Jerry Brown devoted the first months of his second governorship last year to dickering with Republicans on placing a multibillion-dollar tax increase before voters.The negotiations failed, and eventually Brown turned to an initiative. His tax-hike measure, Proposition 30, will be on the November ballot.During his drive for Republican votes, Brown cited repaying “a wall of debt” as a major justification for a tax increase. Read More
As California’s Legislature churns toward Friday’s deadline for a new state budget, the macro-issues are well known, such as whether health, welfare and child care services should be slashed by billions of dollars to close the deficit.
However, other aspects of the budget wrangle go largely unnoticed, such as the march into secrecy — or, more accurately, sneakiness. Read More
Gov. Jerry Brown wants to fast-track an initial section of a bullet train system, perhaps by partially exempting it from environmental impact laws, even though there’s no financing on the horizon to complete the project and even though a new poll shows that most Californians don’t want to build it. Read More
This year’s California elections will test the theory that having independently drawn districts and a top-two primary ballot will result in a less polarized, more collegial and relevant political structure.That’s just theory, but it’s already evident that these changes are altering campaign dynamics, making the June 5 primary a political junkie’s dream and a bonanza for hired guns. Read More
Thousands of California teachers were given layoff notices a few weeks ago because state law requires the slips to be sent out each spring if administrators and trustees believe cuts are needed to balance their budgets.
This month, the districts must decide whether to continue or rescind those layoffs on the assumption that by then they’ll know the state of their 2012-13 finances.
That’s problematic in any year, because the Legislature, which supplies most of the schools’ money, typically doesn’t settle the state budget until weeks or even months later. Read More
Two years ago, when Gov. Jerry Brown was trying to reclaim the governorship he had left 28 years earlier, he often said that his age, maturity and lack of political ambition would allow him to succeed where others had failed.Brown said he would patiently attack the state’s political issues, especially the deficit-ridden state budget, vowing, “I will tell the truth in ways [that hadn’t occurred] in years past.” Read More
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles probably touches more state residents than any other state agency, and therefore has become the bureaucracy that everyone loves to hate. At one time, that disdain might have been warranted. But under several past governors, and continuing under Gov. Jerry Brown, the DMV has become a model of consumer-friendly service and the intelligent use of technology that seems to escape other agencies. Read More
Gov. Jerry Brown is scaling back the state’s highly controversial bullet train project to keep it alive. Read More
The big news in Central California’s Stanislaus County these days is that a big Internet retailer — almost certainly Amazon — will establish a huge distribution center in Patterson that would employ at least 1,500 workers.Meanwhile, California new car sales reached nearly 1.3 million vehicles last year, a 9.9 percent improvement over 2010, and the state’s unemployment rate dipped in December to 11.1 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from the previous December, with at least a quarter-million more working. Read More
California’s budget contains hundreds of specific provisions, but none is bigger, more complicated, more politicized, more emotional — or more important — than the $30 billion or so it spends on K-12 education.That was true even before Gov. Jerry Brown proposed to increase state school aid and raised its political and societal stakes even higher, although he claims it would be less complicated. Read More
‘Soak the rich” has a populist ring that resonates in a period of economic uncertainty, and making the rich pay their “fair share” of taxes has become a rallying cry for those on the political left with no small appeal to those in the middle.California Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to tap into that sentiment with a ballot measure that would increase everyone’s sales taxes a bit while hitting the very affluent with higher income taxes. Read More
The three-pronged battle over which California Senate districts will be used for this year’s elections is reaching a climax that will determine whether Democrats can achieve a two-thirds majority in the upper legislative house.The state redistricting commission released maps for Senate, Assembly and congressional districts in August. It immediately became evident that with a little luck, Democrats could gain two seats in the 40-member Senate, thus reaching the two-thirds threshold and empowering them to pass tax bills without Republican support. Read More
Gov. Jerry Brown’s new budget says the state’s shaky finances are “exacerbated by an unprecedented level of debts, deferrals and budgetary obligations,” which he describes as “a wall of debt.”However, California’s debt, much of it run up over the past decade, is more like a mountain, at least a Mount Whitney and perhaps a Mount Everest. Read More
California’s public schools received a rare bit of good news Tuesday when Gov. Jerry Brown largely exempted them from automatic reductions in state aid, citing improvements in the economy.However, Brown’s declaration that the economy is getting better and he doesn’t have to squeeze all automatic spending-cut “triggers” also lessened the air of crisis and therefore complicated Brown’s efforts to persuade voters to raise taxes next year. Read More
Jerry Brown made a rare gubernatorial appearance this month before a joint legislative committee that was delving — with obvious reluctance — into whether California’s public employee pension benefits should be overhauled.While seeking his second stint as governor last year, Brown had pledged pension reform and has since offered a 12-point overhaul that attempts to strike a middle ground between the defenders of the status quo and the radical changes that outside groups want. Read More