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Enterprise Op-ed: "Community workshop will address budget reform"

Special to The Enterprise | Published: May 10, 2009

On Tuesday, May 19, California voters will cast their ballots on an array of initiatives designed to balance this year's state budget and change aspects of the budget process. We hope each Davis voter studies these initiatives and casts a ballot Tuesday. Regardless of the outcome of this election, our state will continue to face frightening deficits and challenging economic conditions.

We believe these economic woes simply highlight and amplify fundamental systemic problems in our government. The underlying causes for ongoing stalemates at the state level go beyond intransigence of factions and ideological differences. The best intentions are hampered by fundamental flaws in our budgeting process that have built up over the decades.

We are increasingly concerned that the impact of this dysfunction directly threatens the fabric of our community. The results are described almost daily in The Davis Enterprise. One day we read about drastic cuts in community health services for children, the next, large reductions in public safety.

For the past two years, our schools have faced dramatic funding reductions and we have come together as a community to protect valued educational programs — only to face further cuts to our schools.

Yolo County curtailed or is eliminating a tremendously high proportion of "safety-net" services. Nonprofit agencies have not been paid for basic services provided. Businesses suffer from fewer purchases. No doubt these impacts are exacerbated by the economy, but there is something more afoot.

How did we get to this point in a state with boundless energy and creativity? Are lawmakers to blame or has the system simply become unworkable? Must we accept this situation or can we do something about it? What reform ideas are under discussion and what needs to happen to make them reality? How do we start?

These questions and others will be considered at "Saving California Communities: Starting Here!" from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Alumni & Visitors Center at UC Davis.

This event is hosted by our recently formed coalition, Saving California Communities. We bring together county, city and school elected representatives and a wide cross-section of community members. We are united voices for strong, healthy communities in Davis and throughout California.

We support clear alignment of resources, authority and accountability. We seek stable revenue for services that respond to the needs of all Californians and we believe that only public engagement in the problems of our day will generate the momentum needed for meaningful reform.

Our goals for "Starting Here!" are to increase awareness of the local impacts of state dysfunction, to build knowledge and understanding of reform efforts under way, and to explore opportunities for the Yolo County and Davis communities to join these efforts. To those ends, we have convened an outstanding slate of local, regional and state speakers, with opportunity for the audience to participate in determining next steps. The full program appears in the accompanying box.

This event is free and open to the public. Breakfast and lunch are included and an RSVP is required. For more information, contact info@savingCA. org, visit http://www.Saving or call (530) 792-1297.

In his inauguration speech, President Obama issued a civic call to arms:

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task."

Set aside apathy and anger. Check your skepticism at the door. We invite you to join us in this new Era of Responsibility to help create the government we deserve. Where does change begin? It starts here!

— The authors are Bob Agee, Jan Agee, Sheila Allen, Ruth Asmundson, Davis Campbell, Delaine Eastin, Lucas Frerichs, Jackie Hausman, John Hills, Michael Hulsizer, Sara Husby, Hiram Jackson, Charlotte Krovoza, Susan Lovenburg, Karen Mo, Don Palm, Gavin Payne, Jim Provenza, Richard Reed, Don Saylor, Helen Thomson, Kirk Trost and Jay Ziegler.


What: "Saving California Communities: Starting Here!"

When: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Alumni & Visitors Center, UC Davis

RSVP:, or (530) 792-1297


8:30 a.m.: Registration and continental breakfast

9 a.m.: Welcome and Introductions: Don Saylor, Davis mayor pro tem; Susan Lovenburg, Davis Board of Education member; Helen Thomson, Yolo County supervisor, District 2

9:15 a.m.: Bob Hertzberg, co-chair, California Forward and former speaker, California State Assembly

10 a.m.: "How We Got To This Point": Michael Coleman, fiscal policy consultant,; Dan Carson, deputy legislative analyst, Legislative Analyst's Office; moderator: Davis Mayor Ruth Asmundson

10:50 a.m.: "Local Impacts of State Actions": James Hammond, superintendent, Davis Joint Unified School District; Ed Prieto, Yolo County sheriff; Ruth Williams, executive director, Tree Davis; Dawn Purkey, program manager, Yolo Adult Day Health Center; Chris Kelsch, executive director, Winters Health Care Foundation; Jose Martinez, executive director, Food Bank of Yolo County; moderator: Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza

Noon: "We Can Do Better": Delaine Eastin, former California superintendent of public instruction, introduced by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis (box lunch provided)

12:30 p.m.: "What Can We Do About This?": Jim Mayer, executive director, California Forward; Jim Wunderman, executive director, Bay Area Council; Rich Gordon, San Mateo County supervisor and chairman of the Cities/Counties/Schools Partnership Task Force on State Budget Reform; moderator: Davis Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor

1:45 p.m. "Next Steps for Davis Community" (breakout groups): Davis Campbell, trustee, Yolo County Board of Education; Jackie Hausman, children's health coordinator, First 5 Yolo

2:45 p.m.: "Next Steps for California": State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis; introduced by Davis Board of Education member Sheila Allen
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