The Yolo County board of supervisors voiced their support of the non-partisan reform organization California Forward.
The group aims to address the fiscal and governmental issues affecting California by refocusing the way the state is run. California Forward’s stated mission is to “improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more responsive, representative and cost-effective government.”
The organization was created by four civic groups: California Common Cause, Center for Governmental Studies, New California Network and the Commonwealth Club of California’s Voices of Reform Project.
Jim Mayer, Executive Director of California Forward, stressed the organization’s commitment to change at a fundamental level.
“We are trying to fix bad decision making, and trying to effect change by engaging Californians and actively advocating for proposed reform,” Mayer said. “We want to address the fiscal and governmental issues and change how local and state governments interact.”
California Forward’s website states that their vision for the state is a government that is closer to the people, fiscal systems are reliable, state leaders are held accountable for making improvements and voters exercise their role in democracy. The organization’s goals are strongly based on input from Californians throughout the state, and it holds frequent public discussions.
“California Forward is different because we consider the results of polls and reports and try to build agreements between local governments to support specific changes,” Mayer said.
The Yolo County board of supervisors passed a resolution in November 2009 affirming its support for California Forward’s 2010 Reform Plan, which proposes to empower community governments.
California Forward’s 2010 Reform Plan would protect local revenue by giving communities more control over community-related services, and give local governments legal ownership of specific funds for community services, including the property tax.
The plan would also encourage community-level governments to coordinate and consolidate programs when necessary and allow cities, counties and school districts that craft long-term flexible plans to address community needs.
The board also voted to support in concept California Forward’s proposal for reforming the state budget in the following ways:
– Pay as you go: Require new programs to identify a funding source for any new spending.
– Base budgets on results: Require clear goals for every program, measuring their effectiveness and regularly fixing or eliminating programs that are not working.
– Use one-time revenue wisely: Set aside funds from occasional spikes in revenues to pay off debt rather than establish new programs with ongoing costs.
Yolo County board of supervisors vice chair Helen Thompson called the current state of California’s government “dysfunctional” and emphasized the need for change.
“We support California Forward because it seems to make the most sense in terms of reforms needed,” Thompson said. “California is not offering the same opportunities our history has shown in terms of leadership, technology and quality of life.”
California Forward’s vision also includes reform to the amount of attention paid to education.
“Underinvestment in the University of California, and in education in general, is one of the main problems in our state,” Mayer said. “The current trends for higher education are unsustainable – we can’t expect this to continue.”
California Forward is currently working to get measures on the November 2010 ballot so voters can decide whether or not to approve the proposed reforms.
SARAH HANSEL can be reached at email@example.com.