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Dan Walters

Opinion Columnist
Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 57 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times in Eureka, while still attending high school, and turned down a National Merit scholarship to continue working as a journalist. At one point in his career, at age 22, he was the nation’s youngest daily newspaper editor. The Hanford Sentinel was the first of three newspaper editor positions before joining the Sacramento Union’s Capitol bureau in 1975, just as Jerry Brown began his governorship. Walters later became the Union’s Capitol bureau chief, and in 1981 began writing the state’s only daily newspaper column devoted to California political, economic and social events. In 1984, he and the column moved to The Sacramento Bee. He has written more than 9,000 columns about California and its politics and his column has appeared in many other California newspapers. Walters has written about California and its politics for a number of other publications, including The Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor. In 1986, his book, “The New California: Facing the 21st Century,” was published in its first edition. He is also the founding editor of the “California Political Almanac,” the co-author of a book on lobbying entitled “The Third House: Lobbyists, Money and Power in Sacramento,” and contributed chapters to two other books, “Remaking California” and “The New Political Geography of California. He also has been a frequent guest on national television news shows, commenting on California politics.

California legislators routinely use two processes, the "suspense file" and "trailer bills," to bypass full discussion and consideration of legislative proposals, and one big example, affecting the state's criminal justice…

The two leaders of the California legislators, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, want to re-establish centralized power in the Capitol and are sponsoring legislation…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

California is one of the few states that don't require comprehensive reports on students' academic achievement, which makes it impossible for policymakers to know what's working in the schools and…

State legislators complain about hours-long waits at Department of Motor Vehicles offices, but refuse to audit the agency to determine causes and enjoy having a private DMV office to serve…

The state Department of Motor Vehicles is being sharply and justifiably criticized for hours-long waits for service, but intervention by Gov. Jerry Brown's office blocked a study of DMV operations…

California and President Donald Trump are at war again, this time over the administration's plan to freeze nationwide auto mileage standards and withdraw California's ability to set its own auto…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

A seat on the state Supreme Court has been vacant for 17 months and Gov. Jerry Brown has been coy about filling it. He seems to be waiting until an…

Californians should be wary when the Legislature makes big decisions in the hectic last days of its annual session and this year is no exception.

California law bars state and local officials from using taxpayer money for political campaigns. But it's become a common practice, especially when voters are being asked to raise taxes.

"The Browns of California," a new book about the state's dominant political family, falls short by omitting facts that don't square with the family's images.

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

Gov. Jerry Brown talks about reforming the California Environmental Quality Act, calling it "the Lord's work." But he and the Legislature have failed to do it, while granting narrow exemptions…

A new lawsuit alleges that state officials have failed to intervene in low-performing schools, leaving children unable to read. Meanwhile, new high school graduation data tell us that while graduation…

California's 114 community colleges play a vital role in post-high school education but often don't get the respect they deserve. Now big changes are coming, some fostered by outgoing Gov.…

Big moves are being made on water policy in the final months of Jerry Brown's second governorship, including twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a new water allocation policy…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

Universal health care is a big issue for California's Democratic Party but thanks to a budget "trailer bill," a decision on it can be delayed by at least three years…

California's economy is booming and tax revenues are pouring into public treasuries, but schools and local governments say mandatory payments into pension funds are causing them to dip into reserves…

The measure to split California into three states has been removed from the November ballot by the state Supreme Court. Opponents say it would violate the state constitution because revising…

California may be the nation's richest state, but it also has the nation's highest level of poverty, thanks to its high cost of living, especially housing. However the political response…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

Inventor Gilbert Hyatt's decades-long battle with California tax authorities is flaring up again. Hyatt sought refuge in Nevada, which has no income tax, while California tax collectors say he owes…

Kevin de León, a state senator who wants to unseat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, won the endorsement last weekend of the state Democratic Party executive committee, but she enjoys strong…

California's education establishment is fighting a running battle with school reformers and civil rights groups over accountability for helping "at-risk" kids, and the battle will resume after voters elect a…

California has a big stake in results from the 2020 federal census and is battling with the Trump administration over the details, especially a new question about citizenship. California officials…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

The North Coast Railroad Authority has consumed tens of millions of taxpayer dollars but never delivered on its promise to resurrect rail service north of San Francisco Bay. Finally, the…

Democrats are likely to regain their two-thirds "supermajority" in the state Assembly this year. Whether they also enjoy that dominance in the state Senate depends on the outcome of one…

California legislators passed a hastily drafted bill purporting to protect Californians' personal and financial data from exposure and exploitation. But it could run afoul of the law of unintended consequences.

