Sacramento’s Shades of Socialism

Socialism has become a hot topic in the presidential election but that should not be a surprise. Governments in the US have long engaged in various shades of socialism. California is no exception.

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Free CA’s NPs!

For all its progressive talk, California often walks regressive paths. One example is the state’s paternalistic restriction on nurse practitioners (NPs), who are advanced practice registered nurses with post-graduate degrees. California is among the minority of US states, and the only western state, to require NPs to work under physician oversight. In doing so, California has effectively created a feudal system under which physicians get to earn unnecessary stipends even when patients don’t request their participation.

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Assessing Candidates For President

A number of people in the GFC Network have asked our opinion of presidential candidates. To date we have begged off, citing our expertise as limited to state politics. But on reflection we think there’s one piece of advice we could offer: a checklist for assessing candidates. While federal and state governments take on very different tasks — the federal government is (as one pundit puts it) “an insurance company with an army” while states provide most domestic public services — both are American-style democracies with co-equal branches of government that require particular talents from legislators and executives to be successful. So, for what it’s worth, here’s our approach…

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California’s Per-Pupil Spending

New Haven Unified School District students finally returned to school this week after the district and teachers reached agreement on a new contract. But a close vote and angry words are signs no one is happy. The settlement is temporary, just as in LA and Oakland earlier this year. That’s because the district and the teachers want more money but the state already boosted school spending, already raised taxes, and already moved higher among US states in per pupil funding.

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Week Three: New Haven Unified Strike

The New Haven Unified School District teachers’ strike has moved into its third week. We are troubled this subject is not dominating discussion in the legislature.

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All Quiet In Sacramento

The New Haven Unified School District teachers’ strike has moved into its second week, surpassing the duration of the Oakland and Los Angeles teachers’ strikes earlier this year.

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For Whom Senate Bill 29 Tolls

Medi-Cal is an entitlement to health insurance provided to low-income Californians. With 13 million customers, Medi-Cal is a voucher-type system funded by a combination of the state and federal government. Spending on Medi-Cal in the fiscal year starting July 1 is projected to be $102 billion, $23 billion of which is projected to come from the state’s General Fund.

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Scapegoating In Sacramento

Govern For California supports lawmakers who legislate in the general interest. This week two bills will be up for votes in the State Assembly that are pure examples of special interest legislation.

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Fear The Wheelbarrow!

According to the Smithsonian, researchers believe the wheelbarrow first appeared in classical Greece between the sixth and fourth centuries B.C. and could pay for itself in just 3 or 4 days in terms of labor savings. Its invention drove a massive improvement in productivity that freed humans for other endeavors.

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An Open Letter To California’s Senate Education Committee

There’s a scene in the Monty Python film Life of Brian in which a committee meets to discuss a resolution condemning Roman oppression while their hero, Brian, is being led to his crucifixion. A resolution wasn’t the sort of action Brian needed at that time. But at least he got a discussion.

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Bugs In California’s K-12 System

Imagine if one of Apple’s products had a software bug. Do you think Apple’s management would act immediately to fix it? Of course it would. Now ask the same question about California’s K-12 school system, which operates under rules established by the state legislature and governor. Would they act immediately to fix a bug in that system? They should — but they don’t. Nowhere is that failure more apparent presently than in the school district in the state’s capital city, Sacramento.

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“You Have To See Sisyphus As A Happy Man.”

Those are the inspiring — yes, inspiring! — words of Wolfgang Schäuble, longtime German politician and Angela Merkel’s finance minister until 2017. When asked in a Financial Times interview why he had once compared himself with Sisyphus, who was condemned forever to push a stone up a hill only to see it roll back down, Schäuble said:

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Pusillanimous In Sacramento

Some legislators are afraid to take on the toughest special interest.

In 2012 the California Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown asked voters to approve a big sales and income tax increase to better fund schools. Voters approved the measure and per-pupil spending has risen 60 percent since then to $17,160 per student. One would expect schools to be faring well.

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The Economist: California’s teachers’ strikes conceal a conflict of generations

Teachers are striking over pay as pensions and health-care costs are eating up budgets

“I like cats, unicorns and peace, but I love my teacher!” declares one sign, with two rainbows, held by a young pupil at Crocker Highlands Elementary School in Oakland on a weekday morning. She should have been at school, but instead she joined her mother and thousands of Oakland’s teachers outside City Hall. Oakland’s teachers are asking for higher salaries, support staff and more. Teachers in nearby Sacramento may be next to put down chalk and pick up placards.

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California’s Tax Increases Haven’t Translated Into Service Increases

Proposals to increase federal taxes are very much in the national news lately. Some of the proposals are designed to expand programs but many are about income or wealth redistribution. In contrast, tax increases at the state level of government are usually about expanding programs or addressing deficits. That’s because states provide ~90 percent of domestic government services and have balanced budget requirements while the federal government provides few services and isn’t required to balance its budget.

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