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When Are Enough Taxes Enough?

Jerome E. Horton, Board of Equalization District 3 Special to California Black Media Partners

Over the years, California has collected enough taxes to fully fund education, fix our water issues, and repair our roads – but has chosen to redirect the funds for other priorities. According to the Governor, this year California is collecting more taxes than expenditures, with billions leftover in reserves. At what point is enough taxes on the poor - middle income enough?

Yet, California, the 5th largest economy in the world, is 36th in the nation in educational attainment, 39th in school quality, 13th in school safety and has the lowest percentage of high school diploma holders in the nation, according to WalletHub’s analyses.  Even worse, there have been 19 school shootings in California since 1990 and many other types of assaults on teachers and students.


This is in part due to easy access to weapons and the elimination of mental and social health intervention programs in our schools, such as counseling and nursing for students with psychological challenges, and training in social skills, vocational skills, and courses on civil and moral values that provide students alternatives to negative engagements.  We often ask ourselves " If I only saw the signs... ." Years ago, we had trained professionals on the campus who could help with these issues and parents who had access to quality health care that would help them address mental illness.  Today, many of these intervention measures have been cut out of the budget.


Equally frustrating, Californians pay the highest sales and income taxes in the nation, and the 2nd highest gas tax in the nation. Yet upwards of 16% of California's college students are from foreign countries, not because they are more qualified but because they pay more in tuition. This has contributed to the issuance of 144,000 work visas to foreign workers, who take American jobs.


Californians are taxed for a lot of worthy things but at some point we have to set limits and priorities.  If we consolidate our resources and require all programs to meet performance measures and mandate effectiveness and eliminate redundancy and fraud – we can prioritize funding for education, employment, and affordable housing – so that people can own a home in a safe community, obtain high quality education and training for their children and take care of their families. As you ponder what and who to vote for consider that "Voting is like hiring a doctors, you want to make sure they come with enough experience to operate and that you get what you pay for. "

California adds 44,800 nonfarm payroll jobs in August

Unemployment rate remains at 4.2 percent for fifth consecutive month

SACRAMENTO – California’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.2 percent in August – holding at a record low level for the fifth consecutive month in a series dating back to 1976 – and the state’s employers added 44,800 nonfarm payroll jobs, according to data released today by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) from two surveys. California has now gained a total of 3,002,300 jobs since the economic expansion began in February 2010.


The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.9 percent, while the nation’s employers added 201,000 nonfarm payroll jobs.

In August 2017, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. The unemployment rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,100 California households.


Nonfarm payroll jobs in California totaled 17,191,900 in August, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. The survey of 71,000 California businesses measures jobs in the economy. The year-over change, August 2017 to August 2018, shows an increase of 348,900 jobs (up 2.1 percent).



The federal household survey, done with a smaller sample than the survey of employers, shows an increase in the number of employed Californians over the month. It estimates the number of Californians holding jobs in August was 18,548,000, an increase of 7,000 from July, and up 85,000 from the employment total in August of last year.


The number of unemployed Californians was 803,000 in August – a decrease of 5,000 over the month, and down by 92,000 compared with August of last year.




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News from EPI

A ruling against state and local government unions in Janus will have negative consequences for public services as well as workers

IIn a new issue brief, EPI Director of Policy Heidi Shierholz and Director of Labor Law and Policy Celine McNicholas outline the profound negative consequences that a ruling for the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 will have on public sector workers’ wages and job quality, as well as on the critical public services these workers provide.


Shierholz and McNicholas provide a breakdown of the state and local government workers whose wages and job quality are at stake. Workers in education make up more than half of all state and local government workers, with elementary and secondary school workers alone making up nearly 40 percent. In addition, millions of state and local workers work in justice, public order, and safety activities (primarily police officers and firefighters); hospitals; individuals and family services; public transportation, museums and similar institutions; libraries; home health care services; waste management services; and child day care services.


“These workers are the backbone of our communities. The critical public services they provide are put at risk as attacks on collective bargaining erode their compensation and job quality,” said Shierholz. “The stability and experience of state and local government workers—and the quality of services they provide—is one of the things that is at stake in the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus.”


The authors show that state and local government workers earn less than similar private-sector workers. Comparing the hourly wages of state and local government workers with those of private-sector workers after controlling for education, age, gender, race, ethnicity, and other factors known to affect pay, workers in state and local government make between 3.7 and 8.2 percent less on average than their private-sector counterparts.


However, state and local government workers who are represented by a union earn substantially more than similar workers who are not. A careful analysis of wage data shows that state and local government workers who are covered by a union contract earn between 10.7 and 13.6 percent more in hourly wages than their nonunion counterparts with the same level of education and experience.


“The recent teachers’ strikes in states such as West Virginia and Oklahoma provide examples of the effect of denying working people access to effective collective bargaining,” said McNicholas. “It is likely that other state and local government workers would be forced to resort to similar tactics following a Supreme Court decision in favor of the Janus plaintiffs. This means that more communities may face disruptions in everything from education to child and elder care services, public safety services, and municipal services.”



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