As local government officials ask voters for tax increases, they are reluctant to tell them that the extra revenue is needed to cover pension costs. But one city is not…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

Jerry Brown has signed his 16th and final state budget, bragging that he fixed California's financial mess. But that claim, and his claim of securing the state's fiscal future, are…

Three initiatives that had qualified for the November ballot were dropped last week after their sponsors negotiated deals with the Legislature. Was it extortion? Not in the criminal sense, perhaps,…

The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that compelling non-members of public employee unions to pay dues is unconstitutional. California's unions are now scrambling to avoid an erosion of their memberships,…

California once had a strong and successful Republican Party but over the last few decades, it has shrunken to a small minority of voters and if ti loses several congressional…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck a blow for free speech when it struck down a California law that requires anti-abortion clinics to tell their clients about the availability of abortion…

International financier George Soros has had some success in his dabbling in California politics. But he "hit a brick wall," as he terms it, in trying to unseat three California…

California will get hit hard by a new federal tax law that limits deductions for state and local taxes. California politicians had hoped to sidestep the law, but the Internal…

Los Angeles Unified, the state's largest school district, faces a financial meltdown and the question is whether all California taxpayers should bail it out.

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

San Diego County, California's second largest county, has become a microcosm of the state's political profile and its five-member Board of Supervisors has become a battleground in the struggle for…

"Trailer bills" to the state budget are meant to enact the budget's financial decisions, but they have become convenient vehicles for enacting non-budgetary laws that have nothing to do with…

Twenty-two years after the Legislature and then-Gov. Pete Wilson made a horrendous error in reconfiguring California's electric power system, lawmakers are weighing another big change, this time integrating California's grid…

The duplicitous campaigns against Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman and Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez are harsh reminders that California politics is not a game of tiddlywinks.

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

A "trailer" bill for the 2018-2019 state budget would suspend a law requiring voters to be told about the effects of local bond issues on their property taxes. Local officials…

Gavin Newsom is almost certain to become California's next governor and is promising a vast array of new services. But with Californians' taxes already among nation's highest. how would he…

The state Senate voted unanimously to increase welfare grants to nearly a million Californians. But it also voted almost unanimously to give welfare of another kind to the movie industry.

National media were drawn to California by its top-two primary election system and its effect on congressional races. Political party leaders hate the system, but voters like it and it's…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

Gavin Newsom, the Democrats' candidate for governor, and Republican President Donald Trump both wanted Republican businessman John Cox to finish second in this weeks's gubernatorial primary and thus gain a…

California voters faced a slew of local tax and bond measures in this week's election and more will be coming in November, but in proposing them, local officials avoid mentioning…

The "tort wars" that raged in the Capitol for decades over who and can sue whom are being reignited by conflicts over legal responsibility for wildfires and the sale of…

Gov. Jerry Brown is heavily invested in two massive public works projects, twin water tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and a north-south bullet train. But as he prepares to…

Gov. Jerry Brown is finalizing his last budget and wants to sock away more billions to cushion a future economic downturn. But legislative leaders have spending wish lists totaling several…

The U.S. Supreme Court, in overturning a federal law prohibiting sports wagering, bolstered the states' rights doctrine and in doing so, may help California in its battles with the Trump…

The California Republican Party is sponsoring a ballot measure to repeal a $5 billion package of taxes and fees on motorists to improve transportation systems. Gov. Jerry Brown is leading…

The California Energy Commission has decreed that new homes must have rooftop solar power installations beginning in 2020. However, energy experts warn that the new rules were hastily drafted and…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

The huge pension fund that covers pensions for California's state and local government employees is unveiling a new investment strategy. However, the California Public Employees Retirement System has a spotty…

California political campaigns often try to fool voters into supporting candidates and causes they might otherwise not favor. This year's campaigns include misleading attacks with hidden motives and "slate mailers"…

California's June 5 primary election could be more than decisive than usual. Voters could effectively make Democrat Gavin Newsom the next governor by giving Republican John Cox a second-place finish…

Under pressure from federal courts, California has sharply reduced numbers of inmates in state prisons. However, "corrections" costs are still rising and California is now spending $75,000 per year per…

A collection of commentaries by Dan Walters over the past week.

With dozens of candidates for the U.S. Senate and governor this year, handicapping the June 5 primary election is difficult. The biggest unknown is whether Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will…

Gov. Jerry Brown once again is warning about the heavy impact of recession on the state budget. However, he continues to shun reforming the state's tax system to reduce revenue…

Despite a surge of revenues, Gov. Jerry Brown holds the line on spending in his final budget. He says state overdue for recession and needs to build reserves to cushion…

California’s Republican elite – yes, Virginia, there was once such a thing – gathered in the Capitol on Dec. 15, 1980, to cast the state’s 45 presidential electoral votes for Ronald Reagan. After...

