Tax Freedom Day Late Again for California

From George Runner  |  2017-04-19

George Runner, State Board of Equalization

Californians who have filed their income tax returns by the April 18 deadline will unfortunately have to wait eight days longer than the rest of the nation until they’ve collectively earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year.

Tax Freedom Day, calculated annually by the Tax Foundation, is the day when Americans have earned enough money to pay their taxes at the federal, state and local levels.

Nationally, Tax Freedom Day lands on April 23, but for California it lands on May 1.

“For some lawmakers, this terrible distinction seems to be a badge of honor,” said Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner. “With liberal politicians recently voting to increase gas and car taxes, I fear this day will come even later next year for hardworking taxpayers.”

According to the Tax Foundation, Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. That’s more than Americans will collectively spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

Compared to other states, California’s Tax Freedom Day is one of the latest in the nation. Only Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have later dates.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as an elected member of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.


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Student Picking Up STEAM

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-04-14

Rancho Cordova resident Sahej Claire, coder, teacher and teenage visionary. 
--Photo courtesy of Sahej Claire

Sahej Claire is one busy Rancho Cordova teen. Currently a student at the Sacramento County Day School, Claire has already determined how to have her finger on the pulse of some of the best-established, most promising sectors: social service, civic, education and tech.

A junior in high school, Claire is one of the rare individuals who seem to find their life track early and don’t wait around for some ethereal sweet spot at a later age. She already knows how to make things happen. She is a young, ardent champion of some methodologies that many tech industry adults may never even have heard of.

“I want to keep curiosity alive and encourage kids to never stop asking why,” she said.

Claire is a largely self-taught, female, teen coder – a rare commodity even in the twenty-first century. Barely into her teens, she came across the non-profit group Code.org online, which has made impressive inroads into tech education for children of all ages with their Hour of Code movement.

Heavy promotion by the tech industry in recent years has brought STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs to the media forefront, but Claire’s focus has sharpened beyond that point. The next step beyond STEM is STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design and Math). Championed by the Rhode Island School of Design, STEAM programs aim to encourage industry to hire artists to bring innovation to design.

On the heels of STEAM, Claire learned about the concept of Design Thinking (DT), largely conceptualized by Stanford University. DT is a methodology successfully used by problem-solvers and designers across many fields. It is a means of solving complex problems which focuses on solutions for everything from business to government and yields impressively successful results.

“In the world of design thinking, failure is just another iteration and a key part of the learning process. I…encourage teens to think freely and recognize that not every prototype they create or idea they have has to be perfect,” Claire commented.

Armed with a rock-solid understanding such applications and skills, Claire sought out a way to share what she knew. Over the last few years she formed working relationships because of a deep desire to give back to the community by sharing what she knows to uplift those around her. “I thought, why can’t I share this with other people? Teaching is the best way for me to learn myself,” she said.

Claire has a long-standing membership with the Sacramento County Youth Commission (SCYC), representing Rancho Cordova and District 5, which she joined while still a middle school student, and serves as this year’s Chair. While Claire is finds immense satisfaction in being a voice for youth in the District, it is a passion for technology that really drives her. This has led her to some surprising impressive working relationships with the likes of the UC Davis MIND Institute, the Mustard Seed School and business incubator Hacker Lab.

It was in Claire’s role as a member of SCYC that she began her work with the MIND Institute, volunteering to care for young family members of the patients being treated at the cutting-edge facility. The world renown MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute studies the scope of neurodevelopmental disorders. Working there, interacting with children, she found a determination and desire within herself to help other children that has only grown over time.

A statistic Claire read cemented her intent to find ways to reach out to other youth. According to Claire’s parents Simi and George, their daughter approached them, distressed over a statistic that a dismal 4% of female students were likely to take computer science courses prior to college; resulting in a 96% gap compared to their male peers. Current statistics are available at the National Science Board Science and Engineering Indicators (nsf.gov).

While Claire honed her coding skills, that single statistic of disparity she read lit a fire and she resolved to do something to fix it-­-to increase the odds and tear down the stereotype of technology and computers being the primary domain of males.

She designed a plan to reach her female peers and went to the right place. Enter Hacker Lab. Claire went to the company that bills itself as providing work space, education, and community for business innovators of all stripes. With offerings on tap such as co-working, makerspace, education and events for its members, Claire approached Hacker Lab head honchos: founder Gina Lujan and co-founders Charles Blas and Eric Ullrich with a proposal to teach coding classes onsite specially tailored for girls. Always on the outlook for innovation, Hacker Lab green-lighted the project and Claire began a career as Hacker Lab’s youngest instructor ever.

