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  • Author: Kim Seckler
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In January 2018, the New Mexico State Legislature convened for its regular session, a thirty day budget session, per its constitutional mandate. Thirty days later the legislative session ended quietly and the state of New Mexico closed the book on the great recession and a decade of financial and political strife. The 2018 legislature passed a $6.38 billion dollar budget, re-supplied dangerously low general fund reserves, and provided small raises to teachers and state employees. Oil and gas revenues are up, unemployment is slowly coming down and legislative-executive political battles have muted. The balanced budget, signed by the governor in early March, brings the state back to where it began almost 10 years before, leading one observer to refer to the time as the “lost decade in New Mexico” (Cole 2018).
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, New Mexico
  • Author: Mark Henkels, Brent S. Steel
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: The 2018 midterm elections strengthened the Democrats’ control of Oregon’s state government. Governor Kate Brown won re-election with 50percent of the vote defeating moderate Republican Knute Buehler with 46.6percent of the vote. Democrats also increased their seats in both the House and Senate, leading to super majorities in both houses. Governor Brown and the Democrats in Salem have taken fairly strong progressive policy stances in 2017 and 2018, particularly opposing President Trump’s immigration and marijuana policies, reinforcing the West Coast carbon-reduction pattern, and strongly supporting health care coverage expansion. With a booming economy and unemployment at record lows, the state seems to be able to deliver on its progressive agenda for the 2017-19 biennium, but funding progressive policies in the future will be a challenge for the governor for a variety of reasons. The fate of this progressive vision depends on five elements: (1) the continuation of the favorable economy and the corresponding revenue growth in the approaching budget cycle; (2) the ability to manage the ongoing taxing and spending structures that include major obligations for the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS); (3) the constraints of ongoing dependency on income taxes; (4) the vicissitudes of Trump era politics and policy with declining federal funds; and (5) continued public support for expansive public policies.
  • Topic: Governance, Domestic politics, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Oregon
  • Author: Erin Richards, Michael Artime, Francis Benjamin
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: As a state that overwhelmingly relies on sales tax revenue, Washington benefitted from a strong economy in 2018. However, that revenue was necessary as the state faced a court ordered deadline to fully fund K-12 education, and a need to address transportation, mental health, and a capital budget held over from the 2017 session. This is all in addition to creating a new Department of Children, Youth and Families. The state government was under unified government for the first time since 2012 which may have contributed to the state completing its work in a supplemental budget year on time and adjourning by the March deadline.
  • Topic: Budget, Tax Systems, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Michael Thom
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Enacted in 2009, California’s Film and Production Tax Credit was a policy reaction to fears that the state had lost motion picture industry jobs to other states and countries. The incentive has since been allocated over $1 billion in taxpayer funding. Advocates hail the tax credit as a success, but is there evidence to support that claim? This study examines motion picture industry employment in California from 1991 through 2016 to determine the impact of the Film and Production Tax Credit and competing incentives offered by other governments. Results show the tax credit had no significant effect on changes in three occupational categories associated with the motion picture industry. Employment was similarly unaffected by competing incentives. Motion picture industry employment in California instead appears to track the national labor market. These findings were robust to several alternative measures and model specifications and advise that California policymakers should eliminate the Film and Production Tax Credit as soon as possible.
  • Topic: Governance, Culture, Budget, Film, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: John Aubrey Douglass, Patrick A. Lapid
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In an environment of declining public funding and rising tuition rates, many public universities in the US are moving toward a “progressive tuition model” that attempts to invest approximately one-third of tuition income into institutional financial aid for lower-income and middle-class students. The objective is to mitigate the cost of rising tuition and keep college affordable. But is this model as currently formulated working? Utilizing data from the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Survey of undergraduates and other data sources, this study explores these issues by focusing on students at the University of California (UC) and 10 research-intensive public institutions that are members of the SERU Consortium. Focusing mostly on survey data from 2014, we find that increases in tuition, and costs related to housing and other living expenses, have not had a significant negative impact on the number of lower-income students attending UC or on their behaviors. Since the onset of the Great Recession, there has been an actual increase in their number—a counterintuitive finding to the general perception that higher tuition equals less access for the economically vulnerable. At the same time, there is evidence of a “middle-class” squeeze, with a marginal drop in the number of students from this economic class. With these and other nuances and caveats discussed in this study, the progressive tuition model appears to have worked in terms of affordability and with only moderate indicators of increased financial stress and changed student behaviors. This study indicates that tuition can and should be a part of the search for a viable funding model for many public universities, like UC, and that demanding lower or no tuition does not appear to be based on any substantial analysis of the correlation of tuition and affordability.
