Patrick Gleason

MMS Holds Hearing in California on Proposed 5-Year OCS Leasing Program


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, April 16th, 2009, 2:00 PM PERMALINK


The Minerals Management Service is holding a hearing in San Francisco today on the proposed draft program for the 2010-2015 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Program. An overflow crowd has packed an auditorium on UCSF Mission Bay campus to hear statements from lawmakers, policy experts, and activists. 

Sen. Barbara Boxer and California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi kicked off the hearing expressing their staunch opposition to any form of drilling. Boxer's commentary consisted almost entirely of appeals to emotion and irrationality. Both Boxer and Garamendi focused heavily on the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969.

What Boxer and Garamendi failed to mention is that new technologies and techniques have been developed in the decades since that, had they been employed in '69, would have prevented that catastrophe. They also failed to mention, conveniently enough, that less than 1% of oil found in ocean waters is due to oil exploration. In fact, most oil found in the water, 62% to be specific, is the result of natural seepage from tectonic plates. 

John Adams once said that "facts are stubborn things." Boxer and Garamendi get around this by simply ignoring them.

For frequent updates on the hearing throughout the day, follow ATR's California State Affairs Manager on twitter: @patrickmgleason.

ATR has submitted testimony in favor of expanding offshore drilling as way to provide relief to overlyburdened Golden State taxpayers. Scroll down to read ATR's testimony:

 

 

Statement of Patrick M. Gleason
California State Affairs Manager, Americans for Tax Reform
 
Minerals Management Service Hearing:
Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program
April 16, 2009
 
Good day, my name is Patrick Gleason and I serve as California’s state affairs manager for Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization. I would like to thank the Minerals Management Service for providing the opportunity to comment on the development of the new 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Program.
 
Let me start by saying that concerns about the safety and cleanliness of offshore drilling are simply not based in reality or on the facts. Technological advancements have made offshore drilling one of the most environmentally safe forms of energy development. It is certainly more environmentally sensitive than importing from supertankers. Memories of the 1969 Santa Barbara disaster still stir strong emotions throughout this state, and rightfully so. However, Energy companies have since developed and now employ devices and techniques that would have prevented the Santa Barbara mishap, had they been available at that time.
 
But the main point that I would like to convey today is why full development of offshore energy resources is of the utmost importance to California’s economy and fiscal health. It is no secret that California is in a grave fiscal state due to decades of out of control spending. Facing a $42 billion budget deficit over the next 18 months, California lawmakers once again put taxpayers on the hook for the  state’s overspending habit by raising by billions of dollars the state income, sales and car taxes in February. This comes, despite the fact that Californians already pay the highest sales and marginal income tax rates in the nation.
 
The deleterious effects of these tax increases are already being realized. The state legislature’s budget analyst recently reported that revenue derived from these taxes will fall short of projections by approximately $8 billion, putting taxpayers once again in the crosshairs. To make matters worse, if Proposition 1A passes next month, California taxpayers will see yet another $16 billion in new levies. As it stands, Californians work 204 days out of the year, well over half of the year, just to pay for the cost of their government. This is not sustainable governance. Taxpayers and employers are fleeing the state, taking jobs, revenue, and skills with them.
 
Let me be clear, the primary cause of California’s budgetary woes is unchecked overspending and profligacy on the part of state officials. However, given the current lack of political will to address this systemic problem, aggressive exploration and utilization of the resources found in the OCS is perhaps the single most effective measure to help quash the year after year assault on California taxpayers and employers.
 
Development of offshore energy resources that had previously been off limits would generate $1.7 trillion in local, state, and federal tax revenue and development of all U.S. oil and natural gas resources could yield more than $4 trillion over the life of the resources. With upwards of 10 billion barrels of oil available in the waters off of the California coast, the Golden State stands to gain as much as any state from a sensible, “all of the above”, energy development plan. Greater state and federal profit sharing will serve to heighten this monetary benefit even further. Most importantly though, the substantial injection of revenue that would be provided to California will help to mitigate the prospect of further tax increase proposals on the already overly burdened California taxpayers.  
 
Furthermore, unemployment in this state has been on the rise and shows no sign of abating, especially in light of the massive tax increases recently passed. With one of the worst business tax climates in the country, California is simply not an attractive place to invest and create jobs right now. Development of the energy resources found in California waters would provide the state with desperately needed jobs. Estimates show that development of previously off-limits energy supplies would create 160,000 new jobs.
 
