Cross posted at Fox & Hounds Daily
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.
Eugene J. Voiland is a member of California Forward’s Leadership Council and the Chairman of Valley Republic Bank.