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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Brown, with nothing to lose, defies unions on pensions

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,” singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson philosophized in his classic blues song, “Me and Bobby McGee,” a half-century ago. Kristofferson’s tune would be an apt anthem for Gov. Jerry Brown as he winds down his own half-century-long career in politics – especially so since Kristofferson once campaigned for him. Unless something […]

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State budget seems healthy, but it isn’t

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Mac Taylor, the Legislature’s top adviser on the state budget, delivered some superficially good news this month to his bosses. With no economic downturn on the horizon, he said in his annual survey of the state’s fiscal situation, there should be no problem writing a balanced 2018-19 budget next year. In fact, he said, with revenues continuing […]

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California also gives hefty tax breaks to business

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

There’s much political complaining in California these days over congressional plans to overhaul the nation’s tax system in a way that would cost many Californians, particularly those in high tax brackets, more money. The federal plans are still being finalized – if they can be – and are aimed at raising enough money to pay […]

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Four Democratic candidates want more spending, but not more taxes?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The San Francisco Chronicle assembled the four Democratic candidates for governor Tuesday to talk about the “state’s big issues” and whether they “have the ideas and resolve to meet them.” After 75 minutes of back and forth, moderated by Chronicle editorial page editor John Diaz, it was clear that the four mostly believe that dealing […]

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It’s time for liberal Californians to take a chill pill

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

It’s time for liberal Californians – and that appears to be most of us – to take a chill pill. Their bitter disdain for President Donald Trump – and by extension everyone who voted for him, belongs to his party or even agrees with any of his bombastic pronouncements – is leading them into blind […]

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