Policy Study

Roadmap to Reform for California

About This Project

On April 30, 2003, Reason Foundation and the Performance Institute-two think tanks specializing in government reform-jointly released a Citizens’ Budget Plan for balancing California’s $38.2 billion budget deficit. The plan presented a myriad of short-term and long-term reforms to state government.

To solicit ideas on how to translate the ideas in the Citizens’ Budget Plan into action, a bipartisan working group of former state officials was created. As the budget debate dragged on, the officials worked within and across the two major political parties to advance ideas for fundamental reform. While some of the ideas contained in the Citizens’ Budget were debated and accepted, the final budget agreement failed to produce the level of fundamental reform necessary to bring the state’s budget back into permanent balance.

This white paper presents the analysis and recommendations for achieving fundamental reform in light of the recently adopted state budget plan. The bipartisan working group authoring this white paper stands ready to assist state lawmakers in any way appropriate to advance the effort to restore the fiscal soundness of California.

As a division of the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, Reason Public Policy Institute is a public-policy think tank promoting choice, competition, and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress. Reason produces rigorous, peer-reviewed research and directly engages the policy process, seeking strategies that emphasize cooperation, flexibility, local knowledge, and results. Through practical and innovative approaches to complex problems, Reason changes the way people think about issues and promotes policies that allow and encourage individuals and voluntary institutions to flourish.

The Performance Institute is a private think tank that serves as the nation’s leading authority and repository on performance-based management practices for government organizations. Its mission is to identify, study, and disseminate the leading management innovations pioneered by “best-in-class” government programs. Through its national conferences on pressing issues, interactive executive training programs, and best practice research projects, the Institute provides cutting-edge expertise in the design, implementation, and evaluation of strategies to solve operational challenges and enhance government performance.


George Passantino is a senior fellow at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

In 2004, Passantino served as a full-time director on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's California Performance Review. Passantino helped lead a thorough, top-to-bottom review of state government that the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office concluded could save California $15 billion over five years.

Passantino has authored frequent studies, white papers, and commentaries on California's need for fundamental economic, legislative, and regulatory reform. His views have appeared in numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Orange County Register, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and Investor's Business Daily.

Prior to joining Reason in 1997, Passantino served as a legislative consultant to the California State Legislature. His wide range of high-profile legislative accomplishments include the 1996 passage of California's version of Megan's Law, which has helped thousands of parents protect their children from dangerous sex offenders.

Passantino graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Applied Economics from California State University, Bakersfield.

Kathleen Connell served as the elected California State Controller from 1995 to 2003.

Matt Fong served as the elected California State Treasurer from 1995 to 1999.

Bill Jones served as the California Secretary of State from 1995 to 2003. He also served as the Assembly Republican Leader from 1991 to 1992.

Bill Baker served as a member of the California State Assembly from 1981 to 1993 and as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 1997.

Lucy Killea served as a member of the California State Assembly from 1982 to 1989 and as a member of the California State Senate from 1989 to 1996.