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PPIC has provided essential facts and policy guidance about California’s fiscal crisis. This crisis sidelined other important policy discussions in 2011. And the realities of the federal budget mean the state can’t hope for relief from Washington, D.C., anytime soon. The solutions will have to be our own.

PPIC has responded with a wide range of products, convenings, and initiatives. Our fact sheets provided timely explanations of the budget and important fiscal issues—and were accessible to a broad audience. Respected economist and PPIC Bren Policy Fellow Alan Auerbach
examined ways of reducing volatility in state revenues through tax reform. And throughout the year, PPIC Statewide Surveys—in collaboration with The James Irvine Foundation—offered important insights into public attitudes about budget realities and priorities, and gave critical guidance to decisionmakers about the mood of the voter.

PPIC also launched a major initiative on the state-local relationship, as California’s budget crisis has forced an important reconsideration of the roles of state and local government. To save money or avoid program reductions, major changes in governmental responsibilities have already been approved and are being implemented—and more are being proposed. Our work in this area informs the state legislature, state executive agencies, and local governments as they think through these changes and aims to get a broader conversation started about government roles, responsibilities, and resources.

With support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, PPIC undertook an ambitious effort to home in on a key aspect of the state-local relationship: the tangled fiscal ties between these two levels of government. We created a range of short and accessible online products—from a series of one-page fact sheets, to interactive web features, to commentaries from experts, to online videos—to demystify complex issues for a broad audience and provide essential fact-based content for the media and other organizations working to raise public awareness. A series of convenings across the state brought together state and local leaders for frank and productive conversations.

PPIC will maintain its focus on California’s fiscal health in 2012 with high-profile events and publications aimed at finding realistic solutions to this divisive but fundamental problem.
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UNTANGLING THE STATE-LOCAL FISCAL RELATIONSHIP