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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Accountability depends on transparency, which is under siege

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

If we – the California public – are to hold politicians and other government officials accountable, we must first know what they are doing or not doing. Thus, the first point of conflict is always access to records of official action or inaction. The current legislative session is the first one affected by a 2016 ballot […]

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California unions on a political roll, but see threats on horizon

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s labor unions should be celebrating on this Labor Day because they’ve been on a political roll. Overall union membership in California, 2.6 million, is by far the most of any state, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and at 15.9 percent of the state’s workers, is one of the nation’s highest. Over half of […]

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Could uptick in California crime make it a political issue again?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

In the main, issues that dominate any session of the California Legislature reflect what the public and news media consider at the time to be the most burning. That’s why, for instance, the state’s acute housing shortage will receive much attention during the final month of this year’s session. During Jerry Brown’s first governorship four […]

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