The central question for debate in this course is well posed in the Legislative Analysts November 2009 report on
California’s Fiscal Outlook:
“Some observers of the California budget process have asserted that—due to voter–approved propositions, federal law, and court decisions—the state’s budget is unmanageable and basically impossible to balance. In reality, however, the Legislature remains in control of the vast majority of state spending. This is particularly true over the longer term when there is enough time to allow major decisions by the Legislature to be fully implemented. Even in the shorter term, the Legislature generally holds a considerable degree of freedom to adjust state spending. Such decisions are often more restricted by the lack of political consensus as opposed to any structural budgetary constraint.”
Our goal in this course is to arrive at an understanding of the legal and statutory constraints on California’s options for balancing its budget.
Students will be asked to research and report on questions relating to the legal constraints on the budgeting process in Sacramento. Students will be expected to prepare a 5-10 minute oral presentation of their findings for a public event on the state budget to be held on Saturday Nov. 20 and to submit a research paper of 20-30 pages.