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EVP Brostrom invites you to an Oct. 15 brown bag

California is in a state of crisis, and that means Mark Paul and Joe Mathews are in demand.

As co-authors of California Crackup, the pair have been traveling the state to talk about the roots of California’s dysfunctional government and how we can fix the system.

It’s a non-partisan message that is finding an audience with both conservatives and liberals – or pretty much anyone who has been confounded by California’s perpetual budget crisis.

Nathan Brostrom, EVP for business operations, was so impressed by their prescription for change that he has personally invited Paul and Mathews to speak to Office of the President staff at an October 15 brown-bag session. The event will be held at 12 p.m. in the old Credit Union space in the Franklin Building.

joemathews_1“I think people are going to be really interested in their ideas for reform,” Brostrom said. “I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about California’s finances and budgeting, but was continually surprised by the facts and analyses presented in their book.”

Paul is a senior scholar at the New America Foundation and a visiting scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. He and Mathews argue that the Golden State, from its very inception, has been built on a series of improvisations.

With each new wave of change, California has added new improvisations on top of the old ones, with little analyses of how the old and new will work together.

“All of these improvisations have had unintended consequences, and have left California with a system that is both inflexible and unresponsive,” Paul said.

California’s electoral rules, for example, are geared towards producing a governing majority, but the two-thirds legislative vote needed to pass a budget, raise taxes or address many other important issues favors the minority, making it extremely difficult for the legislature to act.

Frustrated voters then take things into their own hands with California’s initiative process, largely circumventing legislative or executive accountability. Laws passed by initiative, even ones that prove fundamentally flawed, cannot be modified by the legislature, only by another vote of the people.

“We have different governing systems and they are at war with each other,” Paul says. “California doesn’t work, because it can’t work.”

Paul and Mathews offer a series of remedies that, if enacted, would create a system that is more accountable, more responsive, and more accessible, Paul said.

“California is right in the middle of a dark moment, and that can be galvanizing,” Paul said. Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum “are pretty dug in. It’s going to take both sides recognizing that it’s more damaging to continue the status quo,” than to give up some of their entrenched interests, he said.

Hear Mark Paul and Joe Mathews speak at 12 p.m. Oct. 15 at a brown-bag session in the old Credit Union space off the Franklin Street lobby. You can also read more about Paul and Mathew’s ideas for change at:

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