1 2 3 22

Dan Walters

State’s courts face financial, managerial tangles

There’s nothing more fundamental to a well-functioning society than an efficient, fair court system to resolve civil disputes and criminal cases. California has the nation’s largest court system, and perhaps its most troubled with severe financial and managerial tangles, and a virtual war between a San Francisco-based administrative superstructure and hundreds of rebellious local judges. […]

State still owes one huge debt

When Jerry Brown returned to the governorship in 2011, he pledged to clean up the state’s finances and pay off a “wall of debt.” Brown defined the debt rather narrowly, however, as $33 billion borrowed from banks, special funds and school aid to cover budget deficits during the Great Recession. One of the debts that […]

November 29, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 6 Replies

Wrangling over new state taxes

As the Great Recession gripped California, state revenues plummeted by 20 percent and Capitol politicians and major stakeholders battled over which programs would take the hits. During this decade, however, a slow recovery from recession and a temporary hike in taxes approved by voters in 2012 have boosted general fund revenues from scarcely $80 billion […]

Is California’s economy booming? Not really

Kevin de León, the state Senate’s president pro tem, has been making his way slowly to a global conference on climate change in Paris next month. One of his stops, last week, was London, where he spoke to a group of British legislators and business leaders, touting the economic benefits of California’s efforts to curb […]

November 22, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 5 Replies

Kamala Harris undercuts California’s Prop. 209

Proposition 209, passed by California voters in 1996, bars race, ethnicity or gender preferences in hiring, college admissions and other governmental actions. The measure, which has survived multiple legal challenges, is a section of the state constitution. Attorney General Kamala Harris took an oath to “support and defend . . . the constitution of the […]

Brown struggles to secure lasting legacy

When Jerry Brown’s first governorship ended in 1983, he had precious little lasting accomplishment on his political resume. His few initiatives had faced a hostile (albeit Democratic) Legislature and he had been preoccupied with two unsuccessful campaigns for the presidency and one for the U.S. Senate. After the latter, Brown declared, “I believe the people […]

November 15, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 2 Replies

California initiative process alive and well

The Capitol’s Democrats and their biggest allies – unions, particularly – were riding pretty high after the 2012 elections. The party had achieved two-thirds legislative supermajorities and with a Democratic governor in place, its leaders and their allies had an ambitious liberal agenda to pursue. What better time, some thought, to consolidate their control of […]

Local decisions perhaps best on certain issues

California and its politicians over the years have taken pride in pushing the policy envelope, setting a pace for the nation as a whole. Decades ago, we led in building freeways, in battling smog that cars on those freeways created and in offering low- or no-cost higher education opportunities. Currently, Gov. Jerry Brown and other […]

National student test scores confirm poor California performance

The latest national academic tests tell us again that California’s public schools aren’t doing a very good job of educating more than 6 million youngsters. Once again, California finds itself in the bottom tier, with New Mexico and Alabama, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests of fourth- and eighth-graders in math and English. […]

Brown remains consistently inconsistent

Over his half-century as a practitioner of California politics, Jerry Brown has proved himself to be consistently inconsistent. Indeed, he has claimed that tendency as a virtue, once sneeringly dismissing “small minds that slavishly adhere to foolish consistency.” It should not be surprising, therefore, that skimming through the hundreds of bills from the 2015 legislative […]

November 01, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Quick fix typically not best fix

Were the El Niño phenomenon to actually generate copious rainstorms in California, it could create a dilemma for homeowners with elderly roofs – patch the leaks or spend big bucks for a new roof. California politics present similar choices. The state’s extraordinarily complex socio-economic matrix makes gathering support for any major policy decision extraordinarily difficult. […]

October 28, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

New law stops gold dredging

California is what it is – a diverse and economically and culturally potent society – largely because gold was discovered in the American River in 1848. It drew thousands from every corner of the globe, establishing it as a magnet for those with ambition and drive that is still powerful. It jump-started an innovative and […]

October 25, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

State should consider study before going all-in on pre-kindergarten

The New America Foundation urges California in a new report to spend more on training and paying pre-kindergarten teachers. “Our bottom line is that California is not doing enough to educate early childhood educators so that kids don’t fall way behind in school,” the report’s author, Sarah Jackson, told EdSource, an online educational news site. […]

October 21, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

State’s cap-and-trade dollars piling up

One of the chores the Legislature left undone when it adjourned was spending billions of dollars from auctioning carbon dioxide emission credits. There’s no shortage of suggestions on how to spend the “cap-and-trade” money, but state law says it’s supposed to be spent on reducing carbon emissions and thus combating climate change. Gov. Jerry Brown […]

October 18, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Crime remains lingering political issue for state

The beginning of Jerry Brown’s first governorship four decades ago coincided with a dramatic increase in crime. Crimes of all kinds climbed to more than 7,000 per 100,000 Californians during the first year of his governorship, twice the crime rate during father Pat Brown’s gubernatorial term a decade earlier. Not surprisingly, crime was a dominating […]

