Legislation to Strengthen Budget Oversight Moves Forward

Wolk bill creates greater accountability for state-funded programs

SACRAMENTO—The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Revenues and the Economy agreed today to move forward legislation by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to establish a performance-based state budget process.

“California’s budget-making process is out of date, and it’s failing us,” said Wolk during the hearing. “We need to do more, much more, to make sure that the people of California are getting real value for their money. This bill will institute a system that adopts clear goals for California’s public programs, measures the performance of programs toward reaching these goals, and ties their performance to our state’s budget making decisions.”

Senate Bill 777 requires the Governor’s proposed budget, as well as departmental program budgets submitted to the Department of Finance, to submit to a process by which budget expenditures would be held to performance standards. The measure also establishes a process for joint legislative oversight to measure effectiveness of state-funded programs.

Among those testifying in support of the measure was Sunne Wright McPeak, representing the bill’s sponsor, California Forward, which aims to help improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more responsive, representative and cost-effective government.

McPeak, a former Secretary of the State Business Transportation and Housing Agency, said California has made progress in defining goals, setting targets and using information on performance to guide decision-making. However, she added, the state has not consistently used that information to inform budget decisions, and stressed the need for a consistent effort on the part of state government to integrate performance information into the executive and legislative budget process.

“This is the time for California to plant a flag that says we are going to, in a very common-sense way, manage this state better,” McPeak testified. “The budget process should not just be controlled by the Administration alone. It needs to have the partnership of the Legislature. This measure is a way to make this process law in California, and make it transcend any given Administration or crisis.”

“Performance-based budgeting is not a panacea. It is part of a package of long-overdue reforms by California Forward that, together, will help make the state better stewards of the public’s money. We can’t continue with business as usual. We must use the public's money wisely,” Wolk concluded.

The bill will be heard by the entire Senate, acting as the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review. The bill’s other supporters include the California Association of Nonprofits, California Taxpayers Association, Children Now, Northbay Leadership Council, Fresno Unified School District, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, San Jose Unified School District, Orange County Business Council, and Saving California Communities.

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