The Texas Tribune released an interesting nugget from their polling results -- it appears that the majority of Californians who flee the Golden State for the Lone Star are actually conservatives, rather than likely Democratic voters who can help turn the state blue.
As Joshua Blank of the Texas Tribune writes of these transplants (emphasis mine):
The plurality of those [California] migrants have moved to Texas, as many as 70,000 in 2011 and 60,000 in 2012. Given this influx of new residents, we are fortunate to have at times asked our respondents whether they have moved to Texas from California, and though the actual number of these people is but a small subsample of our surveys, we have enough respondents to make two broad conclusions. First, these newcomers, on average, tend to be conservative. Pooling data from the May 2012 and February 2013 UT/Tribune surveys, we found that 57 percent of these California transplants consider themselves to be conservative, while only 27 percent consider themselves to be liberal (a fair guess as to the margin of error is somewhere around +/- 7 percentage points). Second, these new Texans aren't rushing to find homes in the state's urban centers: 55 percent are heading to the suburbs, the rest evenly dividing themselves between rural and urban locations.
Welcome, Californians. Given your conservative tilt, I can only assume y'all have moved here to avoid the scourge of a state income tax that funds government services, public education, and basic civilization. Surely all y'all are aware that much of California's dysfunction was due to Republicans' abuse of the 2/3rds rule in the Legislature and endless efforts to obstruct functioning government?
Well if Republicans obstructing functional government is what you're into, you've come to the right state!
Texas ranks 49th in per-student spending and 38th in teacher pay. We have the highest rate of uninsured residents of all time. Don't care about those touchy-feely issues? Well, you probably like water and electricity. We're facing a crisis in water that transplants like y'all are only exacerbating. Our power grid is unstable, so prepare for rolling blackouts.
So welcome to Texas, conservative Californians. Those of us who care about health and human services, education, sustainability, and the environment are working pretty hard to turn things around, so pretty soon you might be facing a voter rebellion that results in the kind of progressive government that might send you packing again in search of redder pastures.
But he did get a nice vacation in the most beautiful state!
by Brian Leubitz
Rick Perry's swoop through Southern California appears to be over, and he's leaving without much other than a few parties to show for it:
On a conference call with reporters from Laguna Beach, the Republican said he spent his four days meeting with entrepreneurs and business leaders and held a reception for more than 200 California companies that have expressed interest in moving to Texas. Such relocations can take time, but Perry also offered no details on prospects, much less concrete announcements. ...
Perry said on the call that "this isn't about bashing California; it's about promoting Texas." But he went on to offer a few digs. When asked if Texas' light regulatory rules have contributed to a high number of worksite deaths, the governor said he thought it had more to do with high-risk oil and gas industry jobs prevalent in his state.
"Y'all in California are not very knowledgeable about the energy industry and that is a fairly dangerous workplace," Perry said, ignoring California's green-technology initiatives. (Houston Chronicle)
Not sure what to say here, other than California has plenty of dangerous jobs, yet a much lower incidence of injuries. Surely that couldn't be the work of workplace safety regulations.
Perry's little stunt with the $14,000 radio ad got some press, but it also got this clever response from the Lone Star Project. (see right)
Now whether Perry chooses to acknowledge it, California has several major advantages that can't simply be tossed aside. Silicon Valley is a technology cluster like no other, and Hollywood, is, well, Hollywood. Our renewable energy standards mean that we will be in the middle of the green economy, a ship that Texas is letting sail by.
California remains the home of innovation. Surely every state has its peccadilloes, but our resources are vast and our economy is growing. It's a great time to be in California.
Texas Governor tours California, but proof jobs actually move is slim
by Brian Leubitz
Texas Governor Rick Perry is set to tour California to poach jobs from the state. But this is more about Rick Perry and his situation at home than actually moving jobs. First, a bit about Perry: Texans are sick of him. I grew up in Texas, and was there during the governorships of Ann Richards, G W Bush, and Perry (plus a few more before Richards). Thing is, Texans tend to really like their Governors. Richards, even when she lost to W, had an approval rating in the 60s.
Bush actually did a fair amount of work with the Democrats in the Legislature, and was generally well regarded. Perry was another beast entirely. He came to power as partisanship was getting worse in the state, and exploited it. He didn't really need Democratic support, and so, he turned to the right. Perry, a former Democrat who worked on Al Gore's 1988 campaign, has made Texas government a far less friendly place.
It turns out that Texans don't really appreciate it, and a recent poll shows they don't really appreciate Perry anymore:
Fifty-four percent of Lone Star State voters said they disapprove of the job Perry is doing as governor, while 41 percent said they approve. A larger majority, 62 percent, said Perry should not seek re-election next year compared with just 31 percent who said he should. (TPM)
So, here comes Perry hoping that a few good photo ops of him "poaching" jobs from California, our little slice of heaven that seems to be target #1 for conservatives. Why would that be? Oh, right, we are the center of innovation in the country and the world. But can jobs be actually poached, or is this more Perry posturing?
