"Saving California Communities: Next Steps" - A Report
Report on and related materials from the 2nd Annual Davis Conference on Government Reform held on Saturday, May 15 at UC Davis Conference Center.
Next Steps: A Participants' Summary
By Don Palm and Susan Lovenburg
This is a political effort in mid-stream and discussion was about prospects for change and strategies at both state and local levels. There was opportunity to talk with some of the most influential people working on these issues today.
Mac Taylor, California Legislative Analyst, took time from his work reviewing the governor's May budget revision to talk in a very candid way about his views on the state's prospects. He shared his perception of the current stumbling blocks to reform (i.e. no consensus about what is wrong) and what he considers key discussion areas:
- taking a longer budget view, though he does not see how the Legislature can enact permanent solutions in this political environment
- using reserves/rainy day fund/spending cap to protect against the volatility of CA tax structure
- understanding the impact of ballot box budgeting in locking revenue into certain program areas
- providing for better infrastructure planning
- having an honest conversation about Prop 13: what are the interests it was intended to address and what have been the unintended consequences
- redefining the state/local relationship
Jim Mayer, Executive Director for California Forward, updated progress on the reform movement and remained throughout the day to engage in discussion with the group.
Dan Morain offered his perspective as a senior editorial writer for the Sacramento Bee. He sees possible hope in realignment of the state/local relationship, a true spending cap, and flattening of the tax structure.
There weren't any fireworks, this wasn't a Tea Party meeting; we just talked about next steps.
What did we conclude? Change at the state level won't come quickly or with any one dramatic act. We'll be looking at a series of small changes for elections and budgeting that altogether will make a more responsive system. But that won't come in the next year. We have a real crisis on our hands in delivering local services that are efficient and equitable and as complete as possible.
Marjorie Rist, Yolo County's Chief Probation Officer; Jonathan London, Executive Director for UC Davis's Center for Regional Change; and Diane Littlefield from Sierra Health Foundation, all talked about ways their organizations have worked to build strong collaboratives for our communities.
In the short term, that is the strategy we'll need to follow to help our communities survive and thrive. Linda Shaffer's "Funding Our Future," a San Francisco based group whose evolution is stunningly parallel to ours, only reinforced that understanding: we will find the future through regional collaboration and through cooperation across regions.
Gary Sandy, director of local government relations for UC Davis, and Delaine Eastin, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, gave moving talks about the kind of vision we need as we rebuild our budgets and imagine what our government can and should do. They reminded us that reform needs a moral compass and it is every society's first responsibility to care for its children, and in doing so, for the future. Their vision informs Saving California Communities at our foundations.
||Registration and Continental Breakfast
||Welcome and Introduction
||Saving California Communities Update
|| Lovenburg's key
||State of Statewide Reform Efforts
||Mayer's slide presentation (PDF 701 kb)|
||California Budget Process Issues and State of the State
||Reform Efforts in Perspective: Reflections -- Past, Present,
||Morain's related article|
||BREAK – Lunch in Meeting Room
||Call to Action – Courage, Vision, Heart – We can do
Local Actions: New Level of Collaboration and Strategic Efforts
Shaffer's slide presentation (PDF 1 mb)
Littlefield's related article - Defining Moment for Health Philanthropy (PDF 259 kb)
||GROUP DISCUSSION and REPORT