Morillas, Pedro

Pedro Morillas joined CALPIRG’s advocacy team as its Sacramento-based Legislative Advocate in August 2007. Prior to that, for two years he directed citizen outreach offices for CALPIRG in Santa Cruz and San Diego, building citizen support for CALPIRG campaigns to improve drug safety, enact lobby reforms in Congress, and invest in public transit, among others.

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average California Taxpayers $423 a Year, Each California Small Business $2,010

By Pedro Morillas

With tax day approaching, a new study released by CALPIRG found that the average California taxpayer in 2011 would have to shoulder an extra $423 tax burden to make up for revenue lost from corporations and wealthy individuals shifting income to offshore tax havens. The report additionally found that to cover the cost of the corporate abuse of tax havens in 2011, small businesses in California would have to foot a bill of over $2,010 on average.

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying an estimated $100 billion in taxes by shifting income to low or no tax offshore tax havens. Of that $100 billion, $60 billion in taxes are avoided specifically by corporations. A GAO study found that at least 83 of the top 100 publically traded corporations use offshore tax havens.

How To Close Your Bank of America Account

By Pedro Morillas

Step 1: Open a new account at a bank or credit union of your choice.  (For help finding a bank that you'll like, is a useful tool).

Step 2: Switch all automatic withdrawals and deposits to your new bank. (Things like direct deposit from your job, and auto bill pay for your cell phone.)

New Safeguards For Library Privatization Protect The Public

By Pedro Morillas

AB 438, legislation that will help ensure proposals to privatize public libraries are a good deal for the public, is currently awaiting Governor Brown’s signature. Among other provisions, the bill requires any deal to have specific performance standards and a limit of 5 years. Generally, the point of privatizing community run services like libraries is to save those communities money. AB 438 makes sure that privatization deals deliver on what they promise.

Balanced Budget Can’t Include Building Sale

By Pedro Morillas

A budget that includes selling off public buildings to lease back to ourselves for more money than the sale generates isn’t a balanced budget. According to an analysis by the LAO of a similar proposal, this deal could end up costing California money in its very first year.  

This isn't a solution, especially when the official studies show it’s a money loser over time. And writing those proceeds into the budget would take away the state's bargaining leverage to reject bad deals. In addition, the original proposal by Governor Schwarzenegger was projected to cost Californians $600 million more than if we just kept the buildings for ourselves. Governor Brown should be commended for seeing the gimmick for what it is and sending the legislature back to the drawing board.

Off-Shore Tax Havens Cost California Taxpayers $440 a Year

By Pedro Morillas

Major corporations and some individuals avoid a total of as much as $100 billion a year in federal taxes by “off-shoring” the profits they make here in the U.S. or by setting up sham headquarters in tax haven countries. As a result, California taxpayers are left footing the bill.

According to Tax Shell Game, a new California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) report, the use of offshore tax havens results in $434 in additional tax burden for taxpayers around the country. Here in California, it’s $440 per taxpayer.

When individuals and households pay more in taxes than huge corporations there is clearly a problem. Reports of giant corporations like G.E., which make billions in profits, paying little to nothing in income taxes last year show us that reform is well overdue.  

AB 919: Confronting a Bad Supreme Court Ruling

By Pedro Morillas

In January, the Supreme Court ruled in a contentious 5-4 opinion that corporations have the same free speech rights as people. In the eyes of the court, the ‘We the People’ preamble to the Constitution applies to corporate entities because corporations are, well, groups of people.

Flowing from this skewed logic, the court struck down nearly a century of law that forced corporations to seek contributions from individuals affiliated with the corporation to fund their political contributions, people like shareholders, employees and board members.

Economic Stimulus Spending Transparency Measured State by State, California Ties for 6th

By Pedro Morillas

Sacramento, January 26, 2010—A report released today shows that many states are making dramatic improvements in websites designed to disseminate information about their share of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), while others have failed to make vital information available.
In addition to ranking in the top ten for ARRA transparency, California is also home to the company that produced the technology used by the top five ranking states in the country.  ESRI, a California-based company, also produced seven other states’ interactive maps.   

CALPIRG Scorecard - How Did Your Representative Vote?

By Pedro Morrillas

CALPIRG compiles an annual legislative scorecard for all members of the California legislature, to educate the public about their representatives' voting records and hold elected officials accountable.

Our 2009 scorecard focuses on key consumer votes in the legislature.

Find out how your State Assemblymember voted here.

Find out how your State Senator voted here

Thirteen state Senators and twenty-five state Assemblymembers received 100 percent scores for their strong record of voting to protect consumers, rather than special interests.

The average score in the Assembly is 66 percent. The average score in the Senate is 65 percent.

New CALPIRG Report Details the Ins and Outs of California’s New Government Transparency Website

By Pedro Morillas
Legislative Advocate

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Released a new report today, Budget Transparency 2.0: Online Tools for Better Government.

“The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy,” said Pedro Morillas CALPIRG Consumer Advocate. “There is no reason seeing how the government spends tax dollars should be any more difficult than checking your bank statement,” added Morillas.

The report shows the places where California’s online transparency tools measure up and where they fall short. California’s Reporting Transparency In Government website scores high marks for affordability, at a cost of $21,000 for the initial set up. Additionally, state contracts are searchable by department, supplier name, and price. The information can be downloaded in Excel format as well, making it easier for Californians to analyze the data.