ARCHIVE - 2015 - California Policy Center

ARCHIVE: 2015

Finding California’s Biggest Payees

California lags behind other states in transparency because it has not produced an on-line checkbook, showing detailed spending information by payee. The state does tell us how tax money is allocated by purposes (health, education, corrections, etc.), but it doesn’t tell us who receives this money.

Treasurer’s New Web Site Reveals a Bad Deal for Fullerton Taxpayers

On November 17, State Treasurer John Chiang launched a new web site that provides information on bonds issued by California state and local governments. The site, at http://debtwatch.treasurer.ca.gov, has detailed data on over 50,000 bonds sold to investors over the last thirty years.

How CalPERS has Created a Ticking Time Bomb

During the Stockton bankruptcy Judge Klein called CalPERS the “bully with a glass jaw.” Klein meant that CalPERS, as a servicing company, has no standing in the bankruptcy because the pension obligation is between the public agency and their employees and retirees.

California Ranks 50th in State Spending Transparency: What We Can Do About It

Although many California political leaders espouse their support for transparency, the state lags behind most others in opening its spending data to public scrutiny.  So while Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, has called on governments to “lean into [the] notion of openness and transparency,” the state he may soon lead is leaning in quite the opposite […]

Will California Voters Support Pension Reform?

A bipartisan coalition led by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former City Councilman Carl DeMaio have filed a pension reform ballot measure in California. The group seeks to qualify the measure for a possible November 2016 vote by California voters. The California Policy Center examined polling conducted by a variety of sources and […]

Climate Change Laws Hurt The Poor And Benefit No One: Why Are Political Elites Pushing So Hard?

I was eighteen years old in 1966 when my plane circled the tiny airport in Ontario, California.  I was traveling from the Bay Area to Claremont to begin my freshman year in college.  Looking down from my window seat, the overcast cloud cover prevented me from seeing the freeways and buildings on the ground.  When […]

Transparent California Releases 2014 Salary Data for California K-12 School Employees

For Immediate Release August 12, 2015 California Policy Center Contact: Robert Fellner Robert@CalPolicyCenter.org (201) 206-6469 Data: No correlation between teacher compensation and academic performance TUSTIN — K-12 employee compensation data released today by Transparent California shows there is no meaningful correlation between teacher compensation and student performance; when the compensation of all district employees is compared to […]

Reviewing “The Conservative Heart” by Arthur Brooks

If you have not read The Conservative Heart, How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America, by Arthur C. Brooks, buy a copy and read it now. Brooks’ work will be of interest to most as a “how to” primer for election messaging. Conservative candidates, who too often get their clocks cleaned on […]

“For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds, Executive Summary (Section 1 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: You are Here: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) More Borrowing for […]

More Borrowing for California Educational Construction in 2016 (Section 2 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) […]

Quantifying and Explaining California’s Educational Construction Debt (Section 3 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) More Borrowing for California Educational […]

How California School and College Districts Acquire and Manage Debt (Section 4 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) […]

Capital Appreciation Bonds: Disturbing Repayment Terms (Section 5 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) […]

Tricks of the Trade: Questionable Behavior with Bonds (Section 6 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) […]

The System Is Skewed to Pass Bond Measures (Section 7 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) More Borrowing for California Educational […]

More Trouble with Bond Finance for Educational Construction (Section 8 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) […]

Improving Oversight, Accountability, and Fiscal Responsibility (Section 9 of 9)

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) […]

Table A-1 California K-12 School Districts 2013-2014 – Ranked by Enrollment

See the complete California Policy Center report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction (complete, printable PDF Version, 4 MB, 361 pages) Links to all sections of this study readable online: Executive Summary: “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds (1 of 9) […]

Five Key Measures of California’s Fiscal Health

Editor’s Note:  The recent election of John Moorlach as a state senator is one of the best things that has ever happened to California’s legislature. Not because of his party affiliation, or his ideology, but because he has a skill in short supply in Sacramento – he is a Certified Public Accountant. Moorlach is the only […]

Analyzing the Cost and Performance of LAUSD Traditional High Schools and LAUSD Alliance Charter High Schools

Download printable PDF version Summary:  This study examines cost-per-pupil for high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), comparing its traditional public schools to those attending its largest charter school network, the Alliance College Ready Public Schools. It also examines the educational achievement outcomes for traditional and charter high school students, focusing on […]

Rolls Royce Health Care Plans for L.A. County Public Agencies

SUMMARY:  The price of health insurance in America has consistently risen faster than the rate of inflation and, despite the intentions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is projected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. A provision of the ACA known as the ‘Cadillac Tax’ is designed to discourage employers from purchasing […]

Unrecognized Legacy of Prop 39: $137 Billion in Payments Due for Money Already Borrowed and Spent

How much debt has accumulated as the State of California and its local K-12 school and community college districts relentlessly borrow money for school construction by selling bonds to investors? No one seems to know. In April 2013, the California Policy Center published a report entitled Calculating California’s Total State and Local Government Debt, which attempted to […]

The Devastating Impact of Retroactive Pension Increases in California

On January 27th, 2015 Kern County declared a fiscal emergency citing lower tax revenues from oil producers and growing unfunded pension liabilities as the cause. A review of their pension costs and growth of their unfunded liabilities over the past decade indicates the word “growing” is an understatement. A more accurate term would be “soaring”. […]

Unaffordable California – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

April 2015 Update:  Here’s a documented comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is bad, and getting worse. But it doesn’t have to be this way! The state and local government policies that created an unaffordable California can be reversed. PERSONAL INCOME TAX:  Prior to Prop 30 passing […]

How Much Have California Voters Recently Authorized to Borrow for School Construction?

