 percentage points in January and February of 2011. Except for the first six months of 2006, the same story holds true for California and Texas, although the differences here are more pronounced: an average of 2.5 percentage points greater and a maximum difference of 4.2 percentage points at various points in 2009 and 2010. Also note how long double-digit unemployment persisted in California (43 months) during this decade compared to the United States (1 month) and Texas (0 months).

    Also: “Texas outperformed California in 9 of the 10 years. And Texas had a CAGR of 3.1 percent, meaning its economy grew at more than twice the pace of California’s each year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas’ economic, labor Market, and fiscal situation. “The Texas model leads comparable states and U.S> averages in most measures.”
  • “CalPERS has not met its expected 7.5% rate of return for the last 20 years.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Things in Texas are very different than they were in the 1980s:

    This is what Krugman and others really get wrong about the Texas miracle.

    The state had its last major recession from 1986 to 1987, after oil prices collapsed and the real estate and financial sectors crashed. Back then, the mining sector, dominated by oil and gas activity, was directly related to about 21 percent of the real private economy and roughly 5 percent of the labor force. Today, mining is 15 percent of the real private economy and less than half of the labor force share. As a result, the combination of more economic diversification and pro-growth policies has produced a much more resilient economy. Texas in 2016 looks a lot different than Texas in 1987.

  • “A major impediment to economic growth and a factor chasing people and businesses away from California is the state’s high tax rates and poorly structured tax code. California levies the highest top marginal income tax rate in the nation at 13.3% and has the country’s 6th highest overall tax burden. Such a hostile tax climate has consequences. During the last decade, from 2000 to 2010, California had a net outmigration of over 1.2 million residents move to other states. Those former Californians took over $29 billion in income with them.”

    Residents of San Diego, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many other cities and towns across California enjoy beautiful scenery and enviably pleasant weather year round; while folks in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston ride out their hot and humid summers by staying indoors as much as possible. Yet Texas has been the number one recipient of California refugees. While the physical climates found in states that are the top recipients of California refugees don’t hold a candle to the Golden State’s, the business tax climates are far more hospitable.

    California imposes the nation’s highest income tax, while Texas is one of nine states with no income tax. While Texas has the 10th best business tax climate in the nation, according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, California has the country’s third worst. During the last decade, over 225,000 people moved from California to Texas, bringing over $4.4 billion in income with them to the Lone Star State. After Texas, Nevada is the number two recipient of ex-Californians. Like Texas, Nevada can’t compete with California’s natural beauty and climate, but the Silver State makes up for it by having no state income tax and the nation’s 5th best business tax climate.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The deregulated energy market is still working to lower costs for Texans.
  • California’s Democrat-dominated local governments are riddled with nepotism in their hiring practices. In San Diego, “Investigators uncovered an employee vetting process they allege was ‘abused’ — so that in a third of the cases reviewed, ‘friends and family members’ of city staff were hired ‘to the detriment of public job applicants.’” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Liberal complains about how San Francisco’s progressive policies killed affordable housing. “Instead of forming a pro-growth coalition with business and labor, most of the San Francisco Left made an enduring alliance with home-owning NIMBYs. It became one of the peculiar features of San Francisco that exclusionary housing politics got labeled “progressive.” Do note this piece is from a year ago. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of San Francisco, three of the city’s supervisors have decided that he would like to take the goose that laid the golden egg (i.e., the city’s high tech employers), smother it with locally source rosemary, thyme and organic butter, and broil it at 450° in the form of a payroll tax for those companies that earn $1 million or more in gross receipts.
  • “In 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m).” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “California To Proclaim August “Muslim Appreciation And Awareness Month.” So when do we get Christian Appreciation Month?
  • “Relocation of Highway 99 in Fresno, a key part of the bullet train project, is over budget, behind schedule and will cost millions of dollars more to complete.” (Hat tip: Cal Watchdog.)
  • DAE Systems is relocating its headquarters to Catawba County and intends to create 46 new jobs and invest $6.8 million during the next three years, Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced Monday. The California-based company, which is moving to Claremont, will receive a grant of up to $110,000 from the One North Carolina Fund that is dependent on the company meeting job-creation goals.”
  • Nothing says “adult oversight” quite like playing strip poker with teenage camp counselors. Take a bow, Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva! (Hat tip: Dwight, who also notes that Silva is a member of the criminal-ridden “Mayors Against illegal Guns.”)
  • Noted for the record: Mayor Silva comes up twice at the very top of Stockton real estate developer Dan Cort’s Facebook page. (Previously.)
  • Texas vs. California Update for October 14, 2015

    Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Texas is the best state for small businesses.
  • Supreme Court to hold hearing on mandatory union dues in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.
  • “Transparent California, a watchdog website provided by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, revealed 19,728 former government retirees across California received monthly stipends of $8,333.34 or more — adding up to at least a $100,000 a year for each person.”
  • [Orange County] government workers receive an “average full-career pension of $81,372 for miscellaneous [employees], which includes all nonsafety retirees, and $99,366 for safety [mostly police and fire] retirees of all Orange County cities enrolled in CalPERS.”
  • Republicans manage to defeat California tax hikes.
  • California politicians excel at corruption and self-dealing. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “If money and household wealth follow people, then Texas is doing better than any other state in nearly every way.”
  • San Francisco drives last existing gun store out of the city with burdensome regulations.
  • Judge strikes down law requiring landlords to pay up to $50,000 in relocation fees to evicted tenants.
  • Texas continues to earn the highest possible credit ratings.
  • New law mandates that CalPERS and CalSTARS must stop investing in coal. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stockton update: “After only one full budget year, the city has already broken three fundamental promises and is destined to return to insolvency within four years.”
  • Bankrupt supermarket chain Haggen has found buyers for some of its California stores.
  • This story is so strange I suspect it could only happen in California. (Playboy link, so it may be blocked at your place of work.) Despite the large number of guns. ($5 million for 1,200 guns? I call BS. That would mean each gun was slightly more expensive than the list price for a bolt-action Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifle. The photos mostly show pretty common hunting rifles.)
  • Texas vs. California Update for October 1, 2015:

    Thursday, October 1st, 2015

    Ah, that October chill…is not evident yet here in Austin. It’s supposed to hit 94° today.

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • The joys of working in Los Angeles: a $30,000 tax bill on $500 worth of freelance income.
  • California nears passage of another trial lawyer full employment act.
  • Texas had five of the ten fastest growing metropolitan areas in 2014. Austin isn’t on this list, but Midland and San Angelo are numbers one and two. (San Jose, California’s lone entry, checks in at eight.)
  • 72% of Californians polled thinks the state has a pension crisis. Too bad this thinking doesn’t seem to influence their voting patterns yet… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And yet a new bill would exempt some new hires from paying their fair share of pension costs. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • New pension accounting rules are about to show that a lot more California municipalities are insolvent.
  • “Instead of building freeways, expanding ports, restoring bridges and aqueducts, and constructing dams, desalination plants, and power stations, California’s taxpayers are pouring tens of billions each year into public sector pension funds.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy didn’t solve it’s pension crisis.
  • Texas had a net gain of 103,465 people in 2014, the largest number of which came from California.
  • San Francisco wants to keep housing affordable…by restricting supply. Looks like somebody failed Economics 101…
  • Pension reform initiative to be refiled?
  • Unions are trying to undo San Diego’s voter-approved pension reforms. Because of course they are.
  • Texas is like Australia with the handbrake off. There is no individual income tax and no corporate income tax, which explains the state’s rapid economic and population growth. A recent downturn has sparked some concern, however. Apparently Texas will only create another 150,000 jobs during 2015 – about the same number as Australia, from a population only a few million larger. In a good year, that number of jobs is easily generated by a single Texan city.” Also: IowaHawk’s illegal human organ trafficking!
  • Texas ranks 13th in budget transparency. California? Dead last.
  • Even some California Democrats balked at increasing the state’s already high gas prices.
  • As part of the bankruptcy of northwest supermarket chain Haggen (which bought a bunch of Albertson’s stores just six months ago), they’ll be closing all their California stores. And if you guessed that Haggen is unionized, you would be correct.
  • Jerry Brown revives the state’s redevelopment agency…and its potential for eminent domain abuse.
  • Reminder: Texas is enormous.
  • A scourge spreads out upon California. Crack gangs? Illegal aliens? Try “short term rentals.”
  • Historical note: 105 years ago today, three union guys bombed the Los Angeles Times, killing 21 people.
  • Previously Bankrupt Stockton Suddenly Has Enough Money for an Affordable Housing Development

    Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

    As part of my regular Texas vs. California updates, I’ve been keeping close tabs on the city of Stockton, which just emerged from bankruptcy proceedings last month.

    So what’s one of the first thing Stockton does after exiting bankruptcy? Would you believe spending $14 million for 40 units of affordable housing? For a city that owes $1.6 billion in pension debt to CalPERs, that’s like someone who can barely afford food deciding to buy spinning rims for his 19-year-old Civic.

    To my mind, this has all the hallmarks of a politic payoffs.

    The project would evidently entail “renovation of the 123-year-old Cal Weber Building and the 88-year-old McKeegan Building.”

    Who controls the Cal-Weber building? Dan Cort.

    Who controls the McKeegan building? Dan Cort.

    Who’s Don Cort? A Stockton commercial real estate developer and “urban renewal expert.” He was also Mayor of Pacific Grove (which is a good two and a half hours away from Stockton) until he resigned in advanced of a recall election in 2009. Pacific Grove, like many California cities, got in financial trouble due to outrageous public employee pension costs, and bond debt to cover same.

    Is Cort tied-in to Stockton’s City Council? Given that six of the seven members, including the Mayor and Vice Mayor, are among Cort’s Facebook friends, I’m going to answer “Yes.” (The seventh, Dan Wright, has only been in office since January.)

    None of this is conclusive proof that underhanded financial shenanigans and/or kickback are going on. But it is an indication that reporters, bloggers and Stockton taxpayers should be taking a good, hard look at this project.

    Also, I can’t imagine that Franklin Templeton, the mutual fund company and Stockton bondholder which was forced to take a haircut in bankruptcy hearings can be too happy about it either…

    Texas vs. California Update for February 26, 2015

    Thursday, February 26th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • CalPERS believes that it has police powers to seize property to sell to support public employee pensions. “It is hard to imagine a bigger or more blatant example of collusion between business interests and government employees at the expense of ordinary private citizens.” Plus the impossibility of maintaining the 7.5% returns necessary for the pension fund to remain solvent. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalPERS and CalSTARS want direct proxy access for candidates for corporate boards.
  • Speaking of CalSTARS, the cost of funding it going forward looms large on California’s horizon.
  • Stockton exits bankruptcy.
  • Daughters of Charity Health Systems sues the SEIU over interference in a merger deal.
  • Part of the demands from California’s liberal Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris to approve the merger include forcing currently Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
  • It’s all but impossible for the Middle Class to live in Silicon Valley.
  • West coast port strike ends. Yet another reason to ship through Houston instead…
  • Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick files a bill for $4.6 billion in tax relief.
  • Texas Right to Work laws help keep the state prosperous, but more can be done.
  • Texas vs. California Update for January 21, 2015

    Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
  • The working poor benefit from a lower cost of living in red states.
  • Five of the top ten U.S. cities in economic growth in 2014 were in Texas: Austin, Houston, Ft. Worth. Dallas and San Antonio. (There were also two in California: San Francisco and San Jose.)
  • The Texas Comptroller has released the Biennial Revenue Estimate 2016-2017, which estimates $113 billion in general revenue-related funds available. The report details also notes that “In the past six years, Texas created two-thirds of all net new jobs in the U.S.”

