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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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, […]

Read more

School Spending Up; Student Performance Down. Time for a Change

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

California school boards are prevented by the state legislature and governor from offering disproportionate pay to employees willing to work in high-poverty zones, cutting pension spending, altering tenure rules or granting principals the power to fire poorly performing employees. The outcome: poor student performance and shaky finances despite a big increase in spending. All it takes is 62 legislators and […]

Read more

Where the New School Money Really Goes

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

School funding in California is at record levels: But school districts are cutting staff and holding down raises. That’s largely because they are subsidizing retirees at the expense of active employees. Eg, San Francisco Unified School District will spend >$40 million this year to subsidize health care spending by retirees and divert nearly $100 million to retirement costs in total, more than double five […]

Read more