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.
Political moves by candidates in the past few weeks increase the likelihood that under California’s top-two primary system, the November elections for governor and senator will be Democrat vs. Democrat affairs.
Faced with rising labor costs, thanks in part to a big boost in California’s minimum wage, and shortages of workers, employers throughout the state are trying to replace human labor with machines.
A new proposal would give California taxpayers the option of converting their state income tax payments into charitable donations to the state since the new federal tax law doesn’t change the law on charitable deductions.
On Wednesday, Jerry Brown proposed the 16th and final budget of his record-long gubernatorial career – two eight-year stints separated by 28 years of doing other things – aided by his current budget director, Michael Cohen, who was a toddler in 1975.
A new year brings renewal of hope, it’s said, but it also means renewed political and legal hostilities over the direction of California’s public school system.
The size and cultural complexity of California spawns many unique political conflicts, and none more so than a years-long, multi-party squabble within the nation’s largest judicial system.
California loses more people to other states each year than it gains. That’s been true for at least a quarter-century and, if anything, the exodus from the state has been growing, thanks to high housing prices, taxes and other costs of living.
California’s looming shortage of college-educated workers has been well-documented, particularly in a series of reports by the Public Policy Institute of California.
State Auditor Elaine Howle has a fearsome reputation for tunneling deeply into public agencies and finding nuggets of information that officials would prefer to remain hidden.
Remember what happened a decade ago when the worst recession since the Great Depression clobbered the state and the budget’s perilous dependence on income taxes from a tiny number of high-income Californians struck home.
The biggest uncertainty for the 2018 election is that we don’t know what initiative measures will also make it to the ballot, but it’s likely to be a potpourri of special interest gambits, ideological symbolism and serious governance proposals.
What and who are taxed and the levels of those levies are purely arbitrary decisions that are completely divorced from logic, consistency or even rudimentary fairness.
California, which had led the nation in cracking down on crime in the 1980s and 1990s by locking up tens of thousands of felons, has dramatically reversed course in the last half-decade.
Making California the first state to guarantee health care for every resident has become a touchstone issue – and a divisive one – for the state’s dominant Democrats.
California’s high school graduation rates, once abysmally low, have improved somewhat in recent years, although the factors in that improvement are a little cloudy.
In San Francisco, politics is a blood sport and careers can be made or lost by even tiny conflicts of ideology, sexual orientation, ethnicity or personality.
It literally would take every bit of this space to even briefly list the many information technology disasters that have occurred in state government.
Gov. Jerry Brown hopped around Europe for two weeks last month, telling the world that to avoid a climate change Armageddon, it should emulate what California is doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
California’s long-running feud over the direction of its 6-million-student public school system has raged in many arenas, but never in a high-profile campaign for political office. That day, however, may come soon.
California Republicans have harbored thoughts—or fantasies—about eroding the Democrats’ two-thirds legislative “supermajorities” in next year’s elections.
Undeniably, California’s dominant Democratic Party is joined at the hip with labor unions, even though scarcely a sixth of the state’s workers belong to unions.
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,” singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson philosophized in his classic blues song, “Me & Bobby McGee,“ a half-century ago.
It stretches credulity to believe that Napolitano’s top two staffers would have done what they did without her knowledge, but they walked the plank by resigning while the “insufficient evidence” caveat gave the Board of Regents an excuse to keep her on the job.
The decades-long political struggle over fixing the bottleneck in California’s immense north-south water system is nearing a climax—and it’s not looking good for Gov. Jerry Brown’s long-sought solution.
The state agency that regulates California’s legal profession jumped out of the political frying pan this year, but is still feeling searing heat from two new conflicts.
Efforts by Republicans to repeal California’s new gas taxes may be ill-considered, but they deserve a fair chance at persuading voters.
A lot of taxpayer money is being handed to businesses in California, without any objective evidence that it’s doing anything other than improve their own bottom lines.
The results of a recent poll were potentially devastating for the political, business and labor union groups that had pushed successfully for the transportation package after decades of delay. Most of California’s registered voters would opt to eliminate the gas taxes and fees, the polling found.
California’s school battle shows no signs of abating, and will heat up more next year when the warring factions back opposing candidates for state superintendent of instruction to succeed Tom Torlakson, the very embodiment of the establishment.
The Left Coast – geographically and ideologically – seems bent on challenging the inherent conflict between the U.S. Constitution’s federal supremacy clause and its 10th amendment protecting states’ rights. And where it leads is anyone’s guess.
Short-term expediency, such as boosting benefits without putting aside money to pay for them or letting maintenance slide because raising gas taxes is politically difficult, just makes the eventual days of reckoning that much more difficult.
There’s no particular reason why rank-and-file legislative workers couldn’t be civil servants, rather that serving, as they do now, as “at-will” employees who can be fired without warning by their political masters.
Some may have believed – or hoped – that the furor over sexual harassment in and around the state Capitol would soon fade away. Nope.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shed some alligator tears last week over Republican plans to eliminate the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes.