Senate Budget Committee Approves Bills Requiring Performance-Based, Multi-Year Budgeting

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Two bills that could vastly improve the state’s budgeting process and lead to a more stable fiscal landscape have passed unanimously out of a Senate committee and are on their way to the full floor. SB 14 would require budgeting based on the performance, and SB 15 would require multi-year, long-term budgeting and forecasting.

During today’s Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review session, committee members from both sides of the aisle expressed confidence that the long-term savings resulting from these reforms will far exceed any potential implementation costs.

CA Fwd supports both bills and was joined today by groups representing students, faith-based communities, businesses and non-profits. A link to the full endorsement list is here.

The Department of Finance, which has been critical of the bills, testified that such a historic change in the way the state spends its tax dollars would require substantial upfront costs, potentially tens of millions of dollars.  In response, Sunne Wright McPeak, a member of California Forward’s Leadership Council, told how she implemented a performance initiative as Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.  Focusing on performance “need not, should not, and cannot cost more money.”  One result of her efforts was a reduction in DMV wait times from an hour to 21 minutes.

The Committee’s own analysis found:

Using data to inform management decisions and budget decisions needs to be an ingrained part of the culture of the administration and legislative review.  (But) without leadership and commitment at every level of government to rely on data to inform decisions, data will not, in itself, change the outcomes of decision makers. 

Throughout the hearing, various Senators said SB 14 and SB 15 are just one part of the overall change needed to improve the California budgeting process. “We want the state to perform well,” said Senator Michael Rubio (D-Fresno). “I believe our bottom line is performance.”

Senators also said measurable outcomes and accountability have been missing in the budget process for too long, and California’s continued prosperity depends on ensuring money is well-spent.  Senator Bob Huff (R-Walnut) remarked, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit your target.”

Both bills will be brought to the Senate floor later this month, where easy passage is expected. Similar legislation has passed the Senate in the past, but stalled in the Assembly. Citizens who support these reforms should contact their representatives and urge them to support the bills in upcoming votes.


John Guenther

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