During his first stint as governor four decades ago, Jerry Brown exhibited a willingness to change his mind – or at least his position – on issues large and small at the drop of a hat. He implied...

California was in a bragging mode last week because the state’s economy has climbed in global rankings to 5th place behind only the United States as whole, China, Japan and Germany. It’s a...

It’s time for some fun with numbers, dissecting a new state report on population trends. The big number is 39.8 million. That’s the state Department of Finance’s latest calculation of California’s...

Sales taxes, once the primary source of revenue for the state budget, now play second fiddle to income taxes. That said, sales taxes are still very important to local governments, particularly...

It’s a game of three-cushion billiards, being played not in a dingy pool hall but in Donald Trump’s Washington, Jerry Brown’s Sacramento and in the executive suites of major automakers. Trump’s...

We may assume that voters make their choices after carefully studying candidates and their positions on issues. That assumption lies at the heart of earnest efforts in news media and elsewhere to...

California’s perennial debate over taxation is showing up in ballot measures placed before voters.

The death of recent housing legislation crystallized a conflict that’s been simmering in California for decades.

Gov. Jerry Brown regularly warns that California is overdue for an economic downturn that could devastate tax revenues. Even a moderate recession, his administration projects, could cost the state...

The California Legislature, as noted in this space previously, has a shameful history of exempting itself from the countless laws it imposes on everyone else. Last week, the Assembly’s Public...

California is a deep blue state and one manifestation of its left-leaning politics is a very high level of taxation, particularly levies on personal income. The state has the nation’s highest income...

California’s public employee pension systems have immense gaps – called “unfunded liabilities” – between what they have in assets and what they will need to meet their obligations to retirees. The...

Decades ago, a clever person – precisely who is somewhat obscure – quipped that the California lieutenant governor’s job is to wake up in the morning, check the newspapers to be sure the governor is...

The Capitol’s struggles over big issues such as housing and water get a lot of public and media attention, but the building’s bread-and-butter, so to speak, are hundreds of bills that would benefit...

Will the second time be the charm for Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy? The three years ago, McCarthy’s bid to become speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed due...

The long-distance spitting match between President Donald Trump’s Republican administration in Washington and California’s Democratic politicians in Sacramento over just about everything is either...

There was a bit of good news for California in the federal government’s latest round of academic test results: it’s one of seven states that registered four-point gains in reading comprehension...

Reality may finally be catching up with the vision – or pipedream – of a 200-mile-per-hour train connecting California’s northern and southern regions. A few weeks ago, the High-Speed Rail Authority...

Eight weeks out, the June 5 primary election’s biggest uncertainty is whether Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will have an unobstructed pathway to becoming California’s next governor or will have to fight for...

The first thing to remember about precipitation in California is that it’s unpredictable, as the past several winters have once again shown us. Several years of severe drought ended in the 2016-17...

When governments seek permission to borrow money through bonds, telling voters how much and for how long taxes will be increased to repay those loans is just common sense. In fact, the Legislature...

As the capital of the nation’s most complex and populous state, Sacramento is no stranger to protest marches and other forms of political expression. However, the city has never experienced anything...

In the superheated conflict between President Donald Trump and the nation state of California, no issue is too trivial. Every week, it seems, brings some new point of friction, giving the combatants...

California’s economy is booming with record-high employment, record-low unemployment and billions of extra tax dollars flowing into the state treasury. The official jobless rate dropped to 4.3...

A proposed ballot measure would raise property taxes on commercial sites such as retail stores, warehouses and factories but not on homeowners.

Left-wingers, who have never liked Feinstein's pragmatic approach, are incensed by her apparent unwillingness to fully embrace the "resistance" to President Trump.

Over the past few years, voters in hundreds of California cities and other local governments were asked to pass tax increases, and indications are that another big batch of local tax measures will...

The Assembly Higher Education Committee unanimously endorsed Assembly Bill 1936 this month, which would seem to bode well for its enactment. It would create an Office of Higher Education Performance...

California’s Democratic politicians frequently proclaim their fervent support for tolerance and acceptance of those outside the cultural mainstream. Increasingly, however, they exhibit intolerance...

Highly paid political consultants dream up ways to lure voters into doing something they would not otherwise be likely, or even willing, to do.

The sexual harassment scandal that’s enveloped the Capitol exposes an unsavory aspect of the building’s culture that had been hidden for decades. It’s also exposed another, equally unseemly trait –...

