On a slow news day, Speaker Perez grandiosely announced he would transfer a $1.2
million surplus from the Assembly’s budget to, of all places, the Secretary of
State’s Office to "confront the massive delay in the processing of
business filings," by helping the office tackle a backlog of nearly
The Speaker’s putative reason for doing this was to "find ways to tighten
our belt and spend what funding we have on smart, value-driven solutions that
create jobs and increase California’s economic output."
I’m writing this on the day of the announcement – but I’ll be interested
to see if any of the reporting on this event makes the following points:
The transferred money won’t "create jobs," it will
provide overtime for existing unionized government workers.
The new money will be in addition to the existing $49.8 million appropriation in the
current fiscal year for the Secretary of State’s Filings and Registrations
program. This is a nearly $3 million increase from last year and more than $6.5
million increase over two years, not including this transfer. And she
still has a backlog of 200,000 documents?
Actually, the $6.5 million in increased funding was
accompanied by a reduction in staffing. I’m sure there’s a good
The Secretary of State charges
no fewer than 109 separate fees for various filing and documentation
services, ranging up to $150 per transaction. Fee revenues account for 78
percent of the Filings and Registrations program’s budget. Why are the fee
payers not receiving value for their payments?
Secretary of State Bowen says the overtime will cut existing waiting
times, which are two to four months. That’s salutary. Perhaps the Speaker could
look into other cases of state-imposed delay where time is money. I suggest
starting with CEQA litigation, which forces years-long delays in new investment
in infrastructure, housing and businesses. The payoff is thousands of jobs and
housing units, improved reputation for California, and it won’t cost the state
But in the meantime, maybe the Assembly should dig into why this
well-funded, fee-supported program needs a bail out in the first place.