I have been reviewing a Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) report regarding Governor Newsom’s proposals for dealing with climate change which is intended to provide the State Legislature with knowledge, resources and questions to ask to determine the merits of the proposals. In the report, it often suggests that a system for evaluating the outcomes of any projects be included and that those evaluations be used for determining effectiveness of said projects in order to determine whether to continue such funding at a future time. In the report, there are also reminders that the Legislature should consider whether these proposals meet the goals and objectives of the Legislature.
That got me to think about Measure A and why I am somewhat ambivalent about it. Having served on the Shasta County Grand Jury for two years, I am well aware of the issues of “Public Safety” in Shasta County. It’s a big umbrella that concerns law enforcement including officers, patrol deputies and operations at the county jail, fire protection, the district attorney’s and public defender’s office, county mental health services and addiction services and more. One issue we did not address in our grand jury report was homelessness and yet, this is the most “visible” of the concerns for public safety, in my opinion.
Measure A is being proposed to address many of the above concerns but what I think is missing is what the Legislative Analyst’s Office report emphasizes:
- What are the goals and objectives of Measure A?
- How will the funding be allocated, who will determine it and how often will it be adjusted?
- Will the funding enhance current funding or replace it?
- What evidence-based evaluations will be used to determine effectiveness of the newly funded projects? This is, in my opinion, one of the most important measures of the effectiveness of the use of funding. It’s not just about where the money is spent (that is pretty well spelled out in the measure) but how effective will the results of the spending be. I do not see how this will be determined in the measure.
- How often will these projects be evaluated and by whom? (I would like to see a citizen’s advisory committee have the responsibility for this as they would also have been a great resource for developing the tax proposal itself)
- How do these new projects reflect the priorities of Shasta County?
One other topic the LAO’s report emphasizes is the use of money for “mitigation” (reducing current problems) versus “adaptation” (dealing with future problems) and what the balance should be. How does that relate to Measure A? Increasing jail capacity is an example of mitigation. Providing services to reduce addiction, resolve mental health issues, reduce recidivism, provide folks with marketable skills are examples of adaptation and, in the long run, would result in stronger, and more effective results.
I would have preferred that this tax measure have a shelf life of perhaps 10 years. That would be enough time to see if, indeed, public safety has been enhanced and here are they ways Measure A has contributed to its success. If that were to be the case, I am sure that the voters of Shasta County would be only too happy to approve an extension of the tax.