When Santa Cruz, a picturesque and funky coastal city, first started to feel the pinch of rising retirement costs for city workers, it took several steps to limit the fiscal pain. As recommended by...

Ten years ago, California voters approved – very narrowly – a $9.95 billion bond issue to partially finance what was described as a $40 billion high-speed train system linking the northern and...

Exploiting Democrats' abject lack of party discipline, the GOP could block Democratic challengers from reaching the November ballot.

The state's candidates for governor were all over the map on the issue at a recent forum.

That was quite a show that politicians staged in Sacramento last Wednesday. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions swooped into town to tell an audience of police officials that he was suing the state...

After decades of shameful neglect of California’s vital transportation network, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature last year enacted a multi-billion-dollar package of new fees and fuel taxes. It...

After the newly created Citizen Redistricting Commission redrew congressional and legislative districts in 2011, Republicans complained that the new maps were tilted in favor of Democrats. The...

So far, electing a new governor of California has resembled a game of musical chairs more than a horse race. Every fortnight, it seems, brings the announcement of a new candidate and/or a new...

When the Legislature passed – and Gov. Jerry Brown signed – Assembly Bill 1687 two years ago, they exhibited two of the Capitol’s more unseemly traits. The legislation, aimed directly at IMDb, a...

If one looked beyond the heated rhetoric from the podium, most of it directed at President Trump, last weekend’s Democratic state convention revealed a party with many internal fault lines. The most...

SAN DIEGO One should never – repeat never – judge the true tenor of a political party by what happens at its convention, and last weekend’s Democratic gabfest was a case in point. The Democrats’...

Three down, but how many to go? Last Thursday, Tony Mendoza became the third state legislator and the first senator to resign after being accused of sexual harassment in the scandal that has...

After one year of torrential respite, drought may have returned to California, and with it, a renewal of the state’s perpetual conflict over water management. State and federal water systems have...

As he introduced his final state budget in January, Gov. Jerry Brown faced sharp questions from reporters about the effectiveness of his landmark overhaul of public school finance. His Local Control...

The essence of California’s pension crisis was on display last week when the California Public Employees Retirement System made a relatively small change in its amortization policy. The CalPERS...

Well folks, it looks like we may have an old-fashioned, down-to-the-wire political race this year for governor, something Californians haven’t seen for quite a few years. Antonio Villaraigosa, the...

This year is the 40th anniversary of Proposition 13, the iconic property tax limit measure that California voters overwhelmingly endorsed in 1978. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that it’s...

When Gov. Jerry Brown was promoting Proposition 57 to voters in 2016, he characterized it as a common sense criminal law reform that would give nonviolent felons a better chance at rehabilitation by...

Four years ago, the state Senate was thrown into turmoil by the simultaneous prosecution of three senators on unrelated felony charges. The Senate compelled all three to step aside from their Senate...

Suing oil companies for causing climate change has become a popular exercise in California’s coastal communities. Officials in five cities and three counties have filed suits, alleging that the...

California’s political leaders don’t have to look very far to find a stark example of the pension cost crisis facing the state’s 482 cities. Three blocks from the Capitol, in Sacramento’s city hall,...

The recall – allowing voters to fire elected officials before their terms expire – was one aspect of the populist political reform movement that swept through California more than a century ago. The...

Getting legislative leaders to release records about sexual harassment by legislators and their staffers was like pulling teeth without anesthesia. It took months of pressure from women who work in...

One of California’s most complex and unusual financial, political and legal conflicts was settled last week, but mysteries remain.

"We don't know how we're going to operate," one city official says.

Ever since California voters passed Proposition 13 40 years ago, the Capitol’s annual budget wrangle has been dominated by how much money would go to K-12 schools – for good reason. Not only are the...

Gov. Jerry Brown reappointed Elaine Howle as the state auditor last week. It was a wise move. Howle has served in that vital, if little known, position longer than anyone with fierce independence...

Los Angeles and San Francisco may be economic and cultural rivals, but politics in the state’s two most important cities are similarly harsh. Both are dense mélanges of economic, cultural and ethnic...

Walters: For Gov. Brown, striking out on water tunnels and the bullet train would be bitter pills to swallow.

Waters: Some of the big things Brown has championed may or may not pan out.

Dreamers' fate could be a tricky issue for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who faces a potentially stiff re-election challenge.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra is imploring the U.S. Supreme Court to validate laws in California and other states requiring public employees who are not union members to nevertheless pay “agency...

