Direct-To-Citizen Information

We are starting to wonder if some journalists are viewing different state and local records than we are. Last week it was an article in the New York Times containing an unsupported assertion reported as fact, then the Los Angeles Times didn’t question an assertion by a LA Councilman about that city’s budget, then CALMatters omitted reference to state revenues running well above budgeted revenues in an article about school funding.

The good news is that the internet has made it easier than ever for citizens to go direct. When I worked in the Governor’s Office just over a decade ago, I had to comb through paper copies of materials. Now, everything is online. Monthly state revenues are reported here. The Governor’s Budget Summary provides Medi-Cal and Social Services caseloads, spending per pupil, salaries and much more while the Detailed Budget contains links to even more information. The state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report shows accrual basis costs of pensions and the costs of insurance subsidies for retired employees, LA’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report shows how that city spends an amount equal to its projected deficit on subsidies for retired police officers and other employees, and Covered California shows why those subsidies aren’t needed. The information isn’t always up to date (eg, the pension and retiree health data in the state CAFR is from 28 months ago) but it’s easier to access than ever.

DTC is good for consumers and citizens.

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