Budgets, Mandates, and the Open Meetings/Brown Act
Yesterday, the Senate Budget Subcommittee #4 heard an Administration proposal to suspend a mandate associated with the Open Meeting/Brown Act. These mandated services include agenda preparation, agenda posting, closed session disclosures, and staff training. The Administration’s proposal to suspend would essentially make these procedures optional to local agencies, thereby saving the state about $17 million for 2010-11.
Instead of approving the Administration’s proposal, the Subcommittee approved an alternative offered by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). The LAO suggested that state law be amended to require each local agency to annually announce at a regularly scheduled public hearing the policies it will follow to comply with the requirements of Proposition 59 (2004). Statute would be amended to specify that the existing mandated practices are “reasonable guidelines” for a local agency to implement Proposition 59. A local agency may follow other standards, however, if they are announced at the annual public hearing, comply with Proposition 59, and are consistently adhered to.
This proposal has generated a bit of buzz (see KQED’s John Myers blog post). What do you think? Is this an appropriate way to trim state costs and/or to meet expected public notice requirements? We’d like to hear your thoughts.