Along with the grandeur of Yosemite and the beauty of the California coast, there’s our state’s epic rush hours. But sales taxes on the Nov. 8 ballot, like Contra Costa’s Measure X, aren’t the way to solve them. Measure X would add 0.5% to local sales tax rates to fund a variety of transportation projects […]
About Marc Joffe
Marc Joffe is the Director of Policy Research at the California Policy Center. In 2011, Joffe founded Public Sector Credit Solutions to educate policymakers, investors and citizens about government credit risk. His research has been published by the California State Treasurer’s Office, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Reason Foundation, the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute among others. He is also a regular contributor to The Fiscal Times. Prior to starting PSCS, Marc was a Senior Director at Moody’s Analytics. He has an MBA from New York University and an MPA from San Francisco State University.
Entries by Marc Joffe
This fall, voters in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties will consider a $3.5 billion BART bond measure. Proponents argue that the measure is required to ensure the system’s safety and reliability. Critics are concerned that bond proceeds will be used to support excessive employee salaries and benefits. BART management denies that claim. In […]
Given declining enrollment, Orange Unified School District’s $288 million bond measure may fund more school upgrades than students need. There is also a risk that the taxpayer cost of debt service for the bond issue will exceed the district’s forecast rate of $29 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. According to statistics from Ed Data, enrollment […]
If Orange Unified voters approve Measure S this November, newly authorized bonds will be added to an already large district debt. A California Policy Center review of OUSD financial reports finds that the district owed $120 million to bond investors as of June 30, 2016. The largest portion of OUSD’s bond obligations takes the form […]
Orange County voters are being asked to approve over $2.4 billion in new school bonds. The largest bond: Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD)’s $889-million Measure M. The new CUSD bond would be serviced by property owners in most of the school district, but not quite all of it. One community, Rancho Mission Viejo, won’t be […]
Scholars from the University of California at Berkeley have played a pivotal role in making income inequality a major political issue. But while they decry the inequities of the American capitalist system, Berkeley professors are near the top of a very lopsided income distribution prevailing at the nation’s leading public university.
Californians may be accustomed to living with the specter of a public pension crisis. But the federal government’s problem with its retirement system – including Social Security – is far worse, and yet none of the three remaining major-party candidates for president has a plan to do anything about it. The California Policy Center generally […]
Taxpayers in Stanton, a quiet suburb of Orange County with only 38,000 residents, will pay millions for a pricey bond deal approved in an obscure vote of a little-known city agency five years ago. Rather than risk voter rejection over the deal, Stanton city council members David Shawver, Alexander Ethans and Brian Donohue – acting in […]
Years after the Great Recession slammed their Wall Street investments, at least five California counties have broken through the 10 percent ceiling, spending at least one of out of every $10 to fund their government-employee retirement programs. The resulting strain on local budgets, called the pension burden, is revealed in California Policy Center’s latest analysis of county reports. […]
Last year, CPC published a study on California City Pension Burdens. Most of the data for that study came from plan-specific actuarial valuation reports published by CalPERS. These reports show how much local government employers must pay CalPERS in the coming fiscal year and projects contributions for several years into the future. At the end […]
The November 2016 ballot is likely to contain an initiative that would raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 by 2021. At the beginning of this year, the state’s minimum wage rose from $9 to $10. If Measure 15-0032 passes, it will rise an additional dollar each year between 2017 and 2021; after that, it would […]
This is the second of an occasional series of posts on municipal bond issuance costs. You can see the first one, focusing on Fullerton, here. In a recent study of 800 municipal bond issues for UC Berkeley, I found that issuance costs varied widely – from less than 0.2% of face value to over 10%. […]
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Two years ago, Treasurer Bill Lockyer called for an early warning system to detect signs of financial trouble in California local governments before they faced bankruptcy. By proactively identifying at-risk cities, the system could create an opening for local experts and external advisors to intervene before any given situation spun out of control. As the California Policy […]