Oxnard sure has more than its fair share of challenges these days. With the city council recall looming, the city being threatened to create electorate districts, and changes in the top management at city hall it’s a wonder anything gets done. But aside from all of the distractions, we should count our blessings.
Last month when the Thomas Fire was raging, I remember saying to myself on numerous occasions, “I am so lucky to not be threatened by this fire and can sleep in my own bed without concern that a disaster is going to strike me.”
Oxnard is not vulnerable to wild fires. The risk is low because we don’t have vegetation-covered hillsides. Kind of makes the Oxnard Plain a bit more appealing. Likewise, we don’t have to worry about the devastation of mud and landslides. I’m still trying to comprehend what happened in Montecito.
I’m not sure what I will be saying after the “Big One” hits Southern California when we could be subject to liquefaction or a tsunami. But for now, I am really happy I both live and work in Oxnard!
Now, if we could just do something about the politics in our city…
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. this week proposed the final budget of his gubernatorial career, proposing to spend a record $190 billion without raising taxes and setting aside $13 billion in a rainy-day reserve.
For the first time since 1998, it appears that a retiring governor will not pass along a budget deficit to his successor. Nonetheless, the Governor insisted that fiscal prudence must guide decisions this year, emphasizing that “we prepare for the recession, not when it comes, but years before.”
The Governor noted that by the end of the next fiscal year, the economic expansion will be the longest post-war period of uninterrupted growth. A moderate recession, according to the Department of Finance, would drop state revenues by more than $20 billion annually.
The day after the Governor released his budget proposal, the California Chamber of Commerce hosted Department of Finance Director Michael Cohen at a Luncheon Forum where he provided attendees with details on the proposed budget.
With respect to education, the administration proposes fully funding the Local Control Funding Formula, a finance allocation that eliminates most categorical funding programs in favor of aiming supplemental funding toward poor students, English learners and children in foster care. Overall spending on public schools and community colleges will have increased by 66% in the seven years since the depths of the recession.
In the Governor’s proposal, funding for the University of California will increase by about 2%, and for the California State University by 1%.
For community colleges, the budget includes an overall increase of 4% and implements legislation from last year that waives tuition for first-time, full-time students. The budget also proposes the creation of an entirely online two-year degree aimed at working Californians.
To address the state’s long-term workforce needs, the Governor proposes providing $200 million to support K–12 career-technical education programs that are aligned with industry skills, and additional funding for industry experts to support these programs.
The idea is to maintain a predictable, targeted and sustained funding stream to support an industry/education workforce development collaboration.
Following up on last year’s increase in transportation revenues, the administration plans to spend $4.6 billion in the next fiscal year on various highway and bridge maintenance, rehabilitation and operational improvements.
The budget also includes funds to restart the state’s construction program to complete 10 courthouses.
The state’s judicial branch will be provided additional funding to support efforts by the Judicial Council to improve and modernize trial court operations.
The Legislature in 2017 extended the cap-and-trade program, which is designed to enable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, through 2030.
A consequence of this extension was to stabilize the existing program and ensure a steady stream of new revenues to the state, potentially amounting to billions in new taxes for the Legislature to spend. The Governor will outline his plan for new spending later this month in his state-of-the-state address.
The full summary of the Governor’s budget proposal can be found at www.ebudget.ca.gov.
Have you ever thought about getting more involved in local politics? Are you planning to run for elected office? Do you want to learn more about the nuts & bolts of political campaigns? Join the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties for our 2018 Campaign School and learn the basics of running for office from seasoned veterans of the political campaign trail.
Learn more about:
The Campaign School will be taught by a representative from the Leadership Institute, which is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization.
The Campaign School will be held Saturday, January 20, 2018 from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm. The cost is $25 per person. Advanced reservations are required and can be made at www.venturachamber.com/campaign. Event will be held at the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce,
400 E. Esplanade Drive Suite 302, Oxnard, CA 93036.
About the Chambers of Commerce Alliance
The Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties serves as a useful resource and effective advocacy partner for regional chambers that are interested in strengthening our business climate through better policy making. Originally formed as the Regional Legislative Alliance, the Chambers of Commerce Alliance changed its name in 2009 and re-launched its web site and advocacy programs. The Alliance prides itself for its regular presence in the State Capitol and influence on a variety of state, local and federal issues.
The Alliance is guided by its policy platform, which is adopted annually and serves as our advocacy agenda. Positions are taken by our board of directors with following input from our member chambers and strategic partners along with consideration given to existing positions and historic stances. The goal is to support legislative efforts that improve the region’s business climate and to oppose proposals that will likely cause job losses. The Alliance is funded through non-public sources, and all proceeds are invested directly into Alliance operations with priority given to advocacy. Also, the Alliance accepts funds from regional employers the most generous of whom are recognize as Capitol Circle Members. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership is limited to local chambers of commerce, and strategic partners are encouraged to participate in the Alliance. Each chamber member is permitted to cast one vote per issue.
By Michael Wynn Song, Chair
Here’s wishing all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. As the incoming Chair I will work with the Board of Directors and the CEO to accomplish the goals we set at our planning session last year. The Oxnard Chamber will continue to work tirelessly to protect our business climate and ensure our continued economic prosperity, to strengthen our leadership program and to enhance the quality of life for all in our wonderful city. We hope our local representatives will follow our suggestions for promoting legislation that focuses on the issues most critical to achieving those goals.