Only a tiny fraction of California companies move or relocate to other states, and the reasons have little to do with what goodies a visiting governor offers them to relocate - even one like Perry, whose state dishes out $19 billion annually in incentives to lure businesses to Texas.
Kolko's research found that from 1992 to 2006, the net employment change in California as a result of relocation amounted to a loss of about 9,000 jobs a year - only 0.05 percent of California's 18 million jobs.
In Silicon Valley, which is experiencing dot-com-boom-level economic growth, only a small percentage of all the companies that are closing or moving are leaving the state, said Doug Henton, CEO of Collaborative Economics, a San Mateo research firm that helped prepare the Silicon Valley Index, a study of the region's job patterns that was released this month.
"Somebody like Gov. Perry can say, 'Come to Texas,' but the amount that do is a minuscule amount" of the valley's job losses, Henton said.(Joe Garofoli-SF Chronicle)
In the end, many of the jobs that Perry does buy aren't even a good deal for his state. But, they sure do make for a great photo op with some CEO. And a good soundbite about cutting regulations, business environment, and other nonsense. Perry is out for Perry, he'll do what he has to do to stay in power. But this little PR stunt amounts to a whole lot of hot air from a politician that seems to have no dearth of it.
Don't try Bigfoot hunting in California - it could result in your arrest and conviction, according to the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).
The DFG issued a statement in response to recent media reports about a Texas wildlife official proclaiming that bigfoot hunting is legal in the Longhorn State.
"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says that in theory, it would be legal to hunt Bigfoot in their state," a DFG facebook post stated on May 11. "Not so in California!"
"The lack of confirmation of this alleged animal's existence brings into question whether or not it occurs naturally in California," according to the DFG. "If Bigfoot occurs naturally in the state, then it would be defined as a non-game mammal pursuant to California Fish and Game Code Section 415."
In order to take a non-game mammal legally in California, it must be listed in the California Code of Regulations, which Bigfoot is not.
"If Bigfoot does not occur naturally in California then it would not be defined as a non-game mammal and could not be taken legally... unless the Bigfoot was causing property damage (in which case it could be depredated) or if a Bigfoot was considered a public safety threat (in which case the animal could be taken)."
If the existence of only one Bigfoot was confirmed, then it could be considered "threatened and endangered" and could potentially be listed as a protected species under the state or federal Endangered Species Acts, according to the DFG.
"But if a healthy and growing population of Bigfoot was confirmed, a hunting season for the creature might be considered and could potentially be implemented (unless a law is passed that lists it as a specially protected mammal)," the DFG said.
However, the DFG cautioned, "But even if it was legal to hunt Bigfoot in California, the cryptid would surely prove to be extremely elusive prey for even the most crafty and seasoned of hunters. Because, as history shows, this species is notoriously hard to spot, photograph or document ... which means it's likely to be extraordinarily difficult to track down and dispatch."
"Despite its massive frame, the legendary Bigfoot seems to be as light on its feet as Fred Astaire in his hoofing prime ... and perplexingly adept at blending into its habitat," the Department quipped.
I guess you can't hunt chupacabras, lake monsters or other elusive cryptids in California, since they aren't included in California Fish and Game Code Section 415 either.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has a far different approach to Bigfoot hunting regulations.
According to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department official, you're free to kill as many Bigfoot as your want, since the giant cryptid isn't listed as an endangered species, reported Live Science magazine on May 11. (http://www.livescience.com/20248-shooting-bigfoot-legal-texas.html)
"If the Commission does not specifically list an indigenous, nongame species, then the species is considered non-protected nongame wildlife, e.g., coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, cotton-tailed rabbit, etc," wrote Lieutenant David Sinclair, Chief of Staff at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, in an email response to Bigfoot enthusiast John Lloyd Scharf. "A nonprotected nongame animal may be hunted on private property with landowner consent by any means, at any time and there is no bag limit or possession limit."
Sharf reported that he replied to Sinclair, "So, it is the case all individuals of an unknown species ... could be exterminated without criminal or civil repercussions - essentially causing extinction?"
Bigfoot enthusiasts and researchers have been concerned for years that somebody may kill a Bigfoot if and when the species is finally captured, preventing researchers from studying a live specimen of the species. Some regional governments in the Pacific Northwest, where the most Bigfoot sightings have occurred, have passed resolutions and laws to protect the cryptid, also known as Sasquatch.
