If you haven’t looked at it yet, I am sure you won’t be surprised that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first state budget package combines entertainment and some interesting proposals — including at least one that is sure to shake up discussions nationwide about privatization.

In his State of the State speech Schwarzenegger had some great lines, like “The executive branch of this government is a mastodon frozen in time and about as responsive,” and (paraphrased) “If I can sell movies like Red Sonja and Last Action Hero, I can sell California.”

To break the ice around the administration he is going to need all of those selling skills. His budget states “A Constitutional amendment to allow for competition in government through outsourcing opportunities will provide one of the necessary tools for reform.” “The Administration will be pursuing a new Constitutional amendment to . . . permit the State to contract with non-State entities for ministerial function whenever doing so will reduce costs, improve efficiency, or improve services.”

You can check out the summary of this section of Schwarzenegger’s budget at http://www.dof.ca.gov/HTML/Budgt04-05/BudgetSum04/Statewide_Issues_w.pdf.

In it he points out that in 2000 voters approved a similar Constitutional amendment that applied just to architectural and engineering services.

In fact, what Schwarzenegger is proposing is exactly what Reason recommended last spring in our Citizens Budget for California on page 71–check it out at http://www.rppi.org/citizensbudget.pdf.

If he follows through on his promise, Schwarzenegger will be opening a much-needed discussion in California, and nationwide, about the wisdom of laws that ban competition and privatization, rather than letting these policy tools sink or swim on their own merits. It will be an uphill battle, but I think it will be worth the while. Let me know what you think.

”’Dr. Adrian Moore is the Vice President of Research for the Reason Foundation. He can be reached by email at:”’ mailto:Adrian.Moore@reason.org

”’Originally published by Reason Foundation, which is a public policy think tank promoting choice, competition and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress. For more information, contact Geoffrey Segal, Director of Privatization and Government Reform Policy at:”’ mailto:geoffrey.segal@reason.org ”’Visit the Reason Web site at:”’ http://www.rppi.org ”’or go to the Reason Public Policy Institute’s Privatization Center at:”’ http://www.privatization.org ”’for information on government reform, privatization, contracting out and public/private partnerships.”’

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