Recently CALMatters posted about the Lira family’s hellish journey through California’s Employment Development Department. Equally troubling is that contractors with EDD such as Deloittes and Salesforce under contracts that pay them millions are donors to elected officials.*

Deloittes and Salesforce might be perfectly capable contractors but they should not be permitted to donate to elected officials who are in a position to influence selection or to evaluate performance. The same goes for public safety and other unions who enter into contracts with the state worth billions. The Legislature should ban donations from corporations, unions and associations that receive money, or…


We have a lot of friends in the CA State Senate but we take issue with their recent assessment that “a decade of responsible budgeting enabled California to endure the recession.” That isn’t factual. Here’s how the 2020–21 Budget they enacted last June closed a forecasted pandemic-related deficit:

Only 16 percent of the solution came from Reserves, which are a consequence of responsible budgeting over the previous decade. 84 percent came from federal funds, deferrals, borrowing, new revenues, and hope for more federal funds. Now, fast forward to the present. The state budget not only endured the pandemic but has…


There are many things to detest about the recall but worst among them is special interests using the opportunity to improve bargaining positions. According to the SF Chronicle, a $250,000 donation has been made to the anti-recall campaign by PECG, a union representing engineers employed by the state whose current contract expires next year. Over the next year, PECG will bargain a new contract with the Executive Branch to which PECG just donated and then submitted for ratification to the Legislative Branch to which PECG is also a donor. …


92 percent of Californians have insurance coverage. The eight percent who don’t are primarily undocumented residents. CA has sufficient ongoing resources to cover them.

Concerns about covering the undocumented have centered on the risk that a new program, estimated to cost $3 billion per year, would add to the state’s structural deficit. But the program doesn’t have to add to the structural deficit. Funding can come from redirecting >$4 billion/yr being spent on unnecessary insurance subsidies for 300,000 retired public employees and their dependents. Right now the Legislature provides those subsidies even if the retiree/dependent is eligible for Medicare or…


According to the NYT’s Ezra Klein in The Best Explanation of Biden’s Thinking I’ve Heard, President Biden wants government to “deliver for its own citizens.” But that can’t happen in California without the Legislature. That’s because most domestic services are delivered by states. Paramount among those services is K-12 education, which California handled during the pandemic about as well as the Soviet Union handled Chernobyl and delivered poorly before the pandemic. Only the Legislature can fix that by fixing the Education Code, which currently serves and protects school employee unions better than pupils. One of the reasons for that is…


While residents in Georgia struggle to vote, residents in California struggle to get good government services no matter who they vote for. That’s because service providers who are political donors to elected officials are often the customers being pleased. This is a list of supplier-donors to one member of the State Assembly in 2019–20:

Is it any wonder they are well served even when residents are not? Shareholders, employees and members of those corporations, unions and associations receive >$200 billion per year under agreements with the state and its subdivisions to provide government services. That’s why donations from them must…


Not only does California permit political donations to legislators from corporations, unions and associations whose shareholders, employees and members are compensated under terms determined by those same legislators but citizens are kept in the dark about those and other donations until it’s too late to act.

E.g., most donations made between January 1 and June 30, which is the period during which the budget is passed and most bills are evaluated in committees, aren’t made public until July 31, which is after most bills have been advanced, amended or killed in committees and the budget has been enacted.

At this very moment, California legislators are receiving political donations while deliberating over nearly 2500 bills affecting nearly 40 million people. All political donations should be made public within 24 hours of receipt. Citizens should never be in the dark about donations being made to their elected officials.


Everyone in my generation remembers where they were when they learned about the assassination of Martin Luther King on this date in 1968, who alongside Cesar Chavez and Robert F. Kennedy were my inspirations as a high school student that year.

Sadly, I can’t help but think all three would be shocked by today’s California, where government services are poor despite the country’s highest tax rates. That’s because services are being run for the benefit of providers instead of consumers. …


Yesterday’s CALMatters included a horrifying story about Californians languishing in county jails without being convicted or sentenced for a crime. One of the reasons given: “Serious shortfalls in court budgets.” Those shortfalls are not the result of a shortage of tax revenue but rather choices made by the CA Legislature:

That chart illustrates a corrupt pattern. Dollars in the fastest growing segments are doled out to members, shareholders and employees of government employee unions and corporations who donate to the very same legislators who approve that spending while the Judicial Branch, which falls into neither category, languishes.

California is directing…


Yesterday GFC was proud to express support for SB 710, a bill by Senator Steven Bradford to require prosecutors in California who have accepted money from a police union to recuse themselves from cases involving alleged lawbreaking by police represented by that union. If enacted, SB 710 would be a helpful step towards derigging public policy in California from political contributions, but the state would still have a long way to go.

Should the head of Purchasing for (say) The New York Times accept money from corporations who compete to provide ink to the paper? Should the lead labor negotiator…

David Crane

Lecturer at Stanford University and president of Govern For California

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