Category: Articles & Op-Eds

California Needs A Truman Committee

In 1941 the US Senate formed a committee to address waste, inefficiency and profiteering in war production. Chaired by Harry Truman, the committee was extraordinarily successful and launched Truman on to the presidency. Today the country is in another war…

California Dodges One Bullet

Now it must take on the healthcare-industrial complex California dodged a budgetary bullet last week when Congress elected not to change Medicaid reimbursement rules. With 14 million people covered by Medi-Cal, which is California’s version of Medicaid, the consequences for…

Clearing Up Public Pension Accounting

Public plans needn’t use a risk-free rate of return Recently I was asked about an assertion in a paper issued by an affiliate of the University of California that a public pension system with less than a 100 percent funding ratio…

San Francisco Officials Are Chasing Rabbits

Where logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead* San Francisco’s pension costs are expected to rise three times faster than revenues over the next five years (see “Even San Francisco, Flush With Tech Wealth, Has Pension Problems,” Bloomberg) but another disclosure…

Clearing Up More Pension Math

The investment return assumption allocates costs Recent articles about California’s latest pension cost increases reflect confusion about the role of the investment return assumption. While it’s correct that current pension costs increase when investment return assumptions decrease, the articles usually…

Political Courage, California Style

A willingness to risk one’s political career. Politicians love to talk about “courage” but few demonstrate it. One example of someone who did is President Jimmy Carter when he appointed Paul Volcker to head the Federal Reserve System in August…

It’s The Lie That Gets You

How Funded Ratios can decline even when stock markets rise The stock market is 70% higher than ten years ago yet CalPERS’s Funded Ratio (the ratio of assets to liabilities) is 20% lower than ten years ago. How does that happen?…

An Alternative To Alternative News

Fake news is a problem. But citizens shouldn’t rely on intermediaries when they can get information from primary sources. Nowadays primary sources are just a few clicks away. For example, to learn how much California really spends on K-12 education,…

California Starvin’ [Its Universities]

State is slowly but surely defunding UC and CSU Everyone knows about President Trump’s recent threat to pull federal funding from the University of California at Berkeley but few know that California is already starving its legendary university systems. California’s General…

UC and CSU Need Help From Legislature

California’s General Fund revenues in the coming fiscal year are expected to be 23 percent higher than a decade ago. But state spending on the University of California and California State University has grown at a fraction of that pace.…