  • Topic: Education, Economic Policy, Higher Education, State Funding
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Mindy Romero, Jennifer Puza
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In 2014, California passed the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act (SB 1253, or BITA) which provided some of the biggest changes to California’s ballot initiative process in recent decades. BITA went into effect for the first time during the 2016 election cycle and was designed to provide more opportunities for legislative compromise and to allow for more public involvement in the ballot initiative process. Our study examines BITA and its impact on the ballot initiative process. Specifically, we sought to understand the extent of BITA’s impact on influencing the state legislature and the initiative proponents to seek legislative compromise. Furthermore, we examine the implementation of the new mechanisms BITA put in place and offer suggestions for how to potentially improve their effectiveness for future elections.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Legislation, Voting
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Gian-Claudia Sciara, Amy E. Lee
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: California has established itself as a leader in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. However, the state has not reflected its ambitious policies for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and climate action in its practices for allocating state transportation funding. This paper reviews the complex systems through which California generates and allocates state revenue for transportation investment. It finds that the state’s framework for funding transportation projects and programs is disconnected from its GHG goals, reflective more of historical political deals than of contemporary climate policy. The paper also suggests preliminary steps for revising this framework to reinforce GHG reduction goals. Such recommendations are particularly salient given the state’s recently completed study of road user charges as an alternative transportation revenue source, as well as the passage of new legislation that restructures the state’s fuel taxes (Senate Bill 1, 2017). Implementation of road charges or any other new or revised transportation revenue source would need to address the disposition of revenues generated. This paper argues that California should use any such opportunity to align the distribution of state transportation dollars with its climate objectives, not fall back on status quo allocation practices.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Tax Systems, Economic Policy, State Funding
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Brian Adams
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Research on federal, state and big-city elections has concluded that campaign spending is a necessary but not sufficient condition for electoral success: even though the best financed candidates do not always win, aspirants for office need to raise and spend funds to mount competitive campaigns. But scholars have not explored whether this pattern holds in small to mid-sized cities. Money influences elections in all jurisdictions, but it is plausible that as cities get smaller campaign finance dynamics change. In this paper I explore whether campaign finance dynamics are different in small and mid-sized cities, using a dataset of 61 California cities. Despite reason to think that they will vary, I find that campaign finance patterns are similar across cities of various sizes. Few city council candidates are able to mount credible campaigns without money, even in small cities. Incumbents enjoy high re-election rates across all cities, and levels of competition may even decrease with constituency size.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Domestic politics, Money
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Jason McDaniel
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Politics in American cities is largely driven by racial group cleavages, and voting in urban elections is polarized along racial lines. Several cities have implemented a relatively new reform to urban elections called ranked-choice voting (RCV), which eliminates the plurality run-off election by giving voters the option to rank-order several vote preferences. This article examines whether the expanded preference choices associated with ranked-choice voting reduce the level of racially polarized voting in mayoral elections. In the first stage of analysis, precinct-level election results from Oakland, CA, and San Francisco, CA, are used to explore variation in racially polarized voting before and after the implementation of RCV. The second stage of analysis uses a difference-in-differences design to analyze racially polarized voting in RCV cities compared to non-RCV cities. The results indicate that racially polarized voting did not decrease due to the implementation of RCV. Rather, the results show that RCV contributed to higher levels of racially polarized voting between white and Asian voters.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Elections, Local
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Sara Sadhwani, Matthew Mendez
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: The adoption of the top two primary system in California is resulting in a rising number of general elections in which candidates from the same party compete. Incidentally, California is also home to a large and diverse Latino community. When party identification is no longer a reliable cue, do Latino voters turn to the race or ethnicity of a candidate in selecting whom to support? We examine co-partisan Republican general elections in California’s state assembly from 2012‒2016. Using surname-matched precinct-level voter data, we conduct ecological inference analysis to estimate support for candidates based on the ethnicity of voters. Taking the case of Latino voters, we find a strong level of support for Latino Republican candidates, suggesting that a candidate’s ethnicity may inform voters’ strategic decision making in partisan elections.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Voting
  • Political Geography: United States, California