Read Gov. Brown’s Budget

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

State budgets are never perfect. That’s because they employ cash-basis budgeting, which excludes accrued but unpaid expenses. (That’s how states are able to record surpluses when under generally accepted accounting principles they would record deficits.) The unrecorded expenses automatically turn into unfunded liabilities that, with interest, must be paid off down the road. But Gov. Brown’s document makes clear what cash-basis budgets do not: billions […]

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Big Three Items are Eating State Revenues

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

California’s General Fund tax revenues have grown nearly 50 percent since a tax increase in 2012. But funding for most services has grown at a fraction of that pace. Eg, funding for courts has grown only 12 percent. That’s because tax revenues are increasingly being diverted to (i) pensions, (ii) subsidies for retired employees (“OPEB”), and (iii) enterprises reimbursed by Medi-Cal, […]

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School Spending Up; Student Performance Down. Time for a Change

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

California school boards are prevented by the state legislature and governor from offering disproportionate pay to employees willing to work in high-poverty zones, cutting pension spending, altering tenure rules or granting principals the power to fire poorly performing employees. The outcome: poor student performance and shaky finances despite a big increase in spending. All it takes is 62 legislators and […]

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Where the New School Money Really Goes

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

School funding in California is at record levels: But school districts are cutting staff and holding down raises. That’s largely because they are subsidizing retirees at the expense of active employees. Eg, San Francisco Unified School District will spend >$40 million this year to subsidize health care spending by retirees and divert nearly $100 million to retirement costs in total, more than double five […]

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Get Money Into the Classroom

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools were inherently unequal. Today, African American students in California experience a different form of inequality. Generally they underperform other students, especially when they are also low income:

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Legislature Not Serious About Fixing Health Care

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

California’s largest health care system is a single-payer system (“Medi-Cal”) that covers the state’s 13 million poorest residents, a population greater than all but four states. Service is terrible. Despite spending of $100 billion per year, appointments are hard to get, emergency room visits are up, there’s little indication of greater healthiness, and there’s even evidence than uninsured patients do better than […]

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Tell the Truth SF Unified

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

In June San Francisco’s school board wants voters to approve a new “parcel tax” of $298 per parcel of real property. They claim the money — $50 million per year — is needed to provide teachers with living wages. That’s a worthy objective but it’s not the real reason behind the proposed tax. The real reason is buried deep in SFUSD […]

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Sunlight Peeks into Palo Alto

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

On February 26 the Palo Alto City Council voted 9–0 in favor of a proposal to uncloak negotiations with the city’s public employees. The next step is to meet and confer with public employee unions, which is required under current state law. (You read that right. As explained here, under current state law the taxpayers of […]

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Charlie Munger Tells the Truth About Health Care

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Here’s what Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger had to say at the latest annual meeting of DJCO, another company of which he is Chairman, about health care: “The current [health care] system runs out of control on the cost side and leads to behavior that’s not just regrettable, but evil. There’s a lot of crapola that […]

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Pasadena Schools Devour the Future

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

A recent article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that Pasadena Unified School District will “cut teachers, security guards, assistant principals and more due to budget woes.” The article doesn’t outline the causes of those budget woes. Neither does the PUSD website.  But buried deep in the harder-to-find First Interim Reports filed by PUSD for 2017–18 and 2012–13 are two pages (47 and 98, […]

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