The Government Performance and Accountability Act
Californians need to know what they are getting for their tax dollars and what government is achieving. If approved by California voters through the ballot measure process, this proposal will position both state and local governments to effectively manage California's fiscal affairs to promote concrete results Californians want and value for their tax dollars.
Click here to read the The Government Performance and Accountability Act (PDF) as proposed by the California Forward Action Fund.
State and local governments should focus on improving results. The proposal would require state and local government budgets to establish clear goals for delivering results and accountability -- focusing spending decisions on priorities, desired results, and the changes needed to improve performance.
The state needs a stable budget-making process to help communities reach their goals. The proposal would make all bills available to the public three days before a vote to preclude "gut and amend" bills, ending the practice of bypassing public hearings for controversial legislation. The Department of Finance would also be required to update fiscal information three times per year.
Lawmakers should be required to identify ways to pay for major policy choices, rather than putting all programs at risk of being cut in future years. The proposal requires major new programs and tax cuts costing $25 million or more to have a clearly identified funding source before they are enacted.
To reduce the perennial uncertainty of the state's current short-term budget-making practices, the proposal would require the state to enact two-year budgets. It would limit the period during which bills can be heard (with an exception for bills addressing emergencies), and require a portion of the legislative session to be dedicated to program performance reviews. All programs would be reviewed at least once every 5 years. The proposal also would require the state to prepare and make public five-year forecasts before approving the budget, to act quickly when the budget falls out of balance, and to make budget negotiations more transparent.
To improve performance at the local level, communities will need more flexibility to tailor programs to meet local needs. Through "Community Strategic Action Plans," the proposal would give local governments the incentives and authority to design programs that work together to improve results. Cities, counties, school districts and special districts would identify common goals -- such as improving outcomes for youth -- and how they would coordinate actions to cost-effectively achieve them.
These plans also would identify state laws or regulations that prevent local governments from efficiently and effectively providing services, and include a local method for achieving the state objective. The proposal would also give local governments the ability to reallocate local sales and property taxes (other than those allocated to schools), and provide incentive funding from the state.
What this means for Californians...
- Policy, program, and fiscal decisions by the state and local governments will be driven by performance data on what is working, what isn't, and an awareness of the long-term fiscal impact of alternative approaches.
- Community Strategic Action Plans will allow local governments to achieve local priorities in a collaborative, inclusive and cost-effective way while permitting significantly greater flexibility in how participating local jurisdictions allocate resources and meet statewide requirements.
- Californians will have more opportunities to inform decisions affecting their communities, they will have more information about the job performance of their elected representatives, and they will have the opportunity to see results where they live that are a direct consequence of their participation.