Wesley Sierk's Blog

California State Lawmakers Proposed More Than $143 Billion in Higher Taxes During the 2015-2015 Legislative Session

Posted in California, Political by rwsierk on October 14, 2016

California state lawmakers proposed more than $143 billion annually in higher taxes and fees during the second year of the 2015-16 legislative session, according to a new report from the nonpartisan California Tax Foundation.

“Although the Legislature adjourned its two-year session without enacting any major, broad-based tax increases, more than $143 billion in annual taxes and fees were on the table for consideration,” California Tax Foundation Director Robert Gutierrez said. “This would be on top of the $169 billion in total state revenue forecasted in the current state budget.

The report also notes whether the proposals died in the Legislature or were sent to the governor, and whether the governor signed or vetoed those that reached his desk.

This is why it is crucial for the Republican minority to keep the 1/3 minority. With a 2/3 Super Majority in the Legislature, the Liberal Spenders in Sacramento have the ability to pass any tax increase or fee WITHOUT going to the voters for approval.

2016 California Voter’s Guide

Posted in Political by rwsierk on October 14, 2016

Hello All,

It’s time again for my Voter Guide, this time it’s the 2016 election. And what an election cycle it has been. Since most of my friend / followers are in Southern California, I will stick with that region.

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES:

Congressional 23 Kevin McCarthy
Congressional 25 Steve Knight
Congressional 26 Rafael Dagnesses
Congressional 27 Jack Orswell
Congressional 28 Lenore Solis
Congressional 30 Mark Reed
Congressional 33 Kenneth Wright
Congressional 35 Tyler Fischella
Congressional 38 Ryan Downing
Congressional 39 Ed Royce
Congressional 43 Omar Navarro
Congressional 47 Andy Whallon

STATE ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES:

State Assembly 36 Tom Lackey
State Assembly 38 Dante Acosta
State Assembly 41 Casey Higgins
State Assembly 44 Kerry Nelson
State Assembly 45 Jerry Kowal
State Assembly 48 Cory Ellenson
State Assembly 49 Peter Amundson
State Assembly 50 Matthew Craffey
State Assembly 54 Glen Ratcliff
State Assembly 55 Phillip Chen
State Assembly 57 Rita Topalian
State Assembly 58 Ramiro Alvarado
State Assembly 62 Marco “Tony” Leal
State Assembly 63 Adam Miller
State Assembly 64 Theresa Sanford
State Assembly 66 David Hadley
State Assembly 70 Martha Flores-Gibson

STATE SENATE CANDIDATES:

State Senate 21 Scott Wilk
State Senate 23 Mike Morrell
State Senate 25 Michael Antonovich
State Senate 27 Steve Fazio
State Senate 29 Ling Ling Chang

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CANDIDATES:

Board of Sups District 4 Steve Napolitano
Board of Sups District 5 Kathryn Barger

STATEWIDE BALLOT INITIATIVES:

Prop 51 School Bond

WHAT IT SAYS: $9 billion general obligation bond to fund school construction projects. Potential increase in local taxes/developer fees if not passed. SUPPORT

Prop 52 Hospital Fees

WHAT IT SAYS: Protects the use of private hospital funds to draw down Federal revenue to support the Medi-Cal program. Requires 2/3rd vote of Legislature to eliminate the hospital fee transaction, or redirect revenue to the State General Fund”. SUPPORT

Prop 53 Voter Approval for Revenue Bonds

WHAT IT SAYS: Requires statewide voter approval on state revenue bond projects exceeding $2 billion. Measure does not impact local governments, school, college or special districts. Joint Power Authorities. SUPPORT

Prop 54 Legislative Transparency

WHAT IT SAYS: Requires a bill to be in print and published online for 72 hours before the Legislature can vote on it. Requires the Legislature to record and post video or audio online of all legislative proceedings, except closed session proceedings”. SUPPORT

Prop 55 Proposition 30 (2012) Extension

WHAT IT SAYS: extend the temporary personal income taxes an additional 12 years. The personal income tax increase applies to single fliers with an income > $250,000, to joint filers with an income >$500,000 and to heads of household with an income > $340,000. Generates $4 billion a year. OPPOSE

Prop 56 Cigarette Tax

WHAT IT SAYS: Would increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack and add an equivalent tax on other tobacco products including e-cigarettes. The majority of funds would be used for payments to health care providers”. OPPOSE

Prop 57 Prison Sentencing Reform

WHAT IT SAYS: would allow for prisoners convicted of nonviolent felonies to be given early release via parole based on their behavior, educational achievements and rehabilitation. OPPOSE

Prop 58 English Language Immersion Programs

WHAT IT SAYS: placed measure that would amend and repeal parts of Prop. 227 (June 1998) so that public schools would no longer be required to renew a waiver to continue multilingual programs. OPPOSE

Prop 59 Advisory Ballot Measure on ‘Citizens United’

WHAT IT SAYS: Legislatively placed advisory ballot measure that would ask voters whether there should be a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission”. OPPOSE

Prop 60 Adult Film Use of Condoms

WHAT IT SAYS: the use of condoms for adult films. OPPOSE

Prop 61 Prescription Drug Pricing Bill

WHAT IT SAYS: pricing standards for state prescription drug purchases so state agencies would pay the same amount for prescription drugs as the Department of Veterans Affairs. OPPOSE

Prop 62 Death Penalty Repeal

WHAT IT SAYS: repeal the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. OPPOSE

Prop 63 Firearms

WHAT IT SAYS: a background check to purchase ammunition and bans large-capacity ammunition magazines. Prohibits individuals convicted of stealing a firearm from possessing firearms. OPPOSE

Prop 64 Marijuana Legalization

WHAT IT SAYS: a 15% excise tax on retail sales of marijuana. Imposes cultivation taxes on marijuana at $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from taxation. OPPOSE

Prop 65 Carry Out Bags

WHAT IT SAYS: redirect bag tax funds to the Wildlife Conservation Board to support environmental projects. SUPPORT

Prop 66 Death Penalty Reform

WHAT IT SAYS: reform the death penalty laws to expedite appeals and petitions challenging a death penalty convictions and sentences. SUPPORT

Prop 67 Referendum to Overturn Plastic Bags

WHAT IT SAYS: plastic bags and places a $.10 tax on paper bags goes to grocers. OPPOSE

Los Angeles County Ballot Measures

Measure M Traffic Improvement and Infrastructure

WHAT IT SAYS: “This measure will build new rail lines and highway improvement projects, enhance bus and rail service, fund local street, sidewalk, and signal improvements, keep fares affordable for seniors, students, and the disabled, maintain our growing transportation system, and better connect bike and pedestrian paths to transit facilities. This measure proposes a new 1/2 cent sales tax starting in 2017 that has no expiration date – a “forever tax.” If passed, this will be the county’s third transportation-related levy with no end date, and the fourth overall. This is estimated to generate an estimated $860 million a year in 2017 dollars.

WHAT IT DOES: This is the fourth tax going towards transportation improvement and little progress has been made. Funding from this tax will also go towards an unneeded metro. Existing funds should be used more responsibly in order to maintain and improve infrastructure. Imposing more taxes on hard-working Americans just works to slow down the economy and continue to allow the government to live outside of its means. OPPOSE

Measure A Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks & Beaches

WHAT IT SAYS: “This measure will replace expiring local funding for safe, clean neighborhood/city/county park, increase safe playgrounds, reduce gang activity, keep neighborhood recreation / senior centers, keep drinking water safe, protect beaches, rivers, water resources, remaining natural areas/open space. This measure proposes a 1.5 cent tax to be levied annually per square foot of improved property in Los Angeles County.”

WHAT IT DOES: Every voter should be dedicated to protecting the environment in economically responsible ways. Imposing more taxes on the development of land will slow down investment and result in a decreased rate of property improvement. OPPOSE

Los Angeles City Ballot Measures

Measure HHH Affordable Housing and Homelessness Bond

WHAT IT SAYS: “To provide safe, clean affordable housing for the homeless and for those in danger of becoming homeless, such as battered women and their children, veterans, seniors, foster youth, and the disabled; and provide facilities to increase access to mental health care, drug and alcohol treatment, and other services; shall the City of Los Angeles issue $1,200,000,000 in general obligation bonds, with citizen oversight and annual financial audits”.

WHAT IT DOES: City has no ability or infrastructure to manage the Homeless issue. Only a County-wide approach makes sense. They also seek to pay for the bond through property taxes.

OPPOSE

Measure JJJ Build a Better LA Affordable Housing

WHAT IT SAYS: “Shall an ordinance: 1) requiring that certain residential development projects provide for affordable housing and comply with prevailing wage, local hiring and other labor standards; 2) requiring the City to assess the impacts of community plan changes on affordable housing and local jobs; 3) creating an affordable housing incentive program for developments near major transit stops; and 4) making other changes.”

WHAT IT DOES: measure places more restrictions on development. The City of Los Angeles has a shortage of housing due to a lack of new residential building.

OPPOSE

Measure RRR Department of Water and Power Reform

WHAT IT SAYS: “Shall the Charter be amended to: (1) add qualification requirements, stipends and removal protections for DWP Board; (2) expand Board to seven members; (3) require DWP prepare four year Strategic Plans for Council and Mayoral approval; (4) modify DWP’s contracting, rate setting and other authority; (5) permit future alternatives to existing civil service standards for DWP employees through collective bargaining; and (6) require monthly billing?”

WHAT IT DOES: This measure brings much needed reform to the DWP. While we would all like to see more accountability built into the measure, there is enough to support.

SUPPORT

Measure SSS Pension Reform

WHAT IT SAYS: “Shall the Charter be amended to: (1) enroll new Airport peace officers into Tier 6 of the Fire and Police Pensions System; (2) allow current Airport peace officers to transfer into Tier 6 from the City Employees’ Retirement System (LACERS) at their own expense; and (3) permit new Airport Police Chiefs to enroll in LACERS”.

WHAT IT DOES: Shifting employees to a new tier does not appear to impact the City Budget.

SUPPORT

Judicial Candidates

Office 11 Steve Schreiner Well Qualified
Office 42 Efrain Matthew Aceves Well Qualified
Office 84 Javier Perez Qualified
Office 84 Susan Jung Townsend Qualified
Office 158 David A Berger Not Qualified

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Obama Picks Political Warrior for Treasury

Posted in Political by rwsierk on January 11, 2013

Obama picks a political warrior for Treasury.

For those of you who missed it. From the WSJ

President Obama is expected to name Jack Lew as his Treasury secretary on Thursday, continuing his cabinet’s second-term makeover in his own image. He is assembling a team of personal and ideological loyalists whose job will be less to offer independent advice than to advance and implement his agenda for a larger, more redistributionist government.

Mr. Lew’s nomination will disappoint those (mostly naive CEOs) who were hoping for a second-term agenda more hospitable to business and private economic growth. Save for a stint in Robert Rubin’s Citigroup, where Democrats go to monetize their political connections, and a few years as an academic, Mr. Lew is a Washington lifer whose expertise is politics. He brings no special knowledge or experience in economic policy, private industry or global finance.

It’s notable how Mr. Lew’s reputation has changed during the Obama years. As White House budget director in the Clinton era, he was viewed by Republicans as a reasonable liberal they could do business with. But as budget director and chief of staff in the Obama White House, Mr. Lew has been the President’s most partisan and implacable negotiator.

Our sources who have been in the room with the 57-year-old say he is now a fierce defender of entitlements in their current form, resists all but token spending restraint, and favors higher tax rates. In taking these positions he no doubt reflects Mr. Obama, but no one should think he’ll emerge as his own man at Treasury.

It’s also worth noting how different Mr. Lew’s selection is from most modern Treasury secretaries, of either party. Democrats have tended to select men with credibility in the business or financial worlds. JFK chose Republican financier Douglas Dillon, while Bill Clinton chose moderate Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen and then Mr. Rubin of Goldman Sachs . George W. Bush picked former or current CEOs, though until Hank Paulson economic policy was run out of the White House.

Mr. Lew’s selection signals similar White House dominance, as well as a degrading of Treasury’s traditional role as the voice for pro-growth policies. Mr. Lew is not the economic general you choose if you’re looking for tax reform or a bold growth agenda.

He’s the man you pick if you expect months of political trench warfare over taxes and spending. He’s the partisan you nominate if your overriding political goal is to destroy House Republicans in the midterm elections, not strike a deal with them.

Mr. Lew’s nomination would continue the post-election trend of Obama Unfettered. There’s no more restraining his progressive agenda, as during the last two years. Chuck Hagel will be unleashed to shrink the Pentagon and reduce America’s global military footprint. John Kerry will be dispatched to give engagement with Iran and other U.S. adversaries another try, whether or not they’re interested.

But Mr. Obama’s main project is to reorder the relationship of Americans to their government. His goal is to extend and entrench entitlements into the daily expectations of the middle class—from cradle to college to health care during the working years to retirement and then the grave. The productive engines of the private U.S. economy are to be reoriented to finance this income redistribution.

His first four years, at least before House Republicans rudely interrupted, were about extending and entrenching the entitlements. His next four years will be about protecting every inch of that expansion while trying to find the means to pay for it.

Mr. Lew’s main job will be to cajole or pound that money out of Republicans. And if he can’t do that, he’ll try to position Democrats to retake the House in 2014. Then in Mr. Obama’s final two years, the President and Nancy Pelosi could finish what they started and impose the new energy tax or value-added tax they know is essential to finance their dreams because it taps the middle…

The Fiscal Cliff Was Avoided! Oh Wait……

Posted in Political by rwsierk on January 3, 2013

Below is the summary of the bill, you MUST read all the way to the bottom where I put it in perspective.

American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (HR 8)

The legislation would allow tax rates to rise on the nation’s highest earners while also extending dozens of tax cuts for individuals and businesses. Specifically, the bill:

  • Raises the top tax rate to 39.6% for married couples earning $450,000; single taxpayers earning $400,000. These amounts will be indexed for inflation.
  • Raises long-term capital gains and qualifying dividends tax rate to 20% (from 15%) for taxpayers in the 39.6% tax bracket for regular and alternative minimum tax.
  • Permanently extends Bush-era tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 for all other taxpayers.
  • Reinstates phase out of personal exemptions and overall limitation on itemized deductions for married couples filing jointly earning over $300,000 and single taxpayers earning over $250,000.
  • Raises the maximum estate tax rate to 40% but keeps the exemption amount at $5 million, adjusted for inflation.
  • Extends for 5 years (through 2018) the American Opportunity Tax Credit to pay for higher education, and special relief for families with 3 or more children for the refundable portion of the child tax credit and increased percentage for the earned income tax credit.
  • Patches the AMT for 2012 and adjusts the exemption amount for inflation going forward.
  • Extends through 2013 the following individual tax benefits: above the line deduction for teacher expenses, relief from cancellation of debt income for principal residences, parity for employer-provided mass transit benefits, deduction for mortgage insurance premiums as interest, election to deduct state and local sales taxes in lieu of income taxes, above the line deduction for qualified education expenses, tax-free distributions from IRA accounts for charitable purposes.
  • Extends through 2013 certain business tax provisions that expired at the end of 2011 including: the research credit, the new markets tax credit, railroad track maintenance credit, mine rescue team training credit, work opportunity credit, the Section 179 asset expensing at $500,000, Section 1202 stock exclusion at 100%, and empowerment zone incentives. 
  • Extends 50% bonus depreciation through 2013.
  • Extends through 2013 certain energy tax incentives that expired at the end of 2011 including: energy efficient credit for existing homes, alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit, biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives, wind credit, energy efficient credit for new homes, and credit for manufacture of energy efficient appliances.
  • The legislation does not continue the payroll tax holiday which reduced Social Security taxes from 6.2% to 4.2% for employees for 2011 and 2012. Consequently, the rate is now 6.2% for 2013.

