Posts Tagged ‘Arlene Wohlgemuth’

Texas vs. California Update for February 19, 2015

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • U.S. bankruptcy judge presiding over the Stockton case says pensions are not sacred and can be cut in bankruptcy. “CalPERS has bullied its way about in this case with an iron fist insisting that it and the municipal pensions it services are inviolable. The bully may have an iron fist, but it also turns out to have a glass jaw.”
  • Public employee pensions: Stealing from the young and poor to give to the old and rich. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s entrepreneurs still think the business climate sucks. “In the 2014 survey, 63.5 percent called the small business climate poor, with just 10 saying it’s good. This year 60 percent still consider the business climate poor with 16.5 percent finding it good.”
  • By contrast, low oil prices won’t torpedo Texas’ economy. “Texas’ economy today is more resilient to oil price fluctuations thanks to industrial diversification and pro-growth policies.”
  • California’s combined capital gains tax rate is the third highest. Not third highest in the U.S., third highest in the world, lower only than Denmark and France.
  • How environmentalists made California’s drought worse.
  • Two unions are on different sides of a proposed sale of six struggling Catholic hospitals to a private company.
  • Defense contractor “Advantage SCI, LLC announced today that the company will relocate its headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia (Fairfax County in Old Town Alexandria) from El Segundo, California, after recognizing the high costs related to worker’s compensation, liability, and taxes that plague businesses in California.”
  • Coffee roaster Farmers Brothers is leaving California for either Oklahoma or Texas.
  • More on the Farmer Brothers relocation. “After surviving depressions, recessions, earthquakes and wars, Farmer Brothers is leaving California, finally driven out by high taxes and oppressive regulations.”
  • California Democrats file bills to force the state to get 50% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030. They’re basically putting up yet another big red sign to manufacturers: “We’ll make it impossibly expensive for you to do business here.”
  • Why health care in California is less affordable than elsewhere.
  • The mess that is California’s homeowner earthquake insurance.
  • California property owners aren’t wild about being forced to sell their land for the high speed rail boondoggle.
  • Arlene Wohlgemuth on why Texas should avoid the siren song of Medicare expansion. (Also, best wishes to her for a speedy recovery from her motorcycle accident.)
  • California’s top lifeguard pulls in a cool $236,859 in total compensation. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Lewd yoga dentist filed for bankruptcy.” A San Diego dentist, which is my pretext for including it here, but really, how could I not link a headline like that?
  • Grappling With the Texas State Budget

    Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

    There seems to be some confusion over Texas Public Policy Foundation numbers for Texas budget estimates. Take, for example, this post by Erica Grieder. (She seems to be sharing space on Burkablog with the titular liberal fossil; I’m going to assume it’s a Sith-apprentice sort of thing…) She accuses TPPF of walking back their estimate of a 26% increase back to a more modest 9% increase.

    The problem is she’s comparing apples to oranges by comparing their numbers for the amount appropriated by the legislature, which increased by some 26% between biennium, as opposed to the total amount spent, which increased by a far more modest 9%.

    Here’s a chart:

    Here’s an in-depth report by Talmadge Heflin, Vance Ginn, and Bill Peacock that explains it in more detail, including such budget arcana as “backfilling” and “patient income funds.”

    Here’s a table containing the actual numbers. Remember that there are multiple line items that don’t get included in the “official” legislative budget document.

    Here’s an editorial by Heflin and Arlene Wohlgemuth explaining it further.

    Now, I do have one criticism of TPPF: All those documents I linked separately above should be boiled down into a single document. Flannery O’Conner once said “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures.” To which I add “For members of the press, you put key information in the front of the document is visual form so even the skimmers can comprehend it.” Asking some members of the press to look in four places for key information is simply asking too much of them. Especially if there’s drinking to be done, or interviewing another liberal interest group for pull quotes about the perfidious evil of Republicans.

    Ideally there should be a spreadsheet or table near the front of that document with columns showing information just the 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 Bienniums and the % change between them with the following rows of information:

  • Amount appropriated by the legislature
  • Amount actually spent by Texas government for same period
  • Difference between the two
  • Backfilling
  • Patient Income
  • Rainy-Day Fund drawdown (if any)
  • Any other off-budget spending
  • State Revenue
  • Federal Revenue
  • That sort of thing would go a long way toward clarifying state budget expenditures for people who would otherwise protest that they told there would be no math.

    As Little As I Can Possibly Write on Texas Constitutional Amendments

    Thursday, October 31st, 2013

    OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, since the least I could possibly write is nothing. But instead of trying to cover every bill, I’m going to point you at Blue Dot Blues, where the indefatigable MJ Samuelson is covering each amendment, so at least I don’t have to write much. Go over there and keep scrolling. Empower Texas also has a handy scorecard. I may disagree on an amendment or two, but not strongly.

    I do want to go ahead and urge a No vote on Proposition 6, which authorizes taking money out of the rainy day fund for various ill-defined water projects. This one is getting a big direct mail push from realtor and business PACs and is favored by Rick Perry, Joe Straus, Gregg Abbott and Wendy Davis. Opposing it is an odd coalition of fiscal conservatives and green party types, including Save Our Springs Austin. Some of what is covered is probably needed, but the rest has the smell of a construction boondoggle/slush fund. And what is needed should be allocated from the general fund, not raiding the rainy day fund.

    Arlene Wohlgemuth at TPPF has a bit more.

    The election is Tuesday, November 5th.

    TPPF Conference Call on the ObamaCare Decision

    Thursday, June 28th, 2012

    Just got off a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference call with Chuck DeVore and Arlene Wohlgemuth on the effects of the Supreme Court ObamaCare decision. Just in case you hadn’t read anything on the Internet today, that ruling was 5-4 affirming ObamaCare as constitutional, majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, not on Commerce Clause grounds, but on congress’ ability to tax:

    The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part. The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.

    Here some no-doubt random bits of information I gleaned from the conference call:

  • Of all the possible scenarios experts looked at in a possible ObamaCare ruling, this wasn’t one of them.
  • All the cost drivers and massive increase in bureaucracy is still there.
  • Texas was already looking at a $5 billion Medicaid shortfall for the next biennium; ObamaCare will likely make that a $15 shortfall.
  • No one knows if Texas will undertake Medicaid expansion or not.
  • ObamaCare was a consequence of Republican losses in 2006 and 2008, and a cause of Republican victories in 2010.
  • As a tax, ObamaCare can be repealed with 51 Senate votes (no filibuster).
  • Roberts’ decision “built a fence” around the Commerce Clause, possibly preventing further expansion of federal powers under that guise. (This has lead to some observers to suggest that Roberts is playing the “long game” of constraining the growth of the federal government.)
  • The court did invalidate (7-2) Medicare/Medicaid penalties for non-compliance, in that states cannot be “dragooned” into post-facto changes with the threat of withdrawn funding for established programs. DeVore: “This is a victory for the 10th Amendment and Federalism.”
  • That change might offer challenges to a whole lot of legislation.
  • The politicized way in which the Obama Administration has granted waivers to the politically connected might also offer avenues for equal protection challenges.
  • This TPPF policycast also covers some of the same topics discussed on the conference call.

    So: That’s my brief recap of the conference call. I’m still digesting the ruling itself, and reactions to the ruling. I might be doing that for some time…