Next year California voters may be asked to authorize the State of California to borrow another $9 billion to help K-12 school and community college districts pay for more educational construction. This $9 billion would be obtained by selling bonds to investors and paying it back – with interest – over several decades using the […]

Where Do All the Jobs Come From?

You can be forgiven if you think that the government creates jobs. Politicians try to justify almost any policy as creating or protecting jobs. This is usually not true. Also, at what cost? If we bail out a failing company or keep open a government facility or military base that’s no longer needed, we are […]

Debt and Tax Limits Always Waived When School Districts Want to Borrow More Money

Research by the California Policy Center now allows the People of California to see – for the first time – a chart listing all California K-12 school district requests to the state for waivers to sell bonds for school construction. These waivers allow school districts to circumvent state laws meant to protect property owners from […]

Examining Public Pay in California: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Summary:  The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) is the nation’s largest municipal utility, but it may also be one of the clearest examples of excessive public pay driven by powerful public sector unions. This paper analyzes the pay received by DWP employees to their non-DWP counterparts and finds that the average DWP […]

Alameda County Water District Rate Increase Driven by Labor Costs, Not Drought

With California facing a significant drought, many water districts are raising rates on customers who have been asked to significantly reduce water use.   Water districts cite the lack of rainfall, the rising cost of imported water, and reduced demand as reasons why customers must pay more.  However, many districts fail to explain the role labor […]

Single-Parent Families and Educational Achievement: The Tragedy of Welfare

Project TALENT, a government-funded study that tracked the development of 364,000 high school students from 1960-1971, reported significant differences in the academic performance and adult achievement between children who were raised by an unmarried mother in a fatherless home and children who were raised by two biological parents. The results were independent of race and […]

For West Contra Costa Healthcare District, the Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

This week, Bay Area media have been covering the financial crisis at Doctor’s Medical Center, a public hospital operated by the West Contra County Healthcare District. As I discussed in a recent California Policy Center study, many California health care districts have financial issues, but the problems at WCCHD are especially acute.  The district filed […]

California City Pension Burdens

SUMMARY:  This study estimates the burden of pension costs on 459 California municipalities. The primary measure we consider is the ratio of required pension contributions to estimated total revenue for each city.  We also look at contribution rates per employee and at pension funding levels.  We find a wide variation in the impact of pension […]

Where Did All The Vehicles Come From?

Have you ever wondered where all the vehicles come from? Stand by the side of a busy road and count the first 100 to 200 vehicles that pass by. One could bet that no two vehicles would be exactly alike. There would be vehicles from more than a dozen various manufacturers, a few domestic and […]

Scholars and Scholarship: A Case for Charter Schools

Public and private charter schools have emerged as a striking exception to the dismal system of U.S. public education that has performed so poorly on international assessments of student performance such as PISA and TIMMS. Despite the virulent opposition to them by the powerful California Teachers Association, National Education Association and their political allies in […]

California Healthcare Districts in Crisis

INTRODUCTION While financial conditions in California cities have improved markedly since 2012, many of the state’s 78 healthcare districts are struggling. Last April, Palm Drive Healthcare District in Sebastopol filed for protection under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy law.  In December, the West Contra Costa Healthcare District, which operates San Pablo-based Doctors Medical Center […]

Do Newer Technologies Threaten High Speed Rail?

So many lies were told to convince voters to approve the High Speed Rail project six years ago, that most Californians have soured on it. They are appalled that the estimated cost to build, the time to build, the time between destinations and the price of a ticket have all nearly doubled since voters approved […]

Analysis of the Reasons for San Diego Police Department Employee Departures

Summary:  The San Diego Police Officers Association and, to some degree, the San Diego media has long held that low pay was a significant factor in the department’s attrition rate that required pay increases to solve. A recent City-commission study that found the SDPD’s compensation (base pay range + cost of benefits) was near the […]

Has Sacramento really balanced the state’s budget?

Thanks to Proposition 30 with its retroactive tax increase and an improving economy, the state claims that it has balanced its General Fund budget.  This may be technically correct but ignores some very unpleasant realities. Claiming to have balanced the budget ignores the growing unfunded liabilities associated with public employee pensions and other unfunded retirement […]

When Borrowing $142.4 Billion for School Construction Isn’t Enough

On January 12, 2015, the Sacramento Bee reported that “school-construction and home-building groups have launched an effort to qualify a $9 billion school bond for the November 2016 ballot…The last state school bond was in 2006, and the pot of new construction and modernization money is virtually empty.” See California School Builders, Others to Gather Signatures for […]

Seven Years Ago, Wall Street Was the Villian, Now It Gets To Call the Shots

The recent passage by Congress of new legislation favorable to loosening controls on risky Wall Street trading is just the most recent example of the consolidation of plutocratic power in Washington. The new rules, written largely by Citibank lobbyists and embraced by the Obama administration, allow large banks to continue using depositors’ money for high-risk investments, the very […]

Average CalPERS Pension Up To 5 Times Greater Than Comparable Social Security Payouts

CalPERS officials are fond of saying that their average pension benefit is only about $31,500 – suggesting that CalPERS members’ benefits are at Social Security-type levels. On this basis, they argue it’s a “myth” that public pension benefits are excessive. But is that really true? What happens when something like Social Security’s benefit assumptions – […]

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