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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The California Journal of Politics and Policy (CJPP) is an online journal of original scholarship, focusing on state and local politics, public policy formation and implementation, especially in the Golden State.


Ads and Editorials: How Pretreatment Reduces the Persuasiveness of Interest Group Advertisements

Advertising studies commonly examine the effects of one-sided treatments. However, political communication campaigns are competitive environments where voters are likely to hear more than one perspective. Because of this dynamic, the persuasive effects of single-sided ads may be less likely to hold in a competitive environment. When respondents are exposed to arguments from both sides of a ballot proposition issue, can the disclosure of a credible group help an advertisement overcome prior opinions? I address this question using a randomized experiment that includes ballot proposition campaign ads. In the experiments, I manipulate the pretreatment environment by exposing some respondents to a newspaper editorial in order to provide them with prior opinions that might cause them to resist subsequent advertisements. I also vary the presence or absence of campaign finance disclosure within the advertisements. In all cases, the presence of a credible editorial is associated with a change in support for the initiative. However, the use of a credible campaign finance disclosure has a far less consistent effect. While campaign finance disclosures from credible groups can help counteract prior beliefs that citizens may hold, I find that the magnitude of these changes is somewhat small.

If You Choose Not to Decide… Alaska’s Budgeting Process in 2023

Alaska in 2023 is experiencing the first results of the new election system—the top-four all-party primary and Ranked Choice Voting. So far, that system seems to be generating results consistent with what advocates expected; a more moderate and collegial policy-making environment, and possibly even more sensible budgetary policy. This, coupled with relatively strong (though declining) oil prices, and abundant sovereign wealth led to a relatively low-drama, low-conflict budgeting process in spring 2023, as well as relatively moderate budgeting outcomes.

Honey, I Shrunk the Surplus: California’s 2023-2024 Budget

The 2023 budgeting cycle in California was much different from the previous year. California’s finances, always topsy-turvy, faced a dramatic reversal of fortune as surplus turned to deficit.  Nonetheless, the state was able to weather the storm and avoid deep spending cuts, thanks to a combination of good economic times in years past and politically expedient decisions by the Governor and Legislature.  However, delayed tax collections and projections for structural deficits, even absent a recession, meant storm clouds were on the horizon as the year drew to a close.  The tough decisions that were sidestepped in 2023 might have to be made in 2024.

No Space in Paradise: Hawai‘i’s FY 2024 Budget and the Cost-of-Living Crisis

The State of Hawai‘i’s $37.2 billion biennium operating budget for FY 2024 and FY 2025 provided substantial tax relief for vulnerable residents, and authorized new spending to improve access to affordable housing and health care. This article explores the policy decisions and conflicts among legislators and the newly elected Governor during the budget approval process. Although Governor Josh Green and the Democratic leadership agreed on the state’s most pressing policy priorities, the Legislature rejected Green’s proposal for broad middle-class tax relief in favor of more targeted benefits for low-income families. There were also several major disputes among legislators during the budget approval process, including a fight over the level of education spending, and the controversial creation of a $200 million discretionary fund for the Governor’s use. Beyond the budget, the paper explores several ongoing challenges, including Hawai‘i’s economic dependence on tourism, population decline, skyrocketing housing costs, government corruption, and the tragic fires in West Maui.

Montana’s Hard Right Turn Continues

This paper analyzes the politics and early outcomes of the 2023 68th legislative session that set budgetary and other policy for the 2025 biennium. Montana, whose political complexation was purple 2004-2020 moved unambiguously red in the elections of November 2020. This trend continued in the 2022 elections in which the GOP gained a legislative supermajority, with significant state fiscal implications for the most recent state budget. The first half of the paper focuses on spending and tax bills. The second half focuses on what attracted the most attention in Montana’s media and citizenry- the culture wars. Budgetary decisions often interacted with culture war issues and the paper makes note of this. The battle continues in the courts after a major climate change case challenged the state’s way of doing business.

New Mexico 2023: Riding the Wave of Oil and Gas

The 2023 legislative session was a long and productive one in New Mexico. The annual session required legislators to pass a budget while juggling the social and cultural issues of the day. On the budget front, lawmakers were fortunate to witness record breaking revenues as oil and gas production and receipts soared. Simultaneously, tax collections increased and the state economy finally completed its pandemic recovery. Record surpluses and rosy forecasts meant that lawmakers could significantly expand the state budget (over 13%) and still plot how to secure the state’s financial future. Education funding and capital outlay projects were the clear winners. On the social front, bills related to guns, crimes, abortion, and elections all shared the limelight with appropriations requests. At the end of the day, the 2023 legislature passed its largest ever annual budget, while also passing tax rebates and expanded tax credits. Lawmakers took steps towards stabilizing the long term flow of oil and gas money through permanent funds while, on the social front, strengthening abortion access, enacting safe storage gun laws, providing increased funds for public safety, and passing election code reforms.

Oregon 2023: Entering the Post-COVID World

The political and budget landscape of Oregon once again can be characterized by incivility and polarization as exemplified by the 6-week walkout of Senate Republicans denying the chamber a quorum to conduct business including the 2023-25 budget. Eventually the Republicans returned, and a budget was passed after the Democrats made concessions on abortion, gender affirming care, and gun bills. The 2023 economic forecast was surprisingly positive given the Federal Reserve’s reaction to persistent inflation, the governor and legislature chose three very difficult issues as their priorities: (1) homelessness and housing affordability, (2) mental health and addiction services, and (3) improved early literacy and K-12 education outcomes. There have been major state leadership changes in 2022 and 2023, although the shifts featured familiar faces in new positions more than any deep change. As the 2022 elections demonstrated, the rural-urban split festers. Meanwhile, the federal spigot from COVID funding slowly dries out, although federal infrastructure and economic development programs advance. In sum, the state’s steadiness could be on thin ice, especially with Oregon’s infamous “kicker” law returning a record $5.6 billion of tax revenue back to taxpayers.

Live from Washington: Division, Drugs, and a Dinosaur

The 2022 legislative session in Washington State saw legislators returning to in-person deliberations after the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being physically close, the partisan and ideological differences were as large as ever. The ever-expanding Democratic majority had unprecedented revenue to spend, while Republicans argued for more fiscal responsibility. Given their dominant position in both legislative chambers, Democrats were able to make significant investments in addressing homelessness, mental health, and education.

“Disciplined Savings and Stewardship”

What to do with a windfall? That question loomed large in Wyoming’s 2023 general legislative session, after a 2022 budget session focused on revenue shortfalls and budget reductions.  As such, Wyoming’s rich history of “boom-and-bust” economics continues, albeit with increasing skepticism among the state’s elected officials.  The 2023 legislative session saw notable new spending in areas such as property tax relief and public employee wages but also produced significant financial investment in many of Wyoming’s “rainy day” funds.