  • By contrast, with the California budget more or less temporarily balanced, Democrats want to start spending like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card again. Legislative analyst: You don’t want to do that.
  • The average CalPERS pension is up to five times comparable Social Security payouts.
  • Jerry Brown says he wants to tackle California’s pension crisis. Good luck with that. While Brown has occasionally been willing to buck his party, and may feel he has nothing to lose in his last term, there’s no reason to believe the Democrat-dominated state House and Senate share his sentiments. I predict a few cosmetic measures passing combined with a whole lot more can kicking until actual default looms. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Central Valley farmers say farming is doomed in their areas.” California’s water regulations are driving them out of business.
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy judge: screw secured debtors, we’ve got to start paying retirees.
  • Key figure in CalPERS pension fraud case apparently committed suicide. Hmmm…..
  • California’s Set Seal retail chain files for bankruptcy.
  • John G. Westine of California convicted of 26 counts of mail fraud in a phony Kentucky oil well scheme.
  • Bankruptcy lawyers gone wild!
  • Texas vs. California Update for December 4, 2014

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    It’s another Texas vs. California update!

  • The real reason the University of California system is raising taxes: “The real driving force behind the tuition hike is the university’s woefully underfunded pension system, which currently serves 56,000 retired employees. It’s a generous system, despite some reductions the university made for new hires in recent years. An Associated Press analysis found 2,129 retired UC employees collect pensions of more than $100,000 a year; 57 receive more than $200,000; and three receive more than $300,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Here’s the rare Texas vs. California item where both Texas and California get dinged: “Calpers holds about 75% of its portfolio in stocks and other risky assets, such as real estate, private equity and, until recently, hedge funds, despite offering benefits that, unlike IRAs or 401(k)s, it guarantees against market risk. Most other states are little different: Illinois holds 75% in risky assets; the Texas teachers’ plan holds 81%.”
  • A look at the relative pension costs of three bankrupt California cities: San Bernardino, Stockton and Vallejo. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Magpul, is moving its headquarters from newly gun-hostile Colorado to Austin. This is on top of moving its manufacturing facilities to Wyoming.
  • “Something is happening in California. An unstoppable movement for reform is building, attracting support from conscientious Californians.” Much as I’d like to believe it, I remain skeptical that real education and pension reform can happen in California as long as it remains a one-party Democratic state… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How California’s three-decades old Proposition 65 is threatening to bankrupt small businesses and enrich trial lawyers.
  • California: Roads? We don’t need no stinking roads. 57% of San Diego County’s projected infrastructure spending is on mass transportation…and critics are saying that’s not enough.
  • I’m surprised that I stumbled on this piece on the Newport Beach Police Department before Dwight did:

    In recent years, daily examples of faithful public service inside the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) have been overshadowed by alarming corruption. City officials ignore or downplay the misconduct, but NBPD bosses turned the agency into a darker, stupider version of Animal House. Court records and internal documents show the city’s boys in blue have accepted gratuities in exchange for favors, gotten frat-boy drunk at work, lied under oath, passed out confidential information to pals, encouraged oral sex from female job applicants, committed wild adultery on duty, doctored official reports, hurled feces, dished out horrific domestic violence against wives and girlfriends, engaged in intoxicated bar fights, issued criminal threats, vandalized property, converted powerful agency spy equipment to personal use, and rigged promotion systems to ensure mostly see-no-evil, management-loyal employees rise–and let the hijinks continue.

    Plus open war against whistle-blowers.

  • Speaking of public employees behaving badly, from Dwight comes this story of LA firemen being investigated for faking certifications.
  • Texas home sales reach their highest level in five years.
  • The headquarters of national buyer’s co-op NATM Buying Corp. is moving from Long island, New York to Irving, Texas.
  • Finally, in case you missed it a few days ago, three Texas budget links from the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

  • A detailed call for greater transparency in the Texas budget
  • A look at what an actual conservative Texas budget would look like; and
  • A real Texas Budget Worksheet, with historical budget data.
  • Texas vs. California Roundup for October 9, 2014

    Thursday, October 9th, 2014

    Another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • If Stockton bankruptcy judge’s ruling is upheld, a lot of California cities could actually start working for citizens again, rather than public employee unions.
  • There are plenty of lessons to be learned from Stockton’s bankruptcy. Too bad Stockton’s officials seem unwilling to learn them:

    Pension contributions for public-safety workers now amount to 41 percent of payroll. That would put the total cost of salary, health benefits, and pensions at about $120,000 annually for a fifth-year officer…The long saga of Stockton’s decline dramatizes the inefficiency and illogic of union-dominated, monopolistic, government-labor markets.