Four-plus decades ago, the Legislature and Jerry Brown, then in the first stages of his two-part governorship, decreed that public employees had the right to join unions and bargain for salaries and...

California’s education dilemma can be stated rather simply, to wit: The state has 6 million kids in its K-12 public school system, 60 percent of them are classified as either poor or...

For years, Gov. Jerry Brown has preached a secular version of a religious principle called “subsidiarity,” asserting that local officials should have flexibility to act without micromanagement from...

To intertwine cliches, Gov. Jerry Brown let the cat out of the bag last week and acknowledged that he’s concerned about killing the golden geese. Those geese are the few thousand Californians with...

Notwithstanding the maxim about not speaking ill of the dead, sometimes it’s necessary, as historians often do, to complete the record and teach a lesson about human behavior. That brings us to two...

The verdict is in and California stands convicted of gross negligence in the construction and maintenance of the nation’s highest dam, Oroville. The dam on the Feather River came very close to...

Roy Bell, who was Jerry Brown’s first budget director 43 years ago, called it a “dog-and-pony show” and it’s one of the Capitol’s longest-running rituals. Each January, usually on the 10th,...

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and former Republican Congressman Doug Ose are polar opposites politically, but have jointly altered dynamics of this year’s California elections. Late last...

State legislators are floating some creative schemes to blunt the impact of the new federal tax law on California taxpayers. Several are in the air, but the main one, proposed by Kevin de León, the...

Outwardly, the McDonalds restaurant just off Highway 101 in Pismo Beach doesn’t look any different from the 1,500 or so others in California. But when you walk into this one, you immediately...

The size and cultural complexity of California spawns many unique political conflicts, and none more so than a years-long, multi-party squabble within the nation’s largest judicial system. The new...

A new year brings renewal of hope, it’s said, but it also means renewed political and legal hostilities over the direction of California’s public school system. For years, an “Equity Coalition” of...

Will 2018 change California's power equation?

California is getting old. Young people are leaving.

State Auditor Elaine Howle has a fearsome reputation for tunneling deeply into public agencies and finding nuggets of information that officials would prefer to remain hidden. Recently, for...

In November, the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, issued his annual “fiscal outlook” that sets the stage for the next state budget cycle. In early January, Gov. Jerry Brown will offer his...

Very young children may still believe that on Christmas eve, Santa Claus and his reindeer-drawn sleigh deliver toys that his elves build in a North Pole workshop. However, as the rest of us know,...

With 2018 just days away, we pretty much know who will be running for which major California offices next year – except for the intentions of billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who’s making...

California’s looming shortage of college-educated workers has been well-documented, particularly in a series of reports by the Public Policy Institute of California. PPIC and others point out...

As we weigh the impact of the federal tax overhaul, now being wrought by President Trump and the Republican Congress, on California, we should keep in mind the first and foremost axiom about...

The first thing to understand about San Francisco politics is with just 7.4 percent of its voters registered as Republicans, the city’s main players are self-proclaimed liberals – or “progressives”...

When the Legislature reconvenes and the campaigns for governor heat up next year, Californians will be hearing a lot – and a lot of hot air – about universal health care. Making California the first...

Crime statistics vary by community and don't always show cause and effect.

The problem will bite an economy that needs better-educated workers.

A new effort to improve the state's technology projects isn't looking good.

Gov. Jerry Brown hopped around Europe for two weeks last month, telling the world that to avoid a climate change Armageddon, it should emulate what California is doing to reduce greenhouse gas...

California’s long-running feud over the direction of its 6-million-student public school system has raged in many arenas, but never in a high-profile campaign for political office. That day,...

In Sacramento, Democrats accused of sexual misconduct could scuttle the party's two-thirds legislative majority.

How far can Democrats go to help their union friends? Pretty far under a recent state Supreme Court decision. The next test may involve Tesla electric cars.

Twice each year, once in January and again in May, Gov. Jerry Brown warns Californians that the economic prosperity their state has enjoyed in recent years won’t last forever. Brown attaches his...

Let’s say you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that’s under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting irregularities. And let’s say that when the SEC’s investigators...

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,” singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson philosophized in his classic blues song, “Me and Bobby McGee,” a half-century ago. Kristofferson’s tune...

Walters: Gov. Jerry Brown's pet water plan is teetering, in need of a fiscal fix.

Mac Taylor, the Legislature’s top adviser on the state budget, delivered some superficially good news this month to his bosses. With no economic downturn on the horizon, he said in his annual survey...

The state agency that regulates California’s legal profession jumped out of the political frying pan this year, but is still feeling searing heat from two new conflicts. Bowing to pressure from...

