Sacramento’s Silliest Subsidy

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

In December I became eligible for Medicare, the national health insurance program for people aged 65 and older. Medicare is fantastic — and fantastically cheap — insurance. But, believe it or not, if I was a retired California state employee, I would also be entitled to a state-provided health insurance subsidy that this fiscal year will cost the state $2.6 billion — more than […]

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Reform Medi-Cal To Reduce Poverty

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Ten years ago, California’s Department of Social Services — whose mission is “to serve, aid, and protect needy and vulnerable children and adults” — received nearly $10 billion, which was nearly 10 percent of the General Fund that year:           This year California’s General Fund is 34 percent larger. But DSS is receiving only $9 billion. As […]

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The Trump Distraction

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Everyone knows Donald Trump trolls California and that trolling is not a presidential responsibility outlined in Article II of the US Constitution. But many California state officials troll Trump and likewise are not fulfilling any legislative responsibilities under Article IV of the California Constitution. Just consider K-12 education, which is a legislative responsibility and the single largest […]

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Verdict on Prop 30 Tax Increase, Part 2

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

In January 2012 California Governor Jerry Brown announced he would ask California voters to approve temporary increases in income and sales taxes. Later that year his proposal was embodied in Proposition 30. Projected by the Legislative Analysts Office to raise $6 billion per year for four years and smaller amounts for three years (ie, $42 […]

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Jerry Brown Goes to Court for Kids

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

The Sacramento Bee reports California Governor Jerry Brown has asked the California Supreme Court to accelerate consideration of a lawsuit the outcome of which is existential for California classroom funding and other services. First, some background: The costs of government employee pensions are supposed to be shared by employees and taxpayers. Both contribute money upfront in the expectation that the […]

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As Predicted: Prop 30 Taxes Go for Pensions and Health Costs

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

In January 2012 California Governor Jerry Brown announced he would ask California voters “to approve a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and to guarantee that the new revenues be spent only on education.” Later that year his proposal was embodied in Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase projected by […]

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Schools Have More Money So Why the Financial Distress?

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Spending on California schools is nearing $100 billion per year, more than $16,000 per student. School revenues have never been higher. Yet some school districts are making cuts. Imagine you are the parent of a child in the Oakland Unified School District, which serves nearly 50,000 children. Your child is attending a school: On a state list […]

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Prison Guards Score Again

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Governor Jerry Brown is negotiating yet another salary increase for state prison employees, the fourth in seven years. Salaries for California’s prison employees already exceed $5 billion per year, 2.5x the revenues of the country’s largest private prison corporation. Pension and other benefits raise total compensation to $8 billion per year, nearly $1 billion more than governor […]

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Read Gov. Brown’s Budget

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

State budgets are never perfect. That’s because they employ cash-basis budgeting, which excludes accrued but unpaid expenses. (That’s how states are able to record surpluses when under generally accepted accounting principles they would record deficits.) The unrecorded expenses automatically turn into unfunded liabilities that, with interest, must be paid off down the road. But Gov. Brown’s document makes clear what cash-basis budgets do not: billions […]

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Big Three Items are Eating State Revenues

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

California’s General Fund tax revenues have grown nearly 50 percent since a tax increase in 2012. But funding for most services has grown at a fraction of that pace. Eg, funding for courts has grown only 12 percent. That’s because tax revenues are increasingly being diverted to (i) pensions, (ii) subsidies for retired employees (“OPEB”), and (iii) enterprises reimbursed by Medi-Cal, […]

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