In 1992, Whatcom County, Washington officials approved a resolution declaring the County a "sasquatch protection and refuge area." This was a "county resolution," not a new law.
In 1969, Skamania County Washington passed an ordinance prohibiting the killing of Bigfoot.
In 2007, Mike Lake, a Canadian member of parliament from Edmonton, Alberta, introduced a petition calling Bigfoot to be protected under the Canadian version of the endangered species act.
However, these measures are all based on the assumption that Bigfoot is an animal. If a Bigfoot is ever captured or its existence is proven, it may turn out that it is actually a species of hominid related to homo sapiens. Wouldn't it then be considered murder to kill a Bigfoot? Would Texas still consider Bigfoot a "nonprotected nongame animal?"
Anyway, the message is clear from the California Department of Fish and Game: don't kill a Bigfoot if you happen to encounter one while hiking, camping, fishing, hunting or rafting in California.
You will not only deprive science of its unique opportunity to study a live Bigfoot, but will face possible jail time and a big fine under the California Fish and Game Code. And if it is determined that Bigfoot is a close relative of homo sapiens, you may face murder charges.
Below is the email response from Lieutenant Sinclair to Scharf: (http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/is-it-legal-to-hunt-bigfoot/?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Outdoor+Hub+News&utm_content=May+8%2C+2012+Texas+Bigfoot+Hunting)
The statute that you cite (Section 61.021) refers only to game birds, game animals, fish, marine animals or other aquatic life. Generally speaking, other nongame wildlife is listed in Chapter 67 (nongame and threatened species) and Chapter 68 (nongame endangered species). "Nongame" means those species of vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife indigenous to Texas that are not classified as game animals, game birds, game fish, fur-bearing animals, endangered species, alligators, marine penaeid shrimp, or oysters. The Parks and Wildlife Commission may adopt regulations to allow a person to take, possess, buy, sell, transport, import, export or propagate nongame wildlife. If the Commission does not specifically list an indigenous, nongame species, then the species is considered non-protected nongame wildlife, e.g., coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, cotton-tailed rabbit, etc. A non-protected nongame animal may be hunted on private property with landowner consent by any means, at any time and there is no bag limit or possession limit.
An exotic animal is an animal that is non-indigenous to Texas. Unless the exotic is an endangered species then exotics may be hunted on private property with landowner consent. A hunting license is required. This does not include the dangerous wild animals that have been held in captivity and released for the purpose of hunting, which is commonly referred to as a "canned hunt".
If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Chief Scott Vaca. I have included his e-mail address. I will be out of the office and in Houston on Friday.
L. David Sinclair
Chief of Staff - Division Director I
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Law Enforcement Division
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
"Texas Game Wardens Serving Texans Since 1895-Law Enforcement Off the Pavement"
From: Peter Flores
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2012 5:59 PM
To: David Sinclair
Subject: Fw: TAKING WILDLIFE RESOURCES PROHIBITED
That's what's on the mind of political pundits this week as they come down off the high of the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames. With nothing to report until--well--something unpredictable happens, or until the Iowa caucuses in January, the media and blogosphere will gush with pedantics about this outsider to the GOP fratricide-fest that has been the 2012 presidential nominating process thus far.
Unless something extraordinary happens, Texas Governor Rick Perry will be the GOP and Tea Party presidential nominee in 2012. He's the darling of the extreme right and can be stomached by party moderates who know Mitt Romney has no chance of winning the top spot on the ticket without flip-flopping on nearly all of his social positions. So, no big deal, we're looking at Rick Perry.
Here is some friendly advice that an opposing campaign should follow--Republican, Democrat or Independent:
I just got back from Texas the other day, after spending some time with my family. And what do you know, I hear that LG Gavin Newsom and a crew of Republicans are heading down there to discover what is creating that awesome economy there that has got the state moving.
The problem with the whole "businesses are fleeing California" thing, is that is just one big myth fabricated out of nothing other than some political dreaming. As Dave Johnson pointed out a few years ago, California jobs just aren't fleeing. And so it is appropriate that California's leaders finally address this issue head on.
While a fair number of the people on this delegation were right-wing Republicans, Gavin Newsom is what you can fairly call a business friendly Democrat. Not out to rid the world of all regulations, but certainly not somebody you can really attack for his embrace of those regulations. And frankly he's not fond of Perry's "hunting trips:"
"Candidly, the reason I came out here was out of frustration and admiration with some of the work that you've been doing," Newsom said. "I'm sick and tired of Governor Perry coming to California all of the time.
Leading state officials in California have recently begun to ferociously counterattack the notion of the 'Texas Miracle,' pointing out with a certain amount of schadenfreude just how bad Texas' budget problems are. According to a budget analysis done by the Houston Chronicle's Texas Politics blog Texas' budget crisis is proportionally as bad as California's.
