FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

Administrative Judicial Council Enriches Staff, Wastes Billions, While Depriving Trial Courts

A scorchingreport from California State Auditor Elaine Howle found that the Administrative Office of the Courts, now called the Judicial Council, spent $386 million over four years on statewide services that nearly half of California’s 58 trial courts don’t use – including $186 million on contractors and consultants.

Remember that the Administrative Office of the Courts was responsible for the debacle of the failed $2 BILLION Californiacourts computer system, paid with money allotted for state trial court operations. Thisunbelievably high costwas spent on the faulty computer system while courtrooms closed, courthouse employees furloughed, and criminal and civil cases take record time to come to trial.

The AOC’s primary function is to provide services to the courts. However, rather than making immediate corrections as the State Auditor recommended, following the damning report, the Administrative… Read More

Mike Morrell

GOVERNOR’S “RESTRAINED” BUDGET REVISE STILL UPS SPENDING

Last week, Governor Brown released his revised state budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. It clocks in at a record-setting $267 billion – nearly $13 billion more than last-year’s record-breaking budget, expanding the size and reach of our ever-growing government.

At the current rate of spending, the Department of Finance projects that California will go right back to operating deficits in excess of $2.5 billion by 2018-19. Yet that figure is still somewhat misleading since it does not account for hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities.

Recent census numbers also show that California’s state spending is well above the national average for state governments. We are approximately 12 percent of the population but represented 13.8 percent of state-level spending for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Despite these facts, the majority party continues to call for more spending of… Read More

Jon Coupal

SMALL MEASURES CAN PROVIDE LARGE BENEFITS TO TAXPAYERS

Those who follow the political machinations in Sacramento might well conclude that not much good emerges from the California Legislature. Gas taxes, attacks on homeownership, a tax increase on commercial property, ever expanding pension deficits, high speed rail, there seems an endless list of proposals for which the average taxpayer is supposed to foot the bill, while others receive the benefit.

With all this bad news, it is easy to overlook some relatively obscure bills that could have an oversized beneficial impact on taxpayers.

Assembly Bill 809 by Assembly Member Jay Obernolte (Hesperia) is a proposal that will aid local voters deciding on tax measures by providing some much needed transparency. Under current law, there is no word limit requirement on the ballot label – the… Read More

Richard Rider

CARTOON: Woman kills man? Hilarious! Man kills woman? Not so much.

Lots of funny captions provided by readers for this U-T cartoon. But my wife made an interesting observation: Reverse the roles — make it two MEN with the big gun — and an empty pair of smoking WOMEN’s shoes.

I suspect that would NOT be deemed funny, or even offered up for caption-adding to the public. If it were published, letters would pour into the paper from people “deeply offended.”

Such is the double standard of today’s (selectively) sensitive society.

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/may/22/weekly-breen-cartoon-caption-contest/#comments-module

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Let the Voters Control Congressional Districts

[Publisher's Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, we are pleased to present this column from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Huntington Beach, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long-Beach.]

If you are new to the FlashReport, please check out the main site and the acclaimed FlashReport Weblog on California politics.

Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in the next couple weeks, partisan gerrymandering could become the only way that congressional districts are drawn. The Court heard arguments on March 2 in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, a case challenging Arizona’s non-partisan, citizen-run redistricting… Read More

Katy Grimes

State Auditor Issues Scorching Report to Admin Authority of CA Courts System

A scorchingreport from California State Auditor Elaine Howle, found that the Administrative Office of the Courts, now called the Judicial Council, spent $386 million over four years on statewide services that nearly half of California’s 58 trial courts don’t use – including $186 million on contractors and consultants.

Now, the Administrative Office of the Courts is trying take away the authority for decision making of trial court funds from the independent Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee, and give it to the Judicial Council’s Committee on Accountability and Efficiency — the same committee that approved big raises for top AOC officials as its first official action under its then-chair, Justice Cantil-Sakauye.

It’s akin to City Councils voting for their own… Read More

Asm. Kristin Olsen

We Can Expand Early Childhood Education without Raising Taxes, Growing Government

Californians expect government to provide efficient and effective services to the taxpayers it serves.

But expanding state government isn’t the answer to every problem facing our state, nor is government necessarily the best solution. Despite our economic recovery, we cannot afford to simply create a new government program to serve every unmet need.

In many areas, the private sector can do a better job of funding services to Californians. Take the lack of opportunities for early childhood education, for example.

The benefits of early education to both the individual and the economy are without question. Economists have estimated that for every dollar invested in early education, as much as 16 dollars is generated for the community.

Nevertheless, state government simply cannot afford to expand opportunities for early childhood education to keep up with the demand. The First 5 Association of California estimates that there are over 200,000 families on a waiting list today. Additionally, it is very difficult for low-income Californians to afford the high cost of putting their kids in private preschool.

Typically, the response from the… Read More

Ed Ring

California’s Government Unions Collect $1.0 Billion Per Year

“If you say there is an elephant in the room, you mean that there is an obvious problem or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about.” Cambridge Dictionaries Online

If you study California’s legislature, it doesn’t take long to learn there’s an elephant in both chambers, bigger and badder than every other beast. And consideringthe immense size of that elephant, and the power it wields, it doesn’t get talked about much.

Because that gigantic elephant is public employee unions, and politicians willing to confront them, categorically, in every facet of their monstrous power and reach, are almost nonexistent.

Government reformers and transparency advocates are fond of attacking “money in politics.” They attack “soft money” and “dark money.” Most of the time, these reformers are on the so-called political left, concerned that “rich billionaires” and “out-of-state corporations” have too much political influence. They are misguided and manipulated in this sentiment. Becausebillionaires… Read More

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