It is no secret that the state and local government have not had the best friendship over the years. Last week, the Senate and Assembly Select Committee on Improving State Government examined the twisted relationship between the state and local government and looked at ways to improve both the relationship and ways the state can contribute to local fiscal stability. CSDA had the chance to attend the committee hearing and testify on behalf of its members.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) reported on the history that shaped California’s state and local fiscal relationship. Read the report here.

Meanwhile, a panel of local government experts told the committee that local governments do not have local fiscal stability because the state shifts, takes and borrows local revenues which creates an environment of uncertainty for locals, as evidenced by ongoing ERAF shifts and this year’s suspension of Proposition 1A. This coming year will be no different as the state faces an over $20 billion budget deficit and the governor must produce a balanced budget proposal by January 10, 2010, that will no doubt include more borrowing and accounting gimmicks.

In addition to keeping local revenues local, CSDA asked the committee to give local officials the tools, and the flexibility to decide which tools to use, to be able to get local projects delivered efficiently and effectively, like expanding the use of public private partnerships and giving special districts the authority to use design-build contracting as appropriate.

The Select Committee on Improving State Government plans to hold one last hearing on January 12, 2010, where the committee will look at the suggestions from past hearings and decide what actions, if any, to take.