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California’s House Races: Is Orange Still The New Blue?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, October 15, 2020

One of the oddities of the California ballot: the left side of the first page (assuming one’s voting by mail and not in person on a touchscreen) couldn’t mean less, while the right side of that page—known as “Card A”—is far more intriguing.


An Economist’s Guide To California’s 2020 Propositions

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

California has plenty of issues for voters to decide on this year, ranging from regulating how gig drivers can work to potentially doing away with 1978’s Proposition 13 property tax protection for many businesses. And as always, at least some politicians will be hoping you don’t read the fine print or look under the hood of what you will be voting on. Below are economic issues on some of the most widely discussed propositions.


Dirty Initiatives And California’s Clean-Air Problem

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Three things I hate getting in the mail: reminders that I’m overdue to see the dentist, my accountant’s annual January missive gently chastising me to get my pay stubs and receipts in order, and California’s Official Voter Information Guide.


Judging ACB . . . And DiFi?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, October 1, 2020

Timing is everything, as my colleague Lee Ohanian demonstrated by being the first in this space to deconstruct California governor Gavin Newsom’s call to end the sale of gasoline-fueled automobiles in the Golden State by the year 2035.


California To Say Goodbye To The Gas-Powered Car

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

California governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order last week to ban new sales of autos powered by internal combustion engines by 2035. Why? To fight climate change. But prohibiting the internal combustion engine won’t move the climate change needle.


Is California “Falling Down”—Again?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I first moved west to California in February 1994, about a month after the Northridge Earthquake struck Los Angeles and four months before O. J. Simpson’s ride up the 405 became a live-televised national spectacle.


How Much Will Restoration Of Racial Preferences Matter In California?

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

California’s Proposition 16 on the November ballot would restore racial and gender-based preferences in college admissions, public contracting, and public hiring. These preferences ended in 1996, when Californians voted by a two-thirds majority to amend the state constitution and prohibit race and gender preferences.


“Extraordinary” And California’s Legislature—In The Same Sentence?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

After a recently concluded bill-drafting session considered remarkable only in the remarkable job that lawmakers did in avoiding a host of weighty matters, what could California’s State Legislature do for an encore?


California Businesses Leave The State By The Thousands

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

California businesses are leaving the state in droves. In just 2018 and 2019—economic boom years—765 commercial facilities left California. This exodus doesn’t count Charles Schwab’s announcement to leave San Francisco next year. Nor does it include the 13,000 estimated businesses to have left between 2009 and 2016.


New Election, Same Old Problem: California’s Initiative Overload

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

With only 60 days remaining until the election, now’s a good time to look at what lies ahead on the California ballot.


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California on Your Mind is a twice weekly journal about California politics and economic policies, and how they affect California’s economy. At one time, California policies helped create the “California Dream” by fostering affordable housing, creating high quality schools, and facilitating substantial infrastructure investments. These policies helped make California the 20th century destination for thousands of businesses, and for tens of millions of Americans who moved to California from other parts of the country. Today, a very different set of state and local policies is contributing to rapidly increasing housing prices, growing homelessness, lower quality schools, and insufficient public investments.

This journal discusses California political and policy developments in real time, describes how they will affect the California economy, and analyzes how reasonable policy reforms can reduce California’s cost of living, improve California schools, increase public investment, and help restore the “California Dream”.


About the Authors

Lee Ohanian

Lee E. Ohanian is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor of Economics at UCLA. He is an adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and previously has advised other Federal Reserve Banks, Foreign Central Banks, and the National Science Foundation. He has been an economic adviser to state and national political campaigns and has testified to the U.S. Senate and the California State Legislative Assembly on economic policy issues. His research, which recently has been discussed in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other media sources, focuses on economic policies and economic growth, and as been published widely in a number of peer-reviewed journals. He is a frequent columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Rochester.


Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow since 1999, writes and comments on California and America’s political landscapes. Whalen is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee and and also writes frequently for Real Clear Politics, The Hill and the Washington Times. He is also the host of Hoover’s Area 45 podcast that explores policymaking and politics as they pertain to the Trump presidency. Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Whalen served as chief speechwriter and director of public affairs for former California governor Pete Wilson. He’s also served as a strategist for numerous California political hopefuls, including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. A native of Washington, D.C., Whalen received a B.A. in journalism from Washington & Lee University. ​