Make Reform Part Of Budget Talks

Co-Chairmen of California Forward

Another difficult budget season is upon California. The results will be
painful. The real question is, will we have anything to show for it?

We want the answer to be yes. That’s why, in a letter to the state’s
legislative leaders, we called on them to address the long-neglected
need for lasting and fundamental budget reform as part of this year’s
negotiations over the state budget.

For the last two months, leaders from both parties have devoted both
time and energy to thoughtfully examining the non-partisan proposals
California Forward has offered to reform our state’s spending
practices.

In both the Senate and the Assembly, members of both parties have been
engaged in good-faith discussions and deliberations about how to refine
the principles we have identified as key to restoring public confidence
in the state’s fiscal operations.

It’s particularly noteworthy that these discussions have proceeded even
as our proposals have drawn criticism from partisan special interests
invested in the status quo and opposed to reform.   

In the next few days and weeks, lawmakers will have to grapple with
hard choices, and set priorities about the spending of limited public
dollars at a time when needs are great and California’s economy remains
fragile.   

There are no easy answers.  But the current crisis does provide
California with the opportunity to finally address the long-neglected
need for lasting and fundamental budget reform, and we are urging the
Legislature to take it.  

Thanks in no small part to their efforts, this goal is in sight.  In
both the Senate and Assembly, real progress has been made in crafting
non-partisan reforms based on the best practices of successful
businesses and other states, including improved accountability and
oversight, better long-term forecasting, setting unexpected windfalls
aside, and adopting a pay-as-you-go mechanism for both legislation and
initiatives.   

Our plan also provides the first step in rethinking the relationship
between state and local government, gives communities new incentives
and resources to start working together to address priorities and bring
government closer to the people.   

We understand that this work is not yet complete – and that significant
hurdles remain before the principles we’ve outlined can garner the
bipartisan support necessary to place them before voters in November.  

We believe, however, that reform remains our best hope for forestalling
future difficulties, and that failing to enact significant reforms this
year would only hasten the advent of the next fiscal crisis. 

It’s time to both learn from this crisis — and take steps to be sure
we don’t repeat it — by placing budget reform on the ballot. 

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