Friday, March 6, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Millions spent on political action just a drop in the bucket

walters column sig

By
From page A11 | February 12, 2014 |

Annual reports reveal that thousands of special-interest groups spent $177 million last year on lobbying the Legislature and other branches of state government.

That’s a lot of money, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of spending to influence political decisions – spending that is, in reality, a relative drop in the bucket.

One should add money for direct campaign contributions to candidates and ballot measure campaigns, “independent expenditures” on campaigns and other ancillary political action activities. The National Institute on Money in State Politics says more than $650 million was spent on campaigns in California in 2012, three-fourths of it on ballot measures.

It’s a drop in the bucket because the stakes are much, much higher, given that the governor, legislators, other elected officials and their appointees to myriad boards and commissions directly affect at least a half-trillion dollars each year.

For starters, the state budget, including special, bond and federal funds, is more than $200 billion a year. Kick in, roughly, at least $100 billion in insurance premiums regulated by the Department of Insurance and another $100 billion in utility rates at the Public Utilities Commission.

Then factor in about $50 billion in local property taxes and $20 billion in local sales taxes, all collected under rules set by an elected Board of Equalization, and the $500 billion mark is clearly visible. That’s about a quarter of the state’s entire economy, incidentally.

But that doesn’t count countless billions more in less tangible impacts – particularly on the many professions and businesses regulated by the state. Just one example: Health care is California’s largest single economic activity, more than $200 billion a year, and every aspect is regulated by the state, including the Legislature’s minute control over which medical practitioner can perform which procedure on which part of the human body.

The largest lobbyist employer last year, the Western States Petroleum Association, illustrates that aspect. It spent $4.7 million, principally to affect regulation of hydraulic fracturing to exploit California’s shale oil, the nation’s largest deposits.

The outcome was more oversight than the industry wanted but not enough to stop drilling that’s potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If the oil industry is a big winner after spending just $4.7 million, it’s an investment that will pay off very handsomely.

It’s the unspoken cost-benefit equation in every decision to hire a lobbyist, make a campaign contribution or launch a public-relations campaign, whether by the oil industry, a public-employee union, an insurance company or a public-works contractor.

The cost is simply a tiny fraction of the potential gain or loss.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Random thoughts on getting older by Annabelle . . . and Susan

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Work progresses on freeway interchange project

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Solano College grad becomes Marvel superhero

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Caltrans announces planned I-80 closures

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1

French guitarist brings world music to The Palms

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Bay Area Stage readies ‘Mockingbird’ production

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Let’s take a 2nd look at 1st cars

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Bike to School Day poster contest begins

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Audubon Society to hold talk on blackbird decline

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

Youth talent, scholarship awards dinner set

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Free 8-week Journey Through Grief class set

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: March 4, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: March 4, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

 
SF hospital performs rare chain kidney swap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

El niño might not be enough to help Ca drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
App developers take a swing at playgrounds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Supreme Court allows for compassionate release

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Off-duty officer accidentally shoots relative

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Student protests block access to campus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
GOP legislator enters race for Boxer’s seat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Japanese tsunami debris washing ashore

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Device in ‘Superbug’ outbreak not approved by FDA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

States on edge about the future of health insurance markets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Freight train carrying crude oil derails in Illinois

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Air Force veteran who saved orphans in Korean War dies at 97

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Homeowners group denies playhouse for cancer-stricken girl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Report: Suicides by girls and young women continue to climb

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Jurors in Jodi Arias case: We were 11-1 for death penalty

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Experts: Ferguson must move quickly to rebuild public trust

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Plane skids off LaGuardia runway, slams into fence near bay

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Father tells jury about boy’s death at Boston Marathon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Hillary Clinton email trove under review for release

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Syria says it killed military leader of al-Qaida group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Iraq says Islamic State militants ‘bulldozed’ ancient site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Attack on US envoy part of S.Korea’s violent protest history

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Last Ebola patient is released in Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Floods kill 42 people in Tanzania, authorities say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Death toll in east Ukraine mine blast reaches 33

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Companies form coalition to conserve during drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 6, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 6, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 6, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Should I tell my coworker that her romantic emails are being read at work?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview March 6-12, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Shania Twain to launch final tour in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Elizabeth McCracken wins $20,000 short story prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dying wish comes true: Dutch woman with ALS sees Rembrandts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Announcer Craig Sager returns from leukemia to NBA sideline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Comedy Central’s ‘Too Many Stars’ means plenty of laughs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Jaime Camil shines as telenovela star on ‘Jane the Virgin’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Unfinished Business’ should never have started

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Review: ‘Second Best’ Marigold Hotel lives up to its title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Entertainment calendar: March 6, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic | From Page: B6

.

Sports

 
Maddon makes debut with Cubs in spring tie with A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Hunter Pence breaks arm in Giants’ 8-6 win over Cubs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
 
Jones-Drew retires, Woodley released by Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Veteran defensive tackle Dockett joins 49ers on 2-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Ashley, McConnell lead No. 5 Arizona to 99-60 rout of Cal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Holmes opens 4-shot PGA lead at Blue Monster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Local Report: Labit pitches SCC to win over Folsom Lake

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

Prosecutors: No criminal charge for NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
As NFLPA election looms, Smith hopes to keep ‘boring job’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This date in sports history for March 6, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Business

Toyota rolls out first mass-market cars to run on hydrogen fuel cells

By The Washington Post | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Applications for US jobless aid inch up to a 10-month high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

A robust US job market is expected to keep delivering

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
Largest US banks all pass latest round of Fed ‘stress tests’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Ringling Bros. Circus to give up elephant acts in 3 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
Google providing car insurance quotes in latest expansion

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Can Etsy keep its folksy brand and make shareholders money?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Thelma A. Roche

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Michele Jarvis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert Charles Thierry

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9