  • But letting cities escape their crushing public sector union pension burdens doesn’t sit well with California’s looter class. Solution: propose eliminating Chapter 9 bankruptcy. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • According to the September labor report, California did manage to add 313,900 jobs between August 2013 and August 2014. But Texas added 395,200. (Hat tip: WILLisms Twitter feed.)
  • California legislature decides that students don’t need any of that stinking due process.
  • Hey, remember those “temporary” tax hikes Jerry Brown got voters to approve? Guess what?
  • California’s roads are among the worst in the country.
  • Someone should tell that to the city of Stanton, California, which reached for tax hikes rather than cutting the pay of unionized workers.
  • How San Jose reformed their finances using transparency. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How California browbeat Toyota over closing a money-losing plant.
  • The California-based manufacturing facility of Colorado-based Boulder Electric Vehicle shuts down after receiving a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission.
  • How California’s for-profit Thomas Jefferson Law School got itself into serious financial trouble through excessive dependence on loans (both the student type and the tax-exempt bond type).
  • Americans don’t want their state to secede so much as they want to kick California out of the union. (Hat tip: Karl Rehn of KRTraining.)
  • A look at PSAT participation rates in Texas. (Also via WILLisms.)
  • Californian Trip Hawkins, of EA, Apple and 3DO fame, filed for bankruptcy in 2011. This year, the 9th circuit ruled that a profligate life style (for certain values of “profligate”), does not, in fact, constitute a “willful” attempt to avoid bankruptcy. Mr. Hawkins seemed to be living well, but not necessarily living large
  • California owner of Akron, Ohio mall abandoned since 2008 declares bankruptcy. And since it’s the Halloween season, and abandoned malls are wonderfully creepy places, here’s a pic:

  • Texas vs. California Update for August 25, 2014

    Monday, August 25th, 2014

    Another look at how Texas stacks up to the no-longer-so-Golden state:

  • Problem: Those lousy taxpayers get pension reform passed. Solution: CalPERS uses “99 categories of ‘special pay'” to go on a pension spiking orgy.
  • What are some of those 99 categories? “Clerks who type well. Cops who shoot straight. Librarians who are “assigned to provide direction or resources to library patrons.” I’m too scared to check if “Teachers who don’t rape their students” is an actual category or not…
  • Governor Jerry Brown is sending mixed signals on the pension spiking issue.
  • Who actually owns the CalPERS gap between actual funding and what they’ll need to pay out? “CalPERS can be risky (and it has been) with no consequences. The taxpayers have all the responsibility, but none of the control.”
  • So how much payroll and pension did Stockton trim in their bankruptcy? Zero.
  • There is no California comeback. “Personal income-tax revenues fell by 11 percent in the first quarter of this year and more than 6 percent through June.”
  • California cities are among the slowest to recover from the recession.
  • The only way California can get pensions under control is through a constitutional amendment.
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is asking for more money. They’re also asking Angelinos to overlook their high salaries and lack of accountability.

    City leaders are battling with DWP’s union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, to release financial records of a nonprofit trust, run jointly by labor- and management-appointed trustees, that has run through $40 million in ratepayer money. Brian D’Arcy, IBEW Local 18’s business manager, has refused to turn over the trust’s financial records, and DWP executives have said they don’t know how the money was spent.

  • California voters get to weigh in on a 7.5 billion water bill in November, which seems to have considerably less pork than a previously delayed $11 billion bill.
  • So how does bankrupt San Bernardino plan to climb into the black? Cutting back on outrageous pensions? Ha, you must be high! “Help us, weed, you’re our only hope!”
  • I know this is a shock, but California’s High Speed Rail Authority is behind schedule on buying land for it’s doomed boondoggle.
  • Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz opposes ride share programs like Uber and Lyft. Strangely enough, he’s also received $11,000 in campaign contributions from the taxi industry. Quid pro, meet quo.
  • YTexas helps companies relocating to Texas connect with local businesses.