Time For CalPERS To Lead

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

According to a recent article, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is considering a meaningful reduction in the investment return it assumes when establishing pension contributions. Future generations should hope CalPERS’s board makes the change.

Public employee pension costs are supposed to be shared by employees and citizens. Together they contribute money when pension promises are made in the expectation that those contributions plus investment earnings over time will be sufficient to meet the pension payments as they fall due.

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Gloria Romero for Trump’s Secretary of Education

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

New presidents usually appoint at least one member of the other party to a cabinet post to advance bipartisanship and national unity. A perfect choice for President-elect Donald Trump would be Gloria Romero, a former Democratic majority leader in the California senate with impeccable reform credentials, including a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Riverside.

She has been university professor and trustee of the Los Angeles Community College District, so she knows all levels of the nation’s school system.

In 2010, Dr. Romero pushed through the California Legislature the nation’s first school “trigger” law. It allows the majority of parents at a malfunctioning school to vote to pull the “trigger” to install an entirely new school administration. In Trumpian language, the parents say, “You’re fired!

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Housing Affordability and California’s Future  

Joel Singer
CEO of the California Association of REALTORS

As housing prices continue to rise in California, a significant number of our residents are being denied access to the American dream of homeownership. Today, only about one-third of our fellow citizens can afford to buy a median-priced home in the Golden State, down from a peak of 56 percent just four years ago.

With this in mind, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® convened “Housing Affordability and California’s Future,” a real estate summit held yesterday in Los Angeles. The summit brought together and drew on the ideas of top industry leaders from financial institutions, government agencies, academia, public policy and real estate, who shared one common goal: to explore ways to increase housing affordability in California. 

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Invest California’s Pension Funds in Water and Energy Infrastructure

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
–  Peter Thiel, in his 2011 manifesto “What Happened to the Future.”

Anyone living in California who’s paying attention knows what venture capitalist Thiel meant. While a handful of Silicon Valley social media entrepreneurs have amassed almost indescribable wealth, and fundamentally transformed how humanity communicates, investment in boring things like roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, aqueducts, reservoirs and railroads – the list is endless – has stagnated. Especially in California. Flying cars? Forget about it. Go tweet.

Why? Why the neglect?

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CA Officials Poised To Blunt Trump On Deportation

James Poulos
Staff Columnist, Orange County Register

If Donald Trump aims to significantly reduce the presence of undocumented and unlawful immigrants in California, he will face staunch opposition. From the municipal to statewide level, officials have come out strongly against the prospect of stronger enforcement and deportation.

“Secretary of State Alex Padilla criticized the choice of Kris Kobach [as one of Trump’s new immigration transition team members], who holds the same position in Kansas as Padilla, as counter to Trump’s call for unity,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “Kobach advised the incoming president on immigration issues during the campaign, and helped draft the Arizona legislation that required immigration status checks during traffic stops.”

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Trump Proved He Could Win. Now He Must Show He Can Govern

Richard Rubin
He writes about political issues and is President of a Public Affairs Management Firm. He also teaches courses on the Presidential & Congressional Elections at the University of San Francisco and is Vice Chair of the California Commonwealth Club.

Shock and Revulsion. Joy and jubilation.

Two clashing views of a nation irreconcilably divided, one segment of the population mourning for itself, the other experiencing the realization of a moment that could not have been predicted just months ago.

This was the picture voters woke up to last week—a wholesale political makeover that could just as quickly reverse itself if adjustments are not made or signal the launching of an era of uneasy authoritarian rule for years to come.

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A Budget Forecast Using a Cloudy Crystal Ball

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

The Legislative Analyst’s Office tried to do its best with the impossible—layout a budget forecast for the next four years in uncertain times. The budget estimates offered yesterday assumed state and federal laws and policies remain in place . But policy changes from a new administration in Washington will come and probably produce counter policy moves in Sacramento, all affecting the budget.

One huge potential budget change could deal with health care if federal money supporting the Affordable Care Act is reduced in a major way. If California legislators decide to maintain those health care services for the people now using them how will they be paid for?

What if the Trump administration cuts off money to sanctuary cities? California city officials have vowed to oppose that move. How will the cities make up for the money lost? Turn to Sacramento lawmakers?

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California Is Different

Mark Baldassare
President of the Public Policy Institute of California

With the stunning victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, it is easy to overlook the significance of the California vote. The political experience here was starkly different from the US in ways that went beyond our normal “blue state” election performance. I’m going to focus on election and polling trends that caught my attention—including citizen engagement, presidential preference, the state ballot measures, the role of government, and voter turnout. My colleague Eric McGhee has an excellent analysis of the top-two legislative races in another PPIC blog post. I’ll close with a look toward next year and the 2018 California election in light of the changing political landscape in California and the US.

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Silicon Valley Keeps Us Stuck in the Political Past

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)

As long as Silicon Valley and its futuristic technologies dominate our politics, we’re doomed to be stuck in the past.

The big story of the poisonous 2016 elections was how new digital media tools ended up crowding out two big topics from our conversation: the present and the future.

This phenomenon went way beyond the controversy about “fake news” on Facebook; the problem wasn’t just media quality—but excessive quantity. California and the entire country were deluged by digital tidal waves of data and information from months, years and decades ago.

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With Election Over, Commercial Breaks are Safe Spaces Again

Susan Shelley
Columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News and Southern California News Group

Congratulations. If you are reading these words, you have survived the 2016 election.

On TV news, peace has returned to the commercial break. Did you ever in your life think you’d be grateful for the return of ads for reverse mortgages?

A month of wall-to-wall political advertising is enough to make a person yearn to hear the terrifying list of side effects in a prescription drug commercial.

Anything is better than the round-the-clock Battle of the Misleading Ballot Measures. It could be days before we figure out what we’ve done. I think we may have voted to give porn producers the death penalty for selling marijuana in a plastic bag. Something has to be wrapped in plastic, I’m not sure.

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