Senior Fiscal Policy Advisor for California Forward Speaks at SPUR Lunch Forum
Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of the proposed budget is just one more data point highlighting California’s government dysfunction.
Since Government 2.0 is so much more than fancy apps – it is the hard work of creating a government architecture that isn’t constantly crashing – we headed down to San Francisco’s leading think tank last week to hear from one of our state’s leading government reform organizations, California Forward (CAFWD).
The San Francisco Urban Planning and Research Association (SPUR) was hosting Fred Silva from California Forward to discuss his organization’s vision for restructuring California’s budget process and government framework. The lunch forum took place at SPUR’s Urban Center located at 654 Mission.
CAFWD is a non-profit, non-partisan organization created by five foundations to address California’s governmental dysfunction through budget reform and restructuring local and state government.
Silva spoke on CAFWD’s top five ‘Smart Government Proposals’
- A switch to an outcomes-focused budgetary process, rather than the current you-get-what-you-got-last-year-plus-growth model
- Aligning authority with responsibility — CAFWD argues for increasing local authority over funding and programs
- Adjust state role to oversight and technical assistance
- Incentivize regional governments to collaborate
- Foster integration and consolidation of state and local agencies (i.e. school districts) to streamline government to operate more efficiently and less expensively
How does San Francisco fit into this puzzle?
Silva repeatedly spoke of San Francisco as the only consolidated city-county in the State. That, he argues, following CAFWD’s fifth smart government proposal, results in a more efficient governmental structure with clearer lines of authority and responsibility, than, say, San Mateo County. He indirectly cited San Francisco as a model city-county for the rest of California to look to.
We guess things look rosier from a distance – although he does make a good point: San Francisco could be more efficient than other local governments because of our status as both a city and county. (More on this later in the week. Operative word here is could – in fact we have proceeded to create two of many significant government functions.)
California Forward: Moving forward, but where to?
Silva spoke of Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of the proposed budget as a step towards his organization’s goal of fiscal reform for California. He sees tax extensions dominating the conversation in the following two weeks.
If tax extensions are not approved, he sees California’s coming fiscal year as one of its worst.
The Road to a California Constitutional Convention
We tend to think of ourselves as an island here in San Francisco, but the deficit tsunami in California is definitely already coming ashore. When the state makes cuts, we are faced with a choice of backfilling these services with local funds, including local funds paid for by increased local taxes, or having San Franciscans go without.
California Forward has been one of the leading groups advocating for Constitutional Reform as the only long-term solution. We hope they read our post last week about crowdsourcing reform.
And we’ll keep you updated as they move forward with their reform efforts.