California Common Sense in the news.
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Bay Area cities need more police, not higher pay for them
San Francisco Chronicle on Mar 14, 2014
It is frightening to realize that despite rising crime rates, the Bay Area's largest cities are fielding fewer police officers. The reason is not a lack of revenue: Those cities report greater tax revenues now than before the Great Recession. Rather, the reason is that those cities now devote more of their budgets to overtime and salary increases for officers, forcing them to cut the number of officers on the street. What our communities need, however, is more police.
U.S. public pensions need more than investment windfall
Reuters on Mar 10, 2014
"For many public pension funds, the hole is so deep -- in the range of many tens of billions of dollars for some of them -- that they would need decades of double-digit returns to approach full funding," said Autumn Carter, executive director of California Common Sense, a non-partisan think-tank founded at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. "Realistically they cannot earn their way out of their shortfalls."
Money for Nothing: The State Teachers' Pension Fund Blew $44 Million on the 8 Washington Project
San Francisco Weekly on Feb 19, 2014
California is the largest state in the nation and its teachers' pension fund is, accordingly, the nation's largest. Its assets comprise $181.1 billion; $22.3 billion of that is tied up in real estate. It has an interest in nearly 280 real estate ventures and its property-based holdings have grown more valuable than in pre-crash days. And yet, writing optimistically about a pension fund is a bit like penning a glowing assessment of the healthiest man in the intensive-care unit. The nonprofit California Common Sense pegs CalSTRS' 30-year looming funding shortfall at $240 billion — a figure 80 percent greater than current contribution levels.
Assembly to Tackle Teacher Retirement Fund Debt
Capital Public Radio on Jan 29, 2014
Autumn Carter is Executive Director of California Common Sense, a government transparency group. She said hearings are a good first step. “But we can’t ignore that fact that securing CalSTRS will mean setting aside an additional $4.5 billion to that unfunded liability every year for the next three decades," she said. "Anything significantly less than that is like trying to hammer a nail with a toothpick.”
CalSTRS at a Crossroads
Public Sector, Inc. on Jan 27, 2014
Reading California’s 2014-15 proposed budget, one could easily be hooked by proclamations of surpluses, rainy day funds, and increased contributions to schools. Unfortunately, the full story is in the details. One of the budget’s most important components is an unassuming chart titled “California’s Long-Term Liabilities.” California currently has $354.5 billion in outstanding long-term liabilities, including a massive $217.8 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities.
Brown’s great high-speed cap-and-trade dystopian railroad fantasy
Sacramento Bee on Jan 26, 2014
The official price tag of $68 billion is flatly unbelievable. A 2012 study by California Common Sense, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit, suggested the final cost could top $203 billion after accounting for inflation, delays and other “financing realities.” The business plans – there have been several, with a new one due this year – rely on assumptions about ridership, for example, that assume Californians will abandon their cars by the tens of thousands.
The Varied and Diverse Predictors of Local Government Bankruptcy
Public Administration Times on Jan 17, 2014
In February 2012, the city of Stockton, California voted to enter bankruptcy mediation. By June 2012, they had filed for bankruptcy protection. According to California Common Sense, three factors primarily led to the city’s financial problems: The housing and financial market collapse; unsustainable compensation promises, and; an ill-timed bond offering.
What officials say about Brown’s budget
U-T San Diego on Jan 10, 2014
Autumn Carter, executive director of California Common Sense “It relies on temporary tax increases of Proposition 30. Really at this point there doesn’t seem to be a long-term plan for sustaining this level of funding once Prop. 30 runs out.”
Will California budget surplus spur Sacramento to spend or save?
KPCC - Southern California Public Radio on Jan 2, 2014
California's growing surplus could lead to Democrat-on-Democrat budget battle in the coming months. Governor Jerry Brown has made cautious estimates about the state's finances, but the bean-counter-in-chief, Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, projects year-over-year increases up to a nearly $10-billion surplus by July 2018. Plus he predicts the growth will head into 2020 at least. Much of the current surplus will go to education spending, and while there are other government-financed programs in need and hard-hit by the recession (child care and welfare, for instance), some argue the extra cash should be saved for leaner years. What do you want legislators to do? If voters are given a chance to expand California's reserve stash, will they? Guests: Mac Taylor, Legislative Analyst, State of California Chris Hoene, Executive Director, California Budget Project Autumn Carter, Executive Director, California Common Sense
Which California City and County Workers Earn More than the President?
NBC Bay Area on Dec 22, 2013
SFMTA also had one of the biggest bonus payouts in the state, paying a transit manager $200,951 in additional compensation, adding to that employee’s $98,211 salary. “What it says to me is that these compensation levels are rising, and they’re rising unchecked. Citizens are not calling foul,” Autumn Carter with the Los Altos-based think tank California Common Sense said. Carter said examining public salaries is one way to prevent cities from heading towards potential bankruptcy. “If you think back to Stockton and Vallejo, they weren’t having these conversations beforehand. It’s only after the fact that we tend to wake up and say, ‘Hey these compensation levels are simply unsustainable,’” Carter said.