Good morning, California. Who’s thirsty?
Citing climate change and the needs of Angelenos, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power has announced that ranchers who lease 6,400 acres for cattle near Crowley Lake should no longer bank on the promise of ample water, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Mono County Supervisor Bob Gardner to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti: “We refuse to accept that climate change and ratepayer obligations justify the impacts to our natural environment and regional economy. Quite simply, LADWP’s arbitrary plan is nothing more than a veiled water grab.”
Where CA's real money comes from
The Palo Alto home of the late Steve Jobs, in 2013
California’s biggest source of income tax revenue is in Silicon Valley, The Los Angeles Times reports, detailing the hard numbers behind California’s budget.
- Two of the top four ZIP codes for income tax revenue are in Palo Alto.
- The other two are Menlo Park and Burlingame. The state’s most famous ZIP, 90210, was a mere No. 6.
Mike Genest, finance director to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “We are very dependent on millionaires. If the millionaires get a cold, we all die of the flu.”
Gov. Jerry Brown worried publicly about inherent weaknesses in the state’s financial system, leveraging concern about too-wide revenue swings into the passage of a 2012 ballot measure to pay down debt and put more in the state rainy day fund.
But as The Times writes: “A sweeping overhaul of California’s tax structure could make the state’s revenues less volatile, but it would also mean imperiling a herd of sacred cows.”
Strategic. Persuasive. Effective. Working at the intersection of business, politics and policy.
Where Paul Ryan's ad money is going
House Speaker Paul Ryan
Democratic congressional candidate Katie Hill’s support for the state’s gasoline tax has made her the target of $1.5 million in attack ads by House Speaker Paul Ryan, the California Target Book reports.
- Consider it a test case for the politics of 2018.
- At least four Democratic candidates oppose the 12-cent per gallon gas tax, approved by the California legislature last year. All are up against Republican congressional incumbents.
- Not Hill, who’s challenging Republican Congressman Steve Knight of Palmdale. She supports the tax hike, which generates $5 billion a year to pay for road and bridge repairs.
Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund campaign committee is airing an ad: “Liberal Katie Hill doesn’t think you pay enough. Hill’s campaign is backed by Sacramento liberals who raised the gax tax.”
Ryan, of Wisconsin, and several congressional Republicans from California funded the petition drive that placed the gas tax repeal on the November ballot, seeing Proposition 6 as an issue that will help Republicans hold seats in California.
Money matters: The largest funders of Ryan’s PAC are Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, at $15 million each, and Timothy Mellon of Wyoming at $10 million.
- Adelson and Mellon are beneficiaries of the federal tax cut engineered by President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported.
- Valero Oil and the Chevron, which have major refineries in California, also are big donors to Ryan’s PAC, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports.
Pundits nationally have identified Knight as vulnerable, Hillary Clinton carried the district by 7 percentage points over Donald Trump in 2016. Hill, a strong fund-raiser, can stir a crowd. The race will test the Republican theory that opposition to California’s gas tax will help save the GOP’s majority in Congress.
It's time to make behavioral health solutions a top priority in California.
What a CA start-up did with its money
Turo, a San Francisco start-up disrupting the rental car business, gave its first campaign contribution to a California legislator, $34,219, the day before Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation it had been seeking.
- Turo is like the Airbnb of car rentals. People use it to rent their vehicles, to the dismay of rental car companies, which lose income, and local officials, who lose tax revenue.
Turo lobbied against a measure to treat it like all other rental car companies—that failed—and sponsored another measure, which passed.
- Carried by Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low of Campbell, the legislation allows Turo to be treated as a platform, not a rental car company, but does impose some auto-safety obligations on it.
- Brown signed the legislation last Thursday. The day before, Turo disclosed its five-figure donation to a campaign account controlled by Low to promote ballot measures.
“Absolutely not,” Low’s spokesperson Maya Polon said when I asked if the bill and the $34,219 were connected.
- Turo’s head of governmental relations said the donation was to help Low promote LGBT rights, a concept that “aligns with our values.”
California law caps donations to candidates’ campaigns at $4,400 per election, but many legislators, Low among them, have separate campaign committees to promote ballot measures. Donations to those are unlimited.
CA not idling on Trump's emissions plan
Freeway traffic, Southern California
A Trump administration panel considering easing auto emission standards got a lesson in how Californians view air pollution Monday.
- Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have proposed The Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, which would lead to more greenhouse gas emissions.
- The rule would freeze fuel efficiency requirements for autos at 37 miles per gallon in 2020 instead of rising to 47 mpg by 2025 under Obama-era regulations, Bloomberg reports.
- Protestors greeted the panelists and more than 130 people signed up to testify in Fresno for the first of three hearings, the Fresno Bee reported.
- Fresno has some of the nation’s worst air quality.
California “will not sit idly by as you try to flatline our efforts,” state Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols promised.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is suing over the proposal: “We don’t do this because it’s easy or it feels good. We do this because 26 percent of school-aged children here in the San Joaquin Valley suffer from asthma.”
A Pacific Gas & Electric executive testified that relaxation of the standard might hinder the development of electric vehicles:
“Transportation electrification is a key element of PG&E business strategy.”
Automakers urged a compromise, fearing there would be two separate standards: one for the nation, and another for California and the other states that follow California’s lead. But they opened the discussion by urging that Trump intervene to block the Obama administration regulations.
Commentary at CALmatters
Toni Atkins & Bill Dodd: One way or another, everyone feels the impact of wildfires: ratepayers being asked to help shoulder the costs of wildfires; people hundreds of miles away from the flames coping with worsened air quality; and others who compete for housing with those who have lost theirs. How the Legislature addresses intensifying wildfires is one of the most pressing issues.
Dan Walters: Reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of a carbon-neutral California would require massive expenditures on the electrical grid and for zero-emission vehicles.
Cliff Allenby, 1936-2018
Cliff Allenby, who started his state service when Pat Brown was governor and concluded it during Jerry’s Brown’s second administration, has died. He was 82.
Allenby was part of George Deukmejian’s cabinet and ran the Department of State Hospitals under Brown. He was called out of retirement three times. Here’s a column I wrote about him in 2012.
Long story short: People who disparage civil service and people who devote their lives to it didn’t know Cliff Allenby.
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See you tomorrow.