The California Taxpayers Association just released a report that identifies more than $7.3 billion that state and local government can save, or obtain from revenue enhancements, if proactive steps are taken to address inefficiencies and reform existing programs.
Government Cost Savings Report: How State and Local Government Can Increase Efficiency and Become More Effective is a guidebook to improving government productivity, eliminating duplication and reducing costs without harming services.
If CalTax’s recommendations are enacted, state and local governments will achieve approximately $4 billion in annual savings, $104 million in one-time savings, and $3.1 billion in revenue enhancements.
When we say “revenue enhancements,” we are not talking about tax increases masquerading as something else. The revenue-increasing recommendations in the report include revamping the state tax agencies’ offer-in-compromise programs – by allowing taxpayers to make installment payments in cash, rather than limiting this option to those who are able to make electronic payments, for instance. California’s tax agencies have more than $23.1 billion in accounts receivable, and if the additional flexibility helps resolve just 10 percent of these tax obligations, the state will collect $2.3 billion in taxes that already are owed.
On the savings side, the recommendations include practical suggestions like mandating a work week of four 10-hour days, rather than the traditional five 8-hour days for some state agencies. This idea was tested in Utah, where a 2008 switch to the alternative work schedule yielded $4.8 million in first-year savings, including $4.1 million from reduced overtime. CalTax’s report assumes that California also could save $4.8 million – a very conservative estimate, considering that California has roughly eight times as many state government workers as Utah.
Another recommendation would save an estimated $158.8 million per year by improving the Department of General Services’ management and oversight of surplus property owned by the state. This idea originally was proposed by the state auditor, and the sooner it is acted upon, the sooner the state will begin saving money.
CalTax assembled its recommendations after reviewing reports published in the past decade not just by the Bureau of State Audits, but also by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Little Hoover Commission, the California Performance Review, county auditors, grand juries, and non-partisan think tanks.
We focused on solutions that realistically may be adopted within the current political context, and we make recommendations in seven general areas: purchasing and asset management; general government; human resources; revenue enhancements; education; justice, corrections and the courts; and health and human services.
CalTax looks forward to working with elected officials to implement the recommendations in this report, and we urge all taxpayers to join us in this important endeavor.
Teresa Casazza is president of the California Taxpayers Association, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1926 to protect taxpayers from unnecessary taxes and to promote government efficiency. CalTax is online at www.caltax.org.