California’s Budget Deal

In case you hadn’t noticed, we gave readers a lengthy respite from our missives while the Legislature and Governor negotiated the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Through June 10 we had supplied legislators and reporters with several notes describing the need to dramatically boost budget reserves.

27 Democratic legislators got it, as did the Economist. The math isn’t complicated — indeed, the Governor’s own budget discloses it. But we lost the battle. According to press reports, the budget to be signed next week will leave reserves at less than one-quarter of those needed and permit schools to keep even less. That means a future rout of services and more pressure for tax increases.

Ours is a long war not unlike NATO’s to contain the Soviet Union except that we started decades after government employee unions and other special interests that control Sacramento got their starts. Since our launch in 2011 we’ve stopped some expansions by government employee unions, liberated nurse practitioners, blocked some tax increases, helped reform-oriented allies, stymied efforts to turn more state employees into political forces and more, but major reforms will take years and we can never depart the theater since special interests will always be there. It doesn’t take a lot of money (at ~$4 million per year the GFC Network is already the largest donor to members of the legislature and annual expenses for staff, lobbyists, lawyers et al. are ~$1.2 million), just a lot of persistence. If you’re serious about improving CA’s governance, you have to be in it for the long haul. Donate here and send your friends our way.

David Crane

Originally published at

Lecturer at Stanford University and president of Govern For California