Tax debate must get beyond politics

The California state Capitol in Sacramento. (Photo: Shutterstock)

OPINION: With more than a dozen major tax measures moving through the Legislature or toward the November 2016 ballot, California’s perennial debate about taxes is set to begin anew — with millions of dollars in political campaigns preparing to shape how the state will raise billions of dollars in revenue, and provide public services, for years to come.

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News

Wherefore art thou, Shakespeare? In Land Park

An image from the stage of the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival.

Review: For five weeks this summer, the normally flat and barren stage by the Land Park duck pond has been transformed into a three-dimensional Veronese Plaza with twin balconies, two ground-level doorways, and a center ramp and staircase. With the backdrop of the evening sky, the park’s expansive greenery, and flocks of flying geese, the magic of Shakespeare takes place.

News

In bankrupt San Bernardino, firefighting at crucial juncture

San Bernardino firefighters on the front lines. (Photo: Sheri Armstrong)

Bankrupt San Bernardino’s plan to cut costs by contracting for firefighter and other services has been aided by legislation and a court ruling. But a shortage of firefighters is causing a rough transition. A second fire station was closed earlier this month and others were hit with temporary “brownout” closures, delaying response times. New hires for 14 firefighter vacancies are not expected to complete training until next month.

News

Tiny pest prompts big concerns

A tiny Asian citrus psyllid enjoying some eats. (Photo: UC Riverside)

It’s a barely visible, tiny insect but it could be a huge headache for California’s $2 billion citrus industry. The Asian citrus psyllid, only few millimeters long, has turned up in the San Gabriel Valley and authorities are plotting a strategy to contain it.

News

Voters: Many just can’t be bothered

Voters cast ballots at the November 2014 general election in Oak View, Calif. (Photo: Joseph Sohm)

We Californians justifiably become excited about our many remarkable achievements: we make terrific movies; Silicon Valley leads the planet in technological innovation; our traffic jams are world class. But when it comes to voting, we give a statewide shrug. A mere 42.2 percent of registered voters — registered voters — bothered to cast ballots in the November 2014 general election. Los Angeles County bottomed out statewide with a turnout of 31 percent. It gets even worse: The June 2014 turnout was 25.2 percent.

Opinions

Vocational training key to skilled workforce, economic health

An apprentice engineer uses a milling machine at a training facility. (Photo: Monkey Business Images, via Shutterstock)

As the uneven economy recovery continues in California, there is one area where jobs remain available: technical workers. Workers with vocational training are currently in demand. The hardest segment of the workforce to replace has been the skilled trades, due to a shortage caused by the exodus of highly-skilled baby boomers that are entering retirement.

News

Firefighters to drones: Buzz off

A drone and its master. (Photo: Ahturner)

Efforts to contain a July 12 brush fire in San Bernardino County were delayed for eight crucial minutes after response crews spotted a hobbyist’s drone flying close to the fire area. The drone, which US Forest Service officials suspect may have been recording footage of the fire, eventually flew off, allowing grounded air crews to resume. For firefighters, those lost minutes can be devastating as they try to contain a wildfire.

News

Hawaii, California lead fight for renewable energy

A sugar factory , Puunene, Maui, Hawaii. (Photo: Mike Brake)

Hawaii last month became the first state to establish a goal of relying 100 percent on renewable energy, setting 2045 as the year to reach this ambitious target. Meanwhile, legislation moved forward in California that would significantly expand its pioneering efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. The Golden State has an economy larger than all but six nations in the world, and almost anything it does has the potential of having global impact.

News

State-run ‘automatic IRA’ gets boost

Calpensions: President Obama said he has directed his labor department to propose rules showing states how to create what in California could be an “automatic IRA,” a payroll deduction that puts money into a tax-deferred savings plan unless workers opt out. The rules are expected to answer a key question: Is Secure Choice exempt from a federal retirement law, ERISA, that not only has employer administrative costs but may also expose employers to liability for failed investments and other problems?

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