OUTLINE OF PPA 230/Public Budgeting and Finance
Graduate Program in Public Policy, Administration & International Affairs
California State University, Sacramento
Instructor: Diane Cummins
Class Room: MND 1030
Office Business 3029
This course is designed to give you a basic understanding of the process, policy and politics of public budgets at the state and local level. The budget is one of the most significant policy documents in the state affecting every citizen yet it is understood in detail by a relatively few. A public budget is about policy choices how much money to raise, how to raise it and how to spend it. Because the budget is about choices, it reflects the priorities and values of those who shape the budget. The California State Budget is the seventh largest in the world because of the size of this States economy. The Budget is complex and even somewhat mysterious yet it is of interest to every advocacy group who would like to see the resources allocated in different ways.
You may not be able to put a budget together at the end of this class but the goal is to make you familiar with budget terms, budget processes and budget players. You will gain a knowledge of where Californias money comes from, how its allocated, how it is constrained and how politics influence this important activity.
This class is a seminar and therefore depends on your attendance and participation. You should come to class prepared to assigned reading and you must participate in class discussions.
There are a number of class readings that are intended to expose you to state and local budgeting. On occasion, additional handouts may be available if there are articles that would be useful. Your instructor will add to the material by using case studies from past and current budget situations. Guest speakers will be added to provide a different perspective and depth to the discussion.
Text: Rubin, Irene S. 1997. The Politics of Public Budgeting: Getting and Spending, Borrowing and Balancing. Third Edition, Chatham House Publishers, Inc., Chatham, NJ. A general overview of federal, state and local budgeting.
Wilson, James Q. 1989. Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. Basic Books, Inc., New York, NY. A discussion of the oft forgotten bureaucracy those who actually implement the budget and policy.
Birnbaum, Jefrey H., and Alan S. Murray. Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform. Vintage Books, Random House, New York, NY. A look at Congress during the 1986 tax reform fight by two who were reporters for the Wall Street Journal.
The Sacramento Bee. The Bee covers both local and State budgets as well as most of the important issues of the day. You should be familiar with the Bee and use the information in class discussions and reports.
You will also be expected to read all of the major budget documents including the Governors State of the State address, the Governors Budget Summary, the Governors Budget Highlights, the Overview and the Analysis of the Governors 1999-00 Budget (LAO) and the Perspectives and Issues put out by the LAO (Legislative Analysts Office). Most of these documents are available on the Web though you should get copies as well.
Suggested Readings and Sources: These are suggested for a fuller understanding of budgets. All of the books are on 3-day reserve at the CSUS library.
The Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle have good budget coverage and are worth looking at.
Wildavsky, Aaron 1988. The New Politics of the Budgetary Process. Scott, Foreman & Co., Boston, Mass. And his earlier The Politics of the Budgetary Process. These focus on the federal budget and Wildavsky is a legend among budget types.
Krolak, Richard 1994. Californias Budget Dance: Issues & Process. California Journal Press, Second Edition, Sacramento, CA. This is the most current review of the state budgeting process.
Redman, Eric 1973. The Dance of Legislation. Simon and Schuster, New York, NY. This book describes the creation of the National Health Corp from the perspective of a congressional staff person.
You can find me in Room 3029 of the Business Administration Building. I will be on campus from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays before class. My campus phone is (916) 278-5591 and you can leave messages. You may also call me at work at (916) 324-0341.
You will be graded on written assignments, book reviews, attendance and participation. Three unexcused absences mean an automatic drop of the course.
Individual writing assignment (4) 5 points each Book reviews (2) 10 points each Team writing/presentation (2) 20 points each Attendance/participation 20 points
Individual Writing Assignments:
You will be assigned no more than four papers that will be no longer than four pages long. The topics will be assigned in class. Each assignment will be graded and returned the next week. Grades will be based on content and proper style.
You are required to complete two book reports of the assigned books Showdown at Gucci Gulch and Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. Each review will be 10 pages in length and describe the book and how it fits into the course.
Team Writing/Presentation Assignments:
You will have two team writing projects. The first will involve each team picking an issue and writing a proposal to get funding for the issue in the budget. Your team should also be prepared to defend the proposal in front of "critics".
The second project will involve picking a topic/issue (topics from which to choose will be available in class) and tracing that issue through the federal/state/county/city/special district/court budget as appropriate. You will be responsible for explaining the funding level, policy change, how it affects other budgets and how it affects the citizens of California. You should also be prepared to identify the unintended consequences of the policy choice/funding level. Both a written and oral presentation will be required.
