A First Look at the Governor’s Housing Budget

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

During his campaign for Chief Executive of California, then-candidate and now Governor Newsom promised three and a half million new housing units would be built in the state by 2025. He promised a majority of those units would be affordable to lower-income households, as well. He also promised he would make it profoundly easier to get those housing units approved for construction. Governor Newsom knows it’s now time to deliver on those promises.

With the release in January of his Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget, the Governor is signaling he’s going to at least try. He’s still sticking to the three-and-one-half- million-unit goal (though many are disputing that possibility), he still wants to help lower-income families, although he proposes increasing assistance to moderate-income households, as well. And, his budget appears to reflect interest in helping local governments approve housing faster.

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Higher Education Funding Momentum Must Continue

Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine
Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. Ackerman is a former California State Senator and Assemblyman, and Levine is a former U.S. Congressman and State Assemblyman.

The decisions by the University of California and California State University to hold the line on tuition increases in the Fall are welcome news, provided that Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature follow through with robust increases in State funding for UC, CSU and our community colleges. Otherwise, educational quality will suffer and thousands of deserving students will be turned away.

It used to be that tuition was not a factor at the University as the State wisely underwrote the cost of education. That changed as the State began decades on a fiscal roller-coaster that produced boom and bust Budgets. In the process, much of the cost of college funding at both UC and California State University were shifted to students and their families in the form of tuition and fees. Today, per student State funding for UC is less than half of what it was in 1980-81 and tuition has risen accordingly, even as the system has become more efficient and cost effective.

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Halting a Bad Precedent

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for withholding state funds—in this instance transportation money– from cities for not meeting their housing goals was wrong from the beginning. Newsom has now pulled back on that dictate opting for a carrot rather than a stick solution, at least temporarily.  But it would be a terrible precedent, one that has been suggested before.

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California Still Needs a Death Penalty—But Not For People

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declared moratorium on the death penalty isn’t all that important. California hasn’t executed anyone in years, and, despite reports to the contrary, it wasn’t going to execute anyone anytime soon.

But the state still needs a death penalty, though not necessarily one for people. It needs a death penalty for laws, regulations and constitutional amendments.

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Redistricting: Big Job Ahead for 14 Californians

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

Every 10 years we go through a ritual which attracts little attention but can have much to say about who gets to govern California.

Known as redistricting, the exercise is tied directly to the decennial taking of the nation’s census which is mandated to keep track of our ever-growing and changing population. The next count is scheduled for 2020.

Under a law adopted at voter urging twelve years ago, 14 people unidentifiable to the general public are entrusted with the task of redrawing the states political boundaries.

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Was the Last Redistricting Fair?

Co-Founder of the American Legislative Exchange Council

California’s Citizen Redistricting Commission is kicking off its second redistricting of California’s 120 state legislative, 53 congressional (the most of any state), and the four State Board of Equalization districts.

This is an apt time to recall Communist Dictator Joseph Stalin’s words: it is not who votes but who counts the votes that matter.

Californians have been frustrated for years. They imposed term limits on state legislators, recalled a governor, abolished party primaries, and, finally, took the drawing of districts away from legislators giving it to a Citizens Commission to get a less partisan legislature.

The Commission did exactly what the voters were attempting to end, another gerrymander.  The political drawing of lines to elect certain people.  Only this time, it didn’t protect all the legislators because those gerrymandering the lines had another objective: a racial gerrymander.

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A Government of Newsom, by Newsom

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a law approved by the people. He will sign an executive order putting a moratorium on the death penalty while he is governor despite voters expressing support for the death penalty in passing Proposition 66 in 2016 while a second initiative on that ballot to abolish the death penalty was defeated.

Weight should be given to Newsom’s point that a number of death row occupants are eventually released because they were wrongly convicted. But there are clear cases of murderers who committed the most heinous crimes. The argument of justice in those cases still holds. It is the ultimate penalty for the ultimate, gruesome crime against victims and their loved ones.

The governor’s action has to be viewed in the larger context not of his personal opposition to the death penalty but as his duty as an elected official to uphold the law. The people have clearly spoken and it is the responsibility of the chief executive of the state to execute the laws.

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Is California Becoming Unaffordable?

David Kersten
David Kersten is an independent political consultant who lives in the Bay Area. Kersten is also an adjunct professor of public budgeting at the University of San Francisco.

The unaffordability of trying to just make a living in the State of California has increasingly become an unpleasant fact of life for all but the richest Californians.

But the key drivers of this unaffordability appears to have eluded most public officials and public policy analysts, particularly those on the left.

Yet to the seasoned analyst, the evidence appears to be hiding in plain sight, to quote the words of one California Congressman who is rapidly becoming known for his penchant for investigating political opponents.

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Who is Afraid of Judicial Review?

Eric Siddall
Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

On March 2, 2019, the Los Angeles Times editorial board attacked district attorneys as craven politicians out to maximize punitive sentences. The reason for the attack is because a number of district attorneys have challenged the constitutionality of a law enacted by the state Legislature. The law, enacted pursuant to Senate Bill 1391, prohibits the transfers of 14 and 15-year olds to adult court- no matter how heinous the crime.
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The True Problem

Stuart Waldman
President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association

The beginning of every year prompts a flood of new ideas from California’s state legislators, and obviously, I’m grateful to them. They’re keeping me and my staff employed, as businesses turn in desperation to advocacy groups around the state who can try and explain to legislators why their proposal would harm our economy and kill jobs. Clearly, you’d rather put that money towards growing your business, not paying me to talk to elected officials. But happily for me, it’s probably not going to change anytime soon.

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