At last week’s California Forward San Diego Stakeholder Roundtable, attendees discussed their thoughts on the Five ‘Smart Government’ Proposals. Many agreed that implementation would be challenging. The concepts of more local control over funding for programs and services as well as state operations being more closely-aligned with measurable outcomes were also highlighted.
“The question should be, ‘How practical are we being trying to implement a new regional layer of government?’” said Leucadia Wastewater District General Manager, Paul Bushee. “When we create the new layer, I feel afraid it will be just another layer since the original layer will still be there to deal with.
“Organizations are limited by state regulations as it is. On what feels like an annual basis, the local level has to wonder how it can keep programs thriving with the new rules and regulations. Take recycled water for example, the state promotes recycling, but there are certain rules and regulations that are constantly being created and changed that make it almost impossible for water districts to achieve effectively.”
San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione agreed. Providing examples of how his agency was asked to do more with less over the years, he explained how even the programs designed to help the county’s neediest residents are often hard to implement due to evolving eligibility requirements made by state legislators.
“Why can’t the state just give our programs the money we need, step back and then hold us accountable by our performance?” Macchione asked. “Funding from the state should go directly to the communities instead via Sacramento.”
Hospital Association for San Diego and Imperial Counties President, Steven Escoboza also said he felt that performance indicators would be appropriate for the state when making funding decisions. He also felt that in order to implement change, future discussions about today’s politics would be necessary. “A big part of our small group discussions should be on the politics of change.”
SEDC Vice President of Projects and Development Nancy Lytle said she had a hard time seeing the state as a provider of technical assistance (#3 Adjust the State Role). “Quite frankly, I can’t even look at the state that way right now. In fact, I haven’t been able to see the state taking on such a role in years.”
Overall the majority of attendees said they felt best represented by their local government leaders. Of those present, nearly 90 percent surveyed said they believed state operations funding should be aligned with measurable outcomes. Nearly 80 percent said funding and program authorization should be moved to the local government level.