Governor Brown voiced some concern over the cost of ensuring transparent government in California. But ironically, he shouldn’t be. For the last several years, Sacramento has disregarded requests for Brown Act reimbursements from local governments and ignored the costs altogether.
The issue arose after the Assembly proposed AB76, which would have made some of the key provisions of the California Public Records Act optional. Many felt, and voiced their concerns, that such a move would compromise the public’s access to documents and records vital to having a well-informed public. Amid pressure from good government groups and the state’s newspapers, the Assembly, Senate, and Governor relented.
But even as many watchdogs look forward toward continued access to records, local governments may be looking back at their catalog of costs associated with complying with the state mandate. Constitutionally speaking, that means the state is required to reimburse them. However, based upon the past few years, it appears that such a constitutional requirement is simply a suggestion.