This week California Forward
released the results from the first in a series of "California Viewpoints" surveys
on Californian’s attitudes toward state government, reform, and how they might address
the problems we face. The most striking finding is that Californians believe
our state’s problems can be solved and that California is governable. This is a
far cry from the doom and gloom we consistently hear from public surveys.

Although Californians
believe we can solve our state’s problems, mistrust and a lack of
accountability over many years stand in the way of major reform. So while we
are optimistic, we don’t trust our leaders. The politicians in Sacramento must
listen to their constituents and engage them, to regain their trust. In fact,
according to this survey, one of the major problems with state government is
that our leaders simply don’t listen.

This survey found that we
believe our government has too much bureaucracy, waste and fraud, our leaders
don’t listen to regular people, and elected officials aren’t held accountable. The
survey found that, to solve California’s problems, we must get rid of programs
that don’t produce results and require government to measure the effectiveness
of programs. Then, they must act on those measurements.  We have consistently heard Californians
calling for solutions that focus on accountability, efficiency and transparency,
and it is time to work together to put some of these reforms in place.

These findings confirm what
California Forward has been saying: we must focus on finding ways to reform our
government that empower local communities, bring government closer to the
people, and make it more responsive, transparent and accountable. We call this
"smart government," but I think most Californians would agree that it’s simply commonsense.

California Forward has
developed a set of fiscal reforms that would 
require lawmakers to save money and pay down debt in good years, prevent
legislators from making promises they can’t keep, require every program to be
reviewed, and make sure dollars are spent in ways that improve the performance
of critical programs. These reforms would go a long way toward addressing our very
serious $25 billion deficit-especially because, according to this survey, there
is very little appetite to raise taxes.

This year promises to be a
challenging one for our elected officials, but there is hope: Californians want
their leaders to step up, lead and solve our state’s problems. We believe it
can be done. California Forward is committed to facilitating the conversation,
and we look forward to the robust debate to come.