Back to the future? Not so fast..

Fred Silva
Director of Public Policy, California Forward

Joel Fox wrote an interesting piece yesterday about returning to the budget approval process that was in place from 1933-1962. Oh, if life and budget making were so simple…

The so called current services budget format simply tells us what the Governor thinks it will cost Californians to pay for our collective statutory and constitutional spending requirements. In the post-WWII period, life was neat and simple and so was the current services format. The state’s obligations were small with a significant portion of the general fund expenditures going to infrastructure.

Today, current services budgeting has a whole new meaning. It is filled with entitlements, caseloads, judicial requirements and pesty lobbyists. If we could find a way to measure the value of a dollar spent rather than the simple measurement of the growth in spending, some progress toward budget reform could be made.

If the Legislature and the Governor could find the magic number that would fund contemporary current services and produce value for the dollar spent, the idea of a vote requirement that is linked to state spending might be worth the time required to make it work.

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