As you continue to weigh input on the matter of drilling in the OCS, I urge you to keep in mind that exploration and procurement to the fullest extent possible of the vast petroleum and natural gas reserves found in the OCS is the conclusion that will provide the greatest benefit to taxpayers and the economy as a whole. California, more than any other state, has the most to gain from utilization of our offshore resources. 
 
I thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important and do not hesitate to contact me with any further questions.

 

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Stimulus Bill Kills Jobs


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, 2:32 PM PERMALINK


A study released yesterday by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) should bring pause to any state official that wishes to use federal stimulus dollars.

TPPF commissioned research firm Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics to produce the the study, titled "The Economic Impact of Federal Spending on State Economic Performance - A Texas Perspective." The report shows that the state of Texas could lose anywhere from 131,400 to 171,900 jobs as a result of accepting federal stimulus dollars.

"These findings show clearly that growth in government crowds out growth in the private sector," said Talmadge Heflin, Director of the Foundations's Center for Fiscal Policy and former chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Commitee.

Gov. Rick Perry, however, has done his part to mitigate the adverse effect of the stimulus bill by rejecting over $550 million of Texas's share of the stimulus package.  These funds would require the state to expand unemployment benefits, resulting in higher taxes on Lone Star State employers and elimination of jobs once the one-time injection of federal funds runs out.

The scope of this study goes beyond the borders of Texas and shows that the federal stimulus bill will result in a net reduction of $1.7 million jobs nationally. 

As Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, recently said: "A Depression is a Recession that government tried to 'fix.' "

For a copy of the study in pdf, click here or go to TPPF's website for a copy.

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Rasmussen Polls Likely AZ Voters - Result: Majority Oppose Temporary Tax Hike


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009, 3:29 PM PERMALINK


Rasmussen, an impartial arbiter and widely recognized as one of the the best in the polling business, recently surveyed 500 likely Arizona voters.  Results from the following questions should bring pause to Gov. Jan Brewer given that she wants to raise taxes by $3 billion in the middle of a recession: 

Do you favor or oppose a temporary tax increase to help stem the state’ budget shortfall?
 
65% Oppose
22% Favor
13% Not sure
 
How likely is it that a temporary tax hike will become permanent?
 
70% Very likely
19% Some what likely
8% Not very likely
1% Not at all likely
2% Not sure
 
These results also beg the following question: If the Arizona Republican Party's only job is to win elections, why are they supporting a tax hike that a large majority of Arizonans clearly oppose. 
 
Click here for the full survey.

 

 

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ATR Analysis of California's May 19th Special Election


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009, 12:00 PM PERMALINK


Golden State residents, today, will begin paying more for the goods that they buy.  The budget agreement reached in February raised California's highest in nation state sales tax rate by nearly 14 percent, in the middle of a recession, and today that increase goes into effect.  There's no word if having the tax hike go into effect on April Fool's Day was intentional but those that voted for the lawmakers that did this must certainly be feeling a little foolish today.

The February budget agreement raised the state sales tax, income tax, and doubled the car tax.  However, this budget, as bad as it was for taxpayers, is contingent upon the approval of a host of budget-centric ballot measures that Californians will vote on in a May 19 special election.

For a ATR's analysis and description of each of these ballot measure, Click Here.

 

California May 19 Special Election: ATR’s Analysis
 
Prop
Description
ATR Position
 
 
1A
This is the most important measure on the May 19 ballot and is the lynchpin of February’s budget agreement.
 
Prop 1A is nothing more than a massive tax increase masked as a phony spending limit. 
 
The budget deal reached in February raised the state sales tax (already highest in nation), income tax (already highest in nation), and car tax for two years.
 
If Prop 1A passes, CA residents will see those tax hikes continue for yet another two years, at an added cost to the Golden State economy of $16 billion, or $1,100 per household.
 
 
 
Opposed
 
 
1B
This measure is an attempt to modify some of the terms of California Proposition 98 (1998) in order to free up money to address the state’s overspending problem. Prop 1B would reinstate cuts made in the last round of budget negotiations. Those cuts were made to stave of further tax increases. If these funds are reinstated, taxpayers will yet again be on the hook. Approval of Prop 1B is contingent upon passage of Prop 1A.  
 
Opposed
 
1C
Allows the state to borrow $5 billion against future lottery sales, enabling the state to continue unsustainable spending and avoid needed reforms. The result will be nothing more than an issuance of IOU’s that taxpayers will have to pay back.
 
