07/17/2018

News

Amazon won a major battle in Seattle, but a Big Tech ‘head tax’ could still happen for Apple and Google

Amazon is the largest property taxpayer and private employer in Seattle. Since 2000, the metro area has added nearly 100,000 new jobs, leading to an influx of high-skilled workers and a thriving tech industry. But some residents and local officials believe Amazon’s growth has been the catalyst for several problems, including affordable housing and homelessness […]

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Commuters who drive alone in zero-emission cars will no longer get free trips in L.A.’s toll lanes

In a bid to reduce congestion in toll lanes on the 110 and 10 freeways, Los Angeles County transportation officials on Thursday opted to end a program granting solo drivers of zero-emission vehicles free access to the lanes. Drivers with state-issued clean-air stickers will be charged a toll starting in November or December of this […]

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The Underreported Story of Middle-Class Revival

On this Labor Day, the American middle class survives. Indeed, it’s expanding. That’s not the conclusion of some arcane scholarly study. It’s the judgment of Americans themselves, though it hasn’t received much attention from politicians or the media. Most Americans have moved beyond the fears bred by the Great Recession. The middle-class comeback may be the year’s most underreported story. Public opinion polls depict the change. In its surveys, Gallup regularly asks people to report their social class. They are given five choices: upper class; upper middle; middle; working; and lower class. In 2006, before the recession, 60% of Americans identified themselves as either middle or upper middle class, while 38% chose working class and lower class. Only 1% put themselves in the upper class. . . In its latest poll on class identity, done in June, Gallup found that 62% put themselves in the broadly defined middle class, while only 36% classified themselves as working class or lower class. The shifts, said Gallup, began in 2016 and demonstrated “that subjective social class identification has stabilized close to the prevailing pattern observed before 2009.”

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Tesla’s Sales Raise New Fears Ahead of Model 3

Tesla Inc. shares took a beating on Wednesday after several analysts questioned whether customer demand for its two electric vehicles is waning as the company begins producing a cheaper sedan. The Silicon Valley auto maker’s shares fell nearly 5% in midday trading to $335.74—the lowest point in more than a month—after rising about 69% this year through last week on enthusiasm for the coming Model 3 sedan, which is central to Tesla’s plan to sharply increase total sales. Tesla on Monday reported sales of its Model S cars and Model X sport-utility vehicles were lower than analysts expected because of a supply issue with battery packs, raising new fears the company will have trouble meeting ambitious production targets for the Model 3.

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San Francisco Garbage Rates Set To Rise 14%

Getting rid of garbage isn’t cheap, and in San Francisco it’s about to get more expensive. City officials have approved a recommended 14 percent increase in rates set to take effect next month.

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Legislation touted as pro-transparency will eliminate basic services

The fundamental purpose for a city or county is to serve its residents. If government is doing its job, then your streets are clean and safe, your public parks and buildings are maintained and the like. Taxpayers should be able to expect that government is spending their hard-earned dollars on critical services that improve their health, safety and quality of life. Assembly bill 1250, authored by Assemblyman Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, would severely limit a city or county from contracting for services with a private entity. The proposal encompasses virtually every service a city or county can contract for — services such as accounting, waste-hauling, park maintenance, street cleaning, wastewater treatment, legal services, drug treatment facilities, IT services, landscaping services and more. If this bill is passed, it will drive up cities’ and counties’ costs and add layers of complexity to contracting for services — so much so that agencies would have limited choices for contracting services, or would be forced to eliminate specific services altogether.

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Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility

We characterize rates of intergenerational income mobility at each college in the United States using administrative data for over 30 million college students from 1999-2013. We document four results. First, access to colleges varies greatly by parent income. For example, children whose parents are in the top 1% of the income distribution are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than those whose parents are in the bottom income quintile. Second, children from low and high-income families have very similar earnings outcomes conditional on the college they attend, indicating that there is little mismatch of low socioeconomic status students to selective colleges. Third, upward mobility rates – measured, for instance, by the fraction of students who come from families in the bottom income quintile and reach the top quintile – vary substantially across colleges. Much of this variation is driven by di↵erences in the fraction of students from low-income families across colleges whose students have similar earnings outcomes. Mid-tier public universities such as the City University of New York and California State colleges tend to have the highest rates of bottom-to-top quintile mobility.

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Off-ramp Provisions in Proposed Minimum Wage Expansion

The proposed minimum wage expansion (SB 3) contains two triggers under which a governor may—but is not required to—delay a programmed minimum wage increase by one year. These provisions are intended to mitigate state budget costs in the event of a future recession, which Governor Brown repeatedly and most recently in the January Proposed Budget has warned as being “an event not too far off given the historic pattern of the ten recessions that have occurred since 1945.”

Research & Studies
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State-Local Tax Burden Rankings FY 2012

The most pronounced changes in burden as a share of income between 2011 and 2012 occurred in California (decrease of 0.5 percentage points), Illinois (increase of 0.5 percentage points), and Connecticut (increase of 0.4 percentage points). Most states saw a decrease in burden percentage (35 states), while eight saw an increase. Seven states’ burden percentages remained the same.

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Solyndra Times Five: What’s Up With the $2.65 Billion in Federal Loans to Abengoa?

Based in Spain, Abengoa SA is teetering on the verge of insolvency after applying for creditor protection last week. The renewable giant got — from the U.S. Department of Energy — loan guarantees of $1.45 billion to build the Solana solar plant in Arizona and $1.2 billion to construct the Mojave Solar Project in California.

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French Power Providers Face 11 pct Rise in Renewables Surcharge in 2016

The rising cost of funding renewable energy means utility EDF and other French power providers face an 11 percent rise next year in a surcharge they pay that is used to subsidise the renewable sector, the energy watchdog said on Thursday. That is less than the 17 percent rise this year, however.

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The Disruption Proceeds

This is a classic case of blue model disruption. On the one hand, it chips away at embedded costs—high prices for trucking are like a tax on the economy, making everything more expensive. On the other hand, the beneficiaries of the old system, included truckers who benefitted from fixed rates and union wages, are in the crosshairs. Global competition and technological innovation made the old system harder and harder to maintain, and now technological innovation could be poised to kick out the last leg of an already tottering stool.

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Daniel Borenstein: CalPERS’ Protracted Plan for Reducing Investment Risk Leaves Pension System Vulnerable

CalPERS officials know they have a serious problem: The nation’s largest pension system holds too many risky investments to adequately withstand the next big economic downturn. Yet the only proposal under consideration to shore up the system would take decades to properly rebalance CalPERS’ portfolio. If the next major recession comes before that, the retirement system will have to sock state and local governments with devastating rate increases at a time when they can least afford it.

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California Economy is Projected to Grow Faster than US Through 2020

“The forecast from the LAEDC expects job growth of 2.9% this year and 2.4% next year, compared with 2.1% and 1.8% for the nation overall. A similar report released this week by the UCLA Anderson Forecast pegged job growth in California at 2.2% next year and 1.4% in 2017.”

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California’s High Health Enrollment Surpasses Projections

he result has been an enrollment spike among both newly eligible people and California’s existing Medi-Cal population. In January 2014, the state estimated a total of 1.4 million people would be added to Medi-Cal at a cost of $390 million for one year. In reality, 3.7 million people joined, costing the state more than $1 billion, according to state figures for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

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