Bev Perdue: BRAC Budget Reform

Following up on the Rural Hope Initiative, BRAC Budget Reform is the Second Installment of Bev's Building a New North Carolina series

Two weeks ago Bev announced her Building a New North Carolina series here on BlueNC. Yesterday, the campaign released the second installment of Building a New North Carolina, BRAC Budget Reform. This initiative is modeled after the federal BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process. It is a major budget reform that will reduce the influence of special interests, allow us to eliminate wasteful spending and enable us to focus spending on our most pressing needs.

The federal BRAC process is intensively competitive with each state fighting for their own military bases. But since the beginning of the process in the late ‘80s, Congress has never blocked a BRAC package. The required up-or-down vote with no amendments is an especially good tool to bypass the barriers of special interest influence that often stymie policy change in the legislative process.

Here is how it would work in North Carolina:

The governor would appoint an independent committee of 15 citizens to serve on the BRAC Budget Reform Board. In the first year of each 2-year budget cycle, the Board would present a maximum of ten government efficiency proposals. The proposals would then be presented to legislators and the public for comment. The Board could then revise, add or omit proposals. Finally, the House and Senate would be required to vote separately on each proposal before they passed their own version of the budget. Each vote would be subject to a Yes or No only vote with no amendments allowed.

Bev’s goal for BRAC Budget Reform is savings of at least $250 million per budget. That will free up money for critical investments in education, transportation, health care and the environment.

Comments

Can I be on the committee?

Only half joking.

Because the truth is, the Board composition is where this idea will be made or broken. If the committee represents special interests or entrenched political agendas, it'll go nowhere.

Plus I have this question from my work in the private sector.

Almost any business will tell you that the keys to "efficiency" almost always involves investment spending upfront. Mostly that means reducing the role of "human middleware" by investing in technology to automate certain processes. Would this BRAC be allowed to explore that sort of thing, or would it be pure cost-cutting?

My understanding of the

My understanding of the project is that it would be pure cost-cutting. But if I am misunderstanding I will get back to you.

As for the make-up of the committee, often times we see "blue ribbon committees" that aren't afraid to make bold proposals, the problem is that there is no enforcement mechanism for their ideas. The beauty of BRAC is the required up-or-down vote with no amendments.

Anglico, Getting back to

Anglico,

Getting back to your question I checked and…While the major focus will be on immediate savings, there will be no prohibition on proposals for savings over the longer-term.

Thank you.

That's good news.

If there's one thing the government-haters on the right have succeeded at it is this: they've established a mind-set that near-term cost-cutting is a fiscal panacea - and that government planning is a waste of time.

Which is incredibly ironic because they also say they want to run government like a business.

Businesses (the smart ones anyway) think well beyond the next quarter or the next election cycle. They understand that long term improvements require a strategic vision and careful planning . . . and that meaningful productivity gains always require investments. North Carolina could become a leader in innovation on many fronts if we didn't have the drag of Neanderthal Republicans thwarting investments with all their "tax and spend" rhetoric. The truth is, they are nothing but clones of Grover Nordquist in their desire to crush government services.

We'd all be better off if the free-market types would back off their rhetoric and actually promote excellence in government where government makes sense. Unfortunately, they paint government with a broad and uninformed brush. If they had their way, governments would operate like the sub-prime lending industry . . . focused on nothing but the next quarter's profits, even as they're driving over a cliff. None of which is surprising. The free-market extremists might be funded by a guy (Art Pope) who knows something about business, but the rest of them are living off his largess and have no idea what business really looks like.

Moore weighs in here, too.

From the Dome

He said that the governor should be accountable for the state budget, calling her proposed commission "smoke and mirrors on top of smoke and mirrors." "I'm running for governor because I want to be held accountable for state government," he said. "I want the buck to stop on my desk."

He also criticized her for not making her own proposals to cut the budget, citing her time in the state Senate and in charge of the budget committee.

Guess Mr. Moore is subscribing to the George W. Bush "Decider" school of thought these days. Maybe we should just do away with the whole damn legislature and get ourselves a king.

***************

Sorry. I'm in a pissy mood today, too. And listening to Richard Moore whining about Beverly Perdue is not something I'm all that excited about. I haven't heard one word of anything substantive from the guy in the whole year he's been campaigning.

I hope the Perdue campaign decides to ignore him for a while, but I doubt they will.

I haven't heard one word of

I haven't heard one word of anything substantive from the guy in the whole year he's been campaigning.

Uh, then you haven't been listening. He's come out a kids health care plan, school construction plans, state EITC, those are just off the top of my head.

The BRAC idea is interesting, but do we really need another commission, another layer of people?

Plus, the commission's made up of appointees from the Governor, so how's that not "decider"-like behavior?

You call those plans?

I've been listening . . . and this signal to noise ratio is very, very low. Of course he's said a few things, but from my vantage point, they're lost in the swirl of resume wars and sniping.

I track the Moore campaign every. Maybe it looks different to the casual observer, but that seems unlikely.
A

PS I said in the original post that the appointees were critical . . . what do you want me to do, swear it in blood?

No, just sign an oath.

on a stack of Arlo Guthrie cd's.

/snark.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

and Perdue has

2 good ideas.

Lost amongst the fundraising and resume wars and sniping.

Both are guilty, and both are more than capable of much much better

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Bam!

Perdue slams Moore for slamming Perdue . . . this is life in 21st Century politics. This just popped into my email box.

Moore Flip-Flops in Attack on BRAC Budget Reform

Raleigh, NC – Richard Moore’s attack on BRAC Budget Reform is the latest – and perhaps most hypocritical – in his series of attacks. As a candidate for Congress in 1994, Moore filled out a Raleigh News & Observer candidate questionnaire with these comments:

“Budget deficit: Favors a commission - similar to the base-closing commission - that would have the power to cut federal subsidies of $150 billion to $200 billion per year.” (Raleigh News & Observer "Richard Moore" Page H1, Special Section, April 30, 1994)

“It sure would be a refreshing change if he operated the treasurer’s office with the same kind of transparency and accountability he talked about today,” said Perdue spokesman David Kochman.

Perdue’s approach has widespread bi-partisan national support, including the Democratic Leadership Council’s Progressive Policy Institute and 2002 bi-partisan legislation proposed by former US Rep. Richard Gephardt and US Sen. John McCain.

“How could any reasonable elected official be against giving a group of independent citizens a voice in our state’s budget process?” added Kochman.

So.....she asks innocently

are you saying that the idea was not originally Perdue's, but Moore's? ::blink blink::

And - um - Bam? Who are you - Emeril?


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Batman?

The whole debate is silly.

Using an unpaid commission to build consensus on making operational improvements in state government is a good idea. It's not rocket-science, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

Moore liked the idea for the federal gummint, but his spokesperson said it's a bad idea in North Carolina and not necessary. The difference is state vs. federal. The spokesperson said the federal government is so dysfunctional that this sort of thing is really needed there - implying that NC is nowhere near as dysfunctional and all we need is a governor with a sign on his desk that says where the buck stops.

I'm fed up with the whiners

And ready for a glass of wine.

Why isn't it Friday?


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

its 5 o clock somewhere

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Let me make my first thoughtful instead of snarky comment

on this issue.

Why do we need a BRAC commission? Isn't it our legislators' jobs to do this work? I'm all for public involvement -- lord knows I'm up to my ears at the moment.

This doesn't strike me as too much government; this strikes me as unelected officials doing the work that We The People have already elected a bunch of People to do. Unless these appointees are confirmed by the NC Legislature, I don't think I'm for this. And I'm saying this as someone who effectively has no representation in the legislature. Confirmation can take a long time, as we know, and can turn into political footballs - but I just don't want Us to have no say so over what's happening. At least if the NC Legislature has confirmation powers over the appointees, I will feel like The People selected the folks who are actually doing the selecting.

And those are my .02


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I see it differently.

As I've said, this isn't rocket science, but it could be important. The national BRAC model for bases is instructive.

The reason a commission makes sense is that the interests of individual legislators (especially powerful ones) trump everything else, both in Congress and in the General Assembly. They don't look for ways to improve things, they look for pork. It's in their DNA. A commission, presumably with no skin in the game, doesn't have those constraints. They can cast a cold eye on everything and make judgments that aren't colored by their parochial interests. This is why the BRAC approach for military bases has been reasonably effective . . . without its recommendations, no base would ever be closed.

The key is in who gets appointed . . . and as I've said . . . that will make or break something like this.

I've gotten to know a bunch of legislators recently. They don't have time to even think about conducting an exhaustive review of operational efficiencies. Which means they be heavily influenced by lobbyists and staff. Which is sort of the fox and the hen house.

Regardless of who gets to be governor, I'd like to see something like this happen. It's the only way to get sacred cows anywhere near being skewered . . . and even at that it'll be hard.

Just remember, this commission has no final say. They just do the groundwork and give legislators some clear choices to vote on.

*********************

Commissions are used all the time in government . . . and most of them suck in my opinion. If properly constituted with a clear mandate and some strong, progressive leadership, this one would have a shot at making a difference.

Especially if we could get you named as a member.

:)

I see your point.

It would be wonderful to see government run more efficiently. However, as you yourself point out -

Commissions are used all the time in government . . . and most of them suck in my opinion.

and

Just remember, this commission has no final say

Seems to me, we'd need a commission to design the commission. :/


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

You left out my most important sentence

If properly constituted with a clear mandate and some strong, progressive leadership, this one would have a shot at making a difference.

Now, go volunteer to be the Commission Queen! I'll vote for you.

I did leave it out. - sorry.

But

properly constituted with a clear mandate and some strong, progressive leadership

is about as likely to happen as me being appointed to it.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

warning

be careful what you wish for...

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

I'm not wishing for it.

Our Mr. Protzman is. :)


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Heck, James

If properly constituted with a clear mandate and some strong, progressive leadership, this one would have a shot at making a difference.

Big freaking IF. All commissions would have a chance to make a difference if "properly constituted with a clear mandate and some strong, progressive leadership." Your opinion that commissions suck wasn't formed by accident.

I don't want to hear any ideas from Moore or Perdue that involve appointing their cronies (sorry, but that's what will happen) to a commission that ultimately has no power.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

damn you mouse over....

I lost my comment, including my pithy joke about my wanting to be a crony someday.

In short:
First thought: I think that is your job.
Second thought: It wouldn't hurt to have a panel of experts providing solid ideas.
Third thought: Don't we already have that, isn't it called the Council of State?

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Council of State?

Oh yeah, they're definitely going to get all innovative and recommend ways of cutting $60 million or so from their departmental operations. When it comes to the drive for efficiency, no entrenched bureaucracy or politician will step up and say, "Hey Joe Hackney, how about you slice my budget by 3% . . . or maybe even 5!

BRAC-like processes have been proven effective at lots of different levels of government. States, counties, even school systems. Ironically, they're most often promoted by market-oriented organizations and think tanks who see them as a way to break through institutional intransigence.

It's not entirely clear to me whether this really is a BRAC-like program, but at first blush the idea has merit. Regardless of who's governor.

appearance matters.

I guess my initial reaction is still "Why are you trying to put the onus on someone else? The hard decisions and the fallout that go along with it are your (Governor/Legislature) responsibility."

Now, I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a panel go through the budget with a fine-tooth comb and remove all the pork, for instance road projects that bypass the S-TIP process because one legislator pushed it through.

BTW - why are we going along with the premise that we need to slash the budget?

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Yeah....kinda my thoughts too

we might need to realign(which is what I really think this is about), but not slash.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It's not about budget slashing

It's about reallocating the money

Bev’s goal for BRAC Budget Reform is savings of at least $250 million per budget. That will free up money for critical investments in education, transportation, health care and the environment.

moving $250 Million around means someone gets slashed, yes?

I'm all for cutting waste.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I know, I know

It's the AUDITOR'S job...so let's get one elected we can trust. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The sacred cows won't be sacrificed

The Governor gets to name all the members? Bad, bad idea. That's not exactly a balance of interests; that's pay back to big donors.

What I've seen from every effort to cut "pork" by the fat cats who call the shots is that state agencies get skewered. No one will ever protest (for long) a state agency getting cut. Bone thin already, they are asked to cut and cut and cut and cut again and again. People complain about poor service from state agencies that are increasingly asked to operate on half a shoestring.

State agencies are the all time favorite target because they are the regulators. The politicians are terrific about responding to "there oughta be a law!" requests from the citizens. The politician gets all kinds of great press for passing a law.

Then there are cries of protest from citizens when the state agencies tasked with enforcing the law attempt to do so. So now the politician gets to stand up and denounce the bureaucrats in Raleigh for picking on the poor hapless law breaking citizen, and passes a bill to punish the state agency (budget-wise -- almost always, or, like Roger West, by targeting the actual employee who wrote the actual citation).

The governor and leadership of the senate and house LOVE these commissions because the seats are very lucrative. (I except Joe Hackney, since thus far his appointments to commissions have not been fat cats or donors.) But certainly Black profited mightily every time a commission was expanded, as did Basnight, and as did Easley. And if a sitting commissioner did not continue -- campaign time -- to pay as much as his appointing authority expected, he lost his seat to someone who did.

And now Beverly wants to get to name ALL of the seats on this newly proposed commission?

She'll make a lot of money.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Ain't cynical neither!

Aww Anglico, I wish I could say that this was a comment I wouldn't have made any day of the week, but honestly, I don't think it's cynical. It's what I've seen over and over again for many years now.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

I know what you mean

I'm just trying extra hard these days to have some hope . . . and it's really tough going.

All is well.

Slashing vs redefining priorities

One of the most effective campaign issues for Republicans in this state has been their stance against "tax and spend" liberals. They play it like a first-chair violinist, and have spanked many a Democrat in local and state elections.

But here's the other part of that formula that is seldom looked at by either party—if voters believe that government is acting in a fiscally responsible manner, and waste and frivolous spending are being kept to a bare minimum, they are more likely to positively embrace higher taxes when necessary.

As James stated above;

When it comes to the drive for efficiency, no entrenched bureaucracy or politician will step up and say, "Hey Joe Hackney, how about you slice my budget by 3% . . . or maybe even 5!

What people should do and what they will do are two different things. I've seen it in the Army several times: when the end of the fiscal year draws close, there's a mad dash to spend as much of your allotted budget as possible, lest the next year's budget be reduced.

I think Bev's got a great idea here, and the benefits to progressive causes could be substantial.

If I were placed in charge of NIH for a week....

I would SLASH their internal budget by 10% for the same reason. I have met literally dozens of researchers who have worked there and they all talk about the mad dash to buy new equipment before the fiscal year runs out.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

If you were placed in charge of NIH for a week

you wouldn't be placed in charge of NIH for five years . . . which is exactly the point of having "outsiders" engaged in reviewing things.