When Ronald Reagan first ran for governor of California, he faced a hailstorm of sniping and attacks from the moderate wing of the Republican Party supporting the candidacy of San Francisco mayor George Christopher. To tone down the attacks, the California Republican Party Chairman created what he called the Eleventh Commandment. As Reagan described it in his autobiography, An American Life, “The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
Ironically, the conservatives are firing the verbal attacks nowadays offering a resolution to declare any legislator who votes to put taxes on the ballot a traitor. As introduced, the resolution gives no leeway for voting to put taxes on the ballot even if they are accompanied by major reforms such as a spending limit or pension reform.
There has been no talk about the 11th Commandment as the Republican Convention comes to Sacramento this weekend, and seemingly no talk of Reagan’s Big Tent idea, either.
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Over at Calatics, Brian Leubitz takes me to task over my defense of Proposition 13 for not recalling how stable budgets were prior to Prop 13 passing. Of course, they were stable … budgets were stable because local governments decided how much to spend and raised the taxes to meet their spending goals.
There was no concern for the taxpayers or their ability to pay the rising property taxes. There was only concern for making sure the spending goals where covered. There may have been stability for local government budgets during that period, but instability and uncertainty for the taxpayers’ finances. Those “stable” budgets are what brought on the tax revolt.
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San Francisco went through a hotly contested election in November over reforming the city’s public employee pensions. After the measure was defeated, the city admitted the situation on unfunded pension liability was worse than disclosed prior to the election.
Now comes word the situation could be untenable. A study from Stanford University professor and former Democratic state legislator, Joe Nation, claims the pension fund is underfunded more than three times what the city claims.
Nation puts the pension liability at $6.8 billion, much higher than the city’s official number of $1.6 billion. Nation says the difference exists because of the city’s reliance on an unrealistic annual growth rate for the pension fund.
The report says that in five years payments to retirees will be greater than the entire annual budgets of the police, fire, sheriff, district attorney, juvenile and adult probation departments.
San Francisco Public Defender, Jeff Adachi, who spearheaded the 2010 pension reform, says he will try again. With Nation’s report, the election outcome could be different next time.