Breaking Up is Hard to Do – and Should be

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Tim Draper believes California is three states struggling within the boundaries of one, and wants to set them free. Voters will have the chance in November to decide if they share his vision that more governments make better governance.

Spoiler Alert: Breaking up is hard to do – which is a very good thing. The “Division into Three States” measure is disingenuous, distracting and dangerous.

For all our successes, and for all the wonder with which we are held globally, California has many problems.

But serious people quickly learn that if you are sincerely committed to fixing a problem, you must fix the problem.

Division into Three States doesn’t fix a single problem. It makes all our problems objectively worse in the hope that others more enlightened and practical will roll up their sleeves to get the job done.

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The Good Old Days of the Big 5 Budgets?

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

The state budget passed on time but does anyone long for the good old days of the dragged out budget debates? Remember the deal making to get some Republicans to join majority Democrats to reach the required two-thirds vote? OK, you don’t miss those days because no one enjoyed those drawn-out affairs with IOUs issued to state workers and public services delayed. Yet, by reducing the decision making from the Big 5 (governor, majority and minority leaders of both houses) to the one-party Big 3 (Governor, Assembly Speaker and Senate Pro-tem) something important has been lost in missing hearings and debates over budget priorities.

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Is It Time To More Closely Examine Our Election Procedures?

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught public policy at USF, UC Berkeley and other institutions and is Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

It may be time to take a closer look on how we conduct elections.

So-called Ranked Choice Voting—or RCV for short—is gaining popularity with mixed reviews. It’s kissing cousin—“top-two primary voting” may also deserve further scrutiny. While the jury is still out on how well RCV may work, the number of skeptics is mounting—and Californians as so often are among the first adapters.

California is home to a growing list of major cities that are experimenting with Ranked Choice Voting which decides who will become Mayor, County Supervisor, City Council member and will fill other local offices. including Berkeley and Oakland with Davis awaiting final legal enactment.

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Budget Deal Leaves Higher Education Short

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.

There is no such thing as a free college education.  When the State doesn’t pay its fair share of the cost of educating students at the University of California and California State University campuses, the cost burden heavily falls on students and their families.  Worse yet, thousands of qualified young Californians are shut out of UC and CSU because of inadequate State funding.

For a few days, it appeared that Sacramento’s budget-makers were on the right track, but the final Budget numbers once again fall short when it comes to higher education funding.  The Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee had approved the modest “full funding” requests to enable campuses to increase enrollment and avoid further tuition increases. But that decision didn’t survive the chopping block when Governor Jerry Brown and Legislative leaders hammered out a final Budget deal—leaving UC support basically flat and providing CSU with only a limited boost over the Governor’s May proposal.  What additional monies that were provided, relied primarily on one-time funding rather than ongoing support. How can campuses admit four-year students with only one-year funding?

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Ten Takeaways from California Target Book Post Primary Analysis in Sacramento

Darry Sragow
Publisher of the California Target Book and USC professor

  1. Democratic and Republican party leaders and their consultants need to get past the grieving stage and accept that the top-two primary is the law of the land.  Instead of debating who benefits and who suffers, they need to figure out how to win under the new rules.


  1. In the open primary, running to finish second is a disastrous strategy.  If you chose not to lay a glove on the presumed front-runner, he or she will emerge unscathed after beating you bloody and eliminating you from second place.


  1. The Republican Party does not have a strategy to resuscitate itself in California.  Its message continues to be that at some point the voters who have abandoned the GOP will discover the errors of their way and return to the fold. They won’t, at least not for a long time and not until the party ceases being anti-immigrant.
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I Knew a Man Named Larry Thomas

Dan Schnur
Professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications and UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies

I knew a man, who over the course of a remarkable career and an even more remarkable life, patiently and persistently taught me the type of lessons that the young and brash can only learn from those with large amounts of experience and character. I knew a man who was not only smart but wise, who was not only kind but gentle, and who was not only generous but selfless. Larry Thomas was all those things, and thoughtful and considerate and clever and shrewd and smooth and unflappable and humble and proud and funny and fascinating. I lost my friend Larry Thomas this week, and if you never knew him, then your loss was far greater than mine.

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California’s Latino Businesses Can Shape Two Critical Healthcare Issues 

Hector Barreto and Alfredo Ortiz
Hector Barreto, Chairman of The Latino Coalition and Alfredo Ortiz, President and CEO of the Job Creators Network

State officials often note that California is the fifth largest economy in the world. Not as well known is that 99.8 percent of all businesses in California are small businesses, according to the SBA. In fact, there are nearly 4 million small businesses in California, which means that roughly one out of every seven small businesses in America is in the Golden State. They employ 7 million Californians, which is roughly half the state’s entire workforce.

Forty percent of California small businesses (1.6 million) are owned by minorities. The largest group among them are Hispanics, who employ nine workers per firm, on average. Latino businesses are on the rise everywhere, but in California they are rapidly becoming central to the economy.

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Lead Batteries are an Environmentally Sustainable Solution to the Clean Energy Challenge

Terrence Murphy
President and CEO of the Hammond Group

Environmental regulatory systems are inherently complex. Policies and agencies often find themselves at odds with each other, as they try to implement their own charters. This is certainly the case in the energy area, and particularly with battery power.

Here’s the problem. While climate programs are promoting battery power, other groups have targeted lead batteries as a product that needs to be further regulated, if that is possible, or even eliminated. Such an initiative is hugely misplaced. Lead batteries are the most recycled consumer product on the market, exceeding 99%. All the dispersive uses of lead have long ceased; no one wants it released into the environment. So, it is both unnecessary and counterproductive to attack and potentially ban lead batteries. In fact, it would be unscientific and illogical to attempt to prevent lead from its true and environmentally friendly destiny of helping to reduce our carbon footprint.

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Born Out of a Need for Fairness, California’s Property Tax Laws Still Protect Homeowners and Businesses

Robert Gutierrez
Director of the California Tax Foundation

June 6 marked the 40th anniversary of voters’ approval of California’s landmark property tax protections. The passage of Proposition 13 was born out of a need for fairness, as runaway inflation, corrupt assessment practices, taxation based on government guesswork, and appraisals that could be influenced by revenue needs caused people to lose confidence in the property tax system. To make matters worse, this crisis grew for more than a decade while elected officials failed to take decisive action to protect taxpayers.

Proposition 13 solved this crisis, and in doing so made the property tax a more stable and predictable source of revenue. Proposition 13 improved the state’s business climate and job creation. Business owners now can plan their budgets with more certainty, and the tax savings can be invested in expansion and employees. (Unfortunately, subsequent increases in other taxes, fees and onerous regulations have taken their toll on California employers, and ongoing attempts to repeal Proposition 13’s protections for business properties threaten to completely torpedo our state’s competitiveness.) 

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Can John Cox Win? There Have Been GOP Surprises in Blue States

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

Can John Cox win the California gubernatorial race? A long shot to be sure, but looking at the overwhelming registration advantage Democrat Gavin Newsom has over Republican Cox doesn’t mean numbers are destiny. Ask the governors of Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois.

In three of the more liberal states in the union, with registration advantage for Democrats as strong or stronger than the advantage California Democrats enjoy, Republicans sit in the governor’s chair. In all three instances the Republican governors, like John Cox, came from the business world.

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