On Monday, November 28, the Rose Institute released the 17th annual Kosmont-Rose Institute Cost of Doing Business Survey. The Rose, in partnership with the Los Angeles-based Kosmont Companies, gathers business fees and a variety of tax rates from 421 selected cities across the United States. Rankings for each city are divided into one of five “Cost Ratings” groups: Very Low Cost ($), Low Cost ($), Average Cost ($$), High Cost ($$), and Very High Cost ($$$).
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On November 29th, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune ran an article titled “La Puente selects former city manager to run city’s election” regarding the debate over bringing back a controversial city figure to conduct La Puente’s first city-run election. The article cites fellow Doug Johnson, referring to him as a “local government expert”.
California can no longer afford its current retirement system. Estimates for unfunded pension liabilities range from 256 billion dollars to almost a trillion dollars. As a result, on October 27, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown introduced his 12-point plan to change pension and retiree health benefits for California’s state and local government workers. These changes mainly affect future employees by shifting more of the financial risk for pensions from public employers to the workers.
As Rose Institute Alumnus and recently published author, Patrick Atwater (Claremont McKenna College ’10), notes in his new book, A New California Dream, California is filled with contradictions. The state has the largest economic output ($1.9 trillion as of 2010) of the 50 states but ranks 7th for income inequality. It has the most stringent environmental laws but eight of the ten most polluted cities. Perhaps most importantly, observes Atwater, California has a highly-publicized democratic initiative process but arguably the most dysfunctional state government in the United States. The problem of ineffective government seems so systemic in California that calls for a state constitutional convention in recent years are gaining support.
On Thursday, November 10, the Rose Institute of State and Local Government hosted an education roundtable at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum. The topic was, “Is K-12 Education in California in Crisis? If So, What Do We Do About It?”
Seven states held off-year general elections on Tuesday, and four of these—Mississippi, Maine, Ohio, and Washington—featured initiatives on their ballots. Initiatives are distinct from referendums in that they are put on the ballot directly by the people, whereas referendums are placed on the ballot by legislatures. Of the nine initiatives featured in Tuesday’s elections, voters… Continue Reading
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) started the California High-Speed Rail project after voters approved its funding in 2008. When complete, the project will consist of over 800 miles of track and up to 24 stations, in California cities such as San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego, Bakersfield, Fresno, Palmdale, Anaheim, Riverside, and Irvine. Traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles would take 2 hours and 40 minutes, and from Los Angeles to San Diego would take 1 hour and 20 minutes. High-Speed Rail remains controversial, however. Proponents point to economic, environmental, and community benefits from the project, whereas opponents of the plan argue that it would be detrimental to all three. Despite initial excitement for this project, many cities claim that they cannot afford to build high-speed rail. Fresno officials stated that they cannot afford to help build rails in San Joaquin Valley. There is a growing movement to stop the high-speed rail project in California.
On Tuesday, the majority-Republican Arizona State Senate voted to impeach the chair of the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission, Colleen Mathis. Republicans have accused Mathis, who is a registered independent, of being overly partisan and too secretive about the Commission’s business. The party-line vote was 21-6 to impeach Mathis, the sole independent on the Commission. Continue Reading
On October 21, 2010, the City of Fresno adopted the Council Orientation Act. The Act provides city council members an overview of Fresno’s government before they assume office. Councilmember Lee Brand, a representative of the 6th District, authored the legislation after experiencing Fresno’s current informal orientation process following his election to the council in 2008. Continue Reading