We appreciate The Bee's editorial of Sept. 10 supporting the Legislature as the venue for solving California's challenges, but the fact remains that the Legislature is either deadlocked on governance reforms or wedded to the status quo. In order for there to be true, successful budget reform, it will have to come from the people and the passage of Proposition 31.
Each of us carried bills this session that contained common-sense budget and transparency reforms now included in Proposition 31. One bill was dismissed without a vote, another was watered down before it passed and a third unanimously passed the Senate and the Assembly but was vetoed by the governor. That's why both of us, a Democrat and a Republican, support Proposition 31.
The problems are systemic and complex, and Proposition 31 delivers the right mix of practical reforms that will help put California back on the right track. This government reform measure will reduce wasteful spending, increase government accountability and transparency, and arm local governments with the tools they need to best provide for their communities.
These positive changes will be carried out in several ways. Proposition 31 requires government programs to identify goals, demonstrate how spending supports these goals and annually report their results. It creates a two-year budget, requiring the Legislature to find long-term solutions to budget problems and freeing up more time for lawmakers to determine which programs are working.
Proposition 31 will also provide an even-handed check on major fiscal decisions a pay-as-you-go requirement for major new programs or tax cuts. This modest fiscal discipline will encourage lawmakers to support high priority, high-performing programs and prevent them from repeating the mistakes that created the state's structural budget deficit.
The proposition also makes the legislative process more transparent by requiring all bills including the Budget Act to be made public at least three days before a final vote.
Under the measure, the governor could reduce spending in a fiscal emergency but only if the Legislature, by a simple majority vote, fails to take any action. And we can assure you that if anything, Proposition 31 encourages the Legislature to work together to resolve the crisis.
Proposition 31 would also require lawmakers to focus on which programs are working. Oversight is not a "small" thing. The state budget allocated nearly $131 billion this year.
We spent months deciding how to divvy up that money. We ought to spend a few weeks determining how we could better invest that money to improve the lives of Californians.
Both of us have served in local governments. We know local governments often have good ideas for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of services. Proposition 31 provides simple voluntary authority and incentives to encourage local governments, including cities, schools and counties, to work together to find better ways to improve education, health and public safety.
This is a critical provision because local governments are really the front line. They are trying to address problems like crime and violence, while also providing essential services such as education. And while the demand for services is going up, fiscal resources are going down.
Proposition 31 would challenge local governments to find a better way of improving outcomes, while directing the Legislature to review and learn from these efforts.
We do believe that the Legislature should be responsible for addressing California's challenges, and the provisions in Proposition 31 will help the Legislature do just that. So join us in voting "yes" on Proposition 31 in November.