California Treasurer Bill Lockyer told Los Angeles Times' Evan Halper with evident satisfaction that "someone just turned the lights on in the bar, and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore." (SF Gate)
Let's get one thing out of the way, in terms of the budget of each of the states, California is in no worse of a position than Texas. Perhaps even better. The relative numbers are about the same, but the difference is that Texas already has decimated their public systems. The land grant colleges, principally the University of Texas, are pretty much relying on their (massive) endowment and get little support from the state. Even if they are going to cut that $25B from their budget, which it looks like they will, it is really unclear how they do that in a way that doesn't leave them in the hole for years to come. How do you catch up when you have mortgaged your public education system? Or do you just give up on those who can't afford private schooling?
Texas isn't the new California. It's just Texas. They have their natural resources, which, wisely, were dedicated to the public universities generations ago, and we have ours. Where we go in the next 6-12 months will go a long way in determing if we avoid going down the road that Texas is treading right now.
Its never good news to hear a state has a budget deficit. But this recent article in The Economist made me a little happy for a couple of reasons. One, I was really tired of hearing conservatives (like Meg Whitman in 2010) praise Texas as a model for California. So hopefully that won't happen again. Two, its a vindication that California is not broken just because were lazy or some other variety of insults hurled our way from the other 49. It shows that regardless of the economic system, the bipartisan consensus was over-reliance on a massive bubble.
Many, if not all, will argue my view that the left's model of government-as-charity is unsustainable. But the the progressive case against the conservative model of government-as-corporation has been proven with the demise of Texas's "economic miracle." So there are a few lessons here, and most demonstrate why Texas and California can't be compared now or in the future.
1) The Dutch Disease. California is the third largest oil producer but due to our economy and size we are not an energy exporter. An oil tax exactly modelled on the one in Texas would generate revenue but cannot be a large enough cash stream to support our state. Texas is still over-reliant on its energy sector. It will receive a windfall with the current mideast crisis of the day. Don't be surprised if this contributes to a recovery and is used as proof that the Texas Model "works." California conversely will suffer economically due to high gas prices. People should be aware that the ups and downs of the energy market don't demonstrate which system is better only that both systems are not properly buffered for it.
2) Environment. An issue conservatives cringe at in California and abhor in Texas. But the thing is, our mild climate and natural beauty can't be found or replicated in Texas. As oil is to that state, the environment is a resource to us. Its a strong enough resource in fact that the wealthy will continue to live here regardless of the tax situation (much like they live in France).
3) Taxes. Our environment opens the door to higher taxes on the wealthy as long as its packaged as the price to live here. But it doesn't open the door to high taxes on ALL corporations. Companies that are high tech and want to attract people that want to live the California lifestyle can afford those taxes. Companies that require low-cost labor and are face stronger market competition (the non-Apples) cannot. Texas does grow more low-cost labor jobs and manufacturing. Granted there is not a high margin on that production but high-end producers that California is known for cannot employ all of us. Both no-taxes Texas and higher taxes California are too broad brush. A more nuanced corporate tax code may be needed.
4) Education. As the article points out, Texas aims to entice intellectual talent with no income taxes and more jobs instead of growing it natively with its education system. Its definetely a cheaper way to go, but is it sustainable? California's education system currently relies on its upper institutions to draw talent and hopes that its lifestyle and environment will keep them after graduation. I think California is the model to bet on, not (just) because of state pride, but Texas opens itself up to a race to the bottom situation.
5) Jobs. The Texas Model trumpets no income taxes and uses this to draw talent from across the nation. California, often called (incorrectly) the highest taxed state, uses taxes to provide services that higher educated/higher income people come to expect - well maintained roads, good schools, beautiful parks etc. The Texas job numbers were high last year but it appears that those were primarily lower-income jobs (some numbers said 2/3rds of all jobs created). Of course those are important jobs but not revenue generators or economic growth contributors like high tech. Bottomline, Texas plans to attract the lowest bidder (those that don't want to pay taxes). Like Wal-mart shoppers they don't expect frills or high quality products and services. California is like (insert expensive store of your choice, I won't play favorites) it gives you high end stuff and you expect to enjoy the experience not get the deal and rush out. But unquestionably its expensive, Californians need to decide which "store" do we want to be?
I have some thoughts on the issue but open it to all, what is California to do next?
For the last several years, the comparisons have been repeated aplenty. Texas is beating California, outcompeting, and outgrowing. And hey, look at California's budget deficit, it's huge and they are irresponsible.
I lived in Texas for most of my life, and I certainly don't mean to disparage it. But, as Bill Lockyer says, it's time for the state to get spotlight for a while.
