Would Today’s California Voters Change Proposition 13?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

It would be fair to assume that relatively few of the California voters who passed Proposition 13 overwhelmingly 40 years ago will still be voting this year. So, one might wonder, would today’s voters be willing to make a major change in the state’s iconic property-tax limitation? They may be given the opportunity in a […]

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Local Tax Hikes Cleverly Packaged

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Over the past few years, voters in hundreds of California cities and other local governments were asked to pass tax increases, and indications are that another big batch of local tax measures will be on this year’s ballots. All but a handful of the previous tax hikes were approved, although one failed sales tax, in Coalinga, was […]

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How Pension Costs Clobbered One Small City

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

When Santa Cruz, a picturesque and funky coastal city, first started to feel the pinch of rising retirement costs for city workers, it took several steps to limit the fiscal pain. As recommended by the League of Cities and other authorities, Santa Cruz issued a bond to pay down its rising pension liabilities, set aside […]

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Red Meat Aside, Immigration Flap Poses Real Issue

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

That was quite a show that politicians staged in Sacramento last Wednesday. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions swooped into town to tell an audience of police officials that he was suing the state to overturn three laws aimed at helping millions of undocumented immigrants avoid deportation. The centerpiece is Senate Bill 54, which puts some limits […]

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California’s public pension crisis in a nutshell

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The essence of California’s pension crisis was on display last week when the California Public Employees Retirement System made a relatively small change in its amortization policy. The CalPERS board voted to change the period for recouping future investment losses from 30 years to 20 years. The bottom line is that it will require the state government […]

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Cities should fess up about taxes and pensions

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s political leaders don’t have to look very far to find a stark example of the pension cost crisis facing the state’s 482 cities. Three blocks from the Capitol, in Sacramento’s city hall, Mayor Darrell Steinberg – a former leader of the state Senate – and other officials are seeing pension costs skyrocket. “Over the past nine […]

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Sex harassment document dump isn’t enough

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Getting legislative leaders to release records about sexual harassment by legislators and their staffers was like pulling teeth without anesthesia. It took months of pressure from women who work in and around the Capitol and had demanded an end to the pervasive culture of bad behavior and from news media, but it finally happened last […]

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Commentary: Surging pension costs push more California cities toward bankruptcy

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

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. The system that manages pension plans for the state government and thousands of local governments lost a […]

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Jerry Brown’s legacy still a work in progress

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

When Jerry Brown was unveiling his final state budget this month, a reporter asked him about the legacy of his record-long governorship. “Can you tell me the legacy of Goodwin Knight? Or Gov. (Frank) Merriam. Or (George) Deukmejian?” Brown replied with a characteristic smirk. “Governors don’t have legacies. That’s my No. 1 proposition.” Well, yes […]

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How far can Democrats go to help unions?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

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. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Democratic politicians push laws and regulations to help unions expand their memberships. They are motivated, they say, by their belief that workers’ lives are improved by union representation. […]

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