Steven Greenhut

Steven Greenhut is a senior fellow and Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at His political views are his own.

State’s Fiscal Fate in High Court’s Hands


Sacramento The latest California craziness to make national news is the Public Utilities Commission’s plan to vote next month on a tax on cellphone text messaging to help fund phone programs for the poor. It is the latest example of our state’s undying commitment to taxing virtually anything we do. The state general fund has $15 […]

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Anniversary of a Failed Progressive Experiment


Sacramento During my first trip to Salt Lake City years ago, I wandered into a nondescript little bar and — forgetting about Utah’s arcane drinking laws — tried to order a whisky. The bar wasn’t open to the public, I was told, but was for members only. I could, however, fill out a membership application, […]

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California’s Latest Pension Hubris


Sacramento California officials have an incredible knack for proposing dubious, government solutions to problems that don’t actually exist, while ignoring the real problems that are under their purview. The best example, perhaps, is the $100-billion high-speed rail project that will be far slower and costlier for consumers than our existing means of statewide high-speed travel (i.e., […]

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Orange County’s Blue Tsunami


Sacramento Conservatives are still arguing over the size of the blue wave — or was it just a large ripple? — that moved across the country. But it clearly turned into a tsunami as it crashed across California and changed deep-red Orange County into a sea of blue. It’s been widely (and often gleefully) reported […]

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California’s Burning Once Again


Sacramento As California’s particularly vicious wildfire season raged on, President Donald Trump and outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown couldn’t help but use the tragedies to grind their own particular policy axes. Both of them touched on some reasonable points, but I was left wishing they’d just shut up, tend to their bread-and-butter responsibilities, and articulate whatever […]

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John Cox

In California, the ‘R’ Remains the Kiss of Death


Sacramento For Democrats and Republicans, the election results were like a tie football game, about as satisfying, the saying goes, as kissing one’s sister. Democrats had hoped for a tsunami but instead gutted out a House majority and picked up some governor’s seats, but their media stars have lost. Republicans avoided catastrophe, but losing those seats […]

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State Stomps on Taxpayer-Friendly Agency


Sacramento Some of the most contentious statewide races in California this November are for the little-known Board of Equalization, the nation’s only tax-collection agency that’s run by elected officials. The agency was formed by the state’s second constitution in 1879. Despite its Orwellian name, the BOE was designed to equalize property tax collection among California’s 58 […]

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Direct Democracy or Direct Chaos?


Sacramento How well would any political system operate if it were designed by a socialist and implemented by progressives? That’s not a trick question, at least not for readers of The American Spectator. The answer: abysmally. It’s no surprise that such a system would, over time, enhance the power of the central government, increase government spending and […]

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They’re Coming After the Prop. 13 ‘Loophole’


Sacramento The award for the most ridiculous opening paragraph in a news story, this week anyway, goes to CBS Sacramento for its coverage of a 2020 ballot measure that the secretary of state has recently approved for signature gathering: “A ballot measure that would close a loophole in property taxes for commercial businesses has qualified for […]

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Surprise! DMV May Have Registered Non-Citizen Voters


We never could have seen this one coming. News stories in recent weeks show that a new California motor-voter law that requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to automatically register people who have California driver’s licenses or state identification cards (unless they opt out) is rife with errors, potentially allowing ineligible people and noncitizens to vote in elections. It’s turned into a major scandal, even in Democratic-controlled California.

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