Jerry Brown Blames California’s Coming Insolvency on Prop. 13

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27: California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. Gov. Brown proposed 12 major reforms for state and local pension systems that he claims would end abuses and reduce taypayer costs by billions of dollars. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown is blaming California’s coming insolvency on Proposition 13, which was passed in response to his first term policies in the late 1970s.

Gov. Brown has been warning Californians since May that the state’s eight-year economic expansion will not last forever, and the next “moderate recession” could cause state revenues to fall by $55 billion over the following three years.

To put the size of such a challenge in perspective, California’s annual spending budget for general government payroll and benefits is only $10 billion.

At the Jan. 10 press conference following release of his last proposed 2018-19 state budget, Brown blamed Proposition 13 three times for the precarious financial condition he has had to wrestle with in his four terms as governor of the Golden State.

Jerry Brown was 36 when he was first elected governor in 1974. He ran in his first election campaign in 1974 on a promise to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to fight Gov. Ronald Reagan’s deficit spending. But once in office, Brown fought oil company drilling and arrogantly pushed for new spending on expensive environmental mandates.

With inflation rampant and senior citizens scared that unlimited increases in property tax would take their homes, Howard Jarvis rallied voters to gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to put Proposition 13 on the ballot in 1978. Despite opposition from Brown and every Democrat politician in Sacramento, the initiative passed with a 62.6 percent majority. Brown was forced to slash spending by $5 billion, or 20 percent.

Gov. Brown told reporters 40 year later, “The passage of Proposition 13, and the insertion of the state government into local funding and local decision-making, has radically changed the nature of California government.”

Brown remained quiet in June 2015 when the Democrat super-majority in the California Legislature wanted to put an amendment on the state ballot to eliminate Prop 13 restrictions on taxing commercial and industrial property.

But with polling for split-roll never receiving over 50 percent support, Gov. Brown ended the tax increase push in October when he told real estate interests that Prop 13 was California’s “political third rail” and that he would not support any vote to change the law.

Gov. Brown has proposed a $190.3 billion balanced budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year beginning July 1. It is the sixteenth and last budget in his four terms as governor. Brown’s budget proposal includes a $5 billion allocation to his voter-approved Proposition 2 “rainy day” fund, bringing the total reserve fund to $13.5 billion.

Breitbart News reported that Brown’s conservative budget proposal is a direct challenge to his own party. His former Democrat allies in the California legislature announced a budget plan in December that includes spending $4.3 billion more than on social justice issues — including providing illegal aliens with eligibility for California’s Medicaid program; expanding a tax credit for the working poor; boosting preschool and child care; and increasing college scholarships to reduce reliance on student loans.

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State closer to downsizing Delta tunnels project

California officials have moved closer to scaling back the troubled Delta tunnels project, officially notifying potential construction contractors that they’re considering limiting the project to one tunnel.

In a memo to engineering firms and other contract bidders last Friday, the Department of Water Resources said it is considering building the tunnels project in phases, with the first phase consisting of “one main tunnel instead of two.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has been floating the idea of a downsized tunnels proposal since October, when funding problems became increasingly evident. Major farm irrigator Westlands Water District refused to help pay for the $17.1 billion project. Then the Santa Clara Valley Water District said it would only consider investing in a lower-cost, phased-in project that starts with a single tunnel.

California officials have moved closer to scaling back the troubled Delta tunnels project, officially notifying potential construction contractors that they’re considering limiting the project to one tunnel.

In a memo to engineering firms and other contract bidders last Friday, the Department of Water Resources said it is considering building the tunnels project in phases, with the first phase consisting of “one main tunnel instead of two.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has been floating the idea of a downsized tunnels proposal since October, when funding problems became increasingly evident. Major farm irrigator Westlands Water District refused to help pay for the $17.1 billion project. Then the Santa Clara Valley Water District said it would only consider investing in a lower-cost, phased-in project that starts with a single tunnel. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown warns of recession, but his budget sets spending records

California Gov. Jerry Brown points to a chart showing the growth of the state's Rainy Day fund as as he discusses his proposed 2018-19 state budget at a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Brown proposed a $131.7 billion state spending plan, dedicating $5 billion toward the fund. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown’s annual budgets have become familiar affairs. During his last two terms in office, Brown routinely offered a budget plan that broke spending records, but also was designed to limit the creation of new programs while girding against the possibility of another recession. The governor’s budget release from last Thursday was true to form.

