Despite some encouraging details in Gov. Jerry Brown’s recently announced pension-reform proposal, there’s virtually no chance the state will seriously reform — or even seriously attempt to reform — a system creaking under the weight of about $500 billion in unfunded liabilities. Read More
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?That ancient philosophical — or would it be biological? — question has a political counterpart in California. Read More
Though Jerry Brown vowed to balance the state budget without gimmicks as he sought last year to return to the governorship, he ultimately relied on rosy revenue estimates, some creative bookkeeping and raids on other funds to temporarily cover the deficit.
There may be, however, one positive aspect to this dreary story.
One of the minor gimmicks is a suspension of the multibillion-dollar courthouse construction program being managed, or mismanaged, by the Administrative Office of the Courts, headed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
A few years ago, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s chief actuary gave what he assumed was a private briefing and described the huge system’s liabilities as “unsustainable.” A journalist who heard the briefing published an account, thus letting everyone else in on CalPERS’ secret.
Officially, of course, the union-dominated CalPERS still contends that its unfunded liabilities are small and it can finance pensions for millions of government retirees and their families, now $20 billion a year, with, at most, only minor tweaks. Read More
California voters are certain — as certain as anything can be in the topsy-turvy world of politics — to pass judgment on a multibillion-dollar tax increase measure next year, but that kind of measure is very much up in the air.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who tried and failed to persuade some Republicans this year to place taxes on the ballot, has often declared his intention to seek more tax revenues from voters via an initiative in 2012. However, Brown has ducked when asked by reporters what he would include in his tax measure, saying in several ways that he’s still working on it. Read More
It’s an article of faith — indeed, blind faith — among those on California’s political left that the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 began the state’s downward spiral.Before voters limited property taxes, they say, California was a paradise of well-financed public services, but since then has evolved into something like Mississippi, in which a tiny, selfish overclass oppresses a burgeoning, mostly nonwhite underclass.Indeed, one leftish critic titled his book “Paradise Lost.” Read More
California Gov. Jerry Brown made an appearance in Santa Clara this week as the Texas-based Dell computer company broke ground for a new research and development center. The symbolism was unmistakable.
With California’s economy stuck in a recessionary trough, critics have been drawing contrasts with Texas, its economic, cultural and political rival to the east, so Dell’s project is an anecdotal antidote. Read More
The last big recession to hit California was in the early 1990s and largely centered in Southern California, as the aerospace industry was clobbered by the end of the Cold War.
Los Angeles County alone lost 437,000 jobs between 1990 and 1994, at least half of them directly tied to military spending. The result was a massive exodus out of the state. Read More
When Jerry Brown was serving his first stint as governor three decades ago, he was often accused — accurately, for the most part — of flip-flopping on issues.
One example: Shifting overnight from a fierce critic of Proposition 13, the 1978 property tax measure, into a self-proclaimed “born-again tax cutter” who tried to ride the anti-tax tide into the White House.
When accused, Brown would figuratively shrug and often quote some variation of Walt Whitman’s aphorism that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Read More
When Sacramento County officials gave the go-ahead to spend a billion dollars on a fancy new airport terminal in 2006, local and state economies were humming, and the airport’s passenger traffic had topped 10 million a year and was rising.
But now that the state-of-the-art and art-filled Terminal B opened last week, the economy is in the dumps and its passenger count has declined by nearly 20 percent. Read More
The harsh truth is that California’s recession-strapped economy shows only faint signs of recovery, and state and local governments will be squeezed by yawning income-outgo gaps for years.
There’s almost nothing that political officeholders can do about that fact other than attempt to raise taxes. Gov. Read More
Bill Richardson was a very conservative Republican state senator from Southern California who single-handedly changed the political dynamics of his house.For decades, Senate leaders adhered to an unwritten understanding that they would never challenge incumbent senators of the other party.Richardson — a former advertising man and a pioneer user of campaign technology — rebelled at the nonaggression pact and sponsored challengers who unseated three liberal Democratic senators in 1976, 1978 and 1980. Read More
Jerry Brown, California’s 73-year-old governor, has been showing signs lately of becoming a grumpy old man.In comments to reporters, in speeches and in bill veto messages, Brown has complained about the quantity (too much) and quality (too little) of legislation reaching his desk, about the intransigence of Republicans on taxes and about the influence that anti-tax groups wield on those Republicans.
The responses are obvious, to wit:
Strictly on its merits — devoid of petty politics — restricting California’s statewide initiative ballot measures to the every-other-year November general election makes much sense.June primary election voter turnouts are not only much lower than those in November, but the ethnic, geographic and partisan makeup of the primary electorate is strongly influenced by the political dynamics of the moment.Senate Bill 202, now awaiting a signature or veto from Gov. Jerry Brown, would make that electoral change, but it’s also awash in petty politics and steeped in irony. Read More