This week, we really started digging into some of the "big ideas" being floated about how to make Connecticut prosper into the future. Our Thursday show on a "blueprint for prosperity" drew interesting responses from around the state. My favorite was from "Joe," who taps pretty well into the feeling of many of our callers and web visitors:
"Our legislators need to so some deep reflection on how wisely they spend taxpayers' money. The electorate are getting more sophisticated, as so many incumbents have learned in the last election. Democrat or Republican, they must do the right things for the common good. The only response I get from my emails to their offices is "everything is on the table." That response says nothing. Let's get some specifics on the table."
The program got turbo-blogged by our buddy Heather Brandon at Urban Compass. If you want a full rundown of the show, without having to listen, just read her blow-by-blow. She covers this beat as well as anyone.
Next Thursday, it's David Osborne, author of "The Price of Government" which you can read an excerpt of here in Governing Magazine. Just to give you a sense, here's a few action items taken up by Washington State as it tried to remake it's way of "doing the public's business."
• 1. Getting a Grip on the Problem: Is it short or long term? Is it driven by revenue or expenses, or both?
• 2. Setting the Price of Government: Determining how much citizens are willing to pay.
• 3. Setting the Priorities of Government: Deciding which results citizens value most.
• 4. Setting the Price of Each Priority: Deciding how much the government will spend to produce each of these outcomes.
• 5. Purchasing the Priorities: Deciding how best to produce the desired results at the price citizens are willing to pay.
This all seems to make so much sense...and his recent appearance at the capitol has lawmakers abuzz (the visit chronicled by WNPR's Anna Sale). So, what are the chances any of this will be implemented?
We'll have a chance to hear how other states are tackling their budgeting issues on Monday. We're doing some "budget benchmarking" - looking at the responses to deficits in neighboring Rhode Island and New York, but also in Georgia and Kansas. That last state had been delaying tax refunds and state paychecks, but has just reached a stopgap deal.
So, I guess we're in the same boat as the rest of the states. But, from what I've read, at least most of them know exactly how big their budget gap is...