As the governor and lawmakers debate over the best way to get California back on track, people from all over the state have taken the next step in a critical discussion on government restructuring.
On Friday, Feb. 25, California Forward held its second Stakeholder Roundtable in Sacramento. Experts in areas impacted by broken government – including education, local government, health and human services, public safety, economic development, and labor – looked closely at California Forward’s ideas, and discussed how to restructure the relationship between state and local governments.
“If we want to do better with the resources we have, we need to think about this,” said Toby Ewing, consultant for the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance. “It’s really all about building a strong state/local partnership—and that partnership needs to focus on outcomes.”
CA Fwd policy director Richard Raya talked about California Forward’s commitment to work with the Governor, Legislature, and public to support comprehensive restructuring.
“What we keep hearing is the need for more integration and collaboration,” Raya said. “If the programs that make up the bulk of the state’s budget worked together, they would not only achieve better results, there would also be less need for safety net programs—and more revenue would be generated in the process.”
California Forward Leadership Council members Sunne Wright McPeak and Bob Balgenorth moderated the discussion.
When it came to public safety, participants agreed the criminal justice system is a continuum, not a string of individual programs, and the state must do a better job linking police, judicial, and corrections systems.
“When you fight crime and its aftermath, you’ve already lost the battle,” one participant said.
Participants involved in the health and human services discussion strongly agreed on the need for integration and information-sharing, which could lead to:
- Reduced Medi-Cal expenses
- Reduced incarceration rates
- Reduced employee health costs
- Increased tax revenues from a more productive population
On the topic of education, attendees wanted to see integration both within education and between education and other public programs, such as health, welfare, and public safety.
“We have separate early childhood programs, K-12 programs, and higher ed programs. They’re not talking to each other. We need a system coordinated from preschool to college,” said one participant. And, “we need to bring community services down to where the need is.”
Revenue would need to be aligned to the level of programs supported by that revenue, participants agreed. In addition, a set of specific outcomes must be created and performance monitored.
California Forward will incorporate input from the roundtables into the Framework for Restructuring. At the next meeting on March 10-11, California Forward will present proposed policy recommendations.