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Op Ed Fox and Hounds 110911
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Op Ed Fox and Hounds 110911

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  • 1. Fox/Hounds OpEdNovember 9, 2011 Participation, Performance and Accountability: A Reasonable Approach to Governing California By Michael TurnipseedAs the state continues to struggle with chronic budget shortfalls and a sluggish economy,Californians are overwhelmed by a plethora of political solutions. These “solutions” do little toeither restore faith in government or that can -- or will -- address the issues at hand; namely,greater accountability at all levels of government and improved outcomes of critical publicprograms that most directly impact performance, prosperity and productivity.By now most Californians – politicians, business leaders and the public alike – haveacknowledged the dysfunction that rules the state, a dysfunction directly related to the lack ofaccountability that stems from California’s state-down form of government. That CAN and mustbe fixed.Like a business organization that must evolve and change with the marketplace, democraticgovernment needs to be rethought and retooled to accommodate major shiftsin population, theeconomy and technology if it is to be meaningful to and trusted by its citizenry. This is perhapsour greatest challenge: structuringstate government so Californians know whom to holdaccountable for the success or failure of public programs and poor budgeting.Because accountability has been lacking,California’s fragmented system of government hasn’tworked for at least a generation.The state has experienced serious declines in education, accessto healthcare, economic growth,jobs and public safety. Essential services are delivered by localgovernments – counties, cities, school districts and special districts–but the state sets the rulesfor how local funds are used and implemented. This institutional bifurcation results in publicperception of poor or no leadership and accountability to no one. It’s a formula for failure.As communities and regions throughout the state grow larger and more diverse, priorities shiftand it no longer makes sense for a handful of lawmakers in Sacramento to unilaterally decidewhat’s best for the state. Results are frustrating. Trust in government continues to erode.Thecost of government increases, while revenue and services decline, and we are forced to choosebetween the very elements that made California a good place to live or go elsewhere to make agood living.The Government Performance and Accountability Act (GPAA)seeks to make government at alllevels more accountable by encouraging local governments and agencies to work togetherandfind meaningful, fiscally responsible solutions to social problems. It doesn’t raise taxes; itdoesn’t tell the state how to run its schools, prisons and social programs; nor does it createmore red tape or a bigger bureaucracy. 1
  • 2. What is does do isprovide a frameworkthat brings government closer to the people and thusaccountable to the people. It gives local government more responsibility and authority both forpublic planning and budgeting at the level where social and economic programs have the mostimmediate and dramatic impact, and leadership can be held directly responsible for its policiesand performance.Just as critical, The GPAA provides specific safeguards and controls to assurelocal and legislative responsibility, feasibility and accountability. In other words, performancethat’s stable, dependable and reliable.By keeping government at all levels accountable, we can begin to turn around the dysfunctionand inefficiencies that have come to be equated with our failing government system.Michael Turnipseed is executive director of the Kern County Taxpayers Association and a CA FwdForward Thinker. ### 2

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