You can read the numbers but let’s put it in perspective:

  • US Tax Revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
  • Federal Budget: $3,820,000,000,000
  • New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000
  • National Debt: $14,271,000,000,000
  • Recent Budget Cuts: $38,500,000,000

Now let’s remove the last 8 zeros and pretend it was your family’s ‘Fiscal Cliff’:

  • Family Income: $21,700
  • What your Family SPENDS Annually: $38,200
  • New Credit Card Debt: $16,500
  • Total Family Debt: $142,710
  • Recent Budget Cuts: $38.50

Was any ‘Fiscal Cliff’ really avoided?

The Fun Has Begun!!

Posted in Political by rwsierk on November 14, 2012

The Fun Has Begun!!

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president would bring to the table a proposal for $1.6 trillion in new taxes on business and the wealthy when he begins discussions with congressional Republicans, a figure that Obama outlined in his most recent budget plan. The targeted revenue is twice the amount Obama discussed with Republican leaders during debt talks during the summer of 2011.

California’s Liberal Supermajority

Posted in Political, Uncategorized by rwsierk on November 14, 2012

California’s Liberal Supermajority

http://ow.ly/fi3s8

Need to know how to vote in November 2012?

Posted in Political by rwsierk on October 26, 2012

Need to know how to vote in November? Check out my Voter Guide http://ow.ly/eNxkd

2012 Voter Guide

Posted in Political by rwsierk on October 23, 2012

My Voter Guide

Proposition 30 NO

Summary: This is the Governor’s and California Federation of Teachers’ compromise measure that increases income taxes and raises the sales tax rate. Proponents will try to sell this measure as a tax increase to help our schools, but the money will likely go to fund underfunded teachers’ pensions. The initiative will retroactively raise income taxes on individuals (and small business that file as individuals) making over $250,000 per year for seven years. It will also increase sales taxes by a 1/4 percent for four years.

Supporters: Governor Brown, California Teachers Association, California Democratic Party & League of Women Voters

Opponents: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Small Business Action Committee, National Federation of Independent Business/California & the California Republican Party

Proposition 31 YES

Summary: The initiative would establish a two-year budget cycle with performance- based budgeting. There is also a “pay-as-you-go” requirement that would require any new program (or tax cut) costing over $25 million to have an identified funding source before it is enacted. It also has an oversight requirement for the last six months of the two-year legislative session and makes all bills available to the public three days before a vote to preclude the practice of late night “gutting and amending.”

Supporters: California Forward, California Republican Party & California Chamber of Commerce

Opponents: California Democratic Party & California Federation of Teachers

Proposition 32 YES

Summary: Passing the Stop Special Interest Money initiative is a top priority for the New Majority this November. This initiative will limit the special interests’ control of Sacramento and help return the balance we need to tackle the growing problems of the state.

The initiative does three key things: 1. Bans both corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates; 2. Bans contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them; and 3. Bans automatic deductions by corporations, unions and government employee’s wages to be used for political purposes.

Supporters: National Federation of Independent Business/California, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association & the California Republican Party

Opponents: League of Women Voters, California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation & California Common Cause

Proposition 33 YES

Summary: This initiative is similar to Proposition 17, which narrowly failed in 2010. Again, the initiative is being backed by Mercury Insurance and would create “persistency discounts,” which allows drivers to switch insurers and keep loyalty discounts, but those who allow their insurance to lapse could face steep hikes.

Supporters: California Republican Party & California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

Opponents: Consumer Watchdog & California Democratic Party

Proposition 34 NO

Summary: The measure would eliminate California’s death penalty and convert the sentences of more than 720 inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This initiative pits “justice” groups against law enforcement and victims’ rights advocates. Polls show Californians continue to support the death penalty, but the proponents will argue that this is a cost-savings measure.

Supporters: League of Women Voters, California Catholic Conference of Bishops, American Civil Liberties Union & the California Democratic Party

Opponents: California Republican Party, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation & the California State Sheriffs’ Association

Proposition 35 YES

Summary: This initiative expands the definition of human trafficking and strengthens penalties and fines for trafficking. It requires convicted traffickers to register as sex offenders and to surrender their “internet identifiers,” namely email accounts and user names. It also prevents using trafficking victims’ sexual history against them in court.

