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Bill Leonard - Contributor

Bill Leonard is a Member of the State Board of Equalization

A Week Under the Dome...
Values, economics, taxes and generosity...

[Bill Leonard] 11/17/04

Confronting the Moral Values Agenda

On election day voters in 11 states rejected legalizing any marriage but that between a man and a woman. California voters did this several years ago. Despite that clear message, a California Assemblymember is already planning on introducing a bill to change the meaning of marriage when the new session of the legislature convenes in December. The bill will make marriage a contract “between two persons.”

A couple of other legislators have announced their intentions to legalize suicide in California and provide legal protection to those who assist people in taking their own lives.

These extremist proposals put great political pressure on moderates, particularly the moderate Democrats in the majority caucus. Rank and file voters may seem to be silent, but as shown in this month’s presidential election, once they perceive a clear difference between candidates on moral values their vote is decided even if it means crossing party lines. Do not let silence presume consent: get your pens and typing fingers ready to communicate with your legislators in a few short weeks.

Economic Vitality Questions

Governor Schwarzenegger has declared himself to be a man of action. One of the ways he is demonstrating this is by asking his advisors to think about what California should look like in 20 years and what policies can lead to the capital investment necessary to get us there. To help answer these questions, the Governor’s cabinet secretaries are touring the state, holding conversations with business, political, educational and community leaders to get their input on each region’s priorities for economic vitality. The cabinet secretaries are posing three questions to participants in these discussions and I want to ask those same questions of Leonard Letter readers. Please share with me your answers to these questions:

1) What actions will have the most immediate impact on California's economic recovery?

2) What state actions will result in the most significant long- term improvement to California's economic competitiveness and comparative advantage?

3) How do we best structure an effective partnership between the regions and the state around economic strategy?

Tax Test

When people buy cars, trucks, boats or planes, the sales tax on those items are substantial. It is perhaps human nature to seek to avoid paying that extra amount and some people will go to great lengths to make it appear that their truck was not subject to California sales tax. Mostly this occurs by having the dealer deliver the vehicle to the buyer outside the state and then operating it for a few months elsewhere. This year, the legislature changed the law to make this harder to do. Senate Bill 1100 replaced that “90-day test” with a “12-month test.” It became effective October 2nd. If you are a seller of such vehicles, or you are considering a purchase, review for the new information.

Generosity – Blue States vs. Red States

I saw an interesting Blue State/Red State comparison on Michelle Malkin's blog last week. She linked to work done by a group called The Catalogue for Philanthropy. This organization compiled data to create what they call a Generosity Index. It is computed by taking each state's average income and average charitable contribution, then subtracting the contribution rank from the average income rank to get a single number for each state. For instance, Mississippi is last in average income (50th), but they are fifth in average giving, thus 50-5 = 45. By this measure, Mississippians are the most generous Americans on average. Below is a table that shows each state’s ranking along with which presidential candidate won in each. Notice how far you need to scroll down before you see a blue state.


1 Mississippi Bush
2 Arkansas Bush
3 Oklahoma Bush
4 Louisiana Bush
5 Alabama Bush
6 Tennessee Bush
7 South Dakota Bush
8 Utah Bush
9 South Carolina Bush
10 Idaho Bush
11 Wyoming Bush
12 Texas Bush
13 West Virginia Bush
14 Nebraska Bush
15 North Dakota Bush
16 North Carolina Bush
17 Kansas Bush
18 Florida Bush
19 Georgia Bush
20 Kentucky Bush
21 Montana Bush
22 Missouri Bush
23 New Mexico Bush
24 Alaska Bush
25 Indiana Bush
26 New York KERRY

To see the complete list, go to:

Tuesday's Wall Street Journal “Best of the Web” says this comparison may not be totally fair because residents of the highest income state, Connecticut, could give all their income to charity and still not be listed as the most generous under this system. So instead a WSJ reader offers another look -- the percent of adjusted gross income people give to charity-- and found an even stronger correlation between red state citizens and generosity: here - then scroll down to “The Selfish Party III.”CRO




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