The California Forward Action Fund, a state fiscal reform group, has submitted a ballot measure that would substantially alter the state and local government budget process.
The Government Performance and Accountability Act would mandate the adoption of two-year budgets, five-year reviews of every program and the identification of the source of the money for new programs. It would also require the Legislature and local agencies to make their proposed budgets public for at least three days before voting on them.
Among its other provisions, it would permit counties, cities and schools to create a “community strategic action plan” and decide for themselves how to spend state dollars.
According to the action fund, the measure “will make local governments the nexus for action, producing major improvements in government accountability, transparency and responsible budgeting. It is built around a simple idea: Californians need to know what they are getting for their tax dollars.”
“The people of California have told us that they want to fix the state in a long-term meaningful way,” said Action Fund Board co-chairwoman Sunne Wright McPeak, a former Contra Costa County supervisor and the one-time state Business, Transportation and Housing director under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “By assuring performance, participation and results, the Government Performance and Accountability Act encourages local, regional and state groups to work together to achieve positive social gains that are financially sustainable over time.”
Action Fund Board co-chairman Bruce McPherson, the former California Secretary of State, said “the current system often prohibits cooperation and participation. As a result, Californians no longer share in the bounty the state once promised: good jobs, world class education, affordable health care and safe neighborhoods. It’s time Californians have a government structure that allows for greater local responsibility and authority.”
The California Forward Action Fund says it intends to gather sufficient numbers of signatures in time to place the measure on the November 2012 ballot.