Bait and switch on pensions

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Local officials, particularly those in California’s 400-plus cities, have been complaining loudly in recent years about pension costs, raising the specter of insolvency if they continue their rapid increase. Last year, the League of California Cities issued a report declaring that “pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels.” The California Public Employees Retirement System […]

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Another showdown over crime looms

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

No California ballot would be complete without at least one measure about crime and punishment and 2020 will be no exception. A referendum seeking to overturn California’s landmark ban on cash bail in criminal cases will once again test voters’ sentiments about the treatment of accused lawbreakers. During previous decades, particularly in the 1980s and […]

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Newsom Huffs and Puffs, Like the Big Bad Wolf

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Remember the children’s fable about the wolf who was attempting to capture and consume the three little pigs? If a pig refused to admit him or come out of its house, the wolf threatened: “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declaration that the state will stop […]

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Audit backs school finance critics

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

A half-decade ago, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature overhauled California’s school finance system with the avowed goal of closing the “achievement gap” separating poor and English learner students from their more privileged classmates. School districts with large numbers of “at-risk” students would be given billions of extra dollars to improve their educations. From the […]

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How Should PG&E be Overhauled

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Having declared “I own it,” Gov. Gavin Newsom is stepping up his personal involvement and political investment in the disaster-tinged bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., wagering his still-new governorship on reforming — or dissolving — the nation’s largest investor-owned utility. Almost daily, Newsom denounces PG&E for shoddy maintenance of power lines that sparked […]

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Are the wealthy fleeing California taxes?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Here is an indisputable fact about California taxation: More than two-thirds of state general fund revenues come from personal income taxes and about half of those taxes are paid by the 1% of taxpayers atop the income scale. In other words, K-12 schools, state colleges and universities, health and welfare support for the poor, prisons […]

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Newsom’s a mixed bag so far

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

As Gavin Newsom disposes of the last few bills from the 2019 legislative session, he more or less closes the book on his first year as governor and it’s an appropriate moment for a progress report. Overall, he’s had a moderately successful rookie season. He made some progress on some of his campaign promises, but […]

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44-year political battle flares anew

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s longest-running single-issue political battle, over limits on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, is about to heat up again. Personal injury attorney Nick Rowley, who says his infant son’s lungs were “blown up” by medical malpractice, and Consumer Watchdog are proposing a 2020 ballot measure that would largely nullify California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) that […]

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2020 may see tax battle royal

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Although the state is enjoying multibillion-dollar budget surpluses, thanks largely to a vibrant economy, California voters may face a bewildering array of tax increase proposals next year. This seemingly contradictory situation is being driven by an assumption — probably accurate — that the November 2020 election will see a massive turnout of voters eager to […]

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Is There a California Tipping Point

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Circa of America got its start more than a half-century ago, during San Francisco’s Hippie heyday, when Ronaldo Cianciarulo began making and selling leather belts out of his van in the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. During several changes of ownership and names, it continued to make belts in a factory in San Francisco’s Bayview District, the […]

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