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California State Government October 7, 2003 Election
Smart Voter

Closing the Budget Gap

By Cheryl Ann Bly-Chester

Candidate for Recall of Gray Davis; State of California

This information is provided by the candidate
I have a four-pronged approach to Closing the Budget Gap:

1) Root Out Waste Fraud and Abuse

2) Implement Austerity Measures

3) Rein in Overtaxation and Overspending

4) Implement a Unique "California Contributor Program" beneficial to the both upper-end taxpayers and recipients of State funds.

1) ELIMINATE WASTE, FRAUD,AND ABUSE

In order to root out waste, fraud, and abuse, I will institute a three-month amnesty program for the reporting of suspected misuse of state funds, fraud perpetrated upon or under cover of the State of California and abuse of State governmental authority. Persons participating in, or having knowledge of such abuse will be able to report this abuse without repercussion if the practice is stopped and restitution made, where appropriate. Reports will be made to the Governor's office and copied to the agency or department file, with a receipt of delivery and copy kept by the person making the report.

The reports will range from improvement-of-operations type suggestions (how to improve efficiency, money saving measures, eliminating or correcting policies that are unfair, wasteful or abusive, etc.) to criminal acts (e.g., welfare, disability, or unemployment fraud). If the criminal acts are reported, corrected and restitution is arranged before the end of the amnesty period, the perpetrators will not be indicted under State laws.

After the amnesty period, the Governor's office will begin leveling charges that may be answerable with loss of employment, fines, and/or jail time. The charges will not only be against perpetrators of fraud, waste and abuse, but also against anyone who has knowledge of the act (or should have had knowledge based on the person's position and responsibilities) as aiding and abetting the fraud, waste and abuse.

A glaring annual waste occurs in almost every State department.......at the end of the year when it is noticed that their budget won't be entirely spent, all employees are encouraged to spend whether it helps or not. If not, they fear their budget will be lowered the next year. Instead, I will reward Section leaders with a cash incentive -- or leave-time incentive for saving. If department heads require the spending, disciplinary investigation will be automatic.

The "Phantom" state employee and pockets of buried funds not being used for the intended purpose will immediately become history. State employees and citizens will no longer feel helpless witnessing the same inefficiencies every day and having no power to make a difference. The State will prosecute waste, fraud, and abuse to the fullest extent of the law. Estimates have been made that there is approximately $4 billion in waste fraud and abuse within the State system. Additionally, attrition of State employees due to firings for waste, fraud, and abuse after the close of the amnesty period will mitigate some possible State employee layoffs.

2) AUSTERITY MEASURES

I would first consolidate and reorganize the Executive Branch, realigning what are now convoluted reporting chains, making fewer appointments and suspending some functions until we can afford their good services again.

All Commissions will be required to state the year they were initiated, the original mission, what is the progress on accomplishing the original mission and how and when the mission changed over the years under what authority. They will also report the original budget, what the budget was 10 years ago and what the budget is today. This information will be used to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the commissions and committees to see if there is room to consolidate functions, pool support services, or otherwise reduce the burden or increase the service to the people of California.

3) VETO OVERTAXATION AND OVERSPENDING

I will first require the Legislators to be accountable for their spending priorities by going on record with ranking every item in the budget (in groupings) based on importance and taking into consideration whether the item receives federal funding. All funding from within the State will be considered equally, whether it comes from the General Fund or from special fees, taxes, or fines. Once everything in the Budget is ranked, the lower ranked items will receive particular scrutiny to review whether the budgeting levels are warranted.

I will use the Governors Line-item veto to eliminate unnecessary future spending proposals and not allow major taxation increases without the legislators overcoming my vetoes.

4) CALIFORNIA CONTRIBUTORS PROGRAM

My proposal will help balance the budget, is taxpayer friendly and beneficial to all strata of our society. It will resolve the issue of taxpayer money going to controversial programs that are vehemently opposed by many individual taxpayers. It will also curtail the influence of special interest groups and campaign finance corruption.

California is a land of abundance. We have wonderful weather, bountiful resources, lively cultures and brilliant people. We also have one of the most generous populations. The economy of California may be suffering and the budget may be in need of repair, but we still have abundance. When people feel the abundance, generosity will ensue. My plan will enable contributors to exercise some control over their contributions. The following plan will help bring the economy around in a way that will feel safe to be generous.

Those taxpayers who itemize their charitable deductions will be encouraged to give a portion of those contributions to the State. The incentive will be that for every dollar they volunteer to the State, the contributors will be able to claim $1.50 charitable contribution on their tax returns to the Franchise Tax Board. Therefore, they can get into a lower tax bracket and reduce their overall tax liability to the General Fund.

The contributors can allocate their contributions to the specific budget items that they want to support. In this way, they can give directly to their pet State-funding program instead of giving money to political campaigns intending to influence a vote for that project. Examples:

Farmers can give to a line item that promotes water subsidies to growers while lowering their tax liability to the General Fund.

Art patrons can give to the arts with the same effect.

Pro-choice advocates can give to their cause so that Pro-lifers can feel secure that their contributions are not supporting something they oppose.

Contributors can earmark their own County's funding, so that their volunteered extra money comes back to support local causes.

To avoid competition between state and other charitable organizations, contributions to the state could not exceed 50% of the total charitable contributions made in a single tax year -- you can still give to your church or other nonprofit organization. In fact, to take advantage of the tax benefit, the taxpayer would have to make equal contributions to other causes.

Additionally, if a line item in the budget receives the total budgeted amount, then no funding will be needed from the General Fund. If the item receives more than is budgeted, then the remainder can be set aside for the same budget item in the following year.

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