Speaker's Commission
State Seal

Commission Meeting #1 Minutes

January 27, 1999
Sacramento, CA


1. Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at approximately 1:15 p.m. by acting chair David Abel. Assembly Speaker Antonio R. Villaraigosa briefly addressed the commission, reiterating its charge and thanking the members for participating.

2. Introductions and Welcome

These were deferred until later in the meeting, but when the item was taken up, each commissioner present introduced him- or herself and said a few words about their interest in fiscal reform.

In attendance:

David Abel
Luis Arteaga
Ed Avila
Ruben Barrales
Martha Davis
Joel Fox
William Hauck
Gary Hunt
Norman King
Lily Lee
John Maltbie
Sunne Wright McPeak
Richard Morrison
Charles Nathanson
John A. Pérez
Jean Ross
Kevin Scott
Steven Szalay
Dean C. Tipps
Christopher Townsend
Ron Unz
Alan Bersin
Ed Blakely
Robert Foster
Linda Griego
Susan Hammer
Carol Whiteside

3. Organizational Business

This item was also deferred, but once it was taken up, David Abel was elected permanent Chair. A decision was made to defer the choice of Regional Vice-Chairs until a future meeting. It was also decided that the Commission would develop written goals and a mission statement at a future meeting. Staff was asked to prepare a matrix of fiscal reform proposals for the Commission. Various documents (and a binder to contain them) were distributed. Wednesday, February 24 was chosen for the next meeting in Los Angeles, with a start time set for late morning to better facilitate travel from out of town. Commissioners were asked to fill out a form indicating their preferences for the scheduling of future meetings.

4. Presentations:

a. Elizabeth Hill, Legislative Analyst
Ms. Hill provided detailed background on the organizational structure of government in California, including the state, counties, cities and special districts. She provided a brief history of the state-local fiscal relationship and a breakdown of governmental responsibilities and revenue sources. Referring to prior LAO reports called "Making Government Make Sense," she talked about principles to guide reform: separating state and local duties, keeping responsibility levels closer to the people, connecting funding with policy control and using financial incentives to promote coordination. Commissioners asked a number of questions mainly on the nature of how the situation has changed since the LAO began focusing on fiscal reform in 1993.

b. Fred Silva, Public Policy Institute of California and former Executive Director, California Constitutional Revision Commission

Mr. Silva drew upon his considerable experience to provide a history of fiscal reform in California. He noted that the State levied the property tax until 1910, when "home rule" was established. Proposition 13 in 1978 broke that 20th Century tradition of home rule. He also provided some political background on the challenge of achieving fiscal reform, noting that, because there are so many problems and pitfalls, reformers must choose their battles carefully. Finally, he described how the Constitutional Revision Commission dealt with these issues and answered several questions.

c. David Booher/Burt McChesney, California Governance Consensus Project

Messrs. Booher and McChesney described the work of the Consensus Project, in which 34 statewide organizations are working on fiscal and governance issues unde the auspices of the California Center for Public Dispute Resolution. The Consensus Project has made considerable progress as is beginning to discuss its findings and recommendations with policymakers. Among its draft proposals are ensuring financial stability for local government, using revenue to provide incentives for balanced growth, realigning State and county public health responsibilities and funding, and improving the State's budgeting process. They suggested that the Commission must engage the public in its dialogue and recognize the political component of the work it does. They noted that the Consensus Project's goal is a ballot measure in November 2000.

d. Gary Hunt, California Business Roundtable

Mr. Hunt, a Commissioner who also represented the Business Roundtable on the Constitutional Revision Commission, described the Roundtable's recommendations to that Commission.

They included State and local realignment of responsibilities, reforming the tax structure, reforming education governance and financing, improving the State budget process (including adoption of a two-year budget cycle), creation of a five-year capital improvement plan for infrastructure, and governance reform (including pairing the Governor and Lt. Governor as a "ticket").

After completing its self-introductions and organizational business, the Commission then adjourned for a group photo and then to dinner, where they were addressed by Peter Schrag, journalist and author of Paradise Lost, the book on California in the post-Proposition 13 era.

Home | About the Commission | Commissioner Biographies
News | Press Coverage | Testimony | Agendas
Meeting Schedules | Minutes | Links

Speaker's Commission on State/Local Government Finance
in collaboration with the
Metropolitan Forum Project
811 West Seventh Street, Suite 900
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 629-9019