Sunlight Peeks into Palo Alto

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

On February 26 the Palo Alto City Council voted 9–0 in favor of a proposal to uncloak negotiations with the city’s public employees. The next step is to meet and confer with public employee unions, which is required under current state law. (You read that right. As explained here, under current state law the taxpayers of […]

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Charlie Munger Tells the Truth About Health Care

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

Here’s what Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger had to say at the latest annual meeting of DJCO, another company of which he is Chairman, about health care: “The current [health care] system runs out of control on the cost side and leads to behavior that’s not just regrettable, but evil. There’s a lot of crapola that […]

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Pasadena Schools Devour the Future

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

A recent article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that Pasadena Unified School District will “cut teachers, security guards, assistant principals and more due to budget woes.” The article doesn’t outline the causes of those budget woes. Neither does the PUSD website.  But buried deep in the harder-to-find First Interim Reports filed by PUSD for 2017–18 and 2012–13 are two pages (47 and 98, […]

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California’s OPEB Crisis

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

Everyone has heard about pension costs but few have heard about the other retirement cost that’s burdening California governments and schools. “OPEB” — “Other Post-Employment Benefits” — are a form of deferred compensation, just like pensions. The principal OPEB benefit is a promise to cover post-retirement health costs. Because government employees in California may retire before they are covered […]

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Brown Falls Well Short in Discussing Education in State of the State Speech

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

In his final State of the State address, this is all Jerry Brown had to say about the state’s K-12 public education system, which serves six million children: “In education, after seeing 30,000 teachers laid off [as a result of the collapse in state revenues after the Great Financial Crisis], spending has dramatically recovered, increasing […]

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California’s Own Shutdown

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

Everyone can see the federal shutdown is reducing some public services but California legislators are turning a blind eye to their state’s own shutdown. Public schools in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose and other urban centers are providing just a fraction of full services, resulting in understaffed classrooms, underpaid teachers, and […]

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For Whom the California Budget Tolls

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

Journalists and elected officials occasionally make the mistake of viewing budget problems in terms of size rather than where the budget item falls. For example, the costs of unfunded pensions and retiree healthcare in the current fiscal year (FYE16–17) add up to 6% of the state’s General Fund, a much smaller share than retirement spending […]

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CA’s Next Budget Will Not Tell The Truth

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

On January 10 Governor Jerry Brown will present his proposed budget for the 2018–19 fiscal year. That budget will not reflect financial reality. That’s because state and local governments operate under accounting rules that enable untruthful financial reporting. For example, Brown’s last proposed budget in January 2017 ignored expenses of $16 billion, as explained here, here, here and here. Those […]

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Courage: The Most Overused Word In Politics

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

Does it take political courage for a California Democrat to attack Donald Trump? Obviously not, just as it didn’t take political courage for a red-state Republican to attack Barack Obama. To qualify as courageous, a political act must threaten the actor’s political future.Neither of the foregoing examples qualifies. Qualifying examples include Abraham Lincoln, who took on […]

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Jerry Brown Steps Up For Citizens

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

California Governor Jerry Brown has filed a legal brief with the state’s Supreme Court arguing that pensions for government employees should work no differently than pensions for non-government employees. Students, citizens, taxpayers and future government employees would be better off if the court agrees. At issue is a special treatment claimed by California government employee […]

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