Claire’s classes, Project Code, were a hit and before long parents of boys began to call, asking if their sons too could take the course. After deliberation, the coding course became coeducational. In fact, her classes were so in demand that she decided to offer week-long camps. Last summer at Hacker Lab’s Rocklin location, she taught her first (and very popular), titled Project Incubator. “This upcoming summer, in addition to Project Incubator, there will be Project Incubator Junior: mini-camps (two-to three-hour sessions) for middle schoolers to introduce them to Design Thinking,” Claire said.

She is also partnering with the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California (GSHCC), which serves over 18,000 members. She is spearheading the group’s Design Thinking Program as designer, top authority and member of their Makerspace Taskforce.

Claire’s courses fill quickly and she is gearing up for this summer’s camps. The demand is great and interest comes from students across all socio-economic levels. She wants to be sure all serious students have a chance to learn. She has high hopes that this year she will have sponsors aid her in this goal and is actively seeking interested businesses, organizations and individuals willing to provide scholarships for deserving students.

“The goal I’m working toward with Project Code and Project Incubator both is to see more kids as interested in and inspired by the STEAM fields as I am. They all have so much to offer! And STEAM is just the beginning. By being exposed to these fields, the next generation will be able to grow their own creative confidence and critical thinking skills,” said Claire. “I want them to never stop being curious about the world they live in and the ‘why’ behind anything they might encounter. The limits of our imagination are endless!”

For more on course availability, DT, STEM/STEAM and more, visit: www.projectincubator00.wixsite.com/projectincubator

www.twitter.com/projectcoder

www.hackerlab.org/event/kids-sac-midtown-project-code-intro-to-coding-2017-01-28/

www.stemtosteam.org


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More Taxes on Cigarettes and Electronic Vaping Devices

Source: California State Board of Equalization  |  2017-04-13

California voters approved Proposition 56, which increased the excise tax rate on cigarettes and expanded the definition of “tobacco products” to include any type of tobacco, nicotine, little cigars, and electronic cigarettes sold in combination with nicotine.

On April 1, 2017, the cigarette tax rate increased from $0.87 to $2.87 per pack of 20 cigarettes. In addition, the distribution of nicotine delivery devices – including, but not limited to, electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pens, and e-hookahs – sold in combination with substances containing nicotine are now subject to the current tobacco products tax rate of 27.30 percent of the wholesale cost of the product.

Nicotine delivery devices sold independently and not in combination with any liquid or substance containing nicotine are not subject to excise tax. This includes any battery, battery charger, carrying case, or any other accessory used in the operation of a nicotine delivery device.

Any product approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco cessation product or other therapeutic purpose when that product is marketed and sold for such approved use (for instance, nicotine patches) will also not be subject to the excise tax.

Additional information regarding the provisions of Proposition 56 is available online. You may also view the BOE’s online Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax Guide on the BOE website.

The five-member California State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a publicly elected tax board that hears business tax appeals, acts as the appellate body for franchise and personal income tax appeals, and serves a significant role in the assessment and administration of property taxes. The BOE collects $60.5 billion annually in taxes and fees, supporting state and local government services. For specific help, please contact the BOE at 1-800-400-7115.


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End of an Era: Aerojet to Close Most of Rancho Cordova Operations

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-04-13

Aerojet Rocketdyne announced plans this week to effectively shutter operations in Rancho Cordova. Citing its Competitive Improvement Program (CIP), which the company adopted in 2015, the cuts are aimed at keeping Aerojet as a competitor in its market. The company will downsize approximately 1,100 jobs in the area, leaving 300 staff in place.

“We are two years into the first phase of our CIP affordability drive and the consolidation progress, and overhead cost reductions achieved to date have exceeded our expectations,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “We intend to build on this success by expanding our CIP-related consolidation efforts so we can deliver the value our customers demand and position our company for further growth.”

According to the company, the Rancho Cordova positions will primarily be moved to the headquarters for the Aerojet Rocketdyne Defense and Rocket Shopâ„  Defense Advanced Programs in Huntsville, Alabama by next year. This includes, “Defense-related program management, engineering and related support positions.” Other jobs will migrate to Los Angeles to the company’s Space headquarters. A Gainesville, Virginia-based site and another in Vernon, California are also on the chopping block, with the company announcing these closures in the near future.

“We believe these actions are essential for the performance of our business and the growth of the company. The results from this initiative will benefit our valued employees, customers and shareholders alike,” Drake commented.

Phase II of the CIP will continue consolidation for the next two years and plans to remove the company entirely from Sacramento by the end of 2019.

A new manufacturing facility in Huntsville is scheduled to open in 2019 and will house Additive Manufacturing, Composites production and Research & Development and AR1 engine production. The existing Rancho Cordova site is slated to become “the Shared Services Center of Excellence,” once all production commitments have been completed.

“This expanded CIP effort is expected to result in $230 million in annual savings once complete, inclusive of the $145 million from the first phase of CIP,” said Drake. “Given the dynamic nature of this industry, strategic business decisions such as these, while difficult, are critical to establishing a solid course for our future.”


