California’s Berlin Wall

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

To understand California’s publicly-funded school system, it helps to understand federally-funded health insurance. Both Medicare and the Veterans Administration are government-funded insurers but the VA is also a government-operated health care provider. While Medicare enrollees may freely choose among health care providers, VA enrollees may choose a non-VA provider only in limited cases.  California has […]

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The Cost of Education

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

Everyone knows housing costs are a problem for middle-class Californians but also troublesome are education costs. Recently the New York Times profiled a San Francisco couple earning $150,000 per year who just had a baby. If San Francisco’s public schools aren’t acceptable to them when their baby is ready to start school, the couple — […]

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POPs, GEOPs and MacGuffins

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

Alfred Hitchcock often employed a technique in his films known as a “MacGuffin,” which is an object, device or event that draws attention from the real plot but is largely insignificant itself. MacGuffins are also employed in California politics, as the example below demonstrates. California houses less than 2 percent of its ~128,000 state prison […]

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California’s Conflict of Interest Obligations

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

Imagine you are a donor to a non-profit organization whose board members receive gifts from employees to whom the board, without your consent, promises retirement benefits. Now the organization is asking you for larger donations to cover surging retirement spending but not disclosing the real reason more money is needed. That describes the current situation […]

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California Can Reform K–12 And Medi-Cal, Or Face A Future Of Perpetual Tax Hikes

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

Here’s another way to look at the complicated question of California’s commitment to public education in these flush economic times, with some compelling illustration of the state’s finances. And an unsettling conclusion: more and more tax increases will be the Golden State’s fate unless lawmakers get serious about reforming two large portions of California’s budget—K–12 […]

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Potemkin Pension Accounting

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

Pension liabilities reported by California’s largest pension fund (CalPERS) rose nearly 5x in just 20 years, from less than $100 billion in 1997 to nearly $500 billion by 2017. Those liabilities were not approved by voters. They simply showed up.

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Sacramento’s Shades of Socialism

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

Socialism has become a hot topic in the presidential election but that should not be a surprise. Governments in the US have long engaged in various shades of socialism. California is no exception. Oxford defines socialism as “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange […]

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Willie Sutton, Milton Friedman and CA’s Budget

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

Here’s one way we look at General Fund spending in the context of what the legislature can and cannot do: You’ll notice K-14 education and General Obligation Bond debt service are absent from that chart. That’s because those two items are constitutionally protected. K-14 is entitled to 40 percent and debt service this year will […]

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California’s Per Pupil Spending

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

New Haven Unified School District students are finally returning to school this week after the district and teachers reached agreement on a new contract. But a close vote and angry words are signs no one is happy. The settlement is temporary, just as in LA and Oakland earlier this year. That’s because the district and the […]

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Week Three: New Haven California Unified Strike

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

Teachers in New Haven are striking for the same reason teachers walked out in Oakland and LA earlier this year: Increases in school district revenues are not translating into increases in salary. School districts should have more than enough money to provide raises. They’ve been the beneficiaries of a 60 percent increase in state spending […]

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