Tag Archives: California

Californians fed up with housing costs and taxes are fleeing state in big numbers, by Jeff Daniels

It takes a monumental effort to screw up a state with all the advantages California has. However, it looks like they are doing their best. From Jeff Daniels at cnbc.com:

  • More Californians are moving from the Golden State, particularly lower-income residents, although even middle-class residents are saying goodbye.
  • The trend is a symptom of the state’s housing crunch and, for some, high taxes.
  • Census Bureau data show California lost just over 138,000 people to domestic migration in the 12 months ended in July 2017.
  • Lower-cost states such as Arizona, Texas and Nevada are popular destinations for relocating Californians.
Californians fed up with housing costs and taxes are fleeing state in big numbers

Californians fed up with housing costs and taxes are fleeing state in big numbers  

Californians may still love the beautiful weather and beaches, but more and more they are fed up with the high housing costs and taxes and deciding to flee to lower-cost states such as Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

“There’s nowhere in the United States that you can find better weather than here,” said Dave Senser, who lives on a fixed income near San Luis Obispo, California, and now plans to move to Las Vegas. “Rents here are crazy, if you can find a place, and they’re going to tax us to death. That’s what it feels like. At least in Nevada they don’t have a state income tax. And every little bit helps.”

Senser, 65, who previously lived in the east San Francisco Bay region, said housing costs and gas prices are “significantly lower in Las Vegas. The government in the state of California isn’t helping people like myself. That’s why people are running out of this state now.”

Housing problem

Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data, “lower income Californians are the ones who are leaving, not higher income,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of research and consulting firm Beacon Economics in Los Angeles.

He said housing is the chief reason people are leaving California, pointing out there are frequently bidding wars for what limited inventory of homes is available.

To continue reading: Californians fed up with housing costs and taxes are fleeing state in big numbers

 

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California Bans Its Own Map

Via Knuckledraggin at https://www.theburningplatform.com/2018/02/25/california-bans-its-own-map/

“CalPERS Is Near Insolvency; It Needs A Bailout Soon” – Former Board Member Makes Stunning Admission, by Tyler Durden

There are three options for an underfunded pension. It can reduce benefits, raise contribution levels, or increase its rate of return assumptions. Number three has been the most popular among public pensions, but when actual returns lag expected returns, they have to resort to option one or two. One and two put beneficiaries in conflict with taxpayers. Stay tuned as to how all this turns out, because it’s going to be a huge and recurring issue. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Two weeks ago, in the aftermath of the February 5 volocaust, we quoted David Hunt, CEO of $1.2 trillion asset manager PGIM, who said ignore the volatility spike, the real financial timebomb was and remains public pensions: “if you were going to look for what’s the possible real crack in the financial architecture for the next crisis, rather than looking in the rearview mirror, pension funds would be on our list.” 

In a brief discussion wondering what municipalities and states will do when local tax revenues decline and unemployment worsens, Hunt said “we’re worried about those pension obligations.”

He is hardly alone: having reported over and over and over (and over, and over) again that public pensions are in deep trouble, two days ago none other than Steve Westly, former California controller and Calpers board member – manager of the largest public pension fund in the US, made a stunning admission, confirming everything:

“The pension crisis is inching closer by the day. CalPERS just voted to increase the amount cities must pay to the agency. Cities point to possible insolvency if payments keep rising but CalPERS is near insolvency itself. It may be reform or bailout soon.”

Westly was referring to an editorial  laying out “the essence” of California’s pension crisis, exposed last week when the $350 billion California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) made a “relatively small change” in its amortization policy.

Specifically, the CalPERS board voted to change the period for recouping future investment losses from 30 years to 20 years. While this may not sound like much, the bottom line is that it would require the California state government and thousands of local government agencies and school districts “to ramp up their mandatory contributions to the huge trust fund.”

 

Why California Has the Nation’s Worst Poverty Rate, by Ryan McMaken

One thing governments are good at producing is poverty, and California has lots of government. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Earlier this week, the LA Times reminded its readers that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.

Specifically, when using the Census Bureau’s most recent” Supplemental Poverty Measure” (SPM), California clocks in with a poverty rate of 20 percent, which places it as worst in the nation.

To be sure, California is running quite closely with Florida and Louisiana, but we can certainly say that California is a top contender when it comes to poverty:

supplemental.png

This continues to be something of a black eye for California politicians who imagine themselves to be the enlightened elite of North America. The fact that one in five Californians is below this poverty line doesn’t exactly lend itself to crowing about the state’s success in its various wars on poverty.

