If you could get Gov.-elect Pete Wilson's ear long enough to tell him one thing that you think he needs to do, what would it be? We put exactly that proposition to leading Californians of all political perspectives and backgrounds--educators, business people, community leaders, advocates. In return, we promised to forward their "memos" to the governor-elect--and to you. Here are the edited highlights.
New Governor Must Explain Budget Realities to the State
. . . You are the CEO in charge of a $50+ billion budget with major missions in education, health care, transportation and crime prevention. . . . Declare your active support for the mission and employees you asked to lead.
. . . Explain why the budget is now difficult to balance. Explain that choice can involve both money (resources) and how programs are organized (reform). Engage all Californians in helping you and the Legislature make budget choices. . . . If you also show how flexibility can be used in a positive way and not just as a code word for cutting government, then true budget reform is a possibility.
--Stephen Levy, Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, Palo Alto
"Too much revenue is earmarked for special purposes and programs. Too many of our programs have built-in cost escalators." The new governor and the legislative leadership should establish a blue-ribbon commission to review the budget process. "No state government program should be considered a 'sacred cow.' "
--William Campbell, president , California Manufacturers Assn., Sacramento
Cities must raise their own revenue or cut services. This past year, the city of Riverside had balanced its budget "and along comes SB 2557 mandating that the counties charge cities for administering the property-tax functions." For the state to attempt to balance its budget by reducing funds to the counties and having them passing down charges to the cities "is not an appropriate way to do business."
--Terry Frizzel, mayor of Riverside
As the new governor assesses existing state policy and programs and develops new ones, he should use as a key test "how they affect the incentives for private investment in California by both manufacturing and service companies for competitiveness and growth. Economic prosperity is essential to the state's ability to fund social programs, improve its infrastructure and invest in its future."
--Ruben F. Mettler, president of TRW Inc., Redondo Beach
The California public contracts code established goals of 5% for businesses owned by women and of 15% for minority-owned businesses participating in the state's purchases of goods, services and construction. Wilson "can revolutionize the economic growth and vitality of California" by vigorously implementing this law. "If Latinos and other youths can witness growth in the business sector, they will see changes in their community that will give them hope for themselves and their future.'
--Ruben Jauregui, former president, Latin Business Assn., Los Angeles
State government must help businesses find jobs so people can break out of poverty. The governor must turn "to policies that provide community-based organizations with adequate resources to collectively respond to these issues in creative ways. (The governor also) must work to eradicate illiteracy, link job-training programs to stable employment paying livable wages, provide quality day-care and buffer the poor from the escalating costs of health care and housing." These initiatives "require massive economic resources but the investment is imperative, especially if California is to remain competitive in the global marketplace."
--James H. Johnson Jr., professor of geography and director of the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty at UCLA, and Melvin L. Oliver, associate professor of sociology and associate center director
CRIME AND THE COURTS
Drug Use, Rape and Violence Demand a New Response
Appoint a blue-ribbon panel of experts--from medicine, law, law enforcement, social services, education and business--to reconsider California's drug control policies. The failures of the state's fragmented efforts are all around us:
--Drive-by shootings, reminiscent of Prohibition, where innocent bystanders lose their lives as quickly as drug dealers.
--Widespread availability of drugs on school campuses, from elementary schools to universities, and easy access to drugs in jails and prisons.
--A growing number of babies born damaged because of their mothers' drug use. . . .
--Joseph D. McNamara, police chief, San Jose