Early withdrawal

Sep 28, 2012

The backers of Proposition 39, which seeks to end a corporate tax break, have pulled their ads from the airwaves, apparently because the measure is enjoying such widespread public support.


From Josh Richman in the Political Blotter: "Proposition 39 would close a loophole for multi-state companies, requiring them to pay taxes based on sales in California rather than allowing them to choose how they are taxed. The state would realize about $1 billion more per year in revenue if the measure passes. Thomas Steyer, founder and co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, has put up $21.9 million to bankroll the measure."


"And it looks as if it worked. The committee backing Prop. 39 today said it has been informed by General Motors, International Paper and Kimberly-Clark that they won’t oppose the measure any further. Chrysler and Procter & Gamble, the two other companies that once were part of a coalition opposed to closing the loophole, also recently stated that they would not oppose Proposition 39."


"The California Business Roundtable tracking poll‘s latest numbers show Prop. 39 now has 63.1 percent support, its highest level in two months."


Speaking of ballot props, a grass-roots coalition has formed to back Proposition 30, the governor's tax initiative that would raise money for schools and public safety.


From the LAT's Chris Megerian: "A coalition of community groups is launching a grassroots effort to support Proposition 30 in hopes that voter turnout among young and minority voters will be a decisive factor in the November election."


"Activists will hold rallies, go door-to-door and dial voters in what they called one of the largest get-out-the-vote efforts in California history. Immigrant groups will be campaigning in five languages -- including Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog –- and others plan to canvass college dormitories."


“These targeted, on-the-ground actions will deliver the critical voters needed to pass Proposition 30," said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers."


Meanwhile, California's community colleges have a new chancellor.


From EdSource's Kathryn Baron: "The California Community Colleges Board of Governors unanimously named Dr. Brice Harris, a longtime community college leader, as the 15th chancellor of the statewide higher education system. Just hours later he received an unexpected gift from Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed SB 1456, the Student Success Act of 2012, into law."


"The bill, by Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), seeks to improve graduation and transfer rates at community colleges through better academic counseling and support services, setting tougher standards for students to receive fee waivers and requiring colleges to make public completion rates of students and progress toward closing the achievement gap."


"Harris succeeds Jack Scott, who retired earlier this month and personally courted him to apply for the position. “This is the right person, for the right job at the right time,” said Scott at a news conference yesterday morning in Sacramento. “He has the experience, he has the skills, and we are extremely fortunate that he also has the willingness to tackle a job of this nature.”


The BART system in the Bay Area is testing a new warning system that can detect earthaquakes seconds before they hit in full force, allowing the trains to slow down as a safeguard against derailments and injuries.


From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "The system, developed with the help of scientists at UC Berkeley, can give a warning that ranges from a few seconds to up to a minute before a quake hits, depending on how large and how far away an earthquake is. A similar network is already in use in Japan, where it has saved lives in major quakes."


"We think of earthquake prediction as being the Holy Grail, but given that we cannot predict earthquakes and may never be able to, this is the next best thing," said Richard Allen, director of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. "It allows people to react and put themselves in a safe place before the shaking starts."


"In recent years, scientists from Berkeley, the U.S. Geological Survey, the California Geological Survey, Caltech Seismological Laboratory and the California Emergency Management Agency have built a network of about 400 sensors around the state called the California Integrated Seismic Network."


In real estate, it's definitely a buyer's market now -- at least as far as mortgage interest rates go, which have dropped to their lowest levels in decades.


From Kevin Smith and Greg Wilcox in the LA Daily News: "Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on a 30-year loan dropped to 3.40 percent. That's down from last week's rate of 3.49 percent, which was the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s."


"The average on a 15-year fixed mortgage also fell to 2.73 percent, down from its record low of 2.77 percent last week."


"Every time I tell people the rates won't go any lower they do," said Donna Baker, a Realtor with Podley Properties in Monrovia. "I don't know how the banks can loan money to people at these rates."

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