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Untangling California's Budget Mess

Kim Klein hopes to mobilize non-profit employees to bring sanity back to the state's government

OTC Fellow Kim Klein, an authority on fundraising
for nonprofit groups, is trying to restore some
political and economic equilibrium to her home
state of California.

Klein, who
writes the lively blog “Kim Klein
and the Commons”, notes, “Our
tax and budget structure is broken.
We are the only state that has two
2/3rds rules: it takes 2/3rds of the
legislature to pass a budget and
2/3rds to pass a tax increase. Ironically
it takes only a simple majority
to pass a tax cut, leading to what
is called the ‘roach motel’ of tax policy: the tax cut
can go in, but it can never come out.”

Poor people, people of color and public schools have
borne the brunt of the draconian tax cuts that have
been handed down over many years, she explains.

Klein sees hope for improvement coming from the
commons, specifically the staff of California’s nonprofit
groups, which meet many vital social needs outside of
the realm of either government or the market.
Working through the Building Movement Project in
coalition with two other organizations (CompassPoint
and the California Pan Ethnic Health Network.), she
seeks to organize many of the 1.3 million people who
work for nonprofits in California (and whose organizations
have often been directly affected by the state’s
budget crisis) to fight back against further budget and
tax cuts.

This campaign hopes to mobilize 50,000-
100,000 nonprofit staff by next fall’s election, using a
variety of educational methods: public presentations,
curriculum, webinars, a website, an e-newsletter and
more to show what’s really at stake in the state’s budget
battles.