California is, by nature, an optimistic state, a state of thinkers and, most importantly, a state of doers. A recent Viewpoint Learning survey tells us that a full 86 percent of Californians – almost nine of out of 10 – believe it’s possible for the state to be well-run.
That’s extraordinary, especially in this time of a faltering economy and broken governance system. To go from a hope for good government to an actual working government, we must have a civically engaged citizenry. When Californians participate in the political process, it ensures our government remains open, fulfills its responsibilities to the people, and achieves results for Californians.
Our state is home to industries and innovation that have transformed economies near and far, and our regions provide a diversity of industry and ideas. These ideas and economies are fueled by California voters and residents.
Everyday Californians form the backbone of our state, and their participation in local, regional, and state government is critical to a functioning government – as the NWPC well knows. Because every day Californians live and work here, they have a very real stake in the workings of government and the decisions that are made. To ensure California’s government remains healthy at all levels, those Californians must get involved and make their voices heard.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan California Forward is partnering with the NWPC LA Westside to encourage the civic participation of all Californians. This will make government at every level more open and accountable and by empowering local governments to work together to best serve their communities.
We want to increase performance, responsibility, and openness in all levels of government by empowering local communities to find local solutions to local problems. That means moving resources from the state to the local level and ensuring that they are spent wisely.
California Forward is working on a comprehensive reform package that goes beyond balancing the budget from one year to the next. We want to stabilize the state’s governance system and ensure that government programs get results.
Our reform proposal would do this in three basic steps:
- Create a stable and results-oriented state budget process. Local governments need a stable state budget process that helps them reach community goals. California has proposed requiring a two-year state budget to reduce the endless wrangling and uncertainty. The State would establish goals and performance metrics and the Legislature would review all programs once every five years. Lawmakers would have to identify ways to pay for major policy choices, rather than putting all programs at risk of being cut in future years.
- Ensure local governments are accountable for results. Californians expect all local governments to spend public money wisely. To communicate clearly and manage effectively, all local governments would be required to identify goals and performance metrics as part of their budgets.
- Encourage cooperation among local governments. Experience shows that to solve difficult public programs, public agencies must work together. Schools need to work with social service agencies, and social service agencies need to work with law enforcement. Through Community Strategic Action Plans, local leaders would be given the flexibility and incentives to work together to develop integrated approaches to meet community needs.
We’re working to recapture the promise of California by collaborating with lawmakers, every day Californians, and other leaders all over the state to put California back on the Path Forward.
To ensure lawmakers are more responsive to the populations they serve, we’re encouraging voters to participate by casting their ballot, engaging with their city and county leaders, and getting involved in their communities.
We also need your input and energy. Watch our Path Forward video and share your vision for California. Also, sign up for our mailing list and like us on Facebook to stay on top of California governance reform issues. Finally, to see what you can do to help move California Forward, go to our action fund website and find out how you can get involved.
California Forward is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to create a government that works.