Investigation-Budget and Finance

Fresno beats SF, San Jose in economic growth

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
Cities rankings

The gleaming high-tech companies of San Francisco and Silicon Valley now are California's face to the world -- even more than Hollywood. But -- surprise! -- an updated Brookings Institution study found the inland metropolitan areas of California beat out the upscale coastal cities in the Bay Are...

Comparing CalPERS and CalSTRS with AT&T retirement

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
att logo

Following yesterday’s story, “State pensions improve, but members living longer,” it would be useful to compare California’s two large state retirement funds with a roughly equivalent private one, AT&T. Most private companies have switched to “defined contribution...

State pensions improve, but members living longer

Monday, January 26th, 2015
calSTRS 2015 report numbers

Is it morning in California for the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System? Both CalPERS and CalSTRS’ funds have performed better lately, even as members are living longer. CalPERS is doing much better since 2008, when it lost 27.8 p...

Look for the budget trailer-bill details

Monday, January 12th, 2015
brown budget

  Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, released Friday, is just that: a proposal. It’s a starting point. What’s key are the details he and his allies include in the “trailer bills” to the budget they advance for fiscal year 2015-16, which begins on July 1. According to Brown’s ...

Do Californians want to raise oil taxes?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

  Are Californians ready for another tax increase? That's what California hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer sought to find out in his “People’s Poll” on whether voters would support an added oil extraction tax in California. The tax would be 9.9 percent on a barrel of oil. It would ra...

LAO: Possible 2016 recession would devour budget surplus

Monday, November 25th, 2013
length of u.s. recessions

  There is good news and bad news in the impartial California Legislative Analyst’s recent release of its “2014-2015 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook.” The good news, “Stunning turnaround: California has budget surpluses as far as LAO can see.” That's the San Jose Mercury New...

State of CA worsened Desert Hot Springs’ financial problems

Monday, November 18th, 2013
Desert hot springs

Desert Hot Springs is a poor city east of Banning. The city's median income of $31,356 is 55 percent of California's $57,287. It also has a reputation for crystal meth production straight out of  the television series "Breaking Bad." Hot and poor, Desert Hot Springs now is in the brink of munici...

Life imitates sci-fi: Why CA pension crisis is sure to get far worse

Monday, September 16th, 2013

The debate in California over public employee pensions has grown familiar in recent times. Those who demand reform finally appear to have momentum. In Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown won passage of a pension reform measure in September 2012. While many thought it didn't go nearly far enough, its app...

Audit uncovers embers in Cal Fire slush fund

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

A new state audit shows that in 2005 a secret, $3.66 million off-the-books account was established by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Wildlife Fire Investigation Training and Equipment Fund, a private, nonprofit account, was filled through lawsuit settlement proceeds. ...

Is California the next Detroit?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
detroit michigan

Editor’s Note: has been following Detroit’s economic situation for several years, and in light of its recent filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, we are re-releasing a series of articles detailing the city’s challenges. This piece was originally posted on CalWatchdog, August 14, 2...

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