Opposed
 
1D
Allows the state to modify the terms of Proposition 10 (1998 tobacco tax hike earmarked for children's health care). This measure is a bait and switch that allows revenue to go toward other purposes in order to support the state’s general overspending problem.
 
 
Opposed
 
1E
Allows the state to divert $230 million a year from Proposition 63 (surtax on the wealthy approved in 2004 to fund mental health programs) to offset general fund obligations. Like Prop 1D, this is a bait and switch on California voters that allows unsustainable governance to continue.
 
 
Opposed
 
1F
Prevents pay increases for elected officials during budget deficit years. While this may sound good on its face, this proposition has no teeth and is all for show. Prop 1F only gives the Director of Finance the power to prevent the Compensation Commission from recommending pay increases during years in which there is a deficit. The legislature is still free to pass their own.
 
Oppose
 

  Direct any questions on this matter to Patrick Gleason: pgleason@atr.org

 

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Arizona Budget Update: Majority of Polled Arizonans Oppose Tax Increases


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, March 30th, 2009, 5:51 PM PERMALINK


 A recent commenter on this blog contended that most Arizonans wouldn't mind having their taxes raised in order to help address and prolong the state's overspending problem, currently standing at $3 billion for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

I followed up with the commenter to request polling support for such a bold claim yet, not surprisingly, he has not been able to produce anything.  Thanks to our friends at AFP-AZ we now have a poll proving his claim patently false. As it would happen, most are opposed to Gov. Brewer's proposed tax increase and this sentiment cuts across party lines.
 
According to AFP-AZ's poll, conducted in the state's major population centers of Phoenix and Glendale, "Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed billion-dollar-a-year tax increase fared badly....with 62 percent of respondents in Phoenix opposed, and 64 percent in Glendale."  Click here for AFP's full report on the poll.
 
Need more reasons why tax hikes should be avoided like the plague? A recent report produced by the Goldwater Institute and Boston's Beacon Hill Institute shows that Gov. Brewer's proposed tax hikes, if implemented, would result in the loss of 14,400 private sector jobs.
 
The loss of over 14,000 private sector jobs would be devastating in Arizona, a state that from January 2008 to January 2009 saw private sector jobs shrink by more than 7 percent, a loss of 161,200 jobs.  Demonstrating a government completely out of touch with real world economic conditions, during this same period in which the private sector was shedding jobs by the tens of thousands per month, government employment in the Grand Canyon State actually rose by 2.6%. 
 
The substantial loss of jobs that the proposed tax increases would create would only result in further depression in tax collections, totally defeating the goal of tax hike proponents' quest for more revenue. This is nothing new though.  In fact, Arizonans need only look to their neighbors to the west for evidence of the deleterious impact that tax hikes, especially in a recession, have on the economy and welfare of the state.  Not long after passing the largest state tax increase in history to address the Golden State's own overspending problem, the legislature's budget analyst recently reported that revenues derived from the tax hikes will still fall short of projections by about $8 billion.
 
Some lawmakers just can't comprehend that tax increases impact the behavior of people and businesses, whether that be making purchases online from out of state vendors, cutting back spending, or just simply moving.

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Just in Time for March Madness, California Nanny Staters Want to Ban Plasma Televisions


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 2:54 PM PERMALINK


Even before last month's budget agreement, The Golden State already had the 3rd worst business tax climate in the nation. Now, as California businesses struggle to keep their doors open and make payroll on the heals of the largest state tax hike in history, power-hungry bureaucrats are making it clear that they're not done just yet and are seeking to impose what would be the nation’s most draconian set of regulations on televisions.

The proposed regulations would be phased in over a two year period, with a first tier taking effect on Jan. 1, 2011, and an even stricter second tier on Jan. 1, 2013. It is estimated 30% of TV’s currently in stores would be banned under the proposal. So rigid are these requirements, that only one plasma TV currently on the market would pass muster.

Subsequently, many consumers will simply choose to order online from out of state vendors. Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Association, estimated that if 30% of televisions fail to meet standards and can't be sold, California could lose $130 million in tax revenue and 15,800 jobs. 

In commenting on this proposal, which is being considered by the California Energy Commission, the Consumer Electronics Association calls the proposal "an unnecessary and harmful approach" that would hurt both customers and businesses in the state. ATR agrees whole heartedly.