Texas has a two-year budget cycle, which allowed it to camouflage its red ink last year, thanks in large part to billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. Now, however, "someone just turned the lights on in the bar, and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore," said California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, with evident satisfaction. (LA Times)
That spotlight comes in the form of a $27 billion budget deficit, larger as a percentage of the deficit than our own. At the same time, you have elected leaders who will apparently put their own career before the best interests of the state, even when you toss in some torture:
"A lot of the things we are doing arguably aren't priorities for the people of Texas," he said. "People could stake me and Gov. Perry on the ground and torture us, and we still would not raise taxes."
Dewhurst provides some examples of bloat, like millions of dollars spent to put sand on beaches for tourists. But the real savings in the legislative budget plan come from slashing Medicaid and cutting per-student spending from more than $9,000 to $7,800 each year. The state's cap of 22 students per elementary school class is almost certain to be lifted.
At any rate, the bigger question is one of approach. For years, California invested in education, and reaped those rewards. We are still coasting on our past investments, our educated workforce, and all that jazz. But that can't sustain us for much longer.
Meanwhile, Texas went the opposite direction, luring businesses from elsewhere with a race to the bottom technique. They will provide you the lowest level of services possible. Sure, the taxes are low, but I hope you enjoy paying for toll roads and private schools. Oh, you can't afford them, well, enjoy the back of the bus. Income inequality ain't so bad. Oh, and that "mini-boom" they are building, well, they are hurting now too.
At some level, this is more than repaid Schadenfreude. It's a basic conversation about the role of government. Perry and the gang want you to believe that a survival of the fittest environment will make us all into machines ready to fight tomorrow's battles. But the facts tell a different story. Both states are backsliding into mediocrity, and both states are trying to cut their way into the future.
Unfortunately, you can't "win the future" if you are too busy "slashing the present."
As if the oil companies from Texas – and their allies in the corridors of power - hadn’t done enough harm to our country already (for more, see the late, great Gulf of Mexico), now they are at it once again. This time, it’s Valero and Tesoro, pouring money into a campaign this election season to undo California’s landmark, clean energy and climate law, AB 32. On Tuesday, the oil companies’ proposition was certified for the November ballot. The fight, as they say, is on!
Why should you care? Let us count the ways.
First and foremost, whether you’re a Californian or not, this campaign should concern you because if the oil companies succeed here, they will try this everywhere – in other states and at the federal level. Mark our words, that’s exactly what they’re up to here.
Second, let’s be absolutely clear about what this proposition says. As the Stop Dirty Energy website explains, "The Texas oil companies want you to believe it’s simply a "temporary" suspension. However, their deceptive proposition would repeal AB 32 until unemployment reached 5.5% for a full year – a market condition that has only occurred three times in the last 30 years." Which means that this proposition is nothing less than "an effective repeal of [California’s] clean energy and clean air laws." In sum, they want to kill this landmark law. Period. Don’t let their propaganda fool you into believing anything else.
Third, let’s also be clear who these people are and how utterly deceptive they’re willing to be. According to the Stop Dirty Energy Facebook page, oil companies including Valero and Tesoro recently "released yet another study bought, sold, and paid for by polluters on the impacts of AB 32." The study, for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) by the California Lutheran University's right-wing economics chief," is nothing more than "junk economics paid for by polluters that defies the reality that clean tech is the fastest-growing segment of the California economy." It gets even worse, with the author of a previous, fallacious study by CMTA attacking AB 32 affiliated with the global-warming-denying Heartland Institute, which receives heavy funding from our friends at Exxon Mobil. This institute also enjoys holding conferences to downplay and deny climate science. That’s who we’re dealing with here. That’s who we’re fighting.
Fourth, it’s important to emphasize what’s at stake here. Other than minor matters (ha) like the environment, public health and national security, this is about J-O-B-S. Specifically, the only sector of job growth in California has been in the clean energy technology development sector. For more, watch this video and hear how AB 32=Jobs (and, on the flip side, how killing AB 32 will kill those jobs).
Fifth, this proposition will not just hurt California jobs, it will also hurt Californians’ health and ability to breathe clean air. As the Stop Dirty Energy website points out, this proposition "would create more air pollution in California and threaten public health." Currently, "California’s air pollution crisis contributes to 19,000 premature deaths, 9,400 hospitalizations, and more than 300,000 respiratory illnesses for California families." Just imagine how much worse it will be if the Texas oil companies get their way and gut California’s clean air laws!