Brown’s 2018-2019 budget plan would spend a record $132 billion in the general fund – which is 4 percent higher than last year and 44 percent higher than the first budget he released in his modern gubernatorial terms (2011-2012). The total budget – including spending from bonds and special funds – tops $190 billion. As columnist Dan Walters points out, Brown’s first-ever budget from the 1970s spent only $11.5 billion in the general fund.

But Brown touted his infamous chart showing that balanced budgets often have been followed by deficits.  “California has faced 10 recessions since World War II and we must prepare for the eleventh. Yes, we have had some very good years and program spending has steadily increased. Let’s not blow it now,” he said in his budget statement.

The governor also warned about the ramifications of the recent federal tax plan, signed by President Trump, which increases the tax bite on high-income Californians by limiting their ability to write off state and local taxes. Unless the state Legislature passes a workaround (such as a proposed plan that allows Californians to designate their state tax payments as a “charitable contribution”), the new rules are expected to reduce revenues in high-tax states.

There are other steps that followed in a more fiscally conservative manner. Following the recent increase in the gas tax and vehicle-license fees, the new budget showed a healthy surplus. Instead of spending it on new programs, Brown has earmarked $5 billion to the state’s rainy day fund. That’s $3.5 billion more this year than he is obligated to set aside in case of a coming downturn. It brings the total fund to $13.5 billion.

These efforts drew praise from across the political spectrum for their prudency. As the San Francisco Chronicle opined, Brown’s “proposed budget, drenched in a $7 billion surplus, spends money sparingly, dumps dollars into a record rainy-day fund, and dodges big-ticket programs favored by his would-be successors.” Democratic legislators and statewide elected officials likewise praised the governor for spending more without breaking the bank.

He even earned the faint praise of some Republicans legislators, who fear that the next Democratic governor will be far more eager to spend beyond Californians’ means. “As usual, the governor gave a good speech this morning,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula. “But as has been the case far too often, the initial budget is the floor and I’m sure the Democrat leadership in Sacramento will now begin the spending spree we all know is coming.” Other Republicans argued that the surplus proved that the gas-tax hike was unnecessary – and urged the governor to return the surplus to taxpayers.

There are a number of other noteworthy spending proposals. For instance, the governor plans to quickly start spending $4.6 billion in road improvements, which some observers believe could blunt the momentum of a proposed statewide initiative, which is now in the signature-gathering stage, that would repeal the unpopular tax. The governor also proposes spending nearly 3 percent more on California State University and the University of California systems – a proposal that drew criticism as being insufficient from some education officials. Total K-12 spending would be up by 2.5 percent.

Of particular note, the governor proposes the creation of a new fully online state community college to serve the “2.5 million Californians in the prime working ages between 25 and 34 who have only a high school diploma or some college but no degree.” Brown says these Californians – mostly Latino and women – are most vulnerable to recession and to automation in the workplace. The proposed cost to get started is approximately $100 million and then $20 million a year.

Social services spending remained stable. The budget boosts health care spending but contains some uncertainty, pending a coming decision from Congress regarding whether it will continue to split the costs of the Children’s Health Insurance Program with the states. The governor continues to boost funding for programs to combat climate change. He continues to pay down the so-called “Wall of Debt,” which hit $35 billion in 2011 and is down to $6 billion in this budget year.

One big fiscal issue, that doesn’t directly affect the current, proposed budget, involves the state’s growing payments to cover its unfunded pension liabilities. “When the next recession comes around, the governor will have the option of considering pension cutbacks for the first time in a long time,” the governor said at a press conference. They will, he said, be on the “chopping block.”

Brown was referring to a series of cases that the California Supreme Court has agreed to review this year involving something known as the “California Rule.” That refers to a series of decisions dating to 1955, which forbid government from cutting pension benefits for current employees even going forward (i.e., you accrue the promised benefit through today, but start earning a lower amount starting tomorrow).