Mike McMaster, president of Wilshire Entertainment Inc stated that this "would be basically the end of our business." His two locations in Thousand Oaks and Valencia employ 54 people and specialize in sales and installation of custom home theater systems centered on extremely large TVs. Best Buy calls it "a punitive and unnecessary regulatory approach" and has rightfully called on the state to abandon it in favor of "market-based and consumer-oriented" policies. 

Proponents of these onerous regulations maintain that the televisions in question use 43% more power than traditional tube-style TV’s of yesteryear, yet they fail to mention that they look 43,000% better than older models. Consumers should have the freedom to enjoy the fruits of their labor and the state of California shouldn’t be looking to snuff out leisure activities enjoyed by law abiding residents. After all, this ban wouldn’t just apply to TV's in the home – forget watching high-definition big-screens at your favorite sports-bar as well. They too would get the ax.

ATR encourages California taxpayers to contact the California Energy Commission and urge them to oppose these costly and unnecessary regs.  Now is also a great time to ask the commission why they deem spending time on this issue to be a wise use of scarce state resources.

 

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Arizona Tax Hike: 'Akin to Blaming the Victim"


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, March 23rd, 2009, 6:29 PM PERMALINK


Arizona's Goldwater Institute, today, released commentary from Grover Norquist on why any tax hike proposal should be a non-starter for Grand Canyon State taxpayers. 

The text of Norquist's statement is as follows:

 

 

 

Tax hike akin to 'blaming the victim'

Grover Norquist

 

Goldwater Institute
March 23, 2009

It is well documented that government spending in Arizona has grown more rapidly than the population and inflation for quite some time.

Now the politicians blame you for failing to send in enough money to pay for their promises. They say there is a shortfall. They spend too much and this is a shortfall, a failure, on the part of working men and women in Arizona. It would be funny if it were not rude and insulting and plagiarized from the recent antics of politicians in Michigan and California and other failed states.

This is the new strategy of those who prefer to vote for a living rather than work for a living. Spend so much that the State or City or County faces bankruptcy and then blame the victims (i.e. the taxpayers). Tell them they are greedy if they want to keep money they earned. Tell them you are virtuous for making promises you cannot keep, and promising the wealth, income and time of others to pay your debts.

If the government is spending too much of the earnings of Arizonans, there are two solutions. First, spend less of the taxpayers' money. Two, enact pro-growth economic policies so that Arizonans earn more money, create more jobs and the burden of present spending is lessened by being shared by more workers with higher incomes.

Raising taxes does not reduce spending. Every dollar promised in higher taxes becomes an excuse for not reducing spending. Raising taxes won't create more jobs and taxpayers in Arizona. Raising taxes creates more jobs and taxpayers in Nevada and Texas. Higher taxes mitigate economic growth. Call your relatives in Michigan and Zimbabwe and ask how ever higher taxes are helping on the jobs and earnings front.

Further evidence that government, not lack of revenue, is the problem is the fact that from January 2008 to January 2009 Arizona saw private sector jobs shrink by more than 7 percent, or 161,200 jobs. Meanwhile, Arizona's state government employment fell a mere 500, a drop of only a little over one-half of one percent. Total government employment actually rose with state and local education-related employment rising by 5,100, a 2.6 percent increase.

Reducing state and local government overspending is long overdue. Reducing tax and regulatory burdens that kill jobs and reduce incomes in Arizona is long overdue. Raising taxes doesn't fix anything. It makes things worse.

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.

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TX Senate Transportation Committee Considers SB 855


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009, 4:15 PM PERMALINK


ATR's opposition to Texas Senate Bill 855 has been well documented on this website. (Click here for more info on SB 855).

During a standing room only hearing of the Senate Transportation Committee, committee chair and bill sponsor Senator Carona (R-Dallas) introduced a committee substitute to SB 855. With the substitute, Dallas area taxpayers will no longer be the only ones on the chopping block.  The committee substitute adds a couple dozen pages to SB 855 and will lead to tax increases in Austin, San Antonio, and Houston as well.

In addressing the matter of why he wants to raise taxes in the middle of a recession, Sen. Carona responded that "If we pass this today, we couldn't get it out there for another 24 months."   Carona added that "you wouldn't want to wait until everything (with the economy) was better." 