October 14, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

State lurches forward on immigration reform

Twenty-one years ago, California voters passed Proposition 187, which sought to deny public benefits to illegal immigrants. Ultimately, however, it was voided by the courts, sparked a political backlash that divided the Republican Party, galvanized Latino and Asian political activism and led California politicians to set a new and radically different course. While immigration reform […]

October 11, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

State tinkers with power system at peril of ratepayers

When California’s electric power system went into a virtual meltdown 15 years ago, one might think it would have cured politicians’ urges to fiddle with its operations. After all, it was caused by a know-it-all overhaul of the system four years earlier by then-Gov. Pete Wilson and the Legislature, and successor Gray Davis’ mishandling of […]

October 07, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Poor acts contribute to malaise

California has, as noted in this space previously, a severe civic malady – a sharp decline in voting. Politicians have been scrambling to find fixes, such as automatically registering voters as they contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, Public Policy Institute of California polling has found, in essence, that the reason so many Californians […]

October 04, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Cultures clash as court weighs in on school funding, accountability

The epic war between California’s education establishment and a loose coalition of school reform and civil rights groups rages on many fronts. Combatants clash in the Legislature, in the state Board of Education, in local school board meetings, in school district, legislative and statewide elections, and, ultimately, in the courts. One of their many specific […]

September 30, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Intraparty fights take shape for 2016

Toni Atkins probably would prefer to remain the Democratic speaker of the state Assembly indefinitely, but she can’t. Although the state’s term-limit law has been amended to provide more flexibility, she’s bound by the earlier version that limits someone to three terms in the Assembly. Atkins still has eight years of state Senate eligibility. But […]

September 27, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Brown’s actions tarnish his legacy

Jerry Brown’s political modus operandi has become well established in the second half of his two-part governorship. He declares something to be vitally important, then often settles for a half-a-loaf “solution” or an initial gesture that allows him to check it off his political bucket list. And if the issue seems to require too much […]

September 23, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Split tax role subject of political debate

What’s in a word? How about billions of dollars? Make It Fair is a labor-union-backed organization that wants to change Proposition 13, California’s landmark property tax limit. It has been circulating a chart claiming that since it passed in 1978, the proportion of property taxes paid on “commercial” property has declined from 45 percent to […]

September 20, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Legislature ends session with a whimper

As the final fortnight of the 2015 legislative session began, Capitol handicappers were predicting a concluding cascade of landmark legislation. The Legislature did take significant steps on medical marijuana regulation and the right of terminally ill patients to end their lives. However, as the biggest measures stalled one-by-one, the session ended early Saturday with a […]

September 16, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

No surprise: Common Core tests yield lackluster results

It was no surprise that California’s first academic tests tied to new Common Core English and mathematics standards revealed lackluster achievement. Overall, just 44 percent of the 3.2 million students in the third through eighth grades and 11th grade met or exceeded standards in English, and that dropped to 33 percent in mathematics. State education […]

September 13, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Unions active as legislative session continues

Only a sixth of California’s 15 million wage and salary workers belong to labor unions, most of them government workers. During Labor Day week, it would be fair to say that without public employees, California’s 16.3 percent unionization rate, a bit above the national average, would be more like Oklahoma’s 6 percent. While union members […]

September 09, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Reports hint that schools not following state funding law

California school districts were granted extraordinary flexibility in implementing a historic overhaul of public education finance to provide more help to “high-needs” poor and English-learner students. Gov. Jerry Brown cited “subsidiarity” as his principle, defining it as trusting local school officials to use extra money from the Local Control Funding Formula wisely within broad state […]

September 02, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Big quake just 1 threat to state

Gov. Jerry Brown says California’s drought and the wildfires it has spawned are wake-up calls about the potentially cataclysmic effects of climate change. That may be true. But they are not the only indications of potential disaster that could devastate a state perched, however precariously, on the continent’s western edge. California has been experiencing a […]

August 30, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Bill shows cynicism of teachers union, lawmakers alike

There are many other unworthy contenders, but Senate Bill 858 may be the most pointlessly cynical legislative act of this still-young century. It was drafted in the dead of night and hastily enacted as a budget “trailer bill” last year with no more than a cursory gesture toward public notice. It stands as a prime […]

August 26, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

3 issues loom large with Legislature back in session

The Legislature reconvened Monday after a monthlong summer recess and immediately focused on what most members like best: spending money. The 2015-16 state budget was enacted in June, but three big financial issues were postponed – raising and spending billions of dollars on transportation, raising and spending billions more on the Medi-Cal program of health […]

August 23, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Gas prices make for illogical political strategy

Tom Steyer is obviously an intelligent and rational man, given his demonstrated ability to amass great wealth through capitalistic investments. But since it’s difficult to rationally grasp his periodic rants about California’s gasoline prices, they only make sense in a purely political – i.e., illogical – context. Steyer apparently believes that complaining about California’s fuel […]

August 19, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,
1 2 3 22

Special Publications »

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service (updated 4/30/2015) and Privacy Policy (updated 4/7/2015).
Copyright (c) 2015 McNaughton Newspapers, Inc., a family-owned local media company that proudly publishes the Daily Republic, Mountain Democrat, Davis Enterprise, Village Life and other community-driven publications.