You should plan on at least one meeting with your instructor after choosing a topic so that your team is on "the right track". Meetings can be scheduled as soon as you want (the earlier the better).
Style and Writing of Papers:
The Graduate School of Public Policy, Administration & International Affairs has adopted a Style Manual for your use. It is the Style Manual for Political Science (1993), American Political Science Association, Committee on Publications. The use of this manual is mandatory for written reports.
Due Dates for Assignments:
Assignments are due on the dates indicated. Late papers will be graded down by one-half grade for each day they are late.
|Feb 2||General Introduction: What Is A Budget? The definition(s) of a public budget and introduction to the basic budget documents. A short discussion of the analysis of public policy issues. And a discussion of the course outline.|
|Feb 9||A Technical Primer: How To Read the
State Budget What Does It All Mean?
This will be a discussion of the fundamentals of reading
the Governors Budget, the Budget Bill, definitions
of terms, funds, control sections, trailer bills and all
the myriad details of the elements of public budgeting.
Governors Budget Summary and Schedules
Overview of the 1999-00 Governors Budget, LAO
|Feb 16||How The Budget Is Built. This class
concentrates on what happens in the fall process as the
Administration assembles its proposed budget. You will
learn about the budget timetable, revenue and expenditure
projections, baseline and workload budgets, caseload and
entitlements. What are MSAs, price, COLAs and ECPs?
Governors Budget Summary 1999-00
Governors Budget Highlights 1999-00
|Feb 23||State Budget: How Does It Get Modified? This
class will focus on why the budget that is proposed by
the Governor gets changed by the Governor. And how does
the Governor make those decisions and propose those
1998-99 Final Budget Change Book
1998-99 Veto Message of the Governor
|First team written report on making a change in the
|March 2||State Budget: Who Is the Legislative Analyst? This
class will focus on role of the LAO in responding to the
Governors Budget. How does the LAO pick its issues,
who do they report to and how do they analyze policy
|There will be a guest speaker.
|First Book Report Due Showdown at Gucci
|March 9||State Budget: The Legislatures Response.
This class will focus on what happens after the
Governors Budget is introduced and how the
Legislature (the Senate and Assembly) sets its priorities
and makes changes in the budget. There will be guest
speakers who will tell you the budget "secrets
" of the Legislature.
Senate Budget Overview of the Governors 1999-00 Budget
Assembly Budget Overview of the Governors 1999-00 Budget
|March 16||State and Local Budget Constraints. This class
will focus on the legal, political, and process
constraints on elected decision makers at the state and
local level. And well discuss potential ways around
those constraints in the form of "budget
Articles Handed Out in Class
|March 23||State and Local Budgets: How Did We Get In This
Mess? This class will trace the tortuous history of
the state/local fiscal relationship that has evolved
since the Passage of Proposition 13.
Articles handed out in class
|April 6||State and Local Budgets: How Are the Courts
Funded in California? This class will focus on
a program that has been neither fish nor fowl in terms of
where the responsibility for the program lies. Are courts
state or local, what does the new funding arrangement
mean for the third branch of government? There will be a
guest speaker who was one of three persons instrumental
in putting together trial court restructuring.
|Second Book Report Due Bureaucracy: What
Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It.
First team presentation on a budget issue
|April 27||State and Local Budgets Counties In
California. This class will focus on what counties
are, what are their responsibilities, how they establish
their budget priorities and how they operate programs
with limited resources. There will be a guest speaker who
has extensive experience in county and state budgets.
|Second team presentation on a budget issue
|May 4||State and Local Budgets Cities in
California. This class will explore cities and their
responsibilities and budgets. Are cities more independent
than counties? Should they be? Where do they fit in the
delivery of services system?
|Third team presentation on a budget issue
|May 11||State and Local Budgets Special Districts
in California. This class will focus on special
districts and their role in the delivery of services.
Have special districts been forgotten in the allocation
of resources? Should there be special districts at all or
should there be more?
|Fourth team presentation on a budget issue
|May 18||Budget Reform for State and Local Government
Is It An Idea Whose Time Has Come? This
class will be a panel presentation/discussion on various
reform efforts to date, where those ideas have gone and
what may happen in the future. You should come to class
prepared to discuss new and wild ideas.