Supporters: California Republican Party, California Democratic Party, Crime Victims United of
California, California Association of Highway Patrolmen and the California Police Chiefs Association

Opponents: None

Proposition 36 NO

Summary: This initiative changes the current Three Strikes Law so that a life sentence for the third strike can only be imposed when the third strike “serious or violent.” It also authorizes re- sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike conviction was not “serious or violent” and if a judge determines that they do not pose unreasonable risk to public safety. Life sentences for third strikes would still apply for those whose previous offenses were rape, murder, child molestation or certain “non-serious, non-violent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession.” If Proposition 36 passes, approximately 3,000 convicted felons who are currently serving life terms under the Three Strikes law, whose third strike conviction was for a nonviolent crime, will be able to petition the court for a new, reduced sentence.

Supporters: California Democratic Party

Opponents: California Republican Party, California State Sheriff’s Association, California District Attorneys Association, Crime Victims United of California & the California Peace Officers Association

Proposition 37 NO

Summary: This initiative requires labeling of food made from plants or animals with genetically engineered material and prohibits modified foods be labeled as “natural.”

Supporters: California Democratic Party, Organic Consumers’ Association, Consumer Watchdog

Opponents: California Republican Party, California Taxpayer Protection Committee, California Chamber of Commerce & the California Small Business Association

Proposition 38 NO

Summary: The measure is a 12-year, progressive (.4% to 2.2%) income tax increase on all but the lowest income earners. It is estimated to generate about $10 billion in increased revenues per year with most of the revenue earmarked for K-12 schools and early childhood development programs.

Supporters: Molly Munger & California State PTA

Opponents: California Chamber of Commerce, California Republican Party & the California Democratic Party

Proposition 39 NO

Summary: Single Sales Factor changes the apportionment formula that California uses to calculate its share of corporate tax revenues. It requires multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. This initiative repeals the existing law that gives multistate businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.

Supporters: Tom Steyer, Los Angeles Business Council, Latin Business Association

Opponents: California Chamber of Commerce, California Republican Party & the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Proposition 40 YES

Summary: The group that qualified this measure (namely the California Republican Party) is no longer going to be pursing this measure’s passage because the courts refused to stay the lines ahead of the November election, thus defeating the referendum’s purpose.

Supporters: California Chamber of Commerce, California Republican Party, California Democratic Party, League of Women Voters, AARP California & National Federation of Independent Business/California

Opponents: None

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MEASURES

Measure A – NO
Measure B – NO
Measure J – NO

LOS ANGELES COUNTY RACES & ENDORSEMENTS

33rd Congressional District – Bill Bloomfield
47th Congressional District – Gary DeLong
27th State Senate District – Todd Zink
38th Assembly District – Scott Wilk
44th – Assembly District – Jeff Gorell
49th Assembly District – Dr. Matthew Lin
66th Assembly District – Craig Huey

Los Angeles County District Attorney – Alan Jackson

CALIFORNIA TARGETED CONGRESSIONAL RACES

3rd Congressional District – Kim Vann
7th Congressional District – Congressman Dan Lungren
9th Congressional District – Ricky Gill
10th Congressional District – Congressman Jeff Denham
21st Congressional District – David Valadao
24th Congressional District – Abel Maldonado
26th Congressional District – Tony Strickland
33rd Congressional District – Bill Bloomfield
36th Congressional District – Mary Bono Mack
41st Congressional District – John Tavaglione
47th Congressional District – Gary DeLong
52nd Congressional District – Congressman Brian Bilbray

CALIFORNIA TARGETED LEGISLATIVE RACES

5th State Senate District – Bill Berryhill
27th State Senate District – Todd Zink
31st State Senate District – Jeff Miller
39th Sate Senate District – George Plescia 8th Assembly District – Peter Tateishi
32nd Assembly District – Pedro Rios
49th Assembly District – Dr. Matthew Lin
61st Assembly District – Bill Batey
66th Assembly District – Craig Huey