Fred Keeley Stands Up For Working Californians

We’ve been pretty critical of the so-called 21st Century Commission for a while now. We were skeptical when Bush acolyte Gerald Parsky signed up as chair and rather unsurprised when the commission staff posted a powerpoint slidedeck with their plan (PDF) which would lead to the Latvia-zation of California. In other words, the commission’s staff plan shifted the tax burden off those making 100K+ and to lower income earners, in the name of “decreasing volatility.”  As if decreasing the progressiveness of our already fairly regressive system is the only way to do that, or even a good way.

But, today we get news, via Dan Walters, that former Assemblyman Fred Keeley has a plan to offer up another plan. The so-called “Blue Plan” which apparently has the support of at least one other member, Chris Edley, the Dean of Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law.

Keeley and Boalt Hall School of Law Dean Christopher Edley Jr. are drafting the blue plan for presentation to the commission next week in a direct challenge to Parsky, who has been pushing his vision of tax reform very hard. “I don’t think you get a consensus product by driving a stake on one side,” Keeley said.

As of yet, the details of any “blue plan” are murky with the possibility of a carbon tax and changes to Prop 13 being raised. But the mere existence of an alternative plan, no matter what it entails, is a good sign.

Parsky, as Walters points out, has been pushing extremely hard for his plan of Bush-style tax shifting from the wealthy to the middle class. Until this point, the plan seemed to be steamrolling through the commission without much of a sense of teamwork so much as a sense of inevitability.  With the mere concept of an alternative plan, that diminishes.

But, I want to take one more look at the Commission itself.  Peruse the member list. On the Legislative side you have

Legislature Appointments
Edward De La Rosa – President of De La Rosa & Co., a leading source of capital for public and private infrastructure projects in California.  
Christopher Edley, Jr. – Dean of Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law  
George Halvorson – chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals since 2002    
Jennifer Ito – policy education director of SCOPE, a non-profit working to reduce barriers for lower and working class families  
Fred Keeley – former Assemblyman and Santa Cruz County Treasurer  
Monica Lozano – Publisher of La Opinión  
Richard Pomp – tax expert and professor  

Hardly a group of wild-eyed DFHs there.  On the other side, you have

Governor’s Appointments
Gerald Parsky – Bush “Ranger”, Chair  
Ruben Barrales – CEO of San Diego Chamber of Commerce    
Michael Boskin – Republican adviser to the GOP-led Congress and Schwarzenegger  
John Cogan – senior fellow at the Hoover Institution  
William Hauck – Chair of the Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs  
Becky Morgan – former Republican State Senator from Los Altos Hills (a wealthy Silicon Valley suburb)  
Curt Pringle –  divisive former Republican Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle of Orange County  

The Legislature picked a center-left experts on issues of taxation, the law, and social justice. I won’t deny that some of them are fairly liberal, but you also have the CEO of an insurance plan and tax professor in there. The governor’s appointment includes two former Republican legislators, one of whom is, shall we say, an outsized personality, and a slew of Bush-minded anti-tax “business” types.

In other words, there was a big ol’ rock on this scale. That’s not to say that you couldn’t get a decent result, it’s just that it would be an uphill battle and something of a surprise.

5 thoughts on “Fred Keeley Stands Up For Working Californians”

  1. Parsky has been pushing hard for a consensus report from the commission, and Keeley and Edley (and perhaps some of the others) are now refusing to go along with the evisceration of the working population of California.

  2. Fred Keeley is yet another example of somebody that was an outstanding leader when he was in the Assembly, when he was termed out.  As was his successor in the seat, John Laird.

    These guys, both hard working, smart policy wonks, are better than most of the folks running show now.  I’d trade Karen Bass for either of them, in a country minute.  And I would have traded Nunes for either of them a lot quicker than that.

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