CA Forward Moves Ahead on Majority Budget Plan



California Forward, the good government group backed by the state’s most muscular civic foundations, decided Wednesday – at least tentatively – to stand up and play a role in reforming California.

The goo-goos’ leadership council agreed to support scrapping the two-thirds legislative vote now required to approve the budget in favor of a majority vote, according to leakage through the Victorian windows in the Drawing Room of the Sterling Hotel, where the group was meeting in Sacramento to hash out an action item agenda.

Endorsement of a majority budget vote would be part of a package of reforms that includes two-year budgeting, performance management measures, a sunset review of government codes, a rainy-day fund and a “pay-go” requirement that new legislation must identify funds or cuts, Calbuzz also learned. (Until the whole group agrees with the leadership council’s proposals, support for any of this remains provisional.)

The group – backed by California Endowment, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation – is ideologically diverse, so the two-thirds budget vote proposal has proved a difficult one for members because of the partisan polarization split on the issue.

Cal Forward is also apparently inching toward support for a constitutional change to return to local governments the authority to raise revenues with less than the two-thirds vote mandated by Proposition 13 since 1978.

Whether reforms like these can be accomplished one at a time or in clusters, or whether substantive reform will demand a constitutional convention, as outlined by the Bay Area Council, remains to be seen. But for now, at least, it looks like California Forward is opting to assert an active role in the reform movement.

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