Without Government Unions, there Would be No Gas Tax Increase

Nobody argues that California’s roads need huge upgrades. But the solution didn’t require the $0.12 per gallon tax hike that goes into effect today. The root cause of these neglected roads – and the reason even more taxes will never be enough to fix them – is the power of public sector unions, whose agenda is consistently at odds with the public interest. Let us count the ways.

1 – CalTrans mismanagement:

CalTrans could have done a much better job of maintaining California’s roads. One of the most diligent critics (and auditors) of CalTrans is state Senator John Moorlach (R, Costa Mesa), the only CPA in California’s state legislature. Last year, Moorlach released a report on CalTrans which he summarized in “7-Step Fix for ‘Mismanaged’ Caltrans,” an article on his official website. Just a few highlights include the following:

In May 2014 the Legislative Analyst Office determined that CalTrans was overstaffed by 3,500 architects and engineers, costing over $500 million per year. While to an average state transportation agency outsources over 50% of its work, CalTrans outsources only 10% of its work. Arizona and Florida outsource more than 80%. 54% of CalTrans staff is at or near retirement age, so a hiring freeze would reduce staff merely through attrition, without requiring layoffs.

But Moorlach didn’t make explicit the reason CalTrans is mismanaged. It’s because the unions that run Sacramento don’t want to outsource CalTrans work. The unions don’t want to reduce CalTrans headcount, or hold CalTrans management accountable. Those […] Read More

What We Could Build With $64 Billion

AUDIO: A discussion of more useful infrastructure projects that could be funded with the $64 billion that is currently budgeted for the “Bullet Train” in California – 14 minutes on KFI Los Angeles – Ed Ring on the John and Ken Show.

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Keeping Friends in the Age of Trump

AUDIO: Life behind the Blue Curtain – Ed Ring for 13 minutes on KABC Los Angeles.

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The Opportunity Cost of High Speed Rail

AUDIO: A discussion of more useful infrastructure projects that could be funded with the $64 billion that is currently budgeted for the “Bullet Train” in California – 8 minutes on KOGO San Diego – Ed Ring on the Carl DeMaio Show.

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What Californians Could Build Using the $64 Billion Bullet Train Budget

California’s High-Speed Rail project fails to justify itself according to any set of rational criteria. Its ridership projections are absurdly inflated, its environmental benefits are overstated if not actually net detriments, and its cost, its staggering cost, $64 billion by the latest estimate, overwhelms anyone with even a remote sense of financial proportions. To make this final point clear, here is an assortment of California infrastructure projects that could be paid for with a $64 billion budget.

If these projects were built, instead of the bullet train, Californians would have abundant, cheap electricity, abundant fresh water, and upgraded roads and freeways capable of handling all the traffic a surging economy could possibly dish out.

(1) Build 10 natural gas power plants generating 6.2 gigawatts of electrical output for $5.7 billion.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a modern natural gas power plant generating 620 megawatts can be built at a capital cost of $568 million. Someday, when electricity storage technologies are inexpensive and safe, the solar age can ripen to maturity, but in the meantime, California’s private energy companies can tap abundant in-state natural gas reserves, enabling California’s public utilities to provide cheap electricity to the public.

Since California’s peak demand rarely exceeds 50 gigawatts, increasing capacity by 12% will drive the price for electricity way down, making California competitive again with other states. Cheap electricity will also obviate the need to force consumers to purchase extremely expensive “energy sipping” appliances that are internet enabled, monitor […] Read More

How California’s Leftists Are Puppets of the Plutocrats

AUDIO: A lively discussion on pensions, pension fund solvency, and how leftists are being duped by oligarchs – 30 minutes on KUHL 1440 Santa Maria (Central Coast) – Ed Ring on the Andy Caldwell Show.

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The Politics of Residential Water Pricing

California’s consumers already endure tiered rates for electricity consumption, where if their electricity consumption goes beyond approved levels, they pay more per kilowatt-hour. At least with electricity, there is some rationale for tiered pricing, because when demand exceeds capacity the utility has to purchase power from the grid at the spot market rate. But in the case of water that’s a much harder case to make. Water prices are negotiated far in advance by water utilities.

The reason utilities want to charge tiered rates is so they can discourage “over-consumption” of water, in order for them to avoid running out of water during times of severe drought. What happened repeatedly over the past few years was that suppliers to many regional water districts could not meet their contracted delivery obligations. Understandably, water districts want to reduce total annual consumption so, if necessary, they can get by with, for example, only 60% of the amount of imported water they would otherwise be contractually entitled to.

Punitive rates for “overuse,” however, will effectively ration water, as only a tiny minority of consumers will be wealthy enough to be indifferent to prohibitively high penalties.

There is a completely different way for water districts to address this challenge. An optimal solution to California’s water supply issues should incorporate not only conservation, but also increasing supply. And to fund new supplies of water, utilities should experiment with tiered pricing that only incorporates moderate price increases. Doing this would mean a large portion of consumers will […] Read More

Where Are Tax Increases Going?

AUDIO: Where are tax increases going? A report on 2015 data on average California public sector worker pay and benefits at city, county, and state agencies – 25 minutes on KOGO San Diego – Ed Ring on the Carl DeMaio Show.

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Why California’s Global Warming Solutions Act is Misguided Policy

California policymakers are expanding their war on “climate change” at the same time as the rest of the nation appears poised to reevaluate these priorities. […] Read More

California’s Voters Just Approved $5.0 Billion in New Taxes Per Year

AUDIO: If public pension funds were subject to the ERISA rules that govern private pension systems, last year’s total payments into these funds would have been $37 billion short of what is necessary to keep them solvent in the long run – 8 minutes on KABC 740 Los Angeles – Ed Ring on the Doug McIntyre Show.

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