I am a persistent advocate for governance reforms that will help make our state legislature and agencies more citizen-focused, transparent, accountable, and effective. These reforms include transparency and bill notice requirements, sunset review, performance-based budgeting, and longer-term budget planning.
Legislative Transparency Act - Bills should be available online for analysis and public review at least 72 hours before they are voted on. The Legislature has a bad habit of introducing bills at the last-minute, with little or no time for review, especially toward the end of session. This practice is a recipe for bad decision making no matter what your ideology is, and should no longer be allowed. In addition, members of the Legislature should be required to regularly post their office budgets on their Web sites. The public has a right to know how taxpayer money is being spent. I am committed to transparency in my own Assembly office and am introducing a bill, called the Legislative Transparency Act, to require more transparency throughout the State Legislature.
Sunset Review - I am working to implement a bipartisan system of accountability in California that will outlive in any one individual legislator or governor. Sunset Review, as modeled by the state of Texas, will send state agencies, boards, and commissions through a periodic and thorough review to ensure they are held accountable to meeting specified goals and objectives. Right now, California's 550 bureaucracies are accountable to no one, and too many of these boards and commissions offer little tangible benefit for Californians. State government operations should be reviewed on a regular basis, and we should eliminate or streamline boards and commissions that have outlived their usefulness or are inefficient.
Performance-Based Budgeting - I co-authored SB 14 this year which would have enacted performance-based budgeting in California. Under our current, broken system, budgets for state agencies and departments are based on baselines of how much was spent the previous year. Mandatory spending formulas lock in spending at higher levels that are unsustainable and that will worsen our long-term deficit. No accounting is done to ensure budget expenditures reflect our priorities and achieve desired results. Year after year, state budget writers fail to review whether an agency is getting the job done or whether bureaucrats are spending the people's money efficiently and effectively. Performance-based budgeting changes this, requiring state departments to justify how they are spending our hard-earned tax dollars. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed SB 14, but I will continue advocating for the implementation of performance-based budgeting in California.
Two-year Budget Planning - I introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, which will change California's annual budget plan to a two-year budget plan, providing better stability and certainty to local governments, school districts, and private business vendors. ACA 8 also prohibits the adoption of a budget by the Legislature that leaves the State with a deficit in the succeeding year unless specific solutions are provided to eliminate that deficit. ACA 8, if passed, will return common sense to budgeting and require better long-term planning in California.