How Friendly Is Your State To Businesses? See the Rankings
Many factors affect a business’s ability to succeed, including prudent tax policy. While improvements to other important business factors, such as the workforce or in transportation, can take years to accomplish, improvements in tax policy can take place relatively quickly.
The Tax Foundation index uses five different taxes as criteria in producing the rankings: individual income taxes, sales taxes, corporate income taxes, property taxes, and unemployment insurance taxes. Each state’s composite score reflects how well each system conforms to the key components of proper tax policy: broad bases and low rates.
Where does your state rank?
Here are some of the highlights:
- Wyoming is the most business-friendly state for the fifth straight year, with South Dakota, Alaska, Florida, and Nevada rounding out the top five. None of these states has an individual income tax. Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nevada additionally have no corporate income tax, and Alaska has no sales tax.
- New Jersey once again scored the worst, stifling business activity with its punitive 5.91-percent property tax (the worst in the country after New Hampshire, but New Hampshire goes without income and sales taxes), dual inheritance and estate taxes (Maryland is the only other state that taxes both), and badly structured individual income taxes. New York, California, Minnesota, and Vermont followed New Jersey in the bottom five.
- Illinois boasted the biggest improvement from last year, jumping eight spots from 31st to 23rd. Lawmakers raised Illinois’ individual and corporate rates temporarily in 2011 in order to address the state’s mounting fiscal crisis. These increases, which had given Illinois one of the highest corporate tax rates in the country, were allowed to expire on schedule in 2015.
ON THE STATE LEVEL ALONE, MEXIFORNIA PAYS OUT $30 BILLION YEARL IN SOCIAL SERVICES TO ILLEGALS. NOT A SINGLE LEGAL VOTED TO BE MEXICO'S WELFARE OFFICE.
COUNTIES PAY OUT EVEN MORE WITH LOS ANGELES COUNTY LEADING. L.A. COUNTY PAYS OUT MORE THAN A BILLION PER YEAR IN WELFARE TO ILLEGALS. IT'S THE DEMOCRAT PARTY AND MEXICO'S ANCHOR BABY BREEDING FOR WELFARE PROGRAM.
HALF THE MURDERS IN CA ARE ALSO BY MEXICANS.
"The Times reported this month that by one federal benchmark, California's poverty rate of 23.4% is tops in the nation, taking the high cost of housing into account. And since 2006, median wages declined 6.2% in the state while wages increased 4.8% for the top 10%."
Rosy jobs numbers blind us to the bleak reality of the 'real economy'
And once again, those numbers are deceiving.
In February, I watched Saldana walk out of the Boeing C-17 plant in Long Beach for the last time. Demand for the military transport plane had dried up after 25 years of production, and a workforce of thousands had dwindled to a few hundred following one wave of layoffs after another.
Saldana, then 51, got choked up the day he walked away.
The Air Force veteran with a love of aeronautics had been on the job for 29 years, working in various capacities on the assembly line. He'd had it good in his union job, making close to $40 an hour with benefits, and he knew it would be tough to match that deal anywhere else.
"I've been fortunate for the last 29 years," he said at the time, "and now I'm going to get a taste of the real economy."
Ten months later, it's an even fouler taste than he'd imagined.
Saldana's priority was to stay in aeronautics or go to work for a railroad company. He'd always had a passion for trains. But air and space jobs in Southern California have evolved from blue-collar assembly work to more technical positions in rockets, satellites and drones. And as for the railroad, Saldana had already missed the cut on five job applications before he even left Boeing.
"Status: Not qualified," said one blunt rejection letter he shared with me.
Saldana didn't panic in the early stages of life after Boeing. He'd cleared about $13,000 in severance pay and believed he'd land something solid, even if it came with a pay cut.
A couple of halfway decent prospects came up, but Saldana has shared custody of two kids, and the hours would have run him into scheduling conflicts.
Before long, the picture dimmed. Saldana was strong and able, but he began to fear that his age and even his Boeing salary were working against him. A new employer might balk, fearing that Saldana would bolt as soon as he found something closer to what he used to make.
He saw a lot of emails containing the words "we regret to inform you."
"A lot of this is done online. You don't talk to a live person. You're really lucky to get a phone interview," said Saldana.
"I would say I've been to like 40 job fairs … not to mention the countless workshops I've been to."
He thinks he got close at Gulfstream, but then came the bad news.
He was in the hunt at Northrop Grumman, but that didn't work out.
When nothing clicked, he signed up for unemployment, but that eventually ran out.
Along the way, Saldana said he did more shopping at 99 Cent Only stores and fell behind in his child support payments, and now he's worried about whether he can make his December mortgage payment.
"It belittles me because that's not how I was brought up," said Saldana, whose father worked at StarKist tuna and helped his son with the down payment on the Carson house he lives in.
If he sold the house, Saldana says, "my parents would roll over in their graves. I'm better than that, but I'm doing my best. I'm trying to keep my head above water, but it's like standing in the pool and the water is right up to my chin."
Finally, though, someone threw Saldana a lifeline.
Early last month, a temp agency lined him up with a job in aerospace. It pays only about one-third what he made at Boeing, with no benefits, but Saldana jumped at it.
He now sandblasts aircraft landing gear parts at a plant in Torrance, from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. six days a week, with no guarantees from one week to the next. But at least it's work, he says, and he's hoping the adage is true about needing to have one job in order to find another.
"I was in the middle class. Upper middle class, I would say, and now I've fallen into I guess the upper lower class," he said.
And he's not alone, of course.
Saldana stays in touch with other former C-17 employees, and most of them who've found work are making far less than they used to.
Ron Magee, a Saldana colleague I wrote about in January, had 34 years at Boeing when he was laid off. He told me he still hasn't found a job, he's now on disability with multiple health issues, and he was forced to sell the house he intended to retire in.
When you see news that unemployment in California has dipped to 5.8%, said Chris Hoene of the California Budget & Policy Center, it's not as rosy as it sounds.
"There are more and more sectors in which people are being paid less than they were before … or they're having to work several jobs," said Hoene.
The Times reported this month that by one federal benchmark, California's poverty rate of 23.4% is tops in the nation, taking the high cost of housing into account. And since 2006, median wages declined 6.2% in the state while wages increased 4.8% for the top 10%.
Hoene said temp agencies, which take a cut when they find a job for a client, represent a trend from full-time work to part-time work that benefits everyone but the employee. Some people, like Saldana, end up tapping unemployment and Medi-Cal and applying for food stamps.
"One way to think about it is that the corporate sector is shifting the responsibility for taking care of its workers to the public sector," said Hoene.
Saldana still has some prospects in play. There's another railroad job he heard about, and he's looking beyond planes and trains to anything that gets him back on top of his bills.
One day soon he'll go back to where he used to work for 29 years, to where he always felt camaraderie and the fullest sense of the pride that comes with being able to provide for family. The few remaining Boeing workers are putting the finishing touches on the last C-17, and when it flies away, Saldana intends to bear witness to the end of an era.
L.A. tops nation in chronic homeless population
L.A.'s chronically homeless population has grown 55%, to 12,536, since 2013, accounting for almost 15% of all people in that category, HUD reported. More than one-third of the nation's chronically homeless live in California, the agency added.
L.A.'s spike outpaced New York City's one-year increase, the second largest, 3 to 1, the report said. The number of chronically homeless people nationwide remained basically flat, rising 1%, the report said.
"We have a long way to go," HUD Secretary Julian Castro said during a conference call with reporters.
The spread of long-term homelessness in L.A. County has alarmed communities from Sylmar to San Pedro, where residents complain that their quality of life is threatened by crime and trash from unsightly encampments.
"I have found out that my homeless neighbors can move in and set up their shelters on the sidewalk outside of my house," San Pedro resident Elaine Jenkins told the City Council during a hearing this week on the homeless crisis. "They can drag up old mattresses, sofas and spread trash everywhere. They can use the streets as their public restroom."
The nationwide numbers came as a disappointment to HUD, which had extended a goal of ending chronic homelessness from the end of the year to 2017.
"We are aggressively pursuing every tool, including actively engaging our state and federal partners, to help save lives with El Niño on the horizon," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.
The government classifies disabled people who go without housing for a year, or who land in the street several times over three years, as chronically homeless. These individuals are the most vulnerable and visible among the ranks of the homeless. They are also the most expensive and the most difficult to dislodge.
Some bounce back and forth between ambulance trips, hospital jailings or mental health confinements. Outreach workers can spend months coaxing them out of the street life to which they have adapted, and counseling, substance abuse treatment and case management can be required for months or even years to keep them in housing.
The HUD data was largely derived from a street count conducted over three days last January. Castro and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald joined Garcetti in taking part in the skid row count. Los Angeles city and county figures exclude statistics from Pasadena, Long Beach and Glendale, which administer their homeless programs separately.
Castro blamed the agency's failure to reach its target on rising rents and federal funding cutbacks.
"The U.S. is experiencing an affordable housing crisis and shrinking federal budgets," Castro said. "These resource constraints have slowed down the progress."
Mike Neely, a commissioner with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said the city had fallen behind on building affordable housing.