As is to be expected when the committee chair is also the bill sponsor, the docket was dominated by those lobbying in favor of SB 855.  Numerous regional authorities and chambers of commerce were trotted out to cheerlead for tax increases.  Also of note during the hearing was Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) instructing the spending interests and rent seekers in the room to refer to tax increase as "revenue enhancements."

SB 855 was already a bad deal for taxpayers but today's substitute made it all the more odious.  ATR will continue working with Lone Star State lawmakers to find a solution to the state's transportation challenges in a way that does not raise taxes. Stay tuned to atr.org for the latest information on this important matter.

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Why Gov. Perry Needed to Reject $555 Million Federal Stimulus Dollars


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, March 17th, 2009, 4:00 PM PERMALINK


ATR is highly supportive of Gov. Rick Perry's decision to reject $555 million in payments to TX from the federal stimulus bill - the portion earmarked for state unemployment benefits. Since then Gov. Perry has been taking heat for this decision from all sides of the political spectrum.

Today, James Quintero, Fiscal Policy Analyst for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, provided perhaps the best explanation for why accepting this $555 million would have been a bad deal for Lone Star State taxpayers and employers. Pasted below is the text of Quintero's commentary or click here to view it as it appears on the TPPF website.

 

 

 

Correct Call to Reject Federal UI Strings

By James Quintero

The sharp increase in the number of Texans losing their jobs has many wondering whether Gov. Rick Perry made a correct choice to reject the $555 million in unemployment insurance (UI) assistance offered by the federal government.

On the surface, bringing home an extra half-billion dollars for Texans who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own seems like a no-brainer. But peel away the veneer of "free money" and you see flawed public policy.

To draw down these one-time funds, Texas would be forced to make permanent changes in its unemployment eligibility system.

For the first $185 million, Texas would have to allow the use of an "alternative base period" for unemployment eligibility. Under current law, Texas reviews an applicant’s last four calendar quarters of wages to determine if the applicant worked enough to be eligible. The Obama Administration wants states to provide a bypass, allowing applicants to qualify if their wages would have been sufficient in the last one quarter.

The Texas Workforce Commission's cost estimate of this change: $212.4 million over five years.

That's not all. The rest of the money would hinge on the adoption of at least two of the following four benefit expansions:

* Allowing benefits to people seeking part-time work, not just full-time employment.

* Providing an allowance of at least $15 per week for each dependent living in a recipient’s household.

* Extending unemployment benefits past the current 26-week limit for persons enrolled in a state-approved job training program.

* Granting immediate eligibility for people who have quit their job for "compelling family reasons" or to move with a spouse.

The five-year cost of these individual changes ranges from $23.1 million to more than $1.4 billion.

Despite efforts from several legislators to craft legislation that automatically end those provisions as soon as they perceive the federal money to have been spent, the stimulus legislation makes clear that dog won’t hunt. The U.S. Secretary of Labor is directed to "disregard any State law provisions which are not then currently in effect as permanent law or which are subject to discontinuation."

Although many of the details are still being debated in Washington, this paragraph has many governors of both parties concerned about losing state autonomy and being shackled with higher costs imposed at Washington’s decree. The fallacy promoted by advocates of these eligibility changes is that the federal funds will "pay" for several years of the expanded benefits. In fact, those dollars will be used immediately to partially shore up the UI trust fund, and employers will foot the cost of the expanded benefits from Day One.

There are better options to address the projected trust fund deficit that control the level of taxes paid by Texas employers and preserve Texas' ability to manage our unemployment system as we see fit.

The federal government has a separate program that provides zero-interest loans to states that need help covering short-term UI trust fund deficits.

Additionally, the Texas Legislature in 2003 authorized the Texas Workforce Commission to issue bonds to cover such deficits. TWC has accessed this provision before – borrowing funds at a super-low interest rate thanks to the state’s strong credit rating, paying them off early, and saving Texas employers $270 million.

Both of these would address the short-term issue of shoring up our UI trust fund and continuing to pay benefits to jobless workers in a way that maintains a more predictable tax burden on Texas employers.

It is beyond dispute that people are losing their jobs, families are struggling financially and emotionally, and many well-intentioned legislators want to help.

But legislators must keep in mind that every additional dollar that Texas employers have to pay for people who aren't working is one less dollar available for job creation and economic recovery. And ultimately, the best way to help people who have lost their jobs is to foster an economy that creates jobs.

James Quintero is a fiscal policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.

The author would welcome your thoughts on this article.
Please send your comments to: jquintero@texaspolicy.com

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