Reason: State Budget Process is 'Dead Horse'

The Reason Foundation is out this week with a blistering report that suggests California adopt a different way of prioritizing what the state spends money on, as well as how much the state spends.

Best-selling author and ex-Clinton administration official David Osborne wrote the Reason paper, titled, The Next California Budget: Buying Results Citizens Want at a Price They Are Willing to Pay.

Osborne urges California to use a practice called, "Budgeting For Outcomes." More on that down below. But first, here's the 36-page report's unusually brief and blunt conclusion -- in its entirety:

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"California is in an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Critical services have been cut deeply. Borrowing to cover operating costs - a practice that is not only illegal but also dangersou -- has become a habit. And public disgust with elected leaders has become endemic.

There is a wise Native American saying: "When you're riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." Clearly, California's current budget process is a dead horse. Budgeting for Outcomes offers state leaders an opportunity to dismount and find a new one."

Back now to Budgeting For Outcomes, which the report notes isn't a utopian guarantee of fiscal success, but has been useful in other states and counties. Osborne explains the concept in his introduction:

"BFO starts where most budget processes end: elected leaders make a decision about how much money they want to spend next year. They decide up front whether to raise or cut taxes or fees. Then they work with citizens to define the results most important to them: a better economy, better schools, better health, better safety, better mobility, a cleaner environment and so on. They decide how much each of these outcomes is worth and divide the money among them."

The full introduction is here. The full report is available as a free-of-charge .pdf download via clicking the report's title at the top of that same page.

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