Index
Friday
May222015

POLITICS (National): Income inequality, federal tax code: "These states rob from the poor and give to the rich" ....

* Washington Post (Wonkblog):  "These states rob from the poor and give to the rich" - From the WP:

The federal tax code is a powerful tool for reducing income inequality: in general, high-earners are taxed at higher rates than low-income people, with a significant part of that money going toward programs that help the poor, like food stamps and other safety net payments. But we don't usually think as much about the impacts of state taxes on inequality. A team of researchers at the Federal Reserve recently released a paper exploring the topic and found something, if not surprising, discouraging.

When it comes to taxes, some states build on federal efforts to reduce inequality and take steps to further decrease the gap between rich and poor. But plenty of others actually undermine the federal government's anti-inequality measures. In essence, they take from the poor and give that money to the rich. I've mapped each state's contributions to inequality reduction below. States in green have tax policies that build on the federal tax code, making the gap between rich and poor smaller. States in purple have tax laws that undo federal measures to address inequality.

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In some cases, the magnitude of the effects are quite large. The tax code of Tennessee, for instance, decreases federal anti-inequality efforts by nearly one-third. Other Southern states have laws that take a big bite out of inequality relief, too. On the other hand, places such as Minnesota and Oregon add to federal efforts by 18 percent or so.

There's no question that state-level laws can make a big deal of difference when it comes to income and wealth distribution, particularly for lower-income families ..................

Friday
May222015

POLITICS/EDUCATION: University of California, funding, tuition: "UC Rents endorse Brown's funding plan, but look to lawmakers for more"; also, "UC Regents give thumbs-up to tuition trade-off"; editorial, "UC needs to fund benefits or end them" ....  

***University of California system, budget, tuition....

* Los Angeles Times:  "UC Regents endorse Brown's funding plan, but look to lawmakers for more"

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "UC Regents give thumbs-up to tuition trade-off"

* San Jose Mercury News (editorial):  "UC needs to fund benefits or end them"

Friday
May222015

SACRAMENTO: Senate District 7, special election, Steve Glazer victory, more analysis/commentary: "Moderate Democrat's win a loss for unions statewide"; commentary (Joel Fox), "All that Analysis of the Glazer Victory"; commentary (Dan Walters), "Glazer's win a big loss for unions" ....

***Senate District 7, special election, Steve Glazer victory, more analysis/commentary....

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "Glazer's win a big loss for unions"

* Fox and Hounds (Joel Fox):  "All that Analysis of the Glazer Victory"

* Orange County Register:  "Moderate Democrat's win a loss for unions statewide"

Friday
May222015

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, follow-up, DWP "horror story," commentary (Steve Lopez): "DWP cancels couple's $51,269.52 water bill, gives $85 credit" ....

***Following ujp on earlier item noted here (Steve Lopez, L.A. Dept. of Water and Power, $51,649.32 "horror story"....

* Los Angeles Times (Steve Lopez):  "DWP cancels couple's $51,269.52 water bill, gives $85 credit" - From the LAT:

Oh, about that $51,000 water bill we sent you? Never mind.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has decided after an "investigation" that Savely and Stella Goreshter, who live in a Van Nuys condominium, did not use 6.7 million gallons of water between January and October of last year. Or anywhere near that amount.

The DWP sent an investigator to the house Wednesday to check things out. That was the day of my column on the retired couple, who have been living in fear that they would lose everything they own if the utility didn't acknowledge its obvious mistake and back off. By Thursday morning, though, all was well in Van Nuys. "My parents will sleep well tonight," the retired couple's daughter, Felicia, told me Thursday morning.

David Wright, who oversees customer service for the DWP, had this to say: "There's no way they could have used that much water." ......................

Friday
May222015

POLITICS (State, Local/Southern California): California Public Utilities Commission, industry-sponsored "educational tours": "Utilities official sets off on Japan trip" ....  

* San Diego Union-Tribune:  "Utilities official sets off on Japan trip" - "The agency's energy director also went to Poland, for secret San Onofre meeting" - From the U-T:

One of the state energy regulators who attended a secret meeting in Poland about the future of the San Onofre nuclear plant is spending next week in Japan on a similar industry-sponsored study tour. Edward Randolph, who directs the California Public Utilities Commission’s energy division, is headed to Tokyo and Osaka this weekend courtesy of The Energy Coalition, a nonprofit based in Orange County that is funded by utility companies.

Such educational tours are commonplace among California policymakers, although good government groups say they foster undue access for industry groups. This excursion comes as Randolph’s agency is spending $5.2 million on defense attorneys to respond to state and federal criminal investigations into whether regulators are too cozy with utility company executives.

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In March 2013, Randolph attended a similar tour in Poland with former commission President Michael Peevey, who stepped down late last year.

During the Poland trip, Peevey and Randolph met with an executive from San Onofre majority owner Southern California Edison to lay out a framework for dividing $4.7 billion of shutdown costs for the failed power plant north of Oceanside.

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The problem with the Warsaw meeting was not the educational tour itself, but the content of the discussion. Commission decisions are supposed to be based on a publicly available record, and the role of its officials is as impartial arbiter, not a participant in negotiations. The 2013 Warsaw trip was funded by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, a San Francisco nonprofit whose leaders include utility executives and labor leaders.

Joining Randolph on the Japan trip will be ..........................