Monday, January 19, 2015

Assm. Hadley's First Column

Gov. Brown’s fourth inaugural address shows promise, peril: Guest commentary

As a newly elected assemblyman representing the South Bay, I had the opportunity on Monday to attend Gov. Jerry Brown’s unprecedented fourth inauguration ceremony at the state Capitol in Sacramento. I congratulate the governor on once again earning the trust of California’s voters with our state’s highest office, and I pledge to work with him in good faith.

I have no problem with my Assemblyman working with Governor Brown in good faith. I anticipate that Republicans will find a willing ear in Governor Brown as opposed to the rest of the liberal Democratic state legislature. Can anyone expect the governor to work in good faith, though?

Listening to the governor’s address, I found many areas of agreement with him. I applaud him for continuing to address California’s fiscal challenges. In his just-completed term, Gov. Brown’s spending restraint, combined with our cyclical economic recovery and strong capital gains tax receipts, enabled California to achieve a balanced budget. Democrats and Republicans also worked together to enact a new rainy-day fund, which was approved by voters in November. We all hope the rainy-day fund will enable California to save money for the future, and be better prepared for the next economic downturn.

Liberals as chief executives necessarily have to be the adults in the room. They have to make sure that the bills are paid, the kids go to bed on  time, and everyone feels safe in their homes. Jean Quan as mayor of Oakland had to force Occupy Crowds to disperse or go to jail, even though she had stood with the same crowds when she was a city councilmember.

The governor and I also share the same concerns over state employee post-retirement health care costs, which are already a huge budget burden and will require our full attention during the upcoming budget year.

Pension reform and entitlement reforms must be tackled and taken down, not just faced and confronted. Governor Brown has acted like the adult in the room, but his marginal reforms are hardly enough.

I agree with the governor’s concerns about the urgent need for the state to invest in the maintenance and upkeep of California’s transportation infrastructure. He is correct that we need to address this on a bipartisan basis, and I will answer his call. 
Finally, I echo the governor’s statement that affordability and accessibility are imperative for the state’s public colleges and universities.

On the other hand, I was disappointed by some of what Gov. Brown said and by what he did not say. The governor continues to advocate for his high-speed rail project. This project is an overpriced and unpopular mistake that will harm the state financially and environmentally, and will never attract the ridership necessary to fulfill the promises made on its behalf. A bipartisan infrastructure plan should include a reallocation of high-speed rail dollars to more urgent infrastructure needs.

The bullet train boondoggle is the essence of Vanity Project. Governor Jeb Bush of Florida went so far as to push an initiative to stop a similar project initially proposed by another initiative. That project is a vast waste of time, funds, and resources. There are so many problems facing the state of California. Legislators need to stall the funding for the project, and hold nothing back in their fight.

On education funding, the governor’s statement that his policies have resulted in a 39 percent increase in K-12 school funding in the last four years is simply not true for the students of the South Bay. The Local Control Funding Formula has been deeply unfair to the South Bay. For example, the Torrance Unified School District is our largest school district, and it has received only a 14 percent increase in state funding in the last four years. It has not even reached the funding that it received heading into the last recession. Furthermore, the governor’s requirement for school districts to spend down their reserves to a bare-bones 3 percent level risks catastrophic education cuts in the next economic downturn.

It's time to allow individual school boards more power and authority over their budgets. This three-percent reserve is ridiculous. Districts can lose any funding they save beyond the 3%. The Assemblyman can also reference Hermosa Beach City School District, which receives the least amount of funding per pupil in the entire state. Palos Verdes Schools are suffering with crumbling infrastructures, too, according to local residents, yet they do not get extra funding because of their high-performing students. Why are good school districts getting punished with less money?

Gov. Brown also continued to show little concern over the state’s poor business climate. He made no mention of the need to tackle any of the major issues that are holding back investment, job creation and entrepreneurship in California. For example, he did not mention that California retains its ranking as the least business-friendly state in the country. Nor did he mention that our state’s unemployment rate of 7.2 percent is the fourth-highest in the country. He also failed to mention Toyota’s announcement in April 2014 that it is moving its U.S. headquarters out of Torrance to Texas after 57 years.

Of course Governor Brown refused to talk about those failures. He is so intent on running for higher office, and he does not want to ruin his legacy. Toyota leaving for Plano, Texas is a massive failure, which cannot be ignored. Tesla chose Nevada instead of California, even with government subsidized incentives to stay. How many more businesses will have to leave, and how many more fiscal crises will it take, before California voters realize that taxing and spending our way to prosperity will not work?

Indeed, the burdens on business owners, consumers and taxpayers continue to rise. Beginning on Jan. 1, California became the only state in the country to subject its gasoline prices to a cap-and-trade scheme. This policy, along with the governor’s new proposal for increased renewable energy standards, will continue to raise the cost of energy on California’s ratepayers.

We have renewable energy already, from the hydrocarbon coming out of Mother Earth. There are oil deposits all up and down the California Coast, as well. Santa Barbara voters rejected a fracking ban, too.

I have noticed that gas prices are continuing to go down, even though the plan is that these cap-and-tax fees will go into effect very soon. Is there anything that the state legislature can do to stop this?

There is a lot of potential for bipartisan solutions to these and many other issues in 2015. I look forward to working with Gov. Brown and my legislative colleagues on reaching common ground for the benefit of all Californians.

Assemblyman David Hadley, R-Torrance, represents the 66th Assembly District.

I am so happy to read R-Torrance for the first time in my life. For the first time in four decades, a Republican represents Gardena, CA, and in three decades, a Republican represents Torrance, CA. What took so long?


  1. I'm struggling to digest the suggestion of California's current unemployment rate at 7.2 percent ?..that's going to be a fictitious number

  2. I'm struggling to digest the suggestion of california current unemployment rate at 7.2 percent that's got be a fictitious number