Efforts by Republicans to repeal California’s new gas taxes may be ill-considered, but they deserve a fair chance at persuading voters. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, however, is emulating the...

There’s much political complaining in California these days over congressional plans to overhaul the nation’s tax system in a way that would cost many Californians, particularly those in high tax...

It should be evident by now that the Capitol’s sexual harassment issue isn’t going to fade away. In the past, accusations of harassment by a political figure either were covered up or...

California’s top politicians and interest groups celebrated a few months ago when the Legislature passed a package of taxes and fees to pay for long-neglected improvements to the state’s...

Jerry Brown, like most of humankind, is a mixture of positive and negative tendencies, and sometimes they run together. The governor is a very smart man with a remarkable and admirable ability to...

Three recent and seemingly discrete events neatly frame California’s political and legal war over whether the state’s six million K-12 students are being adequately educated. The conflict pits the...

Ernest Callenbach’s 1975 novel “Ecotopia” described a mythical nation carved out of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States – Washington, Oregon and Northern California – on the premise of...

It’s doubtful whether more than a relative handful of Californians have heard of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. It is, however, one of state government’s largest activities – and a case study in...

Eric Bauman, the state Democratic Party’s newly elected chairman, made an appearance before the Sacramento Press Club last week and, of course, the blowup over sexual harassment in and around the...

Tax policy has become another conflict between Democrat-dominated California and the Republican-dominated federal government.

Some may have believed – or hoped – that the furor over sexual harassment in and around the state Capitol would soon fade away. Nope. The initial letter complaining about harassment, signed by 140...

California's new gas taxes will do little, if anything, to relieve traffic jams. Most of the proposed improvements won’t be obvious.

That sigh you hear is Antonio Villaraigosa’s relief that Eric Garcetti won’t be running for governor next year. Garcetti, the current mayor of Los Angeles, would have been a strong contender...

The dramatic rise of the San Francisco Bay Area into a globally important cultural and economic powerhouse, and why it zoomed past its much larger rival in Southern California, is,…

Gov. Jerry Brown persistently cautions Californians that their pulsating economy cannot last forever. When, for example, he unveiled a revised state budget last May, he included what has become...

Sunday’s initial quasi-debate among the four declared Democratic candidates for governor strongly indicated that access to medical care may be a dominant campaign issue. However, it also strongly...

The four Democratic candidates for California governor mostly believe that dealing with the state's big issues will mean spending a lot more money. But they're murky on where that money…

Not always fairly, history tends to judge political executives – presidents and governors, especially – by how they handle crises. Abraham Lincoln is rightly revered for his willingness to wage...

The Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal that has roiled Southern California’s smugly cloistered entertainment industry reverberated last week in the equally smug and cloistered state Capitol....

Puzzling: While Gov. Jerry Brown and California's Legislature made it harder for a teacher to protect children against gun-wielding criminals, they also reduced potential penalties for gun-wielding criminals.

One factor – perhaps the decisive one – in Dianne Feinstein’s decision to seek another term in the U.S. Senate next year was pressure from party leaders, who feared an expensive and divisive...

Critics, particularly Republicans, often complain that Democrats who control the state Legislature yearn to minutely control or heavily tax any human behavior they don’t like. Democratic legislators...

When Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 715 last week, he closed the book on even token legislative efforts to confront California’s epidemic of opioid abuse. Last year, California doctors and...

So California has declared itself to be a sanctuary for those who have entered the nation illegally. “This action protects public safety and ensures hard-working people who contribute to our state...

That gnashing sound you hear are the political gears shifting in response to Dianne Feinstein’s announcement – after months of delay – that she’ll seek another U.S. Senate term next year. “I am...

California’s never-say-die conservatives reject anyone who strays from their rigid positions on taxes and other issues.

Walters: California has been on a tax binge in recent months, enhancing its status—for better or worse—as one of the nation’s highest-taxing states.

It's amusing that Democrats are outraged about gerrymandering. Republicans are merely doing what Democrats did for many decades, until the GOP turned the tables.

It will be a misdemeanor crime in California to interfere with the state auditor's investigations.

With some fanfare, Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a package of bills aimed at relieving an acute shortage of housing that has sent costs into the stratosphere and given California the nation’s...

Just because you’re paranoid, the old saying goes, doesn’t mean they aren’t after you. California’s liberal politicians have been paranoid, often ridiculously so, about what’s been happening...

California has spent tens of billions of extra dollars on its K-12 school system in recent years on promises that its abysmal levels of academic achievement – especially those of disadvantaged...

