Proposition 13


The California Budget: Back in Black

By Robert Cruickshank

Last week's big news was the announcement from Governor Jerry Brown that the state budget is out of perennial deficit and looking at several years of surpluses. We'll talk more about what those surpluses mean and how they ought to be used, but it's worth taking a moment to remember how we got here.

Since 2001 or so, California's budget seems to have been in perpetual deficit, with less money coming in than was needed to fund existing public services. While the deficit pressure eased in 2005-06, that didn't last, and by the summer of 2007 the deficits had returned as the housing bubble popped and the country slid into the worst recession in 60 years.

It's a New Year, Let's Build New Schools

By Lisa Schiff

The New Year marks the half-way point of the academic year for students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). With a dramatic election finally over, January finds us without the threat of immediate financial catastrophe (thank you voters, for passing Proposition 30), a postponement of the federal funding cliff-hanger until March, three returning incumbent school board members (Rachel Norton, Sandra Fewer and Jill Wynns) and one new commissioner (Matt Haney), and a re-elected President Obama who has committed to staying the course with the existing pernicious federal education programs.

New Political Terrain Holds Promise for California Schools

By Lisa Schiff

My daughter came home from school the other day frustrated and angry. She had been excited the evening before because she'd learned that having finished The Odyssey her ninth-grade English class was now going to tackle Beowolf. We discussed the different translations and decided to compare the version we had at home with the one her class was going to read once she got the book. The next night she handed me, with a gesture of disgust, a used double-sided photocopy of the classic; no "real" book, just a set of rather worn stapled pages.

Democrats to Balance Supermajority Power and Budget Needs with Voter Scrutiny

By Christopher Allen
California Progress Report

A piece in the Sunday New York Times by Adam Nagourney highlighted the new supermajority status of California's Democratic Party, and the fact that lawmakers and the executive branch are wary of the potential voter backlash if Democrats flex their new political muscle too aggressively on issues of new taxation aimed at closing the state's still-considerable revenue gap. Despite a legislature long-dominated by the Democratic Party, this degree control by one party has not been seen in the state for over three-quarters of a century. As Nagourney notes:

This does not appear to be a passing advantage. Even Republicans say that changes in electoral demographics mean that, with the exception of a few brief lapses caused by vacancies, Democrats could hold a supermajority at least through the end of the decade.

Yet in the "be careful what you wish for" department, Democrats are beginning to confront the struggles and complications that come with being in charge of the store. This authority came at least two years earlier than most Democrats had projected. And it is unleashing years of pent-up Democratic desires - to roll back spending cuts, approve a bond issue to rebuild the state's water system, amend the state's tax code, revamp California's governance system - that had been largely checked by the Republican minority.