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Good morning, California.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court “presents an existential threat to the health care of hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “Judge Kavanaugh’s strong opposition to commonsense gun safety laws showcases how extreme his views are.”

Despite high taxes, rich people aren't fleeing California

Photo illustration by Pixabay.

Far more millionaires move into California than leave, despite the state’s highest-in-the-nation income-tax rate, a new study shows.

Researchers at Stanford University’s Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Franchise Tax Board sought to answer the question: Does California’s top state income-tax rate, now 13.3 percent on people earning $1 million a year or more, drive the wealthy to leave for low-tax states?

Short answer: No, except on the far margin. The researchers reviewed 25 years of California tax returns from all high earners and found that more wealthy people relocate after a divorce.

Republicans regularly cite anecdotes of businesses owners and wealthy people decamping to low-tax states such as Nevada or Texas. But the study shows million-dollar earners moved to California even after voters raised income taxes in 2004 and 2012:

“We often think that the only way for a state to be ‘competitive’ is to be like Texas—a low-tax, low-infrastructure, low-services state. But the reality is that the most competitive places in the U.S., the leading drivers of the economy, and the centers for top talent are New York and California—and they have been for generations, despite higher taxes on top incomes.”

Why this matters: Gavin Newsom, Democratic front-runner to become the next governor, has called for a review of the tax system. There is much to update, and income taxes, a major source of state revenue, would be part of any discussion. The study provides facts for any review

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Protests aside, Democrats take private-prison money

A protest against Trump administration "zero tolerance" policy on undocumented immigration.

California Democrats have taken $250,000 in donations since January 2017 from private-prison companies that incarcerate undocumented immigrants, even as they decry President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, Capitol Weekly reports.

The California Democratic Party took $140,000 from prison company GEO Group and $20,000 from CoreCivic for use in various campaigns. Democratic candidates accepted additional sums.

Prison companies contract with cities, counties and the state to operate jails and rehabilitation facilities but also own immigrant-detention centers.

Eric Bauman, chairman of the California Democratic Party, told me in an email: “The leadership team and I will be discussing it this weekend.”

Tweets matter: CALmatters’ Ben Christopher last month tweeted that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign for governor had taken money from one of the prison companies. That tweet prompted Newsom to donate $5,000 to the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Families Belong Together project, which is protesting Trump’s immigration policy, a Newsom aide told me.

A Trump decision that won’t affect California

The Trump administration decision to roll back Obama-era rules encouraging universities to consider racial diversity in admissions will have little, if any, effect on California, CALmatters’ Felicia Mello reports.

State voters ended racial consideration in college admissions in 1996 by passing Proposition 209. The percentage of African-American students at the University of California’s most selective campuses has never recovered.

CALmatters offers this chart  showing enrollment numbers pre- and post-209. It’s an indication of what might be in store for other states if the administration’s push proves to be successful.

Now there are 95 avoidable deaths of children

“This was a death that was completely avoidable.”— Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, after 2-year-old Jace Alexander found a handgun in his home, fired it and died.

The gun’s owner, Oscar Ramos, 35, was arrested on felony charges of violating California’s safe-storage law. The Fresno Bee reported Ramos and a woman were in another room when they heard a loud “pop,” and found Jace on the floor with a head wound. The pistol was on a nearby bed. 

Before baby Jace’s death, Everytown for Gun Safety had counted 94 unintentional deaths of children nationwide by firearms so far this year.

Walters: What’s not known about the privacy legislation

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters, having seen unintended consequences many times, turns his attention to new privacy legislation that averted an initiative fight in November.

The law could preclude businesses from continuing loyalty reward programs if they cannot collect data on spending habits, and it will set California apart from the 49 other states, he wrote:

“(A)ny legislation that purports to protect us should be subjected to a rigorous stress test to reveal potential downsides.”

The measure won’t take effect until 2020, which gives lawmakers time to work out bugs, at least those that are known.


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