With the signature count complete a council recall is now slated for this spring, the saga of the current Oxnard City Council member recall and a district-based election drama continues. The Chamber has voiced our position on the recall and now we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out. Regardless of the outcome we will continue to work with the City Council and local leadership to enhance the business climate
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the record-high stock market surges that have many investors cheering the corporate tax cut. Hopefully those tax cuts can also boost California worker’s wages to not only attract the best and brightest workers, but retain those workers in an ever-challenging California business climate. With the demise of pensions we need good wages and benefits to keep good workers. As part of Hyundai Glovis management, I am proud to say that we continue to evaluate and adjust our employees wages upward and provide good benefits such as dental, medical and vision insurance and a 401(k) plan with matching funds.
Stock market surges and corporate profits are good for business. Unemployment is going down but unless it equates to a better standard of living workers can’t be happy. California needs to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.
I don't mean to sound facetious but it's a safe bet to say that of the 55 million Americans that purportedly have a 401(k), not many are complaining about the stock market surges this past year. Nonetheless, healthy inequality is an issue; those who own equities and real assets get richer but most ordinary folks struggle to stay ahead. While the affluent are making boatloads of money, on the opposite end of the spectrum it's a totally different story. People don't mind falling behind when everybody else does. To give an extreme point of view, I don't know how many of the baby boomers are 401(k) participants but purportedly, less than half save less than $100K by retirement. To make an extreme point, this past year the average return on a million dollar 401(k) is about $170K. The percentage is the same but the baby boomer's return on his $100K 401(k) is $17K. The millionaire can support his family and live comfortably for well over a year on his plentiful return while the baby boomer can't even buy a Hyundai Sonata. Being proactive in your efforts to improve the standard of living for our workforce will ultimately help the Oxnard business community to prosper and grow.
Last week, California businesses began to legally sell recreational marijuana in California. More than 400 state licenses have been issued so far, but the rollout may be slow. Cities or counties must first approve commercial marijuana sales, and localities can choose to ban or restrict recreational marijuana shops.
On November 8, 2016, Californians voted to pass Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Although marijuana became legal to smoke on November 9, 2016 (the day after the election), licensed recreational marijuana sales were not allowed until January 1, 2018.
But what about smoking weed at work? When it comes to the workplace, California employers can take a deep breath of fresh air, because the recreational use of marijuana stops at the workplace. Employer policies related to drug possession, use and impairment, as well as testing, are not compromised with the legalization of marijuana use under Proposition 64.
Proposition 64 explicitly states that it is intended to “allow public and private employers to enact and enforce workplace policies pertaining to marijuana.” The initiative also provides that it will not be construed or interpreted to amend, repeal, affect, restrict or pre-empt:
The rights and obligations of public and private employers to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace or require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growth of marijuana in the workplace, or affect the ability of employers to have policies prohibiting the use of marijuana by employees and prospective employees, or prevent employers from complying with state or federal law (Section 11362.45 (f)).
These provisions distinguish Proposition 64 from the failed 2010 initiative, which did not protect employer policies concerning the use of marijuana in the workplace. Therefore, even with the passage of Proposition 64, employers may continue to prohibit use, possession and impairment at work and may continue to test for use when appropriate. Proposition 64 is not intended to interfere with these workplace policies or practices.
Pre-employment drug testing in California usually should be done only after a conditional job offer has been made.
Otherwise workplace drug testing is usually subject to a “reasonable suspicion” test —allowing an employee to be drug tested only when specific objective facts indicate abuse. Random drug testing in California is rarely allowed; although certain industries or professions, such as transportation, have stricter drug testing requirements.
Employers with concerns about recreational marijuana use will want to review existing policies and remind employees not only about the company’s drug-free workplace policy and practices but also to specify that marijuana is prohibited.
Still unsure about legalized marijuana and drug-free workplace policies? CalChamber offers a free white paper on Marijuana and Workplace Policies (CalChamber members can download the white paper). CalChamber members can also view How To: Oversee Pre-Employment Drug Testing. Not a member? See how HRCalifornia can help you.
What do these names all have in common?
Michael Wynn Song
St. John’s Regional Medical Center
They will all appear on awards at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting & Installation of Directors on January 18. The outgoing Chair of the Board, Amy Fonzo, will be giving out some discretionary “thank you” awards as she leaves office. The awardees helped her accomplish the 2017 program of work for the Chamber.
The Annual Meeting & Installation of Directors will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott on Esplanade Drive on Thursday, January 18 from 11:30 to 1:30. Advance reservations are required and can be made via the Chamber’s website or by calling the office at 805.983.6118.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. This year, the business rate increases one cent per mile.
Beginning January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile, including depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs, such as gas and oil. The charitable rate is set by law.
Employees always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
Under California Labor Code section 2802, employers must fully reimburse employees for all expenses actually and necessarily incurred. Many employers typically choose to use the IRS mileage reimbursement rate, but its use is optional.
The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has stated that using the IRS mileage rate will generally satisfy an employer’s obligation to reimburse for business-related vehicle expenses, absent evidence to the contrary.
However, if an employee can show that the chosen mileage reimbursement rate, even the IRS rate, does not cover all actual expenses the employee has incurred, the employer must pay the difference.
Business vehicle expenses do not include only gasoline, but also wear and tear (depreciation), repairs, oil, insurance and other costs.
Members can read more about Expense Reimbursements in the HR Library. Not a member? See how HRCalifornia can help you.