California legislators had a rare opportunity this year to make a significant improvement in the lives of millions of children at little or no cost – and they muffed it. Senate Bill 328, which would...

When California’s voters approved a 2010 ballot measure to reduce the legislative vote requirement for the state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority, they believed that they were merely...

Two aphorisms come to mind in weighing the import of Senate Bill 568: –If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. –Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a...

I first heard the term “peripheral canal” more than 40 years ago, during a forum of state water officials in Stockton. It came from the lips of William Gianelli, who had returned to his birthplace...

From all appearances, the California Legislature’s 2017 session was one of the most liberal – or progressive, as liberals prefer to say – in the state’s history. In fact, legislative leaders such as...

Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the state Assembly, calls the first half of the Legislature’s biennial session, which ended last week, “the most productive and progressive legislative session in...

With the 2017 legislative session completed – for better or worse – California politicians are raising money, hiring campaign staffers and mapping strategies for the 2018 elections that will: Bring...

It’s time for liberal Californians – and that appears to be most of us – to take a chill pill. Their bitter disdain for President Donald Trump – and by extension everyone who voted for him, belongs...

Sometimes, if you are stubborn enough, you can fight city hall, or a state bureaucracy, and emerge as a winner. It took nearly a quarter-century, but Gilbert Hyatt is a winner in his long-running...

Senate Bill 769 was just one of dozens of measures that were effectively killed by legislative appropriations committees this month without formal votes or explanations why. All of the sidetracked...

Nearly seven decades ago, historian Carey McWilliams assessed California’s first century of statehood and labeled it “The Great Exception” for its many attributes. The same phrase could be applied...

If we – the California public – are to hold politicians and other government officials accountable, we must first know what they are doing or not doing. Thus, the first point of conflict is always...

Californians are dealing with a late summer outbreak of devastating wildfires. Even the National Guard has been called out to fight them. On Tuesday, the Legislature began the final, furious days of...

The cultural firestorm over statues, flags and other symbols of the Confederacy, ignited by a violent clash of white supremacists and their opponents in Charlottesville, Virginia, would seem far...

California’s labor unions should be celebrating on this Labor Day because they’ve been on a political roll. Overall union membership in California, 2.6 million, is by far the most of any state,...

One of the less heralded – albeit, one of the more important – of the many clashes between Sacramento and Washington these days has to do with accountability for educating the state’s 6-plus million...

The state Supreme Court this week issued a much-anticipated ruling that will make it much easier for local tax increases to be enacted. Or maybe not. The 5-2 decision, upholding an appellate court...

There’s something of a feeding frenzy underway in the Capitol during the final weeks of the 2017 legislative session. August’s quarterly auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances under the...

California’s housing crisis has spawned several other socioeconomic dilemmas, the most important being a transportation crunch. The state’s most plentiful, best-paying jobs are concentrated in...

The California Public Utilities Commission must, by its nature, straddle the fine line between providing consumers with dependable electric power, natural gas and other utility services at fair...

California’s Democratic state government is exerting “resistance” to the Republican federal government on issues such as immigration and climate change. California insists, under the doctrine of...

In the main, issues that dominate any session of the California Legislature reflect what the public and news media consider at the time to be the most burning. That’s why, for instance, the state’s...

The Josh Newman recall drive is one of those petty, self-serving political exercises that feed the public’s cynicism. All of those involved – save, perhaps, Newman himself – should be ashamed of...

Tension between the federal government and its states has permeated American history from the earliest moments of the nation’s founding 241 years ago. Drafting the U.S. Constitution was an exercise...

California obviously has a severe shortage of housing, but the crisis is felt most acutely by low- and moderate-income families. “Approximately half of all California households are spending more...

The California Public Employees Retirement System has been hammered by poor investment earnings in recent years, but got some good news last month. CalPERS reported an 11.2 percent gain on its...

Travis Allen, a Republican assemblyman from Orange County and self-anointed candidate for governor, dropped this Twitter bomb the other day: “11 counties in California have more total registered...

When two New York baseball teams, the Dodgers and the Giants, moved west six decades ago, their ancient cross-town rivalry merged into the equally intense – and equally long – competition between...

With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact:...

California dodged a big financial bullet when congressional Republicans deadlocked on overhauling or repealing the Affordable Care Act. The state had vigorously embraced the ACA, or Obamacare, and...

Geographically, San Diego County is a microcosm of California – a coastline as its western edge, giving way to tree-covered mountains and a searing desert to the east. By happenstance, the county is...

The business, civic and political elites of Los Angeles are understandably stoked that their city was chosen last week to host the 2028 Olympic Games. They see nothing but upside from having...

