One of California’s longest-running political battles pits personal-injury lawyers against insurance companies and their business clients over rules governing who can sue and collect for what kind of injurious act.
The rivals have spent countless hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign contributions, lobbying fees, public relations operatives and other political weaponry, but that’s chicken feed compared to the multibillion-dollar stakes.
Milestones in what insiders call a “tort war” include then-Gov. Read More
California has the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate, with more than 2 million jobless workers, yet many employers still can’t fill job openings that require technical or mechanical skills.
Let’s connect that anomaly to what’s happening, or not happening, with the 6 million kids in California’s public schools.
On Thursday, state school Superintendent Tom Torlakson released updated high school dropout numbers and supplemented them, for the first time, with some data on the kids who drop out of middle schools. Read More
Jerry Brown was specifically nonspecific when asking California voters last year to return him to the governorship — especially when it came to the state’s chronic budget deficit.
Although pledging to balance the budget without gimmicks, Brown refused to say whether he’d raise taxes, which he knew would alienate many voters.
Nevertheless, Brown’s first budget was keyed to continuing some temporary taxes that were on the verge of expiring. Read More
As the nation’s last space shuttle was making its last landing for its last mission last month, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was finishing up a report on jump-starting California’s recession-stricken economy.Therein lies a tale.About 40 years ago, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan created a high-profile job for his handpicked lieutenant governor and putative successor, Ed Reinecke — chairing the Economic Development Commission, with its main mission to secure the space shuttle for California. Read More
So California’s new redistricting commission, after countless hours of hearings, discussions and mind-numbing exercises in specific line drawing, has produced its almost-final maps of 177 legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts.
What now? Read More
In 1979, a year after California voters adopted Proposition 13 and tightly limited local property taxes, they decreed in another ballot measure that the state should reimburse schools and local governments for state-mandated costs they incur.
That seemingly straightforward decree, however, has evolved into a chronically convoluted wrangle over what is and what is not a reimbursable cost and how much money should flow from Sacramento into local coffers.
Thousands of school districts, cities, counties and special districts, the governor’s Department of Finance, legislative com Read More
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger often cited an overhaul of the system that compensates workers for job-related illnesses and injuries seven years ago as one of his proudest achievements.
Schwarzenegger is gone, but the very controversial changes that tightened up eligibility for employer-paid benefits and imposed stricter medical care guidelines are continuing to have a major effect on the multibillion-dollar system, a recent report indicates.
And it adds fuel to a burgeoning political debate. Read More
The California Board of Equalization divided along party lines Tuesday on how — and whether — to begin implementing the state’s new law aimed at collecting sales taxes from Internet sellers. Read More
California’s evolution into one of the planet’s most economically, culturally and ethnically diverse societies sparks ceaseless political debate, touching everything from illegal immigration to the plight of public education.
We Californians have been less willing to discuss a particularly sensitive aspect of that diversity — the emergence of what can only be called segregation.
Although the state long ago abolished legal segregation, we nevertheless tend to collect ourselves into enclaves, sometimes due to economic necessity but more often reflecting personal preferences to Read More
California Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators failed in their bid to put billions of dollars in tax extensions on the ballot, not only because they couldn’t persuade a few Republicans to go along, but also because Democrats’ union allies feared that voters would reject the taxes.
In the aftermath, Brown and the Democrats passed a no-new-taxes budget while warning about shredding vital public services. Read More
When Gov. Jerry Brown and Republicans failed to reach agreement on closing the state budget deficit, they also failed to resolve several budget-related issues — most prominently what, if anything, should be done to rein in public employees’ pensions.Pension costs are not a huge component of the state budget because the vast majority of its funds are given to others to spend. Read More
Financially, the so-called “Amazon tax” is a relatively tiny piece of the California budget package that Democratic legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown enacted last month. Politically, however, it’s a very big deal.
The budget trailer bill would compel Internet retailers to collect sales taxes, notwithstanding a U.S. Supreme Court decision that constricts states’ powers to do so.
Democrats like it because it would raise some money, and California’s retailers such as Wal-Mart like it because it would make Amazon, Overstock, et al., less competitive. Read More
Could California’s noble experiment in redrawing legislative and congressional districts be collapsing?
It’s the obvious question because the new Citizens Redistricting Commission has decided to skip publication of a second draft of redistricting maps and, in effect, take the process behind semiclosed doors as it nears a deadline for final maps.
The first set of draft maps drew sharp criticism from Hispanic rights groups for sidestepping the federal Voting Rights Act requiring that underrepresented groups be given what amounts to affirmative action to maximize their ability Read More
The introductory sections of Assembly Bill 18 lay out, at great length, the complexity of California’s education finance system — if anything so convoluted, opaque and irrational can be called a “system.”
“The current system is not logical, with district revenues that are largely a historical artifact of spending in the 1970s combined with a confusing, bureaucratic, report-driven and burdensome system of categorical programs,” the legislation says.
Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, a Santa Monica Democrat who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, says she introduced the bill Read More