Unions have challenged some changes in the governor’s 2013 pension-reform law. Brown’s legal team submitted a brief to the court that defends not only the reform law, but which seems to back broader changes to the rule. Clearly, the governor expects the court to side with him, which would not only give the state more latitude in reining in spending, but local governments, too.

That’s a longer-term picture, but in the short term the budget proposal is pure Jerry Brown. He wants to spend more on government programs, but wants to be certain that the state isn’t committing itself to huge new spending obligations if the economy goes soft.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at

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Trump’s revenge on California: The Census

Fear is rising among Democrats over the prospect that President Donald Trump’s hard line on immigration might ultimately cost California a seat in Congress during the upcoming round of reapportionment.

Top Democrats here are increasingly worried the administration’s restrictive policies — and the potential inclusion of a question about citizenship on the next U.S. census — could scare whole swaths of California’s large immigrant population away from participating in the decennial count, resulting in an undercount that could cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade and, perhaps, the loss of one of its 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The fears are well-founded: According to the population formula used by Congress to distribute House seats every 10 years, California is currently on the bubble in 2020, on the verge of losing a seat for the first time in its history.

California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, on Wednesday proposed spending more than $40 million on the state’s own census-related outreach efforts to avoid that fate. …

Click here to read the full article from Politico

Gov. Brown’s Budget and Legacy Priorities

Governor Brown released his 2018-19 Budget last week and the OC Register was kind enough to publish my first impressions in their commentary section.  Here is a link:

The good and bad of Jerry Brown’s budget

I also sent out an immediate reaction:

Governor Brown admits that the “last 5 budgets have significantly increased spending” and this budget proposal is no different. Coming in at just under $300 billion dollars of total spending, debt and poverty remain at all-time highs. Even worse, our balance sheet is massively short and unfunded liabilities are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Our underfunded pension systems will get minimum payments of $6.2 billion to CalPERS and $3.1 billion for CalSTRS. These costs are directly related to policies Jerry Brown embraced 40 years ago during his first time as governor. While he’s sensitive to a possible economic slowdown and should be lauded for increasing our rainy day funds, he has been a spendthrift in Sacramento. We have to acknowledge that the $9.3 billion in pension payments won’t go to pay for more teachers or cut college tuition or build roads right now. And yet, we’re hoisting these liabilities on future generations at a higher cost unless we do more to address them now. I was wondering how seriously Governor Brown would be in his last budget about addressing our liabilities. It looks like he’s kicking the can down the road to the next governor. Oh well.

The primary focus for Governor Brown has not been that California has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. Just look at the city of Oakland’s balance sheet, and you’ll see that being deep in a fiscal hole is not one of Jerry’s worries.

Brown’s focus has been climate change and converting California to an electric car state, relying on solar and wind to provide the energy. It’s covered in a lengthy and thorough manner by CALmatters here:

California’s climate fight gets harder soon, and the big culprit is cars

The irony is that electricity needs to be carried by power lines. These power lines have caused many of the wildfires in California. And, wildfires create more greenhouse gases than our state’s cars, by a long shot. So, where is the effort to address the cause of the biggest greenhouse gas source? It’s nonexistent. See: MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns.

Worse, being totally dependent on electricity for travel, communication, preserving food supplies, and dealing with occasional inclement weather, this state will shut down in a matter of days without it. This is also a scary proposition in a world where terrorism is the new norm. I’m just sayin’.

There’s the legacy. He’s funded the required Rainy Day Fund. He’s exposing residents to a different danger in the potential loss of power.  And he’s flown around the world to preach climate change. But, our balance sheet sucks and our wildfire zones went up in smoke this year and are now suffering from the damages that rain can cause.  Sometimes I just want to weep.

Is there a niche for sensible politics in California & America?

California-budget-crisis-bear-flagGiven the current state of American politics, and those of our state of California, our founding fathers might well consider not just turning over in their graves but boring deeper towards the earth’s core. Yet amidst the almost unceasing signs of discord and hyperbolic confrontation, there exists a more sensible approach which could help rescue our wobbling Republic.

