California politicians lured by easy money, but somebody must eventually pay

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


The late Glenn Frey’s song about the international drug trade, “Smuggler’s Blues,” contains a phrase that resonates in politics as well: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very strong appeal.” Politicians are habitually lured by easy money, which is defined as money they can spend without directly taxing their constituents, but somebody […]

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Will California politicians really address housing crisis or settle for tokenism?

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Having checked gas taxes and cap-and-trade off their 2017 agenda, California political leaders will turn to the state’s housing crisis after a month-long midsummer vacation. It’s high time, because California is building barely enough new housing to handle current population growth and making no dent in a years-long backlog. Between 2003 and 2014, California built […]

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Democrats hurt by gerrymandered congressional districts, but not in California

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Belatedly – and only after they had lost control of Congress to Republicans – the national Democratic Party grasped the impact of how state legislatures redraw congressional districts after each decennial census. A consortium of Republican and conservative interest groups had methodically set out to capture state legislatures and governorships in anticipation of redistricting after […]

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Despite Proposition 13, California property tax revenue has soared

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Much has been said and written – mostly negatively – about the effects of Proposition 13, California’s iconic law limiting property taxes. Its critics say that Proposition 13, which restricts taxes to 1 percent of property values and caps increases in those values at 2 percent a year, has starved schools and local governments of vital […]

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Officials gamble with the public’s money, and sometimes lose big

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Voice of San Diego, a journalistic website that covers local politics, published a remarkable article late last month about financial shenanigans in the San Diego Association of Governments, a regional planning and transportation agency. Twelve years ago, the article said, SANDAG, as it’s known, decided to invest – or wager – millions of dollars from […]

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As California Legislature divides on universal health care, Rendon does the right thing

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Except for one year, two-plus decades ago, Democrats have controlled both houses of the California Legislature for nearly a half-century. Moreover, most members of the Senate are former members of the Assembly, so one might assume that the two houses are in synch and so duplicative that it might as well be a one-house Legislature. […]

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Democrats gripe about secrecy in Washington but practice it in Sacramento

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Knowledge, it’s been said, is power. And that explains, in a nutshell, why those in public office fundamentally dislike, and often resist, revealing information to the voting and taxpaying public. That’s especially evident in Washington, where information is a commodity to be acquired, hoarded and traded – and only reluctantly shared with the larger public. […]

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State’s ‘balanced and progressive’ budget carries big risks for taxpayers

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are patting themselves on the back for what Brown describes as a “balanced and progressive budget” for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins July 1. The “progressive” description of the $185 billion budget alludes to expanding benefits for the very large number of impoverished Californians – at least a quarter, […]

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Migration and Blue State California

Dan Walters

Columnist, CALmatters


Editor’s Note: Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters responded to Joel Fox’s piece yesterday on migration affecting the political orientation of California. Theory is correct but it happened in 90s, not in last decade. As I pointed out in chapter of “The New Political Geography of California,” big exodus from LA County occurred after collapse of […]

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