Many conservative sites have seized on the information to say “I told you so” and claim this shows that “blue-state” policies fail. One should be careful with this, of course, since there are plenty of red states in the top ten as well. Moreover, some blue states, like Massachusetts, are doing moderately well by this measure:

supp_poverty.PNG

In the realm of political punditry,  though, it matters a great deal whether one is using the regular poverty measure, or the SPM. For one, in the regular poverty measure, California ranks better than Texas, and leftists love to use the standard poverty rate to talk about how truly awful Texas and other red states are. The Supplemental Poverty Measure allows Texans to talk about how awful California is.

If we’re going to use census data to guess the prevalence of low-income households, though, the SPM is greatly superior to the old poverty rate. There’s a reason, after all, that the Census Bureau developed it, and the Bureau has long warned that poverty rates using the old measure don’t make for good comparisons across state lines.

The old poverty measure was a far more crude measure that did not take local costs into account, did not include poverty-assistance income, and basically ignored what can be immense differences in the cost of living in different locations. Many commentators often love to note how the median household income in many red states are below the national average — but then conveniently ignore how low the cost of living is in those places.

To continue reading: Why California Has the Nation’s Worst Poverty Rate

California Supreme Court Set For Ruling That Could Cut Pensions For Public Workers, by Tyler Durden

If bloated public pensions are to be reduced, lawmakers are going to have to go to court and get legal precedents and supposed state constitution guarantees that have been held not to permit reductions and changes for existing state and local employees overturned. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

For decades now public pensions have been guided by one universal rule which stipulates that current public employees can not be ‘financially injured’ by having their future benefits reduced.  On the other hand, that ‘universal rule’ also necessarily stipulates that taxpayers can be absolutely steamrolled by whatever tax hikes are necessary to fulfill the bloated pension benefits that unions promise themselves.

Alas, that one ‘universal rule’ may finally be at risk as the California Supreme Court is currently considering a case which could determine whether taxpayers have an unlimited obligation to simply fork over whatever pension benefits are demanded of them or whether there is some “reasonableness” test that must be applied.  Here’s more from VC Star:

At issue is the “California Rule,” which dates to court rulings beginning in 1947. It says workers enter a contract with their employer on their first day of work, entitling them to retirement benefits that can never be diminished unless replaced with similar benefits.

It’s widely accepted that retirement benefits linked to work already performed cannot be touched. But the California Rule is controversial because it prohibits even prospective changes for work the employee has not yet done.

The ballooning expenses are an issue that Gov. Jerry Brown will face in his final year in office despite his earlier efforts to reform the state’s pension systems and pay down massive unfunded liabilities.

His office has taken the unusual step of arguing one case itself, pushing aside Attorney General Xavier Becerra and making a forceful pitch for the Legislature’s right to limit benefits.

“Lots of people in the pension community are paying attention to these cases and are really interested in what the California Supreme Court is going to do here,” said Amy Monahan, a University of Minnesota professor who studies pension law.

“For years, self-interested parties, overly generous promises whose true costs were often shrouded by flawed actuarial analyses, and failures of public leadership had caused unsustainable public pension liabilities,” his office wrote. A ruling is expected before Brown leaves office in January 2019.

Meanwhile, it’s not just California taxpayers that have an interest in the Supreme Court’s decision as twelve other states also observe a variation of the ‘California Rule’, said Greg Mennis, director of the Public Sector Retirement Systems project at Pew Charitable Trusts. One of them, Colorado, has walked it back a bit, he said, requiring “clear and unmistakable intent to form a contract before pensions will be contractually protected.”

To continue reading: California Supreme Court Set For Ruling That Could Cut Pensions For Public Workers

Stanford Says Soaring Public Pension Costs Devastating Budgets For Education And Social Services, by Tyler Durden

In 15 years, public pensions share of California’s budget has tripled. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

A new study from Joe Nation of Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research entitled “Pension Math: Public Pension Spending and Service Crowd Out in California, 2003-2030,” says that the devastating consequences of the ill-advised, Cadillac pensions doled out to America’s public employees over the past several decades are only getting started. 

