SACRAMENTO — California Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) on Monday announced the introduction of Senate Constitutional Amendment 9, or SCA 9, the “Better Budgeting for a Better Future Act,” calling for a two-year budget cycle.
If passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor, SCA 9 would create a more efficient and effective budget process by instituting a two-year budget cycle. One year of the two-year legislative session would be devoted to the budget process and the second year would be used for assessment, oversight and evaluation of government agencies and spending.
“Annual budgeting is inefficient, eating up more than half of the year and leaving very little time to determine if the programs we have previously funded even work,” said Wilk, who represents California’s 21st Senate District, which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor Valleys.
“A two-year cycle would give everyone time to reassess how our tax dollars are spent before the budget cycle begins again,” he said. “Departments and agencies would be more accountable because there would be ample time for the Legislature to evaluate the success or failure of a given program.”
Current law requires the state to operate on an annual budget. Annual budgeting is inefficient and speculative without the practicality of a structured review process. It puts undue pressure on budget staff and policymakers, since the closing of the previous year’s budget, administering the new year’s budget and beginning to plan for the following year’s budget occur almost simultaneously.
SCA 9 will transition the state budget process from annual to biennial; giving legislators the time needed to budget for the current and successive year while analyzing the performance of government agencies from the previous two years. Biennial budgeting increases efficiency, encourages long-term planning, and cuts the cost of budget preparation. Program managers would be able to spend less time defending their budgets and more time running their programs.
“Right now too much of the state’s budget runs on autopilot,” Wilk said. “If we are going to meet the future needs of Californians, without bankrupting every citizen to pay for it, something needs to change. I think SCA 9encourage program managers to spend time efficiently running their programs rather than defending their budgets.”