California Special District recently interviewed CA Fwd Executive Director Jim Mayer about how CA Fwd believes governance in California should be restructured, what smart government requires, and how Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal could help work toward all of this.
California governance – at the state, county, and city levels – is a complex system that CA Fwd has studied to determine how it can be improved. We work hard to take a non-partisan view on how to improve governance in California and have developed a path for how we believe California governance can be “fixed.”
By nonpartisan, we mean that we work hard to develop and rely on factual analyses of problems and options. We assertively seek involvement and input from all of the various perspectives – political, geographic and ethnic; business, labor and government. We are working with organizations that are active in the political process, as well as organizations working in communities whose voices are not heard and where voting turnout is low. Our goal is to achieve good democratic decision making that improves results of public programs and accountability to Californians. Our goal is not to make government bigger or smaller – or tilt it left or right.
We must make progress in four critical areas to achieve these goals:
1) Improve the performance of public programs
2) move government closer to the people;
3) invest in our future;
4) create an inclusive and vibrant democracy.
For an entire generation the smartest public policy minds in the state have grappled with how to restructure the state – not whether it needs to be restructured. It is not just the size of the state, but that’s part of it. Sacramento is a world away from most communities in California, and people need to be able to connect with decision-makers to make democracy work. Also, it is not just the geographic diversity, but that’s a big part of it. The best way to deliver services in my home county of Yolo is not necessarily the same as it is even in Sacramento, let alone San Diego. And the problem is far more fundamental than recession-related budget problems.
Over the last generation, at a time when California should have been empowering community governments to pursue more cost-effective solutions, we were actually consolidating decision making at the state level – putting more rules on local governments, more strings on the money, and spending far more energy monitoring for compliance than working to improve results.
To read the entire interview, visit California Special District Magazine.