I was out of the state for a few weeks but from what I can gather not much has changed around here politically. Democrats want to raise taxes; unions and certain special interests continue their grip on the legislature; and legislators are concerned with transparency only when it doesn’t affect their business.

Despite all the rhetoric following the November election that the tax increases passed by the voters were enough for now, apparently the majority in the legislature doesn’t believe that is true. Bills are working through committees to create an oil severance tax, raise the cigarette tax, and levy a soda tax.

And, Democrats in their state convention endorsed the idea to raise property taxes on business, despite the fact that unemployment in this state is still well above the national average.

Efforts to improve teacher evaluations supported by a wide coalition of parents, students and even teachers was shot down at the behest of the California Teachers Association, which continues to fight for the status quo in education.

And a bi-partisan attempt failed to end the “gut-and-amend” practice of ripping out the guts of a bill and replacing it with totally different subject matter and pass the bill with no public comment. Too messy to allow the people to interfere with the people’s business, I guess.

I’ve read many articles that argue it’s a new day in California because of those tax increases. But the Legislative Analyst has advised caution over the revenue numbers and other commentators point that the new revenue will go to pay teacher pension debt, not boost the schools.

There is a possibility for great revenue increases without taxes if more oil production is allowed in the state. But environmentalists have the upper hand in convincing legislators that there should be a moratorium on fracking technology, something practiced successfully for years.

A state that prides itself in promoting technology, while at the same time looking for more revenue, should be leading parades heralding the Monterey Shale oil projections. However, the same old coalition has put up a wall. Call them the Parties of No.

Not much has changed and that’s too bad for California.