Movies and Privatization in Schwarzenegger’s Budget

If you haven’t looked at it yet, I am sure you won’t be surprised that Arnold’s package combines entertainment and some interesting proposals–including at least one that is sure to shake up discussions nationwide about privatization. In his State of the State speech Arnold had some great lines, like “The executive branch of this government is a mastodon frozen in time and about as responsive,” and (paraphrased) “If I can sell movies like Red Sonja and Last Action Hero, I can sell California.” To break the ice around the administration he is going to need all of those selling skills. His budget states “A Constitutional amendment to allow for competition in government through outsourcing opportunities will provide one of the necessary tools for reform.” “The Administration will be pursuing a new Constitutional amendment to . . . permit the State to contract with non-State entities for ministerial function whenever doing so will reduce costs, improve efficiency, or improve services.” In Arnold’s budget summary he points out that in 2000 voters approved a similar Constitutional amendment that applied just to architectural and engineering services. In fact, what Arnold is proposing is exactly what Reason recommended last spring on page 71 of Reason’s first state budget Citizens Budget for California. If he follows through on his promise, Arnold will be opening a much-needed discussion in California, and nationwide, about the wisdom of laws that ban competition and privatization, rather than letting these policy tools sink or swim on their own merits. The discussion has already started with an article in the Sacramento Bee. It will be an uphill battle, but I think it will be worth the while.