"We're working very hard to get these units developed, but man," Neely said. "Who is taking up all the units are the millennials, the middle-class and upper middle-class individuals."
The City Council this week declared a shelter crisis, and laid plans for expanding its winter shelter program and for authorizing people who live in their cars and RVs to sleep in church parking lots.
Garcetti ruled out an immediate declaration of a state of emergency, which some council members had sought. Garcetti said he was waiting for more information from the city attorney.
Subject to council approval, an emergency declaration would empower the mayor to requisition resources and issue orders that he deems "necessary for the protection of life and property," according to a report from City Atty. Mike Feuer's office. The city twice declared emergencies in the 1980s to provide shelter to homeless people.
The mayor could also call on the governor and the president to issue emergency proclamations for Los Angeles, but officials said that requesting more state and federal funding to address the homeless problem was a long shot. The city attorney said his office had not found one instance of a presidential declaration in response to a "chronic, ongoing situation such as the homeless crisis."
California’s working poor grow poorer
“You can’t make enough money for what you spend,” Montes says in Spanish while waiting with other farmworkers for her number to be called. Today she’ll take home a box of bagged greens and other produce distributed by a local non-profit.
“Sometimes, you don’t earn enough to buy things for what the children need for school, or food for the house, or personal expenses … like house payments or bills.”
Montes is part of a growing economic problem in California: Low-wage workers are getting poorer, and there are more of them.
There were about 354,800 Californians working full-time and year-round in 2013 living under the federal poverty limit, according to the nonprofit California Budget and Policy Center. That’s 3.1 percent of California’s full-time workforce, double the rate it was 35 years ago.
“A low-wage worker today earns less than a similar worker would a generation ago,” said Luke Reidenbach, policy analyst with the center, which researches how state policy affects low- and middle-income Californians. “Even as the economy grows, that’s not resulting in an increase of their hourly wages, and so over time the value of their wages has eroded.”
Pay for California’s bottom 20 percent of wage-earners has declined by 11.3 percent since 1979, when adjusted for inflation, according to the center.
Other research has tried to calculate the tax cost of California’s working poor. UC Berkeley Labor Center, a liberal-leaning research group, estimates low-wage California workers and their dependents received $14.3 billion a year in cash assistance, health care, food stamps and tax credits between 2007 and 2012.
The California Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t have its own estimate on how much the state spends on public assistance for working people and declined to comment on the accuracy of the labor center’s estimate.
Looking at another measure that takes public assistance benefits and regional costs of living into account, almost 8 in 10 Californians considered poor by the government’s standards in 2012 lived in a family where someone worked, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
“At the very least, we would expect work to lift people out of poverty,” Reidenbach said.
These economic trends are part of what has ignited a movement among labor and policymakers to raise the minimum wage beyond California’s scheduled $1 increase to $10 an hour on Jan. 1.
Researchers say the new $10 minimum is expected to bump a family of three with one full-time, year-round worker above the federal poverty limit. But others say when regional living expenses are considered, a family of three living in the Los Angeles region, the San Francisco Bay Area and other expensive parts of the state will have trouble making ends meet on one person’s minimum wage job.
Who Are the Working Poor?
Overall, more low-wage workers are older than they were in 1979, although on average they are younger than the workforce as a whole, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center.
More than half of today’s low-wage workers in California are Latino, according to the labor center, and 40 percent were born outside the United States. As a whole, the share of the working poor that had some college education is 9 percent more than it was a generation ago. The majority of low-wage workers, 53 percent, have only a high school education or less.
Increasingly, the working poor live in urban areas, where they work as cashiers, cooks, waitresses, maids, gardeners and nursing aides.
Fausto Hernandez Garcia, 56, of Los Angeles is one of them. He searches for cardboard and scrap metal on his days off to supplement the $9 an hour he is paid at a car wash. He claims he’s not always paid for the hours he works.
Juan Valentin, 26, of Stockton says he, his wife and his two young children are “living by the day,” scraping by on his $10.50-an-hour job at a bagged lettuce company. His savings are only enough to buy a dress for his 5-year-old daughter, he said.
Kazoua Yang, 23, is paid $9.25 an hour as a cashier at a grocery store in Fresno. Before her boyfriend got a steady job, their family of three needed food stamps and qualified for Medi-Cal.
“Part of this problem is the quality of low-wage work,” Reidenbach said. “It’s not just about effort; it’s not just about family conditions; it’s about whether or not the jobs that are available to people are paying enough to allow them to make ends meet.”
Forecasting more low-wage jobs
The top five occupations that are projected to grow the highest number of jobs by 2022 will be low wage — under $12 an hour, according to California’s Employment Development Department. That includes personal care aides, retail workers, and food prep and service staff.
According to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, some of those workers may need public assistance. The labor center says more than half of fast-food workers and nearly half of home care and child care workers rely on some form of public assistance.
“When jobs don’t pay enough for people to survive and support their families, it means we have a lot of (taxpayer) money targeted into those working families,” said Ken Jacobs of the labor center.
The struggles of the working poor have received new attention at the state Capitol; anti-poverty committees have formed and this past legislative session, another minimum wage increase was proposed, as well as bills to ease the burden of bankruptcy, wage garnishment and to remove a cap on cash assistance.
Now, two competing state ballot proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 statewide, one by 2020 and the other by 2021, are trying to qualify for the 2016 election.
Meanwhile, 15 local governments from San Diego to Emeryville in the San Francisco Bay Area have voted to raise the minimum wage to as high as $15 an hour over the next five years.
The California Business Roundtable, a Sacramento-based lobbying group for large employers in the state, hasn’t yet taken a position on raising the minimum wage.
“We’re taking our time,” said Robert Lapsley, president of the business roundtable, which says its membership doesn’t employ a lot of low-wage workers.
Lapsley said the business community understands there’s a large “underclass” in California, and it’s still evaluating its role in reducing poverty. “We have to be able to figure out a way to provide some balance.”
Lapsley said the state — not individual cities — needs to take the lead in figuring out the right approach to raising the minimum wage, including accounting for regional economic differences.
“What may be good in one spot in terms of $15 does not necessarily apply in another spot,” he said. “L.A. has a much higher cost of living even (compared) to Northern California.”
Lapsley says policy discussions about raising the minimum wage so that one worker’s earnings could keep a family out of poverty is “the wrong debate.” Instead, he said, the focus should be on strengthening the state’s manufacturing sector and creating higher-paying jobs that low-wage workers can move into.
“A minimum-wage job has always been the role of an entry-level position into the workforce,” Lapsley said. “(Those jobs are) to help get people initially trained and then move into a … different job so that they have a long-term future.”
Farmworkers on the food line
The Rural Foundation for Community Advancement organizes food giveaways several times a month in Earlimart. Produce is given on “vegetable day”; the rest of the time, it’s packaged goods. Organizers make sure the event takes place in the late afternoon.
“If we give it from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., we catch everybody that’s coming from work,” said Domingo Trevino, vice president of the nonprofit foundation. “Even if they’re working, they’re barely surviving.”
Forty-four percent of workers in the southern Central Valley earn a low wage, the highest percentage among all California regions, according to UC Berkeley.
Food aid from the Fresno-based Community Food Bank serves an average of 285,000 people monthly in Fresno, Madera, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties. The food bank is funded through a mix of taxpayer dollars and private donations, including from Wal-Mart.
“It has moved from being supplemental (food) assistance, so just a couple days, to individuals really reliant on it for weeks at a time,” says Natalie Caples, program director of the food bank.
Maria Veronica Manriquez joined dozens of others in Earlimart on a hot day to wait for some of the food bank giveaways. Manriquez’s husband is a seasonal agricultural worker, and the family earns between $16,000 and $24,000 a year. The mother of two said she recently had to stop working to take care of a sick child and is now receiving food stamps.
“To survive here, you have to both work,” Manriquez said. “When only one person works, it is more difficult.
“They need to raise the wages, not the (price) of products,” said Manriquez, noting the high cost of eggs. “It’s not enough for us … that’s the truth.”
CALmatters is a nonprofit journalism venture dedicated to explaining state policies and politics.
OBAMA-CLINTONomics: Their cronies loot…
"Corporate profits are at their highest share of GDP since World War II, while the portion of national economic output going to labor has fallen to the lowest postwar level."
FASTER under Obama than Bush.
By Niles Williamson
19 September 2015
The report found that 14.8 percent of the country’s population lived in poverty in 2014, statistically unchanged from a year prior. Blacks had the highest poverty rate in 2014 at 26.2 percent, which was a one percentage point increase over 2013. Among children and teenagers under the age of 18, approximately 15.5 million, or 21.1 percent, lived in poverty.
"In the midst of the deepest slump since the Great Depression, the administration starved state and city governments of resources, leading to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of education and public-sector jobs and the gutting of workers’ pensions. Obama’s Affordable Care Act set in motion the dismantling of employer-paid health insurance and massive cuts in the Medicare insurance system for the elderly."
“Feinberg, who as the Obama administration’s “pay tsar” rubber- stamped multimillion-dollar executive bonuses to Wall Street banks bailed out with taxpayer funds, will now be given power to slash workers’ benefits at his discretion.”