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Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

04 November 2012

The Charming Millionaires Behind Proposition 31

Proposition 31 starts promising: a two year budget cycle for the state.  Then it gets a little dicey (Governors can declare fiscal states of emergency, giving them broad powers to slice and dice with little control) and then just odd (community committees with an enormous number of poorly-defined powers).

It's the first major initiative sponsored by California Forward, a theoretically non-partisan but wealth-heavy organization.  (You'll be happy to know that they also advocate reforming the initiative process so poorly constructed initiatives don't make it to the ballot; whether or not they would exclude things like 31 is unstated.)

While nominally non-partisan, its board is corporate (heavy with venture capitalists, hedge funders, and McKinsey types with a smattering of Hoover Institute-y researchers and previously elected officials) and strongly in favor of bringing the market to the commons.

Therefore, it's not a big surprise that California Forward also supports pension destruction reform, despite the preponderance of unearned golden parachutes on its Board.  They also support block grants to (I assume) counties to run programs.  This sounds quite a lot like block grants to the states, which have functioned more to cut safety nets than to create innovation and efficiency (although to be fair, I am assuming that cutting said nets was not the innovation and efficiency planned in the first place.  If it was: nice job!)

And it almost goes without saying that they really believe what California's schools need are more accountability and performance targets.  If this means something other than more technology, fewer teachers, and more testing, they sure aren't saying.

Whether or not you think 31 is good policy (obviously, I find myself unconvinced), I think it's important to understand what its proponents ultimately want.

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