Redevelopment, a powerful and controversial tool that has remade — for better or worse — California’s urban landscape for the past six decades, will soon die. Or will it?
Two pieces of last month’s state budget package abolish the 400 local redevelopment agencies on Oct. 1, but allow them to remain in business if they agree to give big chunks of their property tax revenues to schools, thereby reducing the state treasury’s educational burden. Read More
Few, if any, California legislators can remember a summer not dominated by a political stalemate over a late and unbalanced state budget.
Indeed, last year the budget remained unsettled until October. Then it was enacted with a patchwork scenario that almost immediately fell apart. Read More
When Gov. Jerry Brown canceled construction of an expensive death row at San Quentin State Prison ($400 million), it was a small victory for common sense.
The hundreds of men and a few women awaiting execution won’t actually be put to death, given the immense legal and operational impediments. Read More
The much-revised state budget that California Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have cobbled together solves their political problem, at least for the moment.It means a budget will be in place for the new fiscal year that begins Friday and the state can now ask bankers to buy billions of dollars in short-term revenue anticipation notes needed for cash flow purposes.It means that legislators, whose salaries and expense checks had been suspended by Controller John Chiang for non-action on the budget, will be paid again. Read More
If we Californians ever get around to truly reforming our dysfunctional government, one change should be replacing the two-house Legislature with a unicameral body.
Why? Because at best, the current system is outdated, wasteful and duplicative, and at worst engenders deceptive, anti-democratic gamesmanship. Read More
When governors and legislators face seemingly big budget deficits, they often turn to gimmicks to balance income and outgo on paper.
The most creative have been what cynics call “rosy scenarios.”
California politicians conjure up some new source of revenue, swear it is legitimate and then use the projected windfall to close their gap. Read More
Sir Walter Scott wasn’t writing about politics when he sagely observed two centuries ago, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”But he could have been — and his poetry perfectly describes the ironic consequences of two deceptive California ballot measures drafted by Democratic politicians and their allies. Read More
If Republican legislators really wanted to discombobulate their Democratic rivals, they’d stop blocking the tax election that Gov. Jerry Brown wants.
Why? Because polling — including a new Field Poll — shows support slipping for taxes that Brown seeks to balance the state budget, an indication that voters would likely reject them.
Brown still wants the election, or at least says he does, to make good on last year’s campaign promise. Read More
Now isn’t this fun? The California Legislature’s Democrats push a chewing-gum-and-baling-wire budget through in near-record time, claiming that it’s balanced and meets the rarely observed June 15 constitutional deadline for action.
One day later, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown rejects it as unbalanced and unworkable — after hinting three days before that he might sign such a budget.
“It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars in new debt,” Brown said in Thursday’s veto message, parroting what Republicans had said. Read More
The bedrock goal of any public elementary and high school system should be awarding high school diplomas to as many youngsters as possible.
Therefore, one might expect that with the tens of billions of dollars California spends each year to educate six million kids — and with the vital role schools play in the state’s social, political and economic health — we’d know how we’re doing. Read More
We would be wrong to assume the California Legislature spends its time — our time, actually — on weighty matters such as the budget, or education or chronic water shortages.
In fact, lawmakers devote most of their time to thousands of specific matters that sometimes involve culture or ideology, but mostly money — taking it from somebody and giving it to somebody else.
Sometimes it’s official money — taxes and budgets — but it’s often off the books, such as giving some interest group a tax break or a lucrative monopoly.
One Read More
The debate about a California budget has been under way for many years while the budget has drifted in and out of solvency, mostly the latter. But the current phase of the legislative debate could be the beginning of the end of one particular segment of this particular year’s version.
The Democrats are poised to put on a big show to present their budget, including an extension of billions of dollars in temporary taxes that otherwise would expire. Read More
California’s prison dilemma is a yeasty melange of big money, power politics and constitutional law, and it’s difficult to know where one ends and another begins, as Gov. Jerry Brown’s response to last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decree underscores.
The court, upholding a three-judge panel, told California that it must sharply reduce prison overcrowding. And on Tuesday, the Brown administration told the judges that the state can comply, without early releases of inmates, if legislators and voters approve the taxes that Brown has proposed to close the state’s budget deficit. Read More
When voters were asked to create an independent redistricting commission, they were told it would end self-serving gerrymanders secretly drafted in the Capitol’s back rooms and thus make elections less predictable and more meaningful.
The 140-member commission and its consultants and attorneys are still fine-tuning draft maps of 153 congressional and legislative districts prior to Friday’s official release, but at first glance the maps appear to fulfill that promise. Read More