Finally, as NRDC wrote in a blog post entitled, "California Crossroads, "The oil companies have chosen California as their battleground to crush the progress the State’s made in moving away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy." NRDC reported from a media event (see photo above) at "Pier 7 on the city’s embarcadero, overlooking the bay that is the largest and most biologically productive estuary on the West Coast" (and also where "the tanker Cosco Buscan ran aground in 2007, spilling more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker oil, killing wildlife and providing a harbinger of the great environmental tragedy now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico"). As the NRDC blog post puts it, "We can’t let Texas oil destroy California’s future simply for the purpose of stuffing more cash into their already bulging coffers."
Why does a national organization like NRDC care about a "California issue?" Other than the fact that California is an enormous – and enormously important –state, we care because, clearly, the Texas oil companies are attempting to set a national precedent in California against clean energy and climate action, and we can’t let them do that.
We are convinced that stopping them here, exposing their lies, and deterring others from trying this in the future, is crucial to tackling our largest environmental challenges moving forward. It’s also crucial, we might add, to fight against these well-funded, powerful, corporate polluters attempting to buy our politicians and our Democracy.
It is not a headline we would expect to see, but that is exactly what is happening in our state as we speak.
In 2006, the California Legislature passed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Governor then signed this law to make our state the leader in fighting greenhouse gas pollution. I hope you will consider joining me in working to ensure that Big Oil does not get its way in California by eviscerating our landmark climate change legislation.
California's Attorney General is uniquely positioned to stand up for strong, effective enforcement of our state's environmental laws. That is why I am calling on each and every candidate for California Attorney General -- Democratic and Republican -- to denounce this effort by Big Oil to slash through our state's environmental protections for their own corporate gain.
Down in the Lone Star State, they like to say that everything is bigger in Texas. I am not sure they were talking about the lies Texas companies like to try and sell the good people of California, but they should have been. In fact, with April 1st just around the corner, it seems that Texas Oil Companies bankrolling the initiative to suspend AB 32 are counting on Californians to be willing to be fooled again (remember what Enron did to Golden State anyone?)
Anti-AB 32 groups first relied on the now completely debunked "Varshney Study" to "prove" that passing this legislation would be the ultimate job killer and lead to skyrocketing consumer costs. But now that the Legislative Analyst's Office has torn the research to shreds, calling it "unreliable" and "essentially useless", the anti-AB32 force is focusing on some new junk science to stand in as a replacement.
The California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) is using an oil industry-funded study conducted by the Pacific Research Institute to support its argument of the negative impacts of clean energy legislation. And it's no surprise that CMTA is the voice promoting this study, since the group has already announced its support for "AB 32 Suspension" in a recent press release as well as shelling out big bucks as one of the main sources funding the "AB 32 Implementation Group" (which contrary to the title, is code for the force working to suspend AB 32).
But like we saw with the Varshney Study, just because you paid a scientist to create it doesn't make it true. So before you buy into the "facts", make sure you are aware of the variables that are manipulating the data behind the scenes:
The author of the study Thomas Tanton: consultant to the oil and gas industry and Senior Research Fellow with the Pacific Research institute where a Valero lobbyist sits on his board. He is also a former VP at the Institute for Energy Research (IER), an organization funded by oil and gas interests, which has received over $200,000 of funding from ExxonMobil.
CMTA's VP of Government Relations, Dorothy Rothrock: was an industry energy consultant for years before joining CMTA. From the moment AB 32 was signed into law Rothrock criticized it - even though unemployment was 4.8% at the time - which makes her support for enacting the initiative when unemployment levels reach that low again very doubtful.
Now that this report is in the same trashcan as the Varshney Study, we're sure that another one is on the way. Wouldn't it be better if the oil companies just stood up and said, look, we don't want progress on clean energy because we will lose in billions in dollars in profits? Wouldn't that be more honest? We doubt that will happen but in the meantime, don't be a fool this April.
AB 32 is a proven job creator and will continue to drive innovation and success for California. It's bad news for big oil companies, and we don't need to create a fake study to know that.
We've already seen a trend of national columnists using California's budget woes to conveniently push whatever obsession they want. Two more of these land on the nation's most august op-ed pages today, both of them inaccurate and out of touch with the nature of the situation here in the Golden State.
First we have fiscal scold Robert Samuelson trying to use California's budget crisis to make a larger point about a national "fiscal reckoning." He claims that California has "made more promises than its economy can easily support," as has the nation, and only fiscal austerity can remedy the problem.
On paper, the state could solve its budget problems by raising taxes further. But in practice, that might backfire by weakening the economy and tax base. California scores poorly in state ratings of business climate. In a CNBC survey, it ranked 32nd overall but last in "cost of business" and 49th in "business friendliness." Information technology (Intel, Google, Hewlett Packard) and biotechnology remain strengths, but some traditional industries are struggling. High costs, as well as tax breaks from other states, have caused movie studios to shift production from Southern California. In 1996, feature films involved 14,500 production days in the Los Angeles area, says FilmL.A.; in 2008, the figure was half that.
