California Politics & Government
- Who are the people of California, and what do they believe politically?
- How do Californians choose their leaders, and how do those leaders govern once they are in power?
- How has California confronted some of its greatest public policy challenges?
These are the questions that underlie this in-depth and careful examination of America’s mega-state. This book uses the latest research and scholarship to explore California’s civil society – how an extraordinarily complex state of 37 million people governs itself through politics and policy.
This collection grew from the experience of a group of scholars at the University of the Pacific who were challenged by the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters to reduce voter error, improve poll worker-training, and increase voting by mail (absentee voting). The project was supported by funds from the help America Vote Act (HAVA), legislation passed in the wake of Florida's experience in the 2000 presidential election, and by the Pew Foundation for the States.
California voters went back to the future in 2010, picking Jerry Brown as their governor more than 35 years after they first elected him to the office. Brown's election to a third term capped an extraordinary career and life-son of a political dynasty, boy-wonder governor, three-time presidential candidate, volunteer for Mother Teresa, student of Zen Buddhism, radio talk-show host, big-city mayor, and then back to governor for another tenure, this time in his seventies.
Since its founding as a single institution in San Francisco in the years after the Gold Rush, the California State University has grown into a system of 23 campuses that enroll more than 450,000 students. The People’s University is the story of that extraordinary growth. Today, the California State University is the state’s 1,000-mile campus. Its programs reach every corner of the state, and its mission of access, affordability, and quality touches countless people of all ages.
"Politics is personal," Bill Bagley likes to say, and here is a personal journey through the politics of America's most extraordinary state. California's Golden Years offers tales of cash-filled envelopes, all-night poker games, and all the free liquor a legislator could drink. But the stories and anecdotes offer more than mere fun - they illuminate a larger lesson learned during Bagley's 14 years in the California Legislature. Personal relationships are, in Bagley's view, the glue that ensures working relationships and pragmatic compromises.
Why is California broke? California in the Balance offers a precise analysis of the Golden State's fiscal condition - from the process used to write the state budget to the reasons for chronic deficits to the possible paths to stability. Here are the details of California's financial woes, laid out step-by-step by one of the state's leading budgetary experts. In a book recommended by both Republicans and Democrats, John Decker makes plain his extraordinary knowledge of California's budget. With a foreword by California Treasurer Bill Lockyer.
In 1978 California voters shocked the political world by approving Proposition 13, a strict limit on local property tax rates. No state had ever approved such a far-reaching constitutional limitation of the power to tax. And Californians did not just approve it; they embraced it, rejecting dire warnings of doomsday from the state's political, business, and academic leaders. Voter turnout was the highest recorded for any off-year election in the history of California and the tax cut won in a landslide, with 65% of the vote.
California often leads the nation forward. From the tax revolts of the 1970s to the digital revolution of the 1990s, America's largest state has become the proving ground of the national future. Today, California is again showing the way, this time toward a rich diversity that is already spreading to the rest of the nation. By 2000, California had become the first large state to have a majority of nonwhite residents. Texas has since followed, and today a variety of states across the nation are approaching that benchmark: Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New York.
In many ways, recent developments in California politics can be understood best through geography. The formal rules of American politics — such as district-based elections and the Electoral College — make geography crucial to the political process. Where voters live is in many ways as important as how they behave. In recent decades, California's political map has changed dramatically as the state's fast-growing population has divided along racial, ethnic, economic, religious, and cultural lines.
In November of 2005, California voters were ready to terminate Arnold Schwarzenegger as a politician. The state was headed in the wrong direction, Californians told pollsters, and they didn't want to reelect their Hollywood governor. The two most likely Democratic challengers held leads over Schwarzenegger, who had just endured a terrible thrashing in a special election he had called. After less than two years in office, it seemed the political career of Arnold Schwarzenegger was an experiment gone wrong.