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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Newsom makes big political wager

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Gavin Newsom is rushing in where angels — and more cautious politicians — fear to tread by devoting virtually all of his second State of the State address to California’s seemingly intractable housing and homelessness crises. Newsom is staking his governorship, and perhaps his hopes of climbing further up the political pecking order, on jump-starting […]

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Bait and switch on pensions

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Local officials, particularly those in California’s 400-plus cities, have been complaining loudly in recent years about pension costs, raising the specter of insolvency if they continue their rapid increase. Last year, the League of California Cities issued a report declaring that “pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels.” The California Public Employees Retirement System […]

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Another showdown over crime looms

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

No California ballot would be complete without at least one measure about crime and punishment and 2020 will be no exception. A referendum seeking to overturn California’s landmark ban on cash bail in criminal cases will once again test voters’ sentiments about the treatment of accused lawbreakers. During previous decades, particularly in the 1980s and […]

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Newsom Huffs and Puffs, Like the Big Bad Wolf

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Remember the children’s fable about the wolf who was attempting to capture and consume the three little pigs? If a pig refused to admit him or come out of its house, the wolf threatened: “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declaration that the state will stop […]

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Audit backs school finance critics

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

A half-decade ago, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature overhauled California’s school finance system with the avowed goal of closing the “achievement gap” separating poor and English learner students from their more privileged classmates. School districts with large numbers of “at-risk” students would be given billions of extra dollars to improve their educations. From the […]

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How Should PG&E be Overhauled

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Having declared “I own it,” Gov. Gavin Newsom is stepping up his personal involvement and political investment in the disaster-tinged bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., wagering his still-new governorship on reforming — or dissolving — the nation’s largest investor-owned utility. Almost daily, Newsom denounces PG&E for shoddy maintenance of power lines that sparked […]

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Are the wealthy fleeing California taxes?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Here is an indisputable fact about California taxation: More than two-thirds of state general fund revenues come from personal income taxes and about half of those taxes are paid by the 1% of taxpayers atop the income scale. In other words, K-12 schools, state colleges and universities, health and welfare support for the poor, prisons […]

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Newsom’s a mixed bag so far

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

As Gavin Newsom disposes of the last few bills from the 2019 legislative session, he more or less closes the book on his first year as governor and it’s an appropriate moment for a progress report. Overall, he’s had a moderately successful rookie season. He made some progress on some of his campaign promises, but […]

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