Dan Walters writes for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.
The Giants might not be doing well this year, but the San Francisco Bay Area’s technology-centered economy is, by any measure, red-hot and not only far surpassing the Los Angeles region’s lackluster economic performance but also, in effect, propping up the entire state.
Geographically, San Diego County is a microcosm of California – a coastline as its western edge, giving way to tree-covered mountains and a searing desert to the east.
The business, civic and political elites of Los Angeles are understandably stoked that their city was chosen last week to host the 2028 Olympic Games.
The late Glenn Frey’s song about the international drug trade, “Smuggler’s Blues,” contains a phrase that resonates in politics as well: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very strong appeal.” Politicians are habitually lured by easy money, which is defined as money they can spend without directly taxing their constituents, but somebody […]
The post California politicians lured by easy money, but somebody must eventually pay appeared first on CALmatters.
A constant tenet of Marin County’s guiding ethos is resistance to growth, manifesting itself in a kind of environmental apartheid.
The progressive era of California government a century ago spawned many innovative reforms, among them a “grand compromise” between the state’s workers and their employers.
Slowly – but surely – we are learning that the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam’s main spillway wasn’t truly caused by weather, even though the state claims that in seeking federal aid for repairs.
The multi-front political and legal war over the direction of California’s immense public school system has a new front. The state Board of Education – and inferentially, Gov. Jerry Brown and the education establishment – want to take a minimalist approach to complying with the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Civil […]
The post California’s war over public schools moves to a new front appeared first on CALmatters.
The political deal that led to reauthorization of California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions has many pieces, but one of the strangest is Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1.
Having checked gas taxes and cap-and-trade off their 2017 agenda, California political leaders will turn to the state’s housing crisis after a month-long midsummer vacation.
Much has been said and written – mostly negatively – about the effects of Proposition 13, California’s iconic law limiting property taxes.
Gov. Jerry Brown traveled two not always parallel paths to win legislative approval for extending California’s cap-and-trade approach to shrinking its carbon emission footprint.
The last three California election cycles demonstrated that at the political margins, voter turnout can have a major impact.
To put it mildly, the elected members of the state Board of Equalization are unhappy that the huge tax collection agency is being dismantled.
Governments, it seems, can't resist risky schemes to make money from nothing - despite the repeated failure of their predecessors.
“Desperate” may be too strong a word, but Gov. Jerry Brown, who aspires to global leadership of the climate change movement, very badly needs to renew “cap-and-trade” controls on California’s greenhouse gas emissions that will expire in 2020.
There’s been much speculation over whether those highest-in-the-nation tax rates would encourage the very wealthy to flee California and establish residences in low- or no-income-tax states such as neighboring Nevada.
For months, California’s Republican leaders had, with fingers crossed, hoped that the state’s top GOP officeholder, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, would change his mind. They wanted him to run for governor in 2018, contending that with Democrats drifting leftward in reaction to President Donald Trump, a centrist Republican would have a chance to win. […]
The post Faulconer’s ‘no’ to California governor race could hurt GOP in congressional contests appeared first on CALmatters.
Notwithstanding his penchant for obscure philosophical aphorisms, sometimes delivered in Latin, at his core Jerry Brown is a largely conventional politician. Therefore, while he repeatedly denies it, as political protocol dictates, he certainly is concerned with the legacy he’ll leave when his record-long, bifurcated governorship ends 18 months hence. Of course, there will be the […]
The post As Gov. Jerry Brown nears retirement, his two big public works projects remain iffy appeared first on CALmatters.
California’s Capitol is under perpetual siege by lobbyists for hundreds of specific interest groups, each with an agenda of bills it wants enacted or killed. After each legislative session, many of those groups produce scorecards for their members, not only reporting how well their agendas fared, but how the 120 legislators voted on those agendas. […]
The post Most of California’s business-opposed ‘job killer’ bills are stalled out appeared first on CALmatters.
Knowledge, it’s been said, is power. And that explains, in a nutshell, why those in public office fundamentally dislike, and often resist, revealing information to the voting and taxpaying public. That’s especially evident in Washington, where information is a commodity to be acquired, hoarded and traded – and only reluctantly shared with the larger public. […]
The post Democrats gripe about secrecy in Washington but practice it in Sacramento appeared first on CALmatters.
The California Nurses Association made its political bones, so to speak, in 1999 when it persuaded the Legislature and a newly inaugurated, union-allied Democratic governor, Gray Davis, to impose strict nurse-to-patient ratios on hospitals.
With the California Nurses Association providing the political horsepower, the Senate passed a single-payer bill without a mechanism to cover its $400 billion a year cost. Whereupon, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon declared it dead (or at least stalled) on arrival, terming it “woefully inadequate.”
Los Angeles County has 10 million residents, a quarter of all Californians. Not surprisingly, control of Los Angeles County’s government is a very big political deal.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wants to reclaim the House of Representatives and return to the speakership she held for the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency and the first two years of Barack Obama’s. However, for San Franciscan Pelosi and the Democrats to recapture the House, they would have to not only hold […]
The post Democrats’ hopes for House takeover hinge on California, but it won’t be easy appeared first on CALmatters.
One of California’s most enduring conflicts is the one between San Francisco and Los Angeles for economic, cultural and, of course, political dominance. San Francisco was No. 1 during the latter half of the 19th century, its dominance fueled by the gold rush and the banking empires it spawned. But Los Angeles came on strong […]
The post California’s north-south rivalry could play out in 2018 race for governor appeared first on CALmatters.
The recall campaign aimed at forcing Democrat Josh Newman out of the state Senate has become a hot mess that mirrors Washington’s toxic politics.
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are patting themselves on the back for what Brown describes as a “balanced and progressive budget” for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators are on the verge of virtually eliminating the state Board of Equalization, which has been in existence nearly 140 years.
So here I am again, beginning the third incarnation of my running commentary on all things California, but particularly its politics.
One of the more entertaining aspects of covering California’s politics is monitoring the clumsy attempts of out-of-state pundits to explain its proclivities.
Since 2016 is a number divisible by 2, this is also an election year, and that biennial fact will dominate — and perhaps distort — California politics in the forthcoming months.