William Vickery’s announcement that he would retire as the chief administrator of the California judicial system may cool off a red-hot political fight that pits judges against judges.
Officially, Vickery, the top executive at the Administrative Office of the Courts was merely fulfilling a previously made decision to step down. But it occurred as Vickery was receiving big-time heat from rebellious judges, the State Auditor’s Office and legislators over management issues, especially a much-troubled, very costly computer system. Read More
San Jose’s John Vasconcellos presided over the Assembly’s budget committee for many years in the 1970s and 1980s, and, being the liberal Democrat he was, he frequently railed about a lack of money for what he considered to be vital public services. Read More
There’s no single reason why California, once a model of fiscal probity, finds itself with an intractable budget crisis.
Rather, it’s been budgetary death by a thousand cuts — countless single-purpose decisions over several decades by voters and politicians to either increase spending or reduce revenues, eventually resulting in what Capitol bean counters call a “structural deficit.”
Even when the economy is doing well, California struggles to cover all of its paper spending commitments. When it’s doing poorly, as it is now, the deficit soars to unmanageable proportions. Read More
The timing of Gov. Jerry Brown’s “12-point pension-reform plan” last week was no accident.The plan was released a couple days after his negotiations with Republicans on a state budget deal collapsed. The latter contended that Brown had balked at their demands for public pension reforms because of opposition from unions that helped him win the governorship last year. Read More
Success, it’s been said, has many fathers, while failure is an unwanted orphan.
The California Capitol experienced another failure this week when Gov. Jerry Brown called off talks with Republicans on placing billions of dollars in taxes before voters in June to balance the budget. On the specifics of the issue, there’s plenty of blame for all involved. But if we Californians want to place responsibility for our perpetual budget crisis where it truly belongs, we should look in the mirror. Read More
Two sets of official numbers that were released this month should make California’s Republican Party leaders very nervous.
First were the results of the 2010 census that confirmed anew the state’s incredible demographic and cultural change. Read More
California state Sen. Alex Padilla, flanked by law enforcement officials, stood on the Capitol’s steps before an array of cellphones confiscated from prison inmates and declared that smuggling had become an epidemic.
It is, Padilla said, a “clear and present danger to public safety” as inmates use smuggled phones to harass victims and witnesses and plot other crimes. He called to the podium a woman who said she received harassing calls from her husband’s murderer. Read More
The good news for Gov. Jerry Brown is that twice as many California voters like his initial performance as governor than dislike it.The bad news is that his approval rating in a new Field Poll is just 48 percent, the lowest level for any governor’s first weeks in office since George Deukmejian in 1983.He could take solace from the Field Poll finding that he’s three times as popular as the Legislature. But as predecessor Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger learned the hard way, a governor’s popularity means almost nothing in dealing with legislators. Read More
With detailed data from the 2010 census in hand, members of California’s new redistricting commission will soon begin redrawing maps of 177 legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts.
It’s a highly complex task with countless pitfalls, and the 14-member commission will be very dependent on the advisers it hires. But finding objective consultants with expertise — especially to draw districts that can satisfy myriad state and federal legal requirements — is no easy chore. Read More
About 90 percent of the men and women who hold seats in the California Legislature are either true-blue liberals or red-meat conservatives, even though polls have consistently indicated that only about half the state’s voters fall into those categories.That’s another way of saying the state’s moderate Democrats, centrist Republicans and independent voters — half of the electorate — have only scant representation in Sacramento. Read More
As California’s economy roared in the middle years of the last decade — an unsustainable bubble fueled by mortgage funny-money — income and sales taxes flooded into the state treasury. Read More
Confusion reigned in the Capitol Building on Monday over whether Gov. Jerry Brown’s overtures to five Republican senators to support his budget plan had utterly failed, or whether suspension of their talks is merely a temporary setback.
Whatever the case, it appeared Brown’s hopes of placing $10 billion-plus a year in tax extensions on a June 7 special-election ballot had been dashed. Read More
April 15 used to be simply the day that federal and state income tax returns were due.
However, with political angst running amok, it’s been transformed into Tax Day with capital letters, pitting those who believe they’re taxed too much by wasteful governments against those who insist that taxes are too low and vital services are dying.
Thus, hundreds of tea party tax protesters gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday — while union leaders and liberal politicians ramped up their pro-tax rhetoric. Read More