Centrism has long been the subject of well-meaning advocacy but has lacked a class or geographic focus. It most defines the politics of the suburban middle. Much of the urban core — where Clinton and other Democrats often win as many as 80 to 90 percent of the vote — is now about as deep blue as the Soviet Union was red. For its part, the countryside has emerged so much as the bastion of Trumpism that MSNBC’s Joy Reid labels rural voters, “the core threat to our democracy.”

A niche for sensible politics?

Most Americans do not live in either the urban core or rural periphery; more than half live in suburban areas which nearly split their ballots in 2016 , with perhaps a slight edge for President Trump. Many suburban areas — not only in California or New York but in places like Fort Bend County, outside Houston — went for Clinton. Democrats won big recently in the Virginia suburbs, and did better in those in Alabama; both resulted in stinging defeats for Trump and the GOP.

To consolidate these gains, Democrats need to resist the tendency, most epitomized by the likes of Gov. Jerry Brown, to detest not only suburbs, but the entire notion of expanded property ownership, privacy and personal autonomy. Suburbanites may not like Trump’s nativism and grossness, but they do have an interest in preserving their way of life.

A more reasoned, problem solving approach seems the best course as well for Republicans. The most popular governors in the nation, for example, are not progressive firebrands like Brown or Washington’s Jay Inslee, both under 50 percent approval. Nor are right-wing firebrands so popular; Kansas’ Sam Brownback wins plaudits from less than a quarter of his electorate. They are measured politicians like Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, Republicans from deep blue states with roughly two-thirds approval.

Breaking with the bad

These political leaders suggest a new possibility to circumvent the red-blue, coast-heartland divides tearing the country apart. It could also lead to an end to the spasmodic political upheavals which either favor core cities, as was the case with President Obama, or now President Trump’s base in the more dispersed heartland.

One idea has been to promote an independent candidacy of Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich and Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, who have worked on health care reform together. Both men are thoughtful, come from swing states and enjoy high popularity ratings. Sadly, Kasich, to date, has backed away from such a campaign, although perhaps the combination of a future Trump meltdown and a more pronounced Democratic shift to the left, could make him reconsider.

Veteran political observer Lou Cannon suggest that a more centrist, common-sense politics has a market. Independents are a growing trend, now accounting for 40 percent of the electorate, that is particularly marked among millennials. Both major parties, deservedly in my mind, are near record lows in terms of popularity among voters. Skeptics counter that polarization is growing and that many independents remain largely adherents of one party or the other, even if they detest their leaders.

How about California?

California is widely seen as a one-party state, dominated largely by rabid progressives. Yet “decline to state” voters are growing and now larger than Republicans. Surprisingly, the Democratic preference has also dropped over the past 25 years from 49 to 45 percent.

Right now the best hope for independents lies in the candidacy of environmentalist Michael Shellenberger, co-founder of the Oakland-based Breakthrough Institute. Unlike many of his green allies, Shellenberger has the courage to denounce climate policies that create higher housing and energy prices, in the process stunting upward mobility.

Shellenberger points out that the current Brown policies have not done so well in reducing emissions, as recently documented in the green magazine Grist. The main reason for last year’s emissions drop turned out to be surge in hydropower, from last year’s wet weather. Shellenberger traces the state’s less than stellar performance as well to the shutdown of nuclear power, arguably the most effective way to reduce carbon. More important still, he sees a state under the control of a corrupt political machine, first crafted by John Burton in the 1960s, dominated by “public employees and green energy companies.”

Unlike our self-styled progressive leaders, Shellenberger favors policies that address climate without undermining the middle and working classes. He defends “the California dream” and accuses the front-runner, former San Francisco Mayor (surprise!) Gavin Newsom of “talking more about Trump” than assessing the state’s real needs.

Best of all Shellenberger epitomizes the notion that politicians should address real problems, rather than posturing for the adoration of the media, celebrities and billionaires with clearly too much money and time on their hands. “Does it matter if a policy is liberal or conservative,” he asks. “Who cares? What matters is what works.”

Originally published in the Orange County Register.

Cross posted at New Geography.

Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

Brown’s final budget plan proposes $132 billion in spending

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $131.7 billion state spending plan Wednesday, launching his final year of budget negotiations as he prepares to leave office.

