California 100, a new research and policy initiative incubated at the University of California and Stanford University, released today its fourth round of policy and future scenario reports focusing on the future of federalism, fiscal reform and governance in the Golden State. The reports examine the historical origins and current developments in these policy domains, while proposing innovative ideas that can propel California toward an inclusive, sustainable and equitable future in the coming decades and century.
Over the past few months, California 100 released its first ten policy and scenario reports focused on the future of advanced technology, arts, criminal justice reform, economic mobility, education, energy, health, housing, immigrant integration, and transportation.
“California is the largest state in the union and the fifth-largest economy in the world, and along with our national and global ambitions we face a unique set of governance challenges and opportunities,,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, Executive Director of California 100. “These reports build on our body of world class research that examines where our state has been, and where we seem to be heading in our key areas of focus. The bottom line is that we have work to do to create the future we want to see – a future that is rooted in inclusion, equity, sustainability and inclusion.”
The research was led by Henry Brady, Director of Research for California 100 and former Dean at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. California 100 is partnering with Institute for the Future and 20 research centers across the state to examine future scenarios with the potential to shape California’s leadership in the coming century, with a focus on 15 priority research areas.
Federalism is a system of governance where the same geographic territory is controlled by at least two levels of government. In California, some policy domains are shaped simultaneously by four levels of government: international, national, state, and local. California faces two fundamental governance problems related to federalism in the next century. Within its boundaries it must improve its ability to coordinate state and local government bodies to solve pressing problems such as climate change, water, housing, and health. With its welter of local governments, its tradition of only partly thought-out populist solutions, and growth of restrictive regulations affecting almost any action, California faces gridlock and inaction while it confronts problems that require regional, statewide, national, and even international action. This report examines where California has been, where it’s at, and where it might be headed in terms of its federalism and foreign policy futures.
“The challenges of extreme weather spill across jurisdictional boundaries and will test the resource adequacy and resilience of water and energy systems,” said Bruce Cain, lead researcher on the Future of Federalism and Foreign Policy report, and director of Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West. “California needs to develop more coordinated decentralized governance systems to deal with the climate challenges that lie ahead.”
Fiscal policy is the set of decisions and rules a government makes to collect revenues (taxes) and pay for programs (spending). Both of these elements come together in the form of a budget—a document represent the government’s resource allocation plan for the coming year. A budget is much more than an accounting exercise, and it is easy to dismiss fiscal policy as the realm of spreadsheet geeks and bean counters. The reality is that fiscal policy touches on nearly every substantive issue area in California and affects millions of lives on a daily basis.
Contemplating the future direction of California’s fiscal policy requires a firm understanding of the present. Toward that end, this report outlines the facts that describe the contours of the state’s fiscal landscape. It then explores the major drivers – the economy, demographics, and policy – as well as landmark events that constitute the origins of the state’s current fiscal condition. Finally, it examines how past trends are expected to shape the future of state fiscal policy.
“Californians are committed to a progressive tax system and have supported a relatively expansive social safety net. However, some fiscal policies are driving socioeconomic & racial inequities throughout the state and contribute to school funding disparities impacting students and families in underserved communities,” said Patrick Murphy, fellow at the Opportunity Institute. “Our research findings show that there is an opportunity to set the state on a new path – one that accepts the responsibility of ensuring fiscal sustainability for all Californians for many years to come.”
Governance is the way that societies make decisions and solve problems. Good governance is difficult when a society it is divided in its values, when trust in governing institutions is low, when political participation is biased along various social lines, and when there is not enough reliable information and structured debate in the media. Complicating matters further, governments may not be able to reach important decisions when there are too many veto points that enable small groups to delay or stop decisions, regardless of their merit or public support. Finally, even after a decision is made, governmental agencies may lack the personnel and capacity to implement and administer policies.
While California’s governance system has solved many problems, its governance system suffers from significant challenges in many areas. These include: hard problems (with large-scale challenges associated with climate change, housing, poverty, and more), multiple veto points in public decisionmaking, partisan division and polarization, lack of trust in institutions, biased participation in public decisions, and the need to accelerate the modernization and strengthening of civil service in state and local government.
“California faces big governance challenges in which collective action is too easy to veto, and the state needs to reform its basic institutions if it is going to deal with issues like climate change and housing,” said Francis Fukuyama, co-author of the Future of Governance, Media and Civil Society report and Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Stanford Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. “California was at the forefront of the Progressive Era governance reform movement and remains there today. This project is an evaluation of California’s current governance and an envisioning of potential reforms.”
From Research to Action: The California 100 Roadmap
These California 100 reports on policies and future scenarios are the first step in a multi-stage process that is designed to inspire and engage Californians—from a variety of sectors and all walks of life—to build a stronger future. In the summer of 2022, California 100 expert and intergenerational Commission will conduct a series of listening sessions throughout the state, to solicit feedback on the ideas generated by our research and to generate additional big and bold ideas for consideration by public and private agencies, as well as by everyday Californians. Insights will also be generated from the policy innovation projects throughout the state that cover a variety of topics, and our deep engagement on questions of science and technology as they relate to a variety of issues, including transportation and urban planning.
In early 2023, the initiative will take these various policy ideas and scenarios, and engage in a process of deliberative democracy featuring a representative cross-section of California residents. The goal of this deliberative exercise is to understand the conditions under which Californians from all backgrounds can come to agreement on the long-term challenges facing the state and, importantly, the kind of bold and visionary solutions we need to put the state on a stronger trajectory for the next century.
California 100 will also be engaging intentionally with young Californians, who have the most to gain or lose in the coming century. The team members will engage young people throughout the state, including in high school and college settings, and will organize a statewide youth summit that will produce a manifesto for the future of California.
Finally, in Winter and Spring 2023, the commission will draft a vision and strategy document for the future of California, based on briefing materials that build on insights from the various streams of work. California 100 will then launch a culminating event in early summer 2023 that serves as the formal launch of the vision and strategy document and, importantly, also brings together leaders and partners from our various streams of work and prior engagement. This event will: 1) showcase the pressing need for California to prioritize long-term futures, 2) build an ambitious yet achievable vision and strategy that are grounded in rigorous research and community engagement, and 3) inspire others to do the same, providing tools that a variety of partners (including policymakers, government agency officials, business leaders, activists, researchers, and next-gen leaders from various sectors) can use to build their own aspirational visions and strategies for California’s long-term success.