Appeals court makes tax increases easier

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The March primary election was rough on advocates of new taxes. Hundreds of tax hikes — sales and parcel taxes, mostly — were placed on the ballot by cities, counties and school districts whose finances were being squeezed. However, voters rejected roughly half of them, reversing what had been a recent trend. The election occurred […]

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High living costs make people poor

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic and the severe recession it spawned are widening California’s economic divide. California already had the nation’s highest rate of functional poverty before this year began, as calculated by the Census Bureau using cost-of-living as well as income data, with nearly 20% of the state’s 40 million people impoverished. […]

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Newsom now owns the COVID-19 pandemic

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Just a few weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom was boasting about California’s apparent success in suppressing COVID-19 infections in implicit contrast to other states, such as New York, that were being clobbered by the pandemic. He called it “bending the curve” of the infection rate and decided to reopen vast sections of the economy that […]

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Floyd protests challenge politicians

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The tsunami of righteous indignation over the suffocation death of a black man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis policeman, like all crises, creates both opportunity and peril for political figures. It will certainly impact President Donald Trump’s already iffy chances for re-election, given his tone-deaf response to Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests. It’s an […]

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Whither California after crises abate?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Someday, the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided, probably when effective biologic treatments and vaccines emerge. Someday, California’s economy will begin recovery from the sudden and very painful recession that followed business shutdown and stay-at-home orders to fight the pandemic. Someday, too, the tumultuous reaction to a Minneapolis policeman’s brutal suffocation of George Floyd, a black […]

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State has a budget problem — but how big?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The first step to effectively deal with any problem is defining it accurately — and the recession-battered state budget is a case in point. There’s no doubt that the pandemic-induced recession is one of the worst in California history and that its negative fiscal effects — both increased spending and reduced revenues — are many […]

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State budget will take a very big hit

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

A bit of fiscal history is in order. The Great Recession that hit California 13 years ago had a devastating effect on the state budget. General fund revenues — principally personal income taxes paid by affluent Californians — dropped by about 20% and to maintain basic services, the Legislature and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ran up […]

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Who Should Pay for Pandemic’s Impact?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The COVID-19 pandemic and the severe economic recession it induced are disasters unparalleled in recent generations and it will take years to fully recover from their human and financial tolls. Already, however, they are spawning legal and political conflicts, over whom, if anyone, should be accountable for their impacts. There is, for instance, a flurry […]

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Crisis Reveals Big Financial Shortcomings

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The rapidly expanding COVID-19 pandemic threatens the lives and livelihoods of Californians, but it also lays bare some multi-billion-dollar shortcomings in state government finances that have been ignored for decades, despite many warnings. The most obvious is the state budget’s unhealthy reliance on taxing the incomes of a relative handful of wealthy Californians. Income taxes […]

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The Gig Worker Battle Continues

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

When the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was awaiting final congressional action in 2010, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a speech to county officials, uttered 24 words that have haunted her ever since. Referring to the controversies that surrounded the groundbreaking legislation, she said, “But we have to pass the bill so that […]

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