Op-ed: The clock is ticking on reform – but it’s not too late

150 150 Bob Hertzberg & Tom McKernan

In an opinion article published today by Capitol Weekly, Leadership Council Co-Chairs Bob Hertzberg and Tom McKernan urge state leaders to coalesce around comprehensive fiscal reform proposals crafted by California Forward.

View the full article. Excerpt:

At this point, two budget-related initiatives will be on the ballot. One backed by public labor unions would lower the vote threshold to pass a budget to simple majority. One backed by business would increase the number of votes needed to approve certain fees to two-thirds.

Those measures would not create the comprehensive reform California needs. What would bipartisan reform look like? California Forward’s budget reforms, based on the best practices from successful businesses and other states, include:

* Planning ahead on spending. Require the governor and lawmakers to think long-term about spending priorities and revenues before approving the budget. Take action more quickly when revenues fall unexpectedly.

* Results and accountability. Require clear goals for every program to be spelled out and improve the legislative process for developing the budget by focusing on results and accountability.

* Performance review. Require the Legislature to examine every program at least once every 10 years, looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce waste.

* Strengthen the state’s rainy day fund and set aside “one-time” windfalls. Create a process for identifying and using occasional, nonrecurring spikes in revenue for one-time uses, such as paying down debt or to guard against the next economic downturn.

* Pay-as-you-go. Require major new or expanded programs and tax reductions in legislation or initiatives to identify specific funding sources such as savings, cuts to other programs or tax increases.

Taken together, these reforms would prevent lawmakers from making fiscal commitments that can’t be kept – and make sure that resources are well spent to improve the lives of Californians and their communities


Bob Hertzberg & Tom McKernan

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