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Everything Old is New Again!

Source: Sacramento Capitolaires   |  2017-04-13

The Sacramento Capitolaires, the area’s premiere male a cappella singing group since 1946, will present “Everything Old is New Again!” on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Christ Community Church, 5025 Manzanita Avenue, Carmichael. The performance will be held at 2:00 p.m.

Performing with the Capitolaires chorus and quartets will be Whatever 4 (Sweet Adeline quartet), HICKS (Barbershop comedy quartet), and TNT Jazz Band (Youth Honor Band). The Sacramento Capitolaires is a non-profit organization and members of the Barbershop Harmony Society and Sacramento Metro Chamber.

Tickets are $15.00. They can be purchased at the door, online at www.capitolaires.org  or by calling (888) 877-9806.

Membership in the chapter offers men an opportunity to improve their singing ability, participate in competition with other chapters, present public shows and concerts in the Sacramento metropolitan area, and nurture valuable friendships. For information about membership, please call (888) 877-9806.


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Easter Egg Hunts Galore!

From Supervisor Susan Peters  |  2017-04-12

Several community Egg Hunts for children will be held this Saturday, April 15, and each is open to the public. Below is a list to choose from:

Arden Manor Egg Hunt at Deterding Park, 1415 Rushen Drive. Free Egg Hunt at 9:30 am rain or shine. For more information, visit the Arden Manor Recreation and Park District website.

Arden Park Easter Egg-Stravaganza at Arden Park, 1000 La Sierra Drive. Carnival games 8:30-10 am, Pancake Breakfast 8:30-10 am ($5.00 per person) and Egg Hunt at 10:15 am ($3.00 per child). For more information, visit the Arden Park Recreation and Park District website.

Carmichael Egg Hunt at Carmichael Park, 5750 Grant Avenue. Pancake Breakfast by Kiwanis Club 7 to 11 am ($5 per adult/$3 children 12 and under). Free Egg Hunt at 10 am sharp rain or shine. For more information, visit the Carmichael Recreation and Park District website.

Fair Oaks Easter Eggstravaganza at Fair Oaks Park, 1549 Fair Oaks Boulevard. Activities 9am-1pm include Free Egg Hunt for children Ages 0-13 plus fee charges for carnival games, inflatables, choo-choo ride, and breakfast by Lions Club ($5 for adults/$3 for children) Note adult egg hunt, too ($3 to participate)! For more information, visit the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District website.

Fulton-El Camino Egg-O-Rama & Pancake Breakfast at Howe Park, 2201 Cottage Way. Pancake Breakfast 8-11 am ($3 per person) Carnival and Egg Hunt ($5 participation) Carnival 9:30 am-12 pm, Egg Hunt Ages 0-2 & 3-4 at10:15 am and Ages 5-7 & 8-12 at 11:15 am. For more information, visit the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District website.

Mission Oaks Easter Blast at Swanston Community Center, 2350 Northrop Avenue. Egg Hunt, Games and Crafts will be held12-2 pm. For more information, visit the Mission Oaks Recreation and Park District website.

North Highlands Spring Fling Eggstra! Eggstra! at Freedom Park, corner of Freedom Park and Dudley Boulevard. Free Community Egg Hunt Ages 1-4 at 10:15 am, Ages 5-8 at 11 am, and Ages 9-12 at 11:10 am. For more information, visit the North Highlands Recreation and Park District website.


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DMV Accepts U.S. Passport Card for New Driver License

Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles Media  |  2017-04-12

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announces the acceptance of a valid U.S. passport card when applying for a first-time driver license (DL) or identification card (ID). The DMV included the U.S. passport card in the list of approved legal presence documents starting on April 3, 2017.

“We added the U.S. passport card to offer more options for our customers,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “The passport card is secure, more convenient, and less expensive than a passport book and it will help new driver license and ID card applicants establish their legal presence.”

Millions of people have applied for and received a U.S. passport card from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs since they became available in 2008. The verification process and security features in the card are similar to a passport book, which the DMV currently accepts. The DMV determined that the passport card is a readily available and secure document that will help in establishing the applicant’s legal presence.

First-time driver license applicants must make an appointment before visiting a DMV field office. Walk-ins are only accepted at Driver License Processing Centers.

The DMV has a helpful webpage that features the requirements for driver license and ID card applicants. To apply for an original driver license or ID card, customers must complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application form (DL 44), give a thumb print, have their picture taken, provide their social security number, and verify their birth date, legal presence, and California residency.

The DMV reminds all new DL and ID card applicants that they must provide proof of California residency. The residency requirement law went into effect July 1, 2016. For more information about the residency requirement visit the DMV website.

For more information about the U.S. passport card and how to apply, visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website.


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