So California is stretched between a precarious economy and a strong popular desire for government. The state's wrenching experience suggests that, as a nation, we should begin to pare back government's future commitments to avoid a similar fate. But California's experience also suggests we'll remain in denial, prisoners of wishful thinking, until the fateful reckoning arrives in the unimagined future.
Ezra Klein does a pretty good job with this column, noting it provides a lesson for the difference between fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism. Samuelson, of course, is the latter, wanting a low-tax, low-spending country. Rather than arguing for a balanced solution, Samuelson eschews taxes due to the "business climate," even though many businesses cite the lack of investment in education and infrastructure that Samuelson is CALLING for as a reason for their concern about their future in the state. In addition, the "businesses are leaving California" argument is a myth applied to all states by fiscal scolds as a means for them to race to the bottom and provide as many corporate tax breaks as possible. Which California has done, to the tune of $2 billion a year, at a time when funding for state parks and domestic violence shelters and poison control units gets slashed. Ezra adds:
Samuelson implies otherwise, but California isn't a particularly high-taxing state. Total state and local taxes take up 11.73 percent of the average Californian's income. The national average is 11.23 percent. And it's been like that for many years [...]
Nor is California's spending on education somehow out of the ordinary. The state ranks 29th in the country on education spending (much lower per pupil; try 47th: ed.). And recent tax cuts haven't been helping the Golden State out. This graph from the California Budget Project shows the contribution that decades of tax cuts have made to the state's current fiscal crisis. It's a pretty depressing story [...] The budget deal that Arnold Schwarzenegger just accepted contained $15 billion in spending reductions. Absent the tax cuts of the last few decades, most of those reductions wouldn't be needed (add the vehicle license fee increase and you're talking about a surplus: ed.).
Samuelson is essentially making an argument about the kind of government he likes, using the California situation to illustrate it, the facts be damned.
Next up is Ross Douthat, who uses the California mess and contrasts it with Texas to create some notion of red states faring better in the recession, also at odds with the facts:
Consider Texas and California. In the Bush years, liberal polemicists turned the president's home state - pious, lightly regulated, stingy with public services and mad for sprawl - into a symbol of everything that was barbaric about Republican America. Meanwhile, California, always liberalism's favorite laboratory, was passing global-warming legislation, pouring billions into stem-cell research, and seemed to be negotiating its way toward universal health care.
But flash forward to the current recession, and suddenly Texas looks like a model citizen. The Lone Star kept growing well after the country had dipped into recession. Its unemployment rate and foreclosure rate are both well below the national average. It's one of only six states that didn't run budget deficits in 2009.
Meanwhile, California, long a paradise for regulators and public-sector unions, has become a fiscal disaster area.
Douthat also throws in the "rich businesses and rich people are fleeing California" canard, which as stated above is untrue about businesses and even less true about rich individuals.
Steve Benen deconstructs the argument about Texas being a great economic steward and California a basket case, and the reasons why. As Benen says, Texas is the worst state in America for the uninsured and the second-worst state for poverty rates. To conservatives who judge the progress of a state by the budgetary balance sheet and not the prosperity of the citizenry, I'm sure they are a model citizen.
Meanwhile, calling California a "liberal laboratory" and not recognizing the source of the crisis, namely the conservative veto on the budget process, speaks to Douthat's complete ignorance about the nature of the state. In addition, as Paul Krugman notes, there is no correlation between a state's perceived ideology and their economic performance (two of the highest-unemployed states are South Carolina and Tennessee), nor is there any correlation between the level of taxation and the current unemployment rate.
I know that the dysfunction of what is seen on the national level as a blue state is an inviting target for conservative columnists to spin some wider tale about liberal failure and conservative ascendancy. If only they had any knowledge of the actual facts involved.
Down in Texas, Walmart has been sued for, allegedly, illegally detaining a customer and causing him physical injury. Michael Anthony Harris was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by a Walmart employee after they accused him of shoplifting. They refused to let him leave, even after he gave them his bag, but instead insisted he stay until the police came. When the police did arrive, Harris' injuries were so bad that they took him directly to a hospital.
Just in case you weren't quite sure on Prop 11, the Republican Voters First redistricting measure, you can be now. This measure is a right-wing initiative to help the GOP in whatever quixotic way that they think it can. The proof? How about a fundraiser with a right-wing Lt. Gov. from Texas?
At least a couple years ago, maybe longer, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst hosted California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for a cozy fundraiser at an Austin hotel. The California ceo had done, or was going to do, the same for Dewhurst in the Golden State.
Well, Arnold's going to be back Thursday and you're invited.