Brown’s proposal is up 5 percent from last year but includes little new spending on new programs. Once again warning that he believes a recession looms, Brown dedicated $5 billion toward the state’s Rainy Day fund, more than is constitutionally required. He also proposed a new online community college program.

“It’s not exciting, it’s not funding good and nice things, but it’s getting ready and that is the work of a budget,” Brown said.

Notably, Brown’s plan makes no changes related to federal tax changes out of Washington, which are expected to hit taxpayers in high-tax states like California the hardest. That’s because Brown had to finalize his plan in December, before the federal changes were finalized. He said he expects to make revisions to his plan during ongoing negotiations with the Legislature. A final plan must be passed by lawmakers in June.

The spending plan also includes nearly $59 million in special funds and bonds, which are dedicated for specific purposes. …

Click here to read the full article from  KPPC

Gov. Jerry Brown’s LAST budget

Jerry Brown Budget 2017Governor Jerry Brown and his Finance Department are putting finishing touches on his final budget to be presented soon. This is a second time that Brown has wrapped up two terms as Governor of California offering a final budget. While much has changed in California government, politics and demography since that “first” last budget in 1982 was completed, a look back may offer some hints on where Brown will go with his second final budget.

Brown’s budget will reflect California’s current circumstances of a big economy with surpluses into the near future. The Legislative Analyst’s Office projected in November $19.3 billion in reserves for the 2018-19 budget if the legislature doesn’t create new budget commitments. Brown will do his best to keep those commitments in check.

But much can happen in the next few months to affect the budget Brown plans to present. Decisions out of Washington, D.C. on health care and the federal tax law changes, and also a possible repeal of California’s gas tax may upset any near-term picture on the budget.

One key difference from 36 years ago was that California was still living in the shadow of the tax revolt of 1978. Another key difference, while no longer running for governor, Brown would be on the 1982 ballot as a candidate for United States Senator. Recently, California legislators and voters have loosened their grip on the purse strings in recent legislative terms and elections. This time around Brown is not seeking another office and political considerations will not cloud budget decisions.

Ironically, just like the end of Brown’s current term, the year prior to his final budget the gas tax was increased in California. In 1981, the gas tax was raised two cents from 7-cents to 9-cents, a 28% increase. In 2017, the gas tax rose 12-cents from 29.7-cents to 41.7-cents, a 40% increase.

Brown was still famously speaking about the “era of limits” when he signed the $25.3 billion 1982 budget on June 30. The budget he offered in 1982 came at a time a recession hit. Brown’s 1982 budget was barely 1-percent larger than the previous budget.

Brown had an eye on his senate race and didn’t want to offer ammunition to political opponents. Reserves in certain accounts were tapped and gimmicks employed to make the budget appear balanced. It wasn’t. By the close of 1982 the budget was nearly $1 billion out of balance and the Senate Finance Committee held several hearings to come up with a fix.

The budget solution would not come under the Brown Administration. As tax historian David Doerr stated in his book, The California Tax Machine, “For the third time in four administrations, an outgoing governor used one-time revenues to balance the budget, leaving a dismal mess for the incoming governor (the exception was Ronald Reagan, who left Jerry Brown with a surplus.)”

The trend of inheriting a deficit was certainly felt by Brown when he took office for his third term in 2011. He does not want to leave a deficit again. His personal history from his first tour in the governor’s office and the experience of his recent gubernatorial journey will have him focused on the budget bottom line to maintain the surplus that the LAO projects.

Legislators should put their spending plans back in their pockets.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

To Avoid Trump Tax Reform, California Dems Want to Convert State Taxes to Charitable Contributions

Tax formCalifornia’s Democrat-controlled state government wants to re-classify state taxes as charitable contributions to avoid the new $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions in President Donald Trump’s new tax reform.

For decades, California Democrats have demanded higher and more progressive tax rates as a social justice cure to address income inequality. But they are appalled that President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act progressively hurts the state’s highest income earners by capping SALT deductibility.

Gov. Jerry Brown called limiting SALT deductibility to about an upper middle-class income level as “evil in the extreme,” and hissed at Trump’s Republican allies for “acting like a bunch of Mafia thugs.” California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) snarled, “Republicans in Washington have once again zeroed in on California to punish us and make our state the single biggest loser in their reckless tax scheme.”

California is the most populous state, but only has the fourth-highest percentage of residents that claim SALT deduction, at 34.5 percent. The Golden State’s “per-filer” average SALT deduction is a middle-class $12,682. But due to rich coastal and multi-property owners, California has the highest “per claimant” SALT deduction of any state, at $36,802. For California’s rich, tax reform means an effective increase in state taxes.

De León is promising to introduce legislation next week that would allow California’s highest income earners to continue deducting 100 percent of state and local taxes over the $10,000 limit by renaming them charitable contributions.

Final negotiations between the U.S. Senate and House versions of tax reform maintained deductions for actual charitable contributions to support popular programs to support poverty relief, non-profit schools, and the arts.

But IRS Publication 526, which defines what qualifies for federal charitable contribution deductions, specifically allows deductions for “federal, state, and local governments, if your contribution is solely for public purposes (for example, a gift to reduce the public debt or maintain a public park).

It is not clear that California’s gambit would pass the test — but Democrats may try.

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California pension funds likely to face new pressure to divest from fossil-fuel companies

Calpers headquarters is seen in Sacramento, California, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for his state’s biggest government pension fund to stop new investments in fossil-fuel companies and phase out existing investments is likely to lead to renewed calls for the Golden State’s two massive pension funds – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System – to do the same.

The Common Fund – New York’s pension fund for state and local public sector employees – has $200 billion in holdings. Cuomo, a Democrat who is expected to run for president in 2020, said it was time to craft a “de-carbonization roadmap” for the fund, which “remains heavily invested in the energy economy of the past.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger agreed with Cuomo and called for changes in the investment policies of the city’s five pension funds, with holdings of about $190 billion.

The announcements were hailed on social media as a reflection of the mission statement of the 2015 Paris Accord outlining international efforts to address global warming.

It’s possible Brown could use his State of the State speech later this month to reveal his call for CalPERS and CalSTRS climate-change divestment. The pension giants have already been forced to end investments in coal companies because of a 2015 law signed by the governor, selling off shares worth less than $250 million, a tiny fraction of their overall portfolios.

But selling off stakes in energy companies would be a much more impactful event. Giant firms like ExxonMobil are among the most common holdings of pension funds around the world.

Some unions worry divestment will hurt CalPERS finances

And while the California Democratic Party has been largely unified behind Brown’s and the state Legislature’s efforts dating back to 2006 to have California lead the fight against global warming, such unanimity is unlikely should Brown follow Cuomo’s lead because some public employee unions are worried about divestment damaging the finances of CalPERS and CalSTRS.

As of July, CalPERS had $323 billion in assets and said it was 68 percent funded – meaning it had about $150 billion in unfunded liabilities. As of March, CalSTRS had $202 billion in assets and said it was 64 percent funded, leaving unfunded liabilities of about $100 billion.

CalPERS’ steady increase in rates it charges local agencies to provide pensions and the heavy costs facing school districts because of the Legislature’s 2014 CalSTRS’ bailout have taken a heavy toll on government budgets.

Corona Police Lt. Jim Auck, treasurer of the Corona Police Officers Association, has testified to the CalPERS board on several occasions, imploring members to focus on making money with investments, not making political statements.

According to a July account in the Sacramento Bee, Auck said public safety is hurt when police departments must spend ever-more money on pensions.

“The CalPERS board has a fiduciary responsibility to the membership to deliver the best returns possible,” Auck testified. “Whatever is delivering the return they need, that’s where they need to put our money.”

The International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents 12,000 state maintenance workers, has taken the same position, according to the Bee.

In New York, Gov. Cuomo also is not assured of success. The sole trustee of the Common Fund is State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. While he agreed to work with Cuomo in establishing a committee to consider possible changes in its investment strategies, his statement pointedly emphasized that there were no present plans to change the fund’s approach to energy stocks.

While DiNapoli cited his support for reducing global warming and the Paris Accord, his statement concluded with a sentence emphasizing his priorities: “I will continue to manage the pension fund in the long-term best interests of our members, retirees and the state’s taxpayers.”