Looking back at taxpayer contributions to public pensions in California, Nation found that they’ve increased by 5 times since 2002-2003 and are very likely to double again by 2029-2030.  Not surprisingly, that kind of hyper-inflationary growth has massively outstripped increases in tax revenue, even in the great progressive state of California (shocking, we know), meaning that pension contributions now account for 11.4% of California’s operating budget, up 3x from the 3.9% it consumed in 2002-2003.

For more than a decade, public pension costs have been rising sharply in California. There is contentious debate about what is driving these cost increases—significant retroactive benefit increases, unrealistic assumptions about investment earnings, operational practices that mask or delay recognition of true system costs, poor governance, 1 to name the most commonly cited. But there is agreement on one fact: public pension costs are making it harder to provide services that have traditionally been considered part of government’s core mission.
  • Employer pension contributions (i.e., pension contributions plus debt service on any Pension Obligation Bonds) from 2002-03 to 2017-18 expanded on average 400%, i.e., contributions in nominal dollars are now five times greater.
  • Employer contributions are projected to rise an additional 76% on average from 2017-18 to 2029-30 in the baseline projection and 117%, i.e., more than double, in the alternative projection.
  • Employer pension contributions from 2002-03 to 2017-18 have increased at a much faster rate than operating expenditures. As noted, pension contributions increased an average of 400%; operating expenditures grew 46%. As a result, pension contributions now consume on average 11.4% of all operating expenditures, more than three times their 3.9% share in 2002-03.
  • The pension share of operating expenditures is projected to increase further by 2029-30: to 14.0% under the baseline projection—that is, even if all system assumptions, including assumed investment rates of return, are met—or to 17.5% under the alternative projection.
  • The average employer funding amount expressed as a percent of active member payroll, i.e., the employer contribution rate,5 has increased from 17.7% in 2008-09 to 30.8% in 2017-18. By 2029-30, it reaches 35.2% under the baseline projection and 44.2% under the alternative projection.
  • On a market basis, the average funded ratio fell from 58.5% in 2008 to 43.0% in 2015. By 2029 it improves to 48.2% in the baseline projection, but falls to 39.0% in the alternative projection. The unfunded liability per jurisdiction household on an actuarial basis also rose from an average $1,682 in 2008 to $5,071 in 2015; the unfunded liability per household on a market basis is $21,491, up from $9,127 in 2008.

To continue reading: Stanford Says Soaring Public Pension Costs Devastating Budgets For Education And Social Services

How California Enabled Tesla By Forcing Competitors To Subsidize A Losing Business Model, by Tyler Durden

Elon Musk seems to exercise a Rasputin-like hold on the minds of many politicians and bureaucrats. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

It is no great surprise that Tesla hemorrhages cash.  As we pointed out last month when they reported Q2 earnings, making products that actually generate a return on capital for shareholders isn’t a strong suit of the Silicon Valley powerhouse.  In fact, Elon Musk managed to burn through a record $1.2 billion of cash in Q2 alone, or roughly $13 million dollars every single day.

But, as Bloomberg points out today, the one ‘product’ which Tesla is actually able to sell for a profit is one which was created out of thin air by the state of California and is perhaps the only reason that Elon Musk even has a business to manage.  Of course we’re talking about the ever controversial “Zero Emission Vehicle” credits which are less of “product” and more of a subsidy provided by Tesla’s competitors, or more accurately the consumers of those competitors who are forced to pay higher prices for their Ford Focus all so Elon Musk can practice digging tunnels.

Tesla Inc. has generated nearly $1 billion in revenue the last five years from an unlikely source: Rival automakers. The payments are part of an unpopular system in California that’s poised to proliferate elsewhere.

California requires that automakers sell electric and other non-polluting vehicles in proportion to their market share. If the manufacturers don’t sell enough of them, they have to purchase credits from competitors like Tesla to make up the difference.

Tesla, which exclusively sells battery-powered models, sold $302.3 million in regulatory credits last year alone. China and the European Union — two of the world’s biggest auto markets — are considering mandates and credit systems similar to California’s. If California is any guide, automakers will resent having to buy from peers, including the electric-car maker led by Elon Musk.

“It really makes them mad that Tesla got so much of a boost out of being the only purely electric car manufacturer out there,” Mary Nichols, the chair of the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview Friday at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “In effect, they helped to finance this upstart company which now has all the glamour.”

To continue reading: How California Enabled Tesla By Forcing Competitors To Subsidize A Losing Business Model