At a hearing in late April, the subcommittee that reviews state budget expenditures for the internal administration of state and local government operations approved a 20 percent rate increase for the cost of printing voter information guides and other materials.  This will cost the state more than a million dollars above the Secretary of State’s base printing budget.

This increase has nothing to do with the need to print election year materials. As a member of the subcommittee, I voted against allocating the rate increase. If the Secretary of State’s office needs extra money to provide voters information on the ballot, especially considering the high number of ballot measures expected for the November election, there are mechanisms already in place to make sure it will get the money it needs.  That’s not the issue.

The rate increase resulted from an increased cost of printing the materials from the state’s own Department of General Services.  By statute, the Secretary must use the Office of State Publishing and is prohibited from using a private vendor.

During the hearing, even the representative from the Secretary of State’s Office testified that out-sourcing the voter guides to a private service could cut printing costs significantly. If California is ever going to emerge from these chronic budget deficits, we simply can’t continue funding government as usual.