California taxpayers are on the hook for more than $91.5 billion to provide health and dental benefits to state government workers when they retire, according to a report issued Wednesday by the state controller’s office.
That’s a substantial increase from last year’s estimate, a result of changes in the way the total debt is calculated and changes in the projected cost of healthcare in the coming decades.
Last year’s report put the total liability at just under $77 billion. The estimates are a reflection of what the benefits to state government workers— which are in addition to cash from pensions — would cost in present-day dollars. The debt, Controller Betty Yee said in a statement, will “remain a paramount fiscal challenge over the next three decades.”
State Senate leader Kevin de León, a Democrat who is challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein, kicked off 2018 with a tiny fraction of the money the veteran lawmaker has in the bank, according to federal fundraising documents filed Thursday.
De León reported raising nearly $434,000 and spending nearly $75,000 between entering the race on Oct. 15 and the end of 2017. He reported starting the new year with nearly $360,000 cash on hand, and more than $41,000 in debts.
In contrast, Feinstein reported having nearly $10 million in the bank, including a $5-million loan the Democrat made to her campaign in the final quarter of 2017.
Fueled by activity from the oil industry attempting to influence the cap-and-trade debate, interest groups spent a record of more than $339 million lobbying California government officials last year.
The spending activity to influence elected officials and bureaucrats far exceeds the previous record of $314.7 million in 2015, new lobbying reports show.
Those reports also shed more light on how interest groups have expanded their “scope and sophistication” beyond sending a lobbyist to a public official’s office, according to Jodi Remke, chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra maintained his large political fundraising lead over five possible challengers in the June 2018 primary, with the incumbent reporting he brought in $4 million last year, according to campaign disclosure reports filed Wednesday.
Becerra, a Democrat, is seeking election as attorney general after he was appointed to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in December 2016 to serve the remainder of the term of Kamala Harris, who left the office when she was elected to the U.S. Senate.
State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a fellow Democrat, has the second largest campaign fund among candidates for attorney general. He has raised $2 million for the contest and had $1.5 million left in the bank at the end of the year, compared to $3.1 million in cash left in Becerra’s account.
Gavin Newsom remains the dominant front-runner in fundraising in the California gubernatorial campaign, reporting nearly $16.7 million in cash on hand as the year started, according to disclosure documents filed with the state on Wednesday.
That’s more than all his gubernatorial rivals combined, and it’s a notable shift for a candidate who dropped out of the 2010 governor’s race in part because he was a lackluster fundraiser.
Newsom’s cash-on-hand figure is more than double what his nearest Democratic rivals – state Treasurer John Chiang and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – each have in the bank, according to filings at the California secretary of state’s office.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Chiang spent nearly every dollar he raised during the last six months of 2017, according to a campaign financial disclosure statement filed with the California secretary of state’s office on Wednesday.
Chiang, the state’s treasurer, raised $1.3 million and spent $1,264,602 during this reporting period, according to the filing.
It’s a dramatic uptick in spending since he entered the race in mid-2016, and it occurred just before a campaign shake-up intended to reboot a candidacy that has been lagging in the polls.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had more than $5.9 million in the bank at the beginning of the year for his gubernatorial bid, lagging far behind top Democratic rival Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Villaraigosa raised $4.4 million in 2017 and spent more than a quarter of that on his campaign, according to a summary of the campaign finance report he filed with the California secretary of state.
"We set out to make this a two-person race, and we have accomplished that by dramatically increasing our support in the polls, raising over $7 million and laying the foundation for a winning people-powered campaign. We are on track to advance to the general election and win in November,” Villaraigosa campaign spokesman Luis Vizcaino said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.