What’s not to like about California’s economy this summer? The state’s’s $2.6 trillion economy would be the sixth largest in the world were it a nation, and many politicians are already...

The late Glenn Frey’s song about the international drug trade, “Smuggler’s Blues,” contains a phrase that resonates in politics as well: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very...

Tesla delivered the first of its new and much less expensive battery-powered cars last week, betting that it can move beyond producing a relative few luxury vehicles and become a mass producer....

The multi-front political and legal war over the direction of California’s immense public school system has a new front. The state Board of Education – and inferentially, Gov. Jerry Brown and the...

Four decades ago, writer Cyra McFadden perfectly captured the aura of self-absorbed entitlement that envelops Marin County, on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Her 1976 satirical novel,...

The political deal that led to reauthorization of California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions has many pieces, but one of the strangest is Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1. To...

Slowly – but surely – we are learning that the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam’s main spillway wasn’t truly caused by weather, even though the state claims that in seeking federal aid for...

Having checked gas taxes and cap-and-trade off their 2017 agenda, California political leaders will turn to the state’s housing crisis after a month-long midsummer vacation. It’s high time, because...

The progressive era of California government a century ago spawned many innovative reforms, among them a “grand compromise” between the state’s workers and their employers. Under “workers’...

Belatedly – and only after they had lost control of Congress to Republicans – the national Democratic Party grasped the impact of how state legislatures redraw congressional districts after each...

Gov. Jerry Brown traveled two not always parallel paths to win legislative approval for extending California’s cap-and-trade approach to shrinking its carbon emission footprint. Publicly, he...

To put it mildly, the elected members of the state Board of Equalization are unhappy that the huge tax collection agency is being dismantled. Last month, in response to revelations in numerous...

Much has been said and written – mostly negatively – about the effects of Proposition 13, California’s iconic law limiting property taxes. Its critics say that Proposition 13, which restricts taxes...

The last three California election cycles demonstrated that at the political margins, voter turnout can have a major impact. Democrats achieved long-sought two-thirds “supermajorities” in both...

“Desperate” may be too strong a word, but Gov. Jerry Brown, who aspires to global leadership of the climate change movement, very badly needs to renew “cap-and-trade” controls on California’s...

Earlier this year, the Public Policy Institute of California issued a warning about a looming collision between California’s demographic and economic trends. Baby boomers, a huge proportion of the...

Voice of San Diego, a journalistic website that covers local politics, published a remarkable article late last month about financial shenanigans in the San Diego Association of Governments, a...

The Wall Street Journal often features stories about multimillion-dollar homes and estates as they change ownership. One recent article should disturb California politicians, particularly Gov. Jerry...

For months, California’s Republican leaders had, with fingers crossed, hoped that the state’s top GOP officeholder, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, would change his mind. They wanted him to run for...

California’s Capitol is under perpetual siege by lobbyists for hundreds of specific interest groups, each with an agenda of bills it wants enacted or killed. After each legislative session, many of...

Notwithstanding his penchant for obscure philosophical aphorisms, sometimes delivered in Latin, at his core Jerry Brown is a largely conventional politician. Therefore, while he repeatedly denies...

The California Nurses Association made its political bones, so to speak, in 1999 when it persuaded the Legislature and a newly inaugurated, union-allied Democratic governor, Gray Davis, to impose...

Except for one year, two-plus decades ago, Democrats have controlled both houses of the California Legislature for nearly a half-century. Moreover, most members of the Senate are former members of...

Knowledge, it’s been said, is power. And that explains, in a nutshell, why those in public office fundamentally dislike, and often resist, revealing information to the voting and taxpaying public....

Los Angeles County has 10 million residents, a quarter of all Californians and more people than all but seven states. Not surprisingly, therefore, control of Los Angeles County’s government is a...

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wants to reclaim the House of Representatives and return to the speakership she held for the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency and the first two years of...

One of California’s most enduring conflicts is the one between San Francisco and Los Angeles for economic, cultural and, of course, political dominance. San Francisco was No. 1 during the latter...

The recall campaign aimed at forcing Democrat Josh Newman out of the state Senate has become a hot mess that mirrors Washington’s toxic politics. The Republicans who want to oust Newman from his...

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are patting themselves on the back for what Brown describes as a “balanced and progressive budget” for the 2017-18 fiscal year that begins July 1. The...

Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators are on the verge of virtually eliminating the state Board of Equalization, which has been in existence nearly 140 years. It’s about time. The five-member tax...

So here I am again, beginning the third incarnation of my running commentary on all things California, but particularly its politics. Having written more than 9,000 California-centric columns over...

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