Required Vote For Local Tax Increases In Legal Limbo

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s booming economy is pouring many billions of additional tax dollars into state and local government treasuries. Nevertheless, the locals – cities and school districts, especially – find themselves in an ever-tightening fiscal vise because mandatory payments into public employee pension funds are growing much faster than revenues. That’s why dozens of them are asking […]

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Legislative Leaders Want to Milk More Campaign Money

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Jesse Unruh, the legendary speaker of the state Assembly during the 1960s, was fond of pithy quips, and one of his more enduring is that “money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Before Unruh became the Assembly’s leader in 1961, the financing of legislative campaigns was largely controlled by Capitol lobbyists, who adhered to the […]

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Coy About Taxes and Pension Costs

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s economy may be booming, but throughout the state, local governments—including school districts—are feeling the financial pinch and asking their voters to approve new taxes of one kind or another. There were 111 local tax measures on the June primary election ballot, the vast majority of which passed, according to municipal finance guru Michael Coleman […]

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Supreme Court Voids California Law, Upholds Free Speech

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Californians of a liberal bent may not like it, but the U.S. Supreme Court this week struck an important blow for the constitutional right of free speech. It overturned a California law requiring clinics offering non-abortion alternative treatment to pregnant women to post notices telling them about the availability of abortions. “By compelling petitioners to […]

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Two Victims of a Blood Sport: Politics

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Josh Newman, a Democratic state senator from Fullerton, was in a bitter mood when he rose on the Senate floor last week—for good reason. Six days earlier, voters in his district had decided overwhelmingly to recall him after just 18 months in office, persuaded by a tsunami of Republican allegations that he had betrayed them by […]

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Local Officials Avoid ‘P-Word’ as They Push New Taxes

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

While public and media attention to this week’s primary election focused – understandably so – on contests for governor, U.S. senator and a handful of congressional seats, there were other important issues on Californians’ ballots. One, which received scant attention at best, was another flurry of local government and school tax and bond proposals. The […]

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Campaigns Try to Fool California Voters

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Politics – the means by which we govern ourselves – can be a positive, even uplifting human enterprise. Too often, however, political tactics are based on the cynical assumption that voters can be easily fooled and the current election season is, unfortunately, rife. Take, for example, the television ads that Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the leading […]

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Voters Face Anti-Tax Measures as Cycle Continues

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

There is a cyclical quality to California’s perennial debate over taxation, one most evident in the tax-related ballot measures placed before voters. Initiatives to raise taxes, or make them easier to raise, will appear in one election cycle, but just two years later, voters may be asked to cut taxes, or at least make increases […]

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The Dimensions of California’s Pension Crisis

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s public employee pension systems have immense gaps – called “unfunded liabilities” – between what they have in assets and what they will need to meet their obligations to retirees. The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the nation’s largest pension trust fund, and other state and local systems are desperately trying to close those […]

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Bullet Train Colliding with Reality

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Reality may finally be catching up with the vision – or pipedream – of a 200-mile-per-hour train connecting California’s northern and southern regions. A few weeks ago, the High-Speed Rail Authority released its latest “business plan” that was supposed to tell Californians how the brief stretch of track now being constructed in the San Joaquin Valley can […]

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