Unanimous, Bipartisan … and Vetoed

150 150 Jim Mayer and Zabrae Valentine

California faces enormous challenges — making essential public programs work with fewer dollars, helping young people prepare for an uncertain future, and reviving our sick economy.  That’s why we are so disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed SB 14 (Wolk), a critical cornerstone to the kind of governance changes that could restore opportunities for Californians — and maybe even confidence and trust in their elected officials.

SB14 would have required the State to develop a performance approach to budgeting and management, and it would have committed the Legislature to reviewing programs to make sure they provided public value. 
Particularly troubling is the Governor’s concern that SB 14 – as expressed in his veto message – would have created a “one size fits all” process that would have cost a lot of money without yielding actual improvement.  That is simply not the experience of hundreds of national, state and local governments that focus on outcomes to make better policy decisions, execute effective strategies and allow themselves to be held accountable for results.
In fact, SB 14 would have given the Administration substantial flexibility in adapting and deploying this best practice.  And ironically, while the current budget – developed under the old rules – slides further out of balance, state directors of finance from around the nation are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week to share ways to turbo-charge their performance approaches to fiscal decision-making.
The reality is that the current budget process costs tens of millions to administer without telling anyone — not even the Governor — what Californians get for their money.  Lawmakers, through their deliberations on this bill, came to see exactly that, which is why they unanimously and enthusiastically embraced what they called real reform.
California Forward and the California Forward Action Fund want to thank those legislators – particularly the authors and numerous co-authors – for their leadership.   Thanks, as well, to every member of the deep and broad coalition that expressed their support for true reform — business, labor, faith-based communities and student organizations.  All of these thoughtful organizations realize that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.
We appreciate the Governor’s signature on the companion bill, SB 15 (DeSaulnier), but a simple measure to look beyond your toes and into the near future is a small step on a long road.
California Forward and the California Forward Action Fund are committed to improving the responsiveness and effectiveness of public leaders and public programs.  We will catch our breath and be back soon with a measure that will give the 86 percent of Californians who support a performance approach to government the chance to make the decision for themselves.

Jim Mayer is executive director of California Forward and Zabrae Valentine is executive director of the California Forward Action Fund. 


Jim Mayer and Zabrae Valentine

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