In case you wanted the embossed invitation, you can find it here. BUt you'll need to do the embossing.
Just for the record, Dewhurst is no post-partisan. As a long-time Texan, I can assure you that this guy is pretty darn right-wing. But, Arnold really isn't that far from him, and loves the cash for his ridiculous waste of time redistricting measure. That's our Arnold, putting Republicans first.
Written and performed by Andres Useche. Directed by Eric Byler.
This is a video Directed by Eric Byler who was a founder of the Real Virginians for Webb and who documented the rise of Creative Class activism in the Webb Campaign, one of the first soup-to-nuts netroots victories.
Now onboard with the movement that has arisen around Obama, please pass this along and distribute as widely as you can.
We know you loved Nevadatics so much, that I'll be heading to Austin to do some coverage of the Texas March 4 Primary. So, Texatics here we come! I'll be headed down on 2/29 to experience all that is the Texas primary.
A funny thing, this is really. I lived in Texas for about 20 years, and I can't really remember having a competitive primary there. But, I suppose this is the year.
The polling has generally given Senator Clinton a fairly large lead. However, that seems to be changing, with the race tightening. You can see in the graph from Pollster.com that the orange line (Obama) is gaining on the purple line (Clinton) in the last few weeks. To be sure, Clinton has some advantages in the state, but Obama is rapidly gaining. In fact, from Ralph Bordie at IVR polls (who, incidentally has been tremendously helpful on the 50-state Blog Roundups), we see that Obama has moved the spread from 18 down to 10 in about three weeks from 1/10->1/30. All bets are off if Obama wins Wisconsin big.
By the way, the polling in Texas has been very scant. So scant, in fact, that Burnt Orange Report commissioned most of the polls that are in the pollster.com graph.
Texas is an open primary, anybody can vote in any primary. In fact, I'm 99% sure from my days when I was a TX precinct chair (Go Fighting 1806!) that there is no party registration. Another thing to note about Texas is they have a very handy early voting system, where you can basically go to your local library or school anytime within a few weeks of the election and vote. It's all quite convenient. I'm not sure of the early voting rate in Texas, but I imagine it's slightly lower than our own Vote by mail.
One last thing, it seems much of the leadership of the Democratic Party in Texas is breaking for Obama. Or so I'm told by Matt Glazer.
I'll be trying to produce regular dispatches from Austin when I'm there, and for between now and then, I highly recommend BOR.
Why is California, saddled with perhaps the worst prison system in the US, perhaps the ONLY state not to understand that adding more beds is simply not a solution to the crisis? Many other states are understanding that rehabilitation and treatment, which addresses the root causes of crime and seeks to lower recidivism rates, is the only way to get a handle on the growth in the prison industry. And I'm not talking about some crunchy-Granola blue state like Vermont. I'm talking about Kansas and Texas.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) last month signed into law a prison plan that is winning accolades for its creativity. Among other measures, the $4.4 million package provides financial incentives to community correctional systems for reducing prisoner admissions and allows some low-risk inmates to reduce their sentences through education or counseling while behind bars.
Under the plan, the state offers grants to localities for preventing “conditions violations” such as parole or probation infractions – a leading cause of prison overcrowding in Kansas and nationwide. To qualify for the grants, communities must cut recidivism rates by at least 20 percent using a variety of support tactics [...]
In Texas, which houses 153,000 prisoners, the Legislature recently approved a plan that lawmakers have characterized as one of the most significant changes in corrections in a decade. The package, part of the state budget awaiting Republican Gov. Rick Perry’s approval, would divert thousands of inmates from prison to rehabilitation facilities, where beds would free up twice a year as offenders get help and re-enter society. Notably, the focus on rehabilitation would put off construction of costly new prisons.
The plan includes a new 500-bed treatment facility for those incarcerated for driving while intoxicated (DWI) – offenders who often have substance-abuse problems but receive no rehabilitation and face stiff sentences without the possibility of parole, according to one state Senate aide.
“We have changed the course of the ship substantially in the state of Texas,” said state Rep. Jerry Madden (R), chairman of the House Corrections Committee and an engineer of the prison plan.
22 other states (warning, PDF) have undertaken sentencing reforms between 2004 and 2006 which will reduce incarceration rates. In Nevada, they have recently reinstated a sentencing review commission that can recommend changes in sentencing laws (a similar measure passed the CA state Senate, but it's unclear whether or not the Governor will sign it). There is a growing feeling that the goal of reducing the prison population must be attacked at the level of rehabilitation and reducing sentences for nonviolent offenders.
Meanwhile, in California, we're wedded to the same old failed solutions that have given us a broken system and the highest recidivism rate in the land. I guess that's post-partisan.