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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.


All Over the Map: The Diversity of Western Water Plans

Water presents a complex challenge to western state governments. Water is scarcer in the West than in the East and Western states face challenges unknown to Eastern ones. The textual analysis of their state water planning summaries produced by the US Army Corps of Engineers between late 2008 and 2009 confirms the differences in their policy priorities. However, there is also a wide variance among Western states policies as the diversity in their water plans show.

Water planning is a challenge not only because of the variability of the resource but also because water basins do not map our local, regional or state political divisions and many types of users compete for the resource.  In addition, states have to conform to certain federal constraints, like the Endangered Species Act, tribal rights or interstate compacts, which curtail their leeway in deciding how to allocate and manage their water.

Even accounting for these external constraints, the content of Western water plans varies substantially. A typical state plan includes from an inventory of water uses, demand projections and management recommendations. But not all state plans conform to this scheme. Regarding length, topics covered, frequency at which they are updated, and public involvement, they are all over the map. Many reasons might be behind the disparity, but among those, the funding allocated to planning and the relative power of different interest groups are quite salient.

Water planning is a necessary tool to manage water, particularly in a climate change scenario. Planning is a state task but we believe the federal government is in a good position to promote standardized data collection on state water supply and by offering grants to the states. Good information and an informed menu of possible choices is a realistic goal that could in theory achieve bipartisan consensus and move us closer to an integrated and sustainable water resources management.

Forecasts and Drivers of Health Expenditure Growth in California

California’s state government, employers and households are concerned about the future affordability of healthcare. We use health expenditure data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Office of the Actuary to forecast California’s health expenditures from 2013 to 2022 and identify factors driving expenditure increases. Real health expenditures per capita (2013$) are forecasted to increase from $8,398 to $11,421 (or 36%), resulting in health expenditures increasing from 14.5% to 16.0% of California’s economy. Expenditure increases are mostly driven by gains in real income per capita (40-60%), followed by medical-specific inflation (23%), an aging population (14%), and insurance coverage gains (8%). The -4% to 16% residual is attributable to changes in the volume and mix of services and technology. Several innovations could potentially dampen these increases, such as shared-risk, value-based payment models, practice redesign initiatives, lower cost settings and healthcare professionals, many of which are found in accountable care organizations.

Fee for Service: Proposition 13 and Municipal Revenue Substitution

Municipalities in California are highly reliant on charges and fees to fund government services.  This paper tests whether their dependence can be causally attributed to Proposition 13.  We draw our conclusions by leveraging a component of the law that causes constraint from Proposition 13 to be heterogeneous among California municipalities.  Specifically, because home sales lead to property reassessments, municipalities with high homeowner stability are more constrained by Proposition 13 than those with low homeowner stability.  Our analysis shows that homeowner stability is associated with greater revenue per capita and increased reliance on charges and fees following the passage of Proposition 13.  We do not observe the same pattern for renter stability and conclude that Proposition 13 causes revenue substitution to charges and fees.

Confidence, Perception, and Politics in California: The Determinants of Attitudes toward Taxes by Level of Government

California faced a tremendous fiscal challenge in the wake of the 2008recession. With high political hurdles to raising taxes, the state and local governmentswereforced to appeal directly to voters through ballot initiatives. Debatesover these ballot initiatives, however, took place against the backdrop of increassinglyacrimonious disagreements about taxation at the federal level. Unfortunately,researchers have little idea about how the dynamics of public opinion ontax issues operate across these various levels of government. This article asks: dothe factors that shape attitudes towards taxation in California vary depending onthe level of government levying those taxes? Analyzing results from a 2012 poll,this article finds some differences and some commonalities in the determinantsof tax attitudes at the federal, state and local level. More specifically, we find that:(1) attitudes toward taxes are more politicized at the federal level than at the stateor local level; (2) confidence in government has a strong effect on tax attitudesbut citizens draw clear distinctions between levels of government; (3) perceivedself-interest does not influence tax attitudes at any level; and (4) there is a gendergap in attitudes toward taxation at the federal, state and local levels.

In the blind spot: the federal government’s intervention in the housing crisis in suburban California

The federal government responded to the foreclosures crisis by implementing several policies. The Neighborhood Stabilization program (NSP) in 2009, a mitigation policy, aimed at helping local governments to buy, rehabilitate and sell foreclosed homes to mitigate the effects of the foreclosures in the most affected neighborhoods.

