OUTLINE OF PPA 230/Public Budgeting and Finance - SPRING 2000
Graduate Program in Public Policy, Administration & International Affairs
California State University, Sacramento
Instructor: Robert Waste - Email address: wasterj@csus.edu
Class Room: MND 2009 - Tues. 6-8:50 PM
Office Tahoe Hall 3036, Office Phone 278-4944

Office Hours: Tues. 5-6 PM & Thurs 9-Noon, 2-4 PM


This course is designed to give you a basic understanding of the process, policy and politics of public budgets at the national, state and local level. Budgets are one of the most significant policy documents in the public domain affecting every citizen yet they are understood in detail by a relatively few. A public budget is about policy choices � how much money, how to raise it and how to spend it? Because budgets are about choices, they reflect the priorities and values of those who shape them. The California State Budget is the seventh largest in the world because of the size of this State�s economy. The state 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, budget strategies, and budget players at the federal, state and local levels. In particular, you will gain knowledge of where California�s money comes from, how it�s allocated, how it is constrained and how politics influence this important activity.

Class Organization

This class is a seminar and therefore depends on your attendance and participation. You should come to class prepared to discuss assigned reading and you must participate in class discussions.

There are a number of class readings that are intended to expose you to national, 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. We will also have individual PowerPoint projects, student-led discussions, Internet projects, and mediated interaction using the World Wide Web.

Required Reading:


  1. Donald Kettl. 1992. Deficit Politics: Public Budgeting in Its Institutional and Historical Context. New York: Macmillan. (paperback).
  2. Steven Koven. 1999. Public Budgeting in the United States. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press (paperback).
  3. Richard Krolak. 1994. California's Budget Dance, 2nd ed. Sacramento: California Journal Press (paperback).
  4. Aaron Wildavsky and Naomi Caiden, 1997. The New Politics of the Budgetary Process, 3rd ed. New York: Longman (paperback).
  5. Sacramento Bee. The Bee covers 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 should read daily the coverage of state issues on Page 3 of the Bee, including the column by Dan Walters.

You will also be expected to read and become familiar with the following budget resources:

the Governor�s State of the State address,
the Governor�s Budget Summary,
the Governor�s Budget Highlights,
the Governor's 2000-20001 Budget, available at:

the Analysis of the Governor�s 2000-2001 Budget (LAO) available at:

City of Sacramento budget resources, including the 1999-2000 budget, available at:

County of Sacramento 2000-2001 budget discussion and resources are available at:

Office Hours:
You can find me in Room 3036 of the Business Administration Building. I have office hours from 5 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays before class, and for much of the day on Thursday. My campus phone and voicemail is (916) 278-4944 and you can leave messages.

You will be graded on a final 10 page written assignment (20%); one PowerPoint verbal presentation (20%); two Internet assignments (40% - 20% each); as well as attendance and participation (20%). Three unexcused absences will result in an unsatisfactory grade in the course.

Individual writing assignment (1)


Individual Verbal /PowerPoint presentation (1)


Internet Assignments (2)

40% (20% each)

Attendance/participation (including simulations)



Total: 100%

Individual Writing Assignments:
You will be assigned one final paper that will be no longer than ten pages in length, and two shorter Internet assignments; as well as an individual PowerPoint verbal presentation (requiring you to turn in a minimum of 4 slides on a disk). The Internet and PowerPoint topics will be discussed in class. Grades will be based on content and proper style.

Style and Writing of Papers:
The Graduate School of Public Policy, Administration & International Affairs has adopted a Style Manual for your use. It is A Pocket Style Manual, 3rd edition by Diana Hacker (Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's The use of this manual, and the use of the APA (American Psychological Association) in-text citation style (described in Hacker, pp. 143-167) is mandatory for written reports. Note that this includes style guides for everything from your title page (p. 165), to text (p. 166) to in-text citations for sources - including Internet sources - and for listing your references (p. 167). Note also that a companion web site offers an abundance of resources that are helpful to the student writer. The web site is located at:

Help With Your Research:
Two great one-stop shopping places for social science research are the following:

This is a compilation of incredibly useful resources sources, including: the US Census Bureau; the American Statistics Index maintained by Congress; the Gallup Poll from 1972 to the present; the Social Science Citation Index, a collection of over 1,000 searchable social science journals and sources; and the Statistical Abstract of the United States, from 1879 to the present.

A second on-line source, maintained by the University of Wisconsin, with over 650 annotated links to data-related sources on the Internet is:


Feb. 1

General Introduction: What Is A Budget? The definition(s) of a public budget and introduction to the basic budget issues. A short discussion of the analysis of public policy issues. And a discussion of the course outline, and an introduction to Budget Speak, i.e., COLAs, MASs, ECPs, BCPs, LAO, CBO, trailer bills, discretionary versus mandated spending, the May Revise, etc.
Reading: Wildavsky & Caiden, Chapt 1; Kettl, Chapts 1 & 7.


Feb. 8


The Historical Evolution of Public Budgeting: This will feature a discussion of budgeting from colonial times to the present.
Reading: Kettl, Chapt. 6; Wildavsky & Caiden, Chapts. 2, 4, 5 & 6.


Feb 15


History of Public Budgeting Completed & Simulation of Zero-Base Budgeting (ZBB)


Feb 22


Wildavsky & Caiden on Incrementalism, Decrementalism, Budgetary Roles & Budgetary Strategies.
Wildavsky & Caiden, Chapters 3 & 12. Kettl, Chapt. 2.


Feb. 29


Introduction to the California Budget Process & the Local Budget Process.

March 7


Introduction to the California Budget Process: Basics of the California budget process.
Reading: Krolak, Appendices A-E, and pp. 127-150. Waste & Cowden (on web)
Guest Speaker: Christopher Cabaldon (Mayor of West Sacramento, Vice Chancellor for Governmental Affairs of the California Community College System, and alum of the CSUS MPPA program). Topics: Prop 13 and local government, the "fiscalization of land use," and the education component of the state budget process.


March 14


The California Budget Dance Continued: We will participate in the celebrated "EUREKA" California state budget simulation tonight.
Reading: Krolak (entire).


March 21

Internet class

The Impact of Proposition 13 on California Counties: This class will trace the impact of Propositions 13 (1978), Proposition 4 (1979), and Proposition 98 (1998) on county revenues and budgeting in California. Internet class. Read carefully the following technical report on "County Fiscal Stress: Cause and Consequence After Proposition 13," by Rob Wassmer and Charles Anders (August 1999). The report is located on the Internet at:
Send two (2) emails to the PPA 230 class Listserv answering these questions:

  1. Wassmer and Anders argue that the passage of Prop 13 and its implementation was a catalyst for fiscal stress at the county level in California in three ways. What are these three Prop 13 "catalysts for fiscal stress in California counties"? Using the Internet as your source, and at least one source drawn from the electronic Lexis/Nexis database of California newspapers which is a CSUS library resource, document three examples of Prop 13 related fiscal stress at the county level. Share your results with class members on the ListServ. Note, your examples should include consideration of more than 1 county; meaning a minimum of 3 examples covering a total of at least 2 counties. Note also, that only 1 such example may be drawn from the Wassmer/Anders report, one additional source is from the Internet in general, and a final example is to be drawn from the Lexis/Nexis database.
  2. Choose, in your opinion, the two best examples submitted to the List Serv and defend your selection.


March 28
Rain Date, if necessary: THURS 3/30,


Local Budgets - PowerPoint: This class will focus on student team presentations of the City of Sacramento budget. Using the state or City of Sacramento budget internet sites provided on this course syllabus above, examine a major programs or department, critique spending patterns and performance measures, and suggest improved spending patterns and performance measures. Plan on a 6 minute or less presentation that includes at least 3 slides on spending amounts or patterns, performance measures (if any), suggested improved spending or allocation patterns, and suggested improved performance measures. We will have a laptop computer and overhead projector for your use in class. Be sure to make (and bring to class) a back-up copy of your presentation disk, for your own peace of mind, and to turn in to your instructor for review.


April 4
Rain Date, if necessary: THURS 4/6

Local Budgets & Local Democracy - This class will explore the experience of the City of Sacramento with the Sacramento Decision Process - a short-lived experiment that used polling and community meetings to achieve greater citizen input into the city budgeting process. Guest Speaker Phil Isenberg (former Mayor of Sacramento, former state legislator, informal policy advisor extraordinare to the Governor, prominent California attorney, CSUS alum, and Part-Time Faculty member in the CSUS MPPA and the UC Berkeley policy school) will speak on the California budget process from an "insiders" point of view, and on local budgeting from a mayor's point of view.


April 11

County-Level Public Finance - Internet Class: This class will focus on individual student public finance presentations on the County of Sacramento budget, specifically on the millions of dollars which the County will receive in Prop 10, the Tobacco Settlement Revenue (TSR) funding stream. Scroll down to the TSR discussion. You have three key Internet tasks to complete this week:

1. In an email to your Instructor (note the address is wasterj@csus.edu, and not to be emailed to the class ListServ), carefully read the Sacramento TSR discussion which is located on the Internet at:

  1. Describe Financing Options A-D, and the 3 policy issues raised by the TSR.
  2. Recommend and defend one of the financing options, and one of the policy options in your email. Be brief. Do not use more than 500 words to complete your task
  3. Locate a useful county or state Internet web site on Prop 10 finance issues, and send it (and a brief 25-30 word or less description) to class members via the class ListServ.


Spring Break
April 17-21


Campus Closed

April 27

Performance Budgeting in a State University Setting. This class will focus on the contemporary (as opposed to the 1934 Dept. of Agriculture) version of performance budgeting, set in the context of university budgeting practices. Guest speaker.


May 2

A Case Study in Class Size Reduction in California
Case study to be handed out on May 2nd.


May 9

Guest Speakers: Public budgeting, an insider's view. A look at public budgeting from
the County level.


May 16

Course Summary & Course Conclusion


May 23

Final Exam scheduled 5:15-7:15pm. Final papers due in class.