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.
California’s commission process isn’t perfect, but it’s one that other states should emulate because it’s just plain wrong for politicians to draw districts that favor whichever party happens to control the process in the year following a census.
Capitol politicians love to cater to demands from Hollywood luminaries, no matter how illogical or far-fetched they may be, such as trying to censor a database of actors.
If one looked beyond the heated rhetoric from the podium, most of it directed at President Trump, last month's Democratic state convention revealed a party with many internal fault lines.
One should never – repeat never – judge the true tenor of a political party by what happens at its convention, and last month’s Democratic gabfest was a case in point.
Water rights seem destined to be the next big water war front as California faces what could be a semi-permanent state of drought and attempts to reallocate its finite supplies.
As he introduced his final state budget in January, Gov. Jerry Brown faced sharp questions from reporters about the effectiveness of his landmark overhaul of public school finance.
Officials fear that were CalPERS to experience another big investment loss, it would pass a point of no return and never be able to pay for pension promises.
Last Thursday, Tony Mendoza became the third state legislator and the first senator to resign after being accused of sexual harassment in the scandal that has enveloped the Capitol.
Well folks, it looks like we may have an old-fashioned, down-to-the-wire political race this year for governor, something Californians haven’t seen for quite a few years.
If several thousand sex criminals waltz free despite Brown’s campaign assurances, it would put a stain on what he clearly hopes will be a legacy of criminal justice reform.
This year is the 40th anniversary of Proposition 13, the iconic property tax limit measure that California voters overwhelmingly endorsed in 1978.
The Legislature has once again been thrown into turmoil, this time by multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Once again, however, the Legislature is handling each case on an ad hoc basis, rather than via the formal procedures in Proposition 50.
Asking voters to raise taxes for popular services without mentioning rising pension costs has become a common tactic in California’s cities.
The Legislature should repeal the very weak, four-decade-old law that provides very limited access to its records and place itself under the Open Records Act that other state agencies and local governments must obey, with limited exceptions for legal and personnel issues.
With the new San Onofre settlement, the criminal investigation and the effort to open emails involving Brown—if they exist—could just fade away. The episode has been embarrassing to everyone involved except Aguirre, so there’s probably little appetite for continuing to air dirty linen.
Brown will not be facing voters again and clearly wants to leave his successor a healthy reserve rather than a barrel of red ink – something Brown 1.0 didn’t do in 1983 and almost all recent governors have also failed to do.
From one end of California to the other, hundreds of cities are facing a tsunami of pension costs that officials say is forcing them to reduce vital services and could drive some—perhaps many—into functional insolvency or even bankruptcy.
One might conclude that Brown 2.0 has been channeling his father, Pat Brown, who as governor in the 1960s was also a big booster of public works, including highways, universities and, most of all, a massive water project.
One could infer that Jerry Brown’s entire second governorship has been, at least partly, an effort to bury the “Governor Moonbeam” image he acquired the first time around and compare favorably with the father he now embraces.
Los Angeles and San Francisco may be economic and cultural rivals, but politics in the state’s two most important cities are similarly harsh.
The state’s top political figures — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in particular — received a harsh reminder this week that what plays in liberal California may be a liability elsewhere.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra is imploring the U.S. Supreme Court to validate laws in California and other states requiring public employees who are not union members to nevertheless pay “agency fees” to unions.
Collective bargaining for California’s public employees may have been a questionable idea. But it’s not going away and there’s absolutely no reason why Capitol workers, except for a small cadre of senior staffers, should not have civil service status and unionization, if they wish.
California’s education dilemma can be stated rather simply, to wit: The state has 6 million kids in its K-12 public school system, 60 percent of them are classified as either poor or English-learners and as a group they trail badly in educational accomplishment.
For years, Gov. Jerry Brown has preached a secular version of a religious principle called “subsidiarity,” asserting that local officials should have flexibility to act without micromanagement from Sacramento.
Under the new tax bill, the wealthy will feel the full impact of their state and local taxes, which will no longer be subsidized by the federal government and the impact will be the heaviest in California because of its highest-in-the-nation income tax rates.
Notwithstanding the maxim about not speaking ill of the dead, sometimes it’s necessary, as historians often do, to complete the record and teach a lesson about human behavior.
With a new forensic team’s report, it’s evident that as important as it has been to the state’s growth and economic prosperity, the Oroville Dam was not built correctly.
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.