Volatile. Deficit-crippled. Recession weary. These are just some of the words used to describe the state of California right now as the Golden State’s shimmer, some would say, has turned from gold to brass.
The state was hit hard by the financial crisis thanks in part to the housing crisis with mortgage foreclosures topped with an unemployment rate much higher than the national average.
Dwindling dollars forced the state and therefore, local governments to slash public services and reduce staff.
But are things turning around? Years of spending cuts, an economic recovery and the recent passage, by voters, of Proposition 30, things look promising.
But don’t break out the champagne bottle and noise makers just yet.
We need to ensure the state budget remains stable and manageable for years and years to come. How do we do that?
A national panel of experts hopes to tackle that issue with their own innovative ideas on how government can address the state’s twisted and tangled budget system.
California State University Sacramento’s Hornets Policy and Politics alumni chapter, along with California Forward, is hosting a thoughtful discussion with folks who have explored and have been successful with new policy approaches.
“Let’s restock the toolbox for improving policy and administration,” said Josh Rosa of the Sacramento State Policy & Politics Alumni. “Now that the election is over, California policymakers and public managers will need to refocus on solving complex problems, and what better way to start than by comparing notes with other states and local agencies from throughout the country.”
“California’s state and local agencies are facing very tough challenges these days. The problem isn’t only budget deficits, but also how do we deliver services effectively in an increasingly complex government landscape,” said Jim Mayer, Executive Director of California Forward.
Dr. Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Process, is a panelist. His nonprofit group encourages those in the community to figure out how to spend a portion of the public budget in their city.
Successful in New York and Chicago, Lerner brought his process to the city of Vallejo—a city who declared bankruptcy and who once had a very dysfunctional government. Vallejo is the first citywide participatory budgeting experiment in the nation.
“With so many governments in fiscal trouble, now more than ever we need new ways of engaging community members in tough budget decisions,” said Dr. Josh Lerner, Executive Director of The Participatory Budgeting Process.
“The time for new ideas is now. Let’s bring together innovators in and out of government who have tried creative solutions in different states and regions to evaluate their outcomes,” said Mayer.
What do we have to lose? We only stand to gain.