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John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is an Assemblyman representing the 70th District in Orange County. Mr. Campbell is the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. He is the only CPA in the California State legislature and recently received a national award as Freshman Republican Legislator of the Year. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods and Lake Forest. He can be reached through his Assembly website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

[John Campbell] 8/9/04

Acronyms are pervasive in the activities of large government and large business. One of course associates the letters "CPR" with cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Although not technically an acronym (since you can't pronounce CPR as a word), it has become a term to itself.

But in this case, the double-entendre "acronym" stands for Governor Schwarzenegger's just released "California Performance Review." Unless you are living with the Amish, you probably already know that this is the report outlining a proposal to completely streamline and restructure California State government to make it more efficient and bring it into the 21st century. This is the follow-through on the governor's pledge to "blow up the boxes" and the last time anything like this was attempted was during the administration of Governor Ronald Reagan.

As this thing has been developing, I thought it was likely to have little opposition. It doesn't eliminate any dollars going to support the needy and does not eliminate government functions. What it does is reduce the amount of bureaucracy and agency duplication that exists to deliver that support and perform those functions. Who could be opposed to less bureaucracy and more efficient government? Nobody, right?

Wrong. State Senate Pro-Tem John Burton declared the CPR as DOA before he had even seen it. Democratic leadership and self-appointed union-supported "watchdogs" are regaling how this will end life as we know it in California (just as the recall and not increasing taxes was supposed to do). Here are a few corrections to their claims:

  • CPR is about eliminating bureaucracy, not programs and support for needy or education or the environment. The opposition is mainly public employee unions who have an agenda of hiring more state employees, paying them more, having them work less and work shorter, increasing their pensions and taxing you to do it. CPR will downsize the bureaucracy through attrition and require performance in order to earn a merit pay increase. How novel is that!!! Anyway, the union bosses hate that stuff. But they know they can't say that so they hide behind the lie of how this will hurt the poor and the environment and education.
  • CPR has 1200 separate recommendations. Even I will probably only agree with about 1000 to 1100 of them. But you don't throw out the big idea because of a few problem details. If I had to take or leave the whole thing, I'd take it.
  • Opponents say this is a "power grab" by the Governor. That could not be farther from the truth. One of any governor's biggest sources of power is the number of political appointments he or she has. Just ask Gray Davis how he used those to consolidate his power. In this proposal, Governor Schwarzenegger is giving up somewhere around 1000 of those appointments. He is giving up power, not taking it. And the truth of the matter is that most of the agencies are under executive control now anyway. What's really happening is the phalanx of bureaucrats who wield huge power from the dark corners of the org chart will cede power under CPR to more visible appointees.

This is admittedly a big idea. So was the recall. We are in a time that is ripe for big ideas to change our structural problems. Let's not let small thinking get in the way. CRO



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