Rating California counties on the thoroughness of their COVID-19 data dashboards

By Marc Joffe
Editor’s Note: The following was originally published on Reason. In terms of providing quality information that researchers, hospitals, public health officials, and taxpayers would find the most useful, the best portals are offered by San Diego, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin counties. County governments across California are providing an array of public coronavirus data...

TAGS: Chapter 9 bankruptcy, coronavirus, Marc Joffe, Marin County, pensions, San Diego

COVID-19 Worsens Fiscal Distress for Lindsay California

By Marc Joffe
The city of Lindsay, in Tulare County, is California’s fourth highest risk city according to the California state auditor. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Its fiscal condition will likely deteriorate further as residents shelter at home, raising the specter of sharp service cuts or even Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the city. The mistakes...

TAGS: CalPERS, Central Valley, Chapter 9 bankruptcy, coronavirus, Marc Joffe, pensions

Crisis shows why El Cerrito needs to heed State Auditor’s warning

By Marc Joffe
The economic crisis arising from the public health crisis we now face shows why the state auditor was correct in calling out El Cerrito and several other California cities for their perilous financial positions during a decade of economic growth. While El Cerrito may have been able to “get away” with uncontrolled spending during good...

TAGS: Bay Area, CalPERS, Chapter 9 bankruptcy, coronavirus, Marc Joffe, pensions

Elizabeth Warren’s Private Equity Plan May Harm Public Employees

By Marc Joffe
Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a 2020 presidential candidate, proposed a plan to rein in private equity funds that engage in leveraged buyouts—acquiring companies with large amounts of borrowed money. Although the idea of cracking down on financial engineering is attractive to many, it could have the unintended consequence of lowering asset returns for public...

TAGS: Elizabeth Warren, Marc Joffe, pensions, Unions

California’s State and Local Liabilities Total $1.5 Trillion

By Marc Joffe
We estimate that California’s total state and local government debt as of June 30, 2017 totaled just over $1.5 trillion. That total includes all outstanding bonds, loans, and other long-term liabilities, along with the officially reported unfunded liability for other post-employment benefits (primarily retiree healthcare), as well as unfunded pension liabilities. This represents a rise...

TAGS: Edward Ring, Marc Joffe, unfunded liabilities

To Reduce Wildfire Dangers, Focus on What Matters

By Marc Joffe
Political leaders and pundits have been quick to link this month’s horrific wildfires to climate change, leading to the conclusion that California should continue and even double down on its carbon reduction policies. But the evidence suggests that these policies will make little difference in the frequency and severity of these disasters, and our scarce...

TAGS: California bullet train, Marc Joffe

Rapidly growing hyperloop industry offers alternative to California high-speed rail

By Marc Joffe
Since Elon Musk introduced hyperloop in 2012, several startups have been formed to commercialize the technology. Hyperloop is a 21st century approach to intercity travel in which pods fly through sealed, low pressure tubes at speeds of up to 760mph. Although a large amount of hyperloop research is occurring in California, our state government is...

TAGS: California High-Speed Rail Authority, hyperloop, Marc Joffe

CalPERS’ Pension ‘Myths’ Busted

By Will Swaim
U CalPERS has quietly removed the controversial “Myths vs. Facts” page from its website, abruptly ending one of the agency’s efforts to soothe public anxiety about the cost of rising pension benefits to public employees. The page disappeared March 7. A spokesperson for CalPERS, the state agency that manages public employee retirement funds, said “Myths...

TAGS: CalPERS, Edward Ring, Marc Joffe

California City Pension Burdens

By Marc Joffe
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...

TAGS: Marc Joffe