Monday, February 16, 2015

Empty Gesture?

...In hearings beginning this week, the Assembly will apply the principle of zero-based budgeting to the UC budget. Through the zero-based budgeting approach, every line item of an organization’s budget must be approved, rather than only changes from the previous year. This allows for a thorough public discussion of the items contained in an organization’s budget, and it gives the agency the opportunity to show that each dollar is being spent for the intended purpose and in the right way. Under the leadership of the Assembly Budget Committee, these hearings will give UC the opportunity to show efficiencies it has made – and to identify further efficiencies needed. The hearings will also give the Legislature an opportunity to scrutinize whether each dollar that could be spent holding tuition at its current level would be better spent on a different UC priority, as UC President Janet Napolitano suggests...

From an op ed by Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, speaker of the California Assembly, and Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, minority leader of the Assembly at

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What does it mean? Zero-based budgeting is a nice-sounding concept that came along in the 1960s.  For most ongoing programs at the federal, state, or local levels, it really turned out to mean, well, zero. What it means in this context is that the legislature is frustrated because the university's tuition/funding plan is being negotiated by Brown and Napolitano because it has zero representation on the "Committee of Two." 

That's not a hard concept to explain:

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