Tag: jerry brown

California Knows How to Party… $16 Billlion Too Lavishly

Californians may be forgiven for expectorating coffee over their morning newspapers today, as they learn that their state deficit is not $9 billion, as Governor Brown’s administration had predicted, but rather $16 billion. Oops.

Further increasing the breakfast table choking hazard is the Governor’s “solution”: raise taxes. Gov. Brown is pushing a fall ballot initiative that would raise both sales and income taxes. He argues that this is preferable to cutting spending on things like public schooling on the grounds that schools have already been slashed to the bone. But have they? Actually, no. California’s per pupil spending has nearly doubled over the past forty odd years, in real inflation-adjusted dollars, and remains near its all-time high.

What did California get for that massive spending increase? Not a great deal if the SAT performance of its college-bound high school students is any guide. And, as I pointed out in this op-ed, it’s a pretty reasonable guide.

But while raising taxes has consistently failed to improve educational performance, cutting them actually works—via tax-credit school choice programs that give families an easier choice between public and private schools. Florida’s education tax credit program, for instance, has been shown to improve the achievement of students who stay in public schools, to improve the achievement of students who accept scholarships and attend private schools, and to save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. If expanded on a mass scale in a large state like California, it would save billions of dollars a year.

So what’ll it be, Californians? Fiscal and education policy sobriety, or the Governor’s hair-of-the-dog continued big government partying?

Slasher Stories

In Hollywood, there is a genre called “slasher movies.” In the media, there is a genre of “slasher stories” on state government budgets. A piece in the WaPo today is classic:

Democratic and Republican governors alike are sounding similar themes, as they slash once sacrosanct programs…In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has proposed closing a $25 billion budget gap by…slashing funding for higher education…Sen. Dean A. Rhoads, the chamber’s senior Republican, said Nevada should be raising taxes as well as slashing programs.

Wow, it sounds brutal doesn’t it? For a different perspective on state budgets, see my testimony last week to the Senate Budget Committee.

Jerry Brown’s Charter Schools ‘Among the Top’?

When Jerry Brown touts his record on education on his campaign website, he starts by citing the two charter schools he founded, calling them “among the top-performing schools in Oakland.” They aren’t – not when measured by academic achievement, at any rate.

The chart below shows the percentage of students in Brown’s two charter schools who score at or above the “proficient” level on the California Standards Tests (averaged across all available grades and subjects). The results are broken out a few different ways to show that they are not particularly sensitive to demographics.

Far from being “among the top,” Jerry Brown’s schools are marginally lower-scoring than the abysmal Oakland Public Schools, and fantastically far below the city’s real top performers: the American Indian Public Charter Schools network (3 schools) and the Oakland Charter Academies (2 schools).

Another of Mr. Brown’s campaign website claims is more credible: “I have gained first-hand experience in how difficult it is to enable all students to be ready for college and careers.” Perhaps if Mr. Brown had taken the time to learn from and emulate the two charter school networks that are already achieving that goal in his own backyard, Californians would have greater confidence in his education policy acumen.

The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General

Our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute have released a new report on the worst state attorneys general in the country.  Despite Eliot Spitzer no longer being eligible for consideration, six attorneys general comprise the worst-in-the-nation list:

1. Jerry Brown, California
2. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
3. Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma
4. Patrick Lynch, Rhode Island
5. Darrell McGraw, West Virginia
6. William Sorrell, Vermont

The report, authored by Hans Bader (who will be contributing an article to this year’s Cato Supreme Court Review), uses several criteria for determining who made the list of shame: ethical breaches and selective applications of the law; fabricating law; usurping legislative powers; and predatory practices (such as seeking to regulate out-of-state businesses that broke no state law).   

CEI’s press release explains the pick for number one baddie:

California’s Jerry Brown topped the list for misdeeds like refusing to defend certain state laws he disliked.  One example was Proposition 8, a lawfully-adopted amendment prohibiting gay marriage — a law upheld by the state Supreme Court.  “Personally, I opposed Prop 8,” said Bader, “but it’s clear, by definition, that a provision of the state constitution cannot violate that very constitution; and it’s the duty of the attorney general to defend it.”

Hans explains his reasoning further in this op-ed.  Get the full report here.