Rants and Raves for Week of April 5th, 2010
Assemblymember Steve Knight (R-Palm Desert) introduced a bill, AB 2577, to exempt temporary, out-of-state workers in the aerospace industry from payroll taxes. As drafted, AB 2577 would allow aerospace employers to bring in out-of-state janitors, assembly line workers, electricians and others, work them for 119 days without paying any taxes, fire them, and then bring in the next crew for 119 days.
Knight has got it all backwards. With unemployment in California at 12.5%, how on earth could he possibly think of incentivizing employers to bring in workers from other states? And with a $20 billion budget shortfall, how can we afford to exempt anyone from payroll taxes? Fortunately, AB 2577 died in the Assembly Insurance Committee. Unfortunately, our usual ally, Assemblymember Chuck Calderon, voted in favor of the flawed measure.
Meg “Wall Street” Whitman this week released her so-called job creation plan, which might as well be titled “Don’t Tax the Rich”. Her plan centers around completely eliminating (yes eliminating, not just lowering) the capital gains tax – the tax overwhelmingly paid multimillionaires. So what does it mean for the rest of us who don't earn millions of dollars a year in stocks? It means more cuts to schools, roads, bridges, parks, services and every other state program we rely on every day… all so Wall Street Whitman can save her billionaire friends some cash.
The Assembly Insurance Committee this week passed AB 2188 (Bradford), a bill to protect laid off workers from getting nickel-and-dimed when the Employment Development Department begins to issue unemployment insurance benefits on electronic pay cards. The EDD has issued a request for proposals from banks to authorize and issue debit cards or direct deposit of UI benefits, and AB 2188 would guarantee that the jobless get every penny of their benefits protecting them from excessive fees from the rapacious banks.
The Assembly Transportation Committee passed AB 1830 (Galgiani), which would require the High-Speed Rail Authority to do everything possible to build high-speed rail cars in California. Currently, no high-speed rail trains are being manufactured in California, or in the U.S. for that matter — most train cars are manufactured abroad and then assembled here. AB 1830 is a pivotal step towards reviving the state's ailing manufacturing industry, and building high-speed train cars in California would create thousands of good, long-term manufacturing jobs that our state so desperately needs.
AB 1833 (Logue) would have made it significantly harder for Cal-OSHA to enact critical rules to protect worker health and safety, and is one of at least a dozen Republican-backed bills aimed at changing the way that state agencies implement legislation, in order to make it easier for employers to game the system and harder to pass much-needed regulations. Luckily, the Committee wasn't buying it, and AB 1833 was defeated on a party line vote in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee.
What these Republicans don't seem to understand is that the financial collapse wasn’t caused too much regulation, but total deregulation of mortgages, banking, and all financial institutions.
Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to the families of the 25 miners killed in an explosion at Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. The fact is, these deaths could have been prevented if the corporation that runs the mine had paid more attention to the safety of their workers rather than to their bottom line. Federal investigators found over 450 safety violations in the mine in 2009, nearly double the previous year. Investigators issued two serious warnings in January, and two more on the day of the explosion. Despite the fines, the mine failed to improve safety measures that could have prevented this tragic accident.