Muni sweeps: Hot times in Sacramento

By Cate Long
June 9, 2011

California needs to extend tax increases to balance budget

These are hot times in Sacramento.  California’s constitution requires the legislature to send a budget to the governor by June 15.  Time is running out to patch up an agreement, and there is a new incentive for lawmakers to get it done. From Bloomberg:

There are differences this year. In November, voters lowered the threshold to pass a budget to a simple majority from two-thirds. The same measure also stripped lawmakers of salary and per-diem pay for every day they’re late with the spending plan.

Brown has been meeting behind closed doors since March with Republican lawmakers to craft a compromise. The governor’s tax extension, a so-called bridge tax, is the major sticking point, said his spokesman, Gil Duran.

“The governor’s focus has been on a temporary tax extension to bridge the time gap between a vote on the budget and a vote of the people,” Duran said in an e-mail.

A poll released June 2 found that more than two-thirds of Californians want a chance to vote on Brown’s plan, though most would reject the taxes. The Public Policy Institute of California said only 46 percent of likely voters support the specific taxes and fees. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points for all adults and 4.3 percentage points for likely voters.

Not riding in the bike lane

The most brilliant piece of feedback to a government I’ve seen in a while. Hat tip to Casey Neistat.

Michigan County allocates funds to fight national mortgage registry

An astonishing story from Jon Pior of Housing Wire:

The Ingham County Board of Commissioners in Michigan approved up to $60,000 in Legal Aid funding to represent borrowers affected by allegedly improper foreclosures and possible documentation fraud.

The county’s Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. uncovered potential fraudulent documents in his office calling into question hundreds of foreclosures. Hertel told HousingWire Wednesday he found 400 cases with possible fraudulent documentation involving Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems and another 100 involving DocX, a division of Lender Processing Services.

According to the resolution adopted by Ingham County, the alleged wrongful foreclosures by MERS resulted in more than 400 people losing their homes over the last two years.

The legal assistance provided to affected homeowners will be made available between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012.

An argument against privatization

Matt Stoeller of the Roosevelt Institute makes a very strong argument against privatizing public assets in Politico:

Privatization takes inherently governmental functions — everything from national defense to mass transit and roads — and turns them over to the control of private actors, whose goal is to extract maximum revenue while costing as little as possible.

Republicans have long advocated this in the name of free markets — saying that privatizing government services reduces the size of government. Democrats express more mixed support, but they sometimes go along for the privatizing ride.

Yet it isn’t true, as a general rule, that privatization shrinks the public sector. When investor demand for high returns is combined with the natural monopolies of public assets, what often results instead is citizens finding themselves saddled with high fees and poor service.

Mini sweeps

Bloomberg: Obama Team Eyes Payroll Tax Break for Employers

Reuters: Income tax volatility may hurt states: report

Bond Buyer: BDA Offers Disclosure Guidelines

Bond Buyer: Bankers Protest SEC Muni Adviser Registration Proposal

Reuters: UPDATE 1-Whitney stands by U.S. muni bond defaults forecast

Courrielche: Meredith Whitney stands firm on municipal debt crisis

Bond Buyer: UBS Vet David Cohen Joins SIFMA’s Muni Group

New York Times: Cuomo Urges Broad Limits to N.Y. Public Pensions

Reason: Orlando Police Arrest Five More Outlaws for Their Unauthorized Feeding of the Homeless

Government Technology: California Purges Thousands of State-Issued Cell Phones

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