California once again finds itself in the vortex of a leadership vacuum. Public trust and confidence in government are at record lows – as is our performance in critical areas that matter most to Californians: education, job creation, and public safety.
To fix our state, we must revamp how budgets and policy decisions are made and implemented and how leaders are kept accountable.
To do this, the California Forward Action Fund has introduced The Government Performance and Accountability Act (GPAA), a constitutional amendment that would change the culture of governance in California.
Our current system leaves important decisions to the governor and lawmakers at the state level, who often draw lines in the sand, instead of working to find solutions. The state is simply too big and too diverse to let a handful of lawmakers in Sacramento make decisions about local programs and resources that are much better understood at the community level.
As Californians we need to reinvigorate the practice of participatory government. That is what the GPAA attempts to provide: a structure allowing Californians to reclaim their right to a collaborative, participatory process.
The proposed initiative would allow local governments to determine the most effective and efficient way to improve public programs, structure budgets to support them, and provide the fiscal means to implement them. It would also improve fiscal planning at the state level to help restore public trust in how our dollars are being used.
By providing a measure that assures performance, participation and results, the GPAA encourages local, regional and state groups to work together to achieve positive social gains in ways that are financially sustainable over time.
Support for the reforms included in the GPAA is well over 70%, showing us that Californians want state and local government to deliver transparent, accountable and cost-effective results.
Californians need to know what they are getting for their tax dollars and what government is achieving. The GPAA can be the first critical step toward this goal.
There can be no “us vs. them” if government is to work for all Californians. It’s time to break this cycle of “us vs. them” in policy-making, vote-getting, and public interaction and move the center of action closer to our communities.
Zabrae Valentine is executive director of the California Forward Action Fund and deputy director of California Forward.