This paper focuses on the allocation methodology used in this program to explain why some of the most affected places in California didn’t receive adequate funds to fight foreclosures. The initial version of the NSP targeted mainly the largest cities, but left suburban municipalities — yet deeply affected by the foreclosures — with reduced or delayed funds. The use of estimations of foreclosures number to allocate the money, as well as the lack of cooperation between suburban local governments also participated to inefficiently allocate the NSP money, and suggests that urban policies need to be adapted to better fit the change of urban structure in the US.

The War of Words: Confederate Rhetoric in the Healdsburg Squatter War

Although California was relatively unaffected by the destruction of the Civil War, California's new statehood and Gold Rush brought thousands of migrants from the war-torn areas. These migrants brought with them their ideologies--and sometimes their slaves. In Northern California's Sonoma County, the battle of civil war ideologies was fought over land rights. Southern Squatters settled in Sonoma County, voted for the pro-slavery Democratic Party, sang Dixie, and after the start of the Civil War, fought off sheriffs and residents trying to remove them and their politics. In Northern California, the rhetoric of the Civil War was played out in the "Healdsburg Squatter War." Opportunistic landowners used the Civil War as a political, moral, and ideological weapon to eject Southern squatters from profitable Sonoma County lands

Punctuality is for the Bored: The California Budget Process

Late budgets have been an epidemic in the US at all levels of government for some time.  No state has felt this pressure more than California in the 2000’s.  Between FY1999 and FY2010, only three of 12 budgets were passed on time or early.  The focus of this article is to examine the effects of political and economic factors on the timeline of the budget, and how they contribute to the lack of punctuality of the state budget during the 2000’s.  The article presents a time-series analysis of the California budgeting process between 1999 and 2009.  The results indicate that both political and economic pressures play an important role in shaping compromise and conflict within the budgeting process.  The findings provide an interesting insight into the dynamics of budgeting in the state of California during the 2000’s, and the tumultuous nature of political and economic pressures in creating a financing plan for a state government.

Determinants of Political Participation in Urban Politics: A Los Angeles Case Study

Levels of participation in Los Angeles are historically low (Almendrala, 2013; Sonenshein et al., 2014; Welsh, 2013). This trend concerns scholars and political activists alike (Lozano, 2006; Sonenshein, 2006). Increasing levels of political participation in Los Angeles, and nationally, requires understanding what moves people to become active. Analysis of polling conducted by the Pat Brown Institute sheds light on some of the factors that influence participation in Los Angeles. This analysis shows that voting frequency and political participation are largely motivated by education and political interest; access to news media does not appear to have a significant impact on neither voting nor participation. These factors underlie the phenomenon that whites are more likely to participate than non-whites, and those who are older more than those who are younger. This analysis provides inferences on what proposals might increase participation in Los Angeles, particularly among minority and younger voters.

And Justice for All? Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Federal Drug Courts in California and the US

This study uses data obtained from the United States Sentencing Commission for fiscal years 2003, 2007, and 2012 to examine racial and ethnic disparities in drug crime sentencing. The authors use linear regression to assess disparities in sentence length between African-American and white offenders and Latino and non-Latino offenders and a binary logistic regression model to assess black/white and Latino/non-Latino disparities in the odds of receiving a sentence below the range stipulated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

At the national level, the study found significant racial disparities that disadvantage African-American offenders in sentence length and odds of a below-range sentence. The study observed no disparities between African-American and white offenders in California for sentence length in 2003 or 2012, or for below-range odds in any of the three years. Nationally, ethnic disparities that disadvantaged Latino offenders were found in both sentence length and odds of a below-range sentence.

In California, Latino offenders tended to receive longer sentences than others in 2003 and 2007 and had lower odds of a sentence below the Guideline range in 2012. The years included in this study bracket the Supreme Court case, United States v. Booker, but we found no clear impact of the case with regard to racial or ethnic disparities in sentencing outcomes.


California’s Newly Reformed Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly

The main issues of this paper address California’s residential care facilities for the elderly and its reformation in late September 2014 due to advocacy pressure after 29 years of non-compliance. There are approximately 36,000 assisted living (AL) and residential care (RC) facilities in the United States, which house over a million people. Although the federal government standardized nursing home guidelines, the AL and RC industry is state regulated. These facilities are comprised of a wide variety of facilities serving a range of people needing various levels of medical and personal assistance. California’s Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) comprise the AL and RC industry. To examine the differences between federal and state housing standards of aging individuals, the authors chose the state of California because of its high population of residents in RCFEs and to discuss some of the reform measures from the RCFE Reform Act of 2014.