Brown Pursues Tax Hike, Rather than Government Reform

Governor Jerry Brown remains determined to pursue a ballot measure on tax increases next year rather than address the state’s consistent, structural spending inefficiencies supported by taxpayer dollars.

A 2007 California Performance Review states that 100 board and commissions could be eliminated without impacting the operation of state government. (The executive branch currently has 530 discrete institutions – 11 agencies, 79 departments and more than 300 boards and commissions.)

However, neither our state legislators or the governor, who created 20 new state agencies in his first term as Governor 28 years ago, seems motivated to do so or even address the two primary causes the review found for the high cost of operating the California government.

First, “responsibility for agency functions is scattered among numerous departments.” Secondly, “there is significant duplication of common administrative and leadership functions.” It’s estimated that integrating Departments to facilitate information sharing and eliminate redundancy, reducing the number of administrators needed in the process, would save the state an estimated $22 billion and make it easier for residents to apply for services.

Specific departments cited for lack of coordination and overspending are the Dept. of Health and Human Services (CHHS), the Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Dept. of Education. Texas, for instance, manages its HHS agency at just slightly over 1/3 cost of operating CHHS and with 6 departments to CHHS’s 13.

The Texas prison system, with a comparable number of prisoners (as of the end of 2009) had a budget of only $3.1 billion compared to California’s Dept. of Corrections and Rehab budget of approximately $9.5 billion (as of the end of 2009). California spends $47,000 annually per prisoner, 50% higher than the national average and almost 3 times that of Texas, whose recidivism rate is half that of California’s.

Education funding is California’s single largest collective expenditure, and takes over half of General Fund expenditures in the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget. The state, however, consistently fails to monitor how the funds are spent, wasting tens of millions of dollars that do nothing to further the state’s education system where approximately 30% of high school students fail to graduate.

Some examples of waste were the Dept. of Education, through an associated non-profit, paying $2.6 million to rent a vacant building for 2 years, and $80 million in unnecessary spending at U.S. Berkeley resulting from overstaffing, fragmented purchasing and redundancies in student services.
(During the past decade the student population in the UC system increased 40%, the faculty 23% and the ranks of senior management 97%!)

Unfortunately, for local government, the Governor just lucked out in a tossup at the California State Supreme Court, allowing him to dissolve the state’s nearly 400 redevelopment agencies and seize $1.7 billion in redevelopment monies. The Court struck down a separate law that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to